4

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How do you incorporate more JOY in your daily eating plan?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 27, 2012 at 4:31 PM

I've noticed that ever since I started getting into the science behind the paleo lifestyle, I find it a lot harder to truly enjoy my meals. Instead, I over-analyze the nutritional benefits and draw-backs of the current meal. I think about contaminants, macronutrient ratios, and oxidized fats rather than the pleasurable experience of eating. Many of the foods I used to love (dark chocolate, red wine, artisan cheese, fresh fruits) I have now eliminated in the pursuit of a better body composition.

I love the way I feel eating paleo, but I miss that blissful ignorance of sitting down to a good meal without analyzing every morsel on my plate and just ENJOYING IT.

Does anyone else struggle with this? How did you deal?

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on March 28, 2012
at 02:37 PM

I'm with @Happy Now. Life is too short - enjoy! A wedge or two of cheese, a few squares of chocolate, a glass of wine? Do it. Even better, have a few friends over and share it all :)

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:32 PM

couldn't agree with you more about eating only foods you enjoy -- once a way of eating/living becomes a struggle, it's simply not maintainable any more...and what's the sense in that?!

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on March 28, 2012
at 09:32 AM

@jeezlouise, I have to agree. I go with the bigger picture. In my book all those things you mention are not banned. I fail to see how they would negatively impact your body composition if you are an otherwise healthy individual. In fact, all four things have demonstrated health benefits.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:22 AM

(dark chocolate, red wine, artisan cheese, fresh fruits)--Is it really worth passing those up. I certainly don't make any of those the staples of my diet, but if I find myself in the presence of a good version of any of them I am going to enjoy the hell out of it.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Ditto, but that isn't because I reduce it down to its good and bad components, I believe that gets in the way. It is because I celebrate how it makes me feel and tastes so damn good.

1e36119906da54831601a7c23674f581

(698)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:26 AM

I dunno about this. The more I eat paleo the more I freaking love the healthiest food I can get!

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:56 PM

I hate to say it, but I think PaleoHacks might be perpetuating this problem... :/

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:27 PM

I like that! I fried my eggs inside slices of green pepper once and that was fun (got the idea from ChowStalker.)

Da681d976130df15aac3984013aaad6d

(720)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:23 PM

I totally agree!

24e3eaa9e03b424b4a3dd3575162d10a

(90)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:22 PM

I totally agree, I don't worry all the science and just go with what I know is healthy and enjoyable food.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:20 PM

I'm starting to think it's a natural evolution to drop the "paleo" label; I actually use quotes around it now on the few occasions I use it. :-)) If I think about it at all I think in terms of whole and fermented foods.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:03 PM

That's been my solution as well -- I stopped measuring, testing, weighing, and scheduling. I eat when I'm hungry, and choose foods that truly -sing- to me, and I find joy in everything from the prep to the clean-up (well, not so much the clean-up sometimes. :/)

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17 Answers

9
Da681d976130df15aac3984013aaad6d

on March 27, 2012
at 05:12 PM

Firstly, you are eating right if you're eating this way at all, so there's no need to really worry about that.

Personally, I think over analyzing is a choice.

I think it's really your choice whether you obsess about all that stuff or not.

I was definitely like that in the beginning...I would order fish in a restaurant and if it had a dusting of flour I wouldn't eat it, and drive myself crazy about every little thing, which ultimately really took the joy out of food for me.

Now, over a year later of being primarily paleo I've really let go of all that stuff and just try to enjoy food (and life). I cook at home, mostly and keep it pretty clean but do let myself "indulge" in dark chocolate or nice cheese or fruit, or even white rice on occasion.

I'm not obsessed with my body composition anymore. I look pretty good, not amazing, but I realized that to look amazing (possibly, probably not even), I would have to cut out even more enjoyable things, work out harder, and obsess more, and I just feel like it's not worth it since I've lost a lot of joy around food since starting to eat this way. I'll never go back to eating processed stuff and grains regularly, but there's definitely a balance. I don't even call myself "paleo" anymore because it's just so exclusive. I just say, I don't eat grains or sugar or legumes.

I would also obsess about nutrition and worry that if I ate a peanut or a speck of sugar I was damning my body to disease. I don't think that anymore. I'm doing pretty well, better than most of the world, and I'm healthy, for now...I don't think eating this way is going to save me from disease or early death. I hope it helps, but I'm not betting everything on it.

And joy is an important part of living well anyway...hence, I've let myself enjoy food (like dark chocolate or fruit) again because I'd rather feel happy than grumpy about what I can't have (like pizza and beer), and I don't think there's much of a difference (for me) in terms of looking pretty good and looking really good if I have to drastically strip my diet even more to get that way.

But this is just how I feel personally, not saying you should too, but I think you can let go of some of that over analyzing if you try, knowing that you're already doing a great job with your diet.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:20 PM

I'm starting to think it's a natural evolution to drop the "paleo" label; I actually use quotes around it now on the few occasions I use it. :-)) If I think about it at all I think in terms of whole and fermented foods.

Da681d976130df15aac3984013aaad6d

(720)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:23 PM

I totally agree!

5
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:01 PM

Hmmm...after almost 18 months of Primal eating, I tend to go with my intuition over my mind. My body is a lot smarter than my brain at choosing the foods it wants (from a 99% Primal larder!)

I am on a quest to drop a few pounds I put on this winter, so I simply eat less and do a bit more gentle walking.

I only eat foods I love.

24e3eaa9e03b424b4a3dd3575162d10a

(90)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:22 PM

I totally agree, I don't worry all the science and just go with what I know is healthy and enjoyable food.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:03 PM

That's been my solution as well -- I stopped measuring, testing, weighing, and scheduling. I eat when I'm hungry, and choose foods that truly -sing- to me, and I find joy in everything from the prep to the clean-up (well, not so much the clean-up sometimes. :/)

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:32 PM

couldn't agree with you more about eating only foods you enjoy -- once a way of eating/living becomes a struggle, it's simply not maintainable any more...and what's the sense in that?!

5
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 27, 2012
at 04:51 PM

I've been working on that very thing. It's easy to become so obsessed with "eating right" that you lose the spontaneous joy of creating and eating delicious meals. And I really don't think over-planning and over-regimenting what I eat is "paleo."

I'm going out of my way to purchase those whole foods that are most appealing to me at the time and then just relax and have fun creating daily menus. Yesterday is a great example, because I had thawed two packages of meat: lamb blade steaks and beef liver.

Go ahead, make a face--it was never my intent to combine them in a meal and I didn't do so. I HAD planned to have the lamb in an afternoon meal and later cook/portion/re-freeze the liver. I found myself very hungry for the lamb by mid-morning so I trimmed and rendered all visible fat and slow-fried the leaner portions in the rendered fat. Good!

A couple hours later, I slow-fried the liver in butter. I hadn't been hungry for liver in almost a month, but to my surprise the smell of it excited my appetite so I ate a full serving of it--and here's the joy part. When, in the past, I've eaten liver because I felt it was good for me I usually found it "okay." Yesterday I ate some because I wanted it and it was DELICIOUS.

That was yesterday. Today I feel terrific and have high energy. I'm convinced we should pay more attention to our eyes, nose and taste buds and less to CW nutritional rotation.

2
C513f1dba19e01bbd7e0f4f12b243a97

(670)

on March 28, 2012
at 12:27 AM

I don't think it has to be this way! You know, when I first started I already had the idea in my head that what I eat says something about me. I was so obsessed with health as if not being healthy lowered my worth as a person (certainly not a judgement I'd inflict on someone else). As I've started to feel better and recover from past dieting failures, I'm a lot more level headed and the whole food restricting thing just seems dumb. I also like how some paleos, like Melissa from Hunt.Gather.Love, experiment with other traditional methods of preparation, so that we don't demonise certain foods. I can see myself really embracing my foodie side in the coming years when I'm travelling the world- I want to try fresh milk and cheeses and huge amazing sugary fruits, real bread, pastured bacon (I've never eaten pork!)... stuff that hasn't been too processed and is eaten as part of a varied and healthful diet.

But right now, I live in Sydney and my options for lunch are either Oportos chicken burgers or a tin of canned salmon and some ghee. I have to make some choices about where I shop and what I buy because most of what is available contains insidious ingredients that, over time, have already done a good job or wearing down bodily defenses.

Another thing that makes it fun is being in tune with what you really want. Food isn't less of a joy and now that I'm paying so much attention to loving my body, the ritual of eating after a tiring day is definitely a source of emotional pleasure. I like to fantasize about what I'm going to eat for dinner on the bus home- I ask myself what would really satisfy, and then I try to make that thing as best as I can. Today it's breezy and grey, and I am going to have some homemade soup with some egg yolks, purple cabbage and oranges.

As the time goes on and I'm feeling physically better, I notice that the berry pastries, jarred curries and chocolates my family eat aren't appetising. They seem a poor imitation of the real thing- most things have a paleo analog. I get why people would think paleo is a deprivation diet- and people often say that off-handedly, they say that 'It's not good to deprive yourself on a diet because it's emotionally unhealthy'. That's a fair point. But with self-love also comes self-care, and packaged foods seem to be bad for a lot of us, and that's good enough reason for me to avoid them for the most part.

2
1bbcd2122d9c75b07440f22ef57d6448

(2934)

on March 28, 2012
at 12:27 AM

For me, paleo was an escape from the obsessive and displeasurable atmosphere of food measuring, calorie counting, and macronutrient and thermodynamic obsession. Having a set of rules that are clear and select foods that I know I can eat without negative consequences. If your quality of life is truly being affected by an information overload, purge your life/kitchen of things that you deem detrimental to your health and eat freely from what you do have.

2
Eb2a562ceb4e96ee12d7d94a29b73553

on March 27, 2012
at 06:16 PM

You can use coconut flour to make many Neo foods Paleo friendly also many coconut products are high in fat and taste great. I also still eat many dark chocolates with a high cacao percentage even though it's derived from a bean it has many antioxidants and little sugar. It's good to give your immune system a little something to do.

2
Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:28 PM

This is my problem exactly. I think I was honestly exciting a cortisol response seeing my chow in all these ways. My "rule" (kinda) is now: eat high-quality, freshly prepared, real-food. Any inner voices of "oh, this has omega-6," or, "omgzors carbs," I quickly just tell myself to shut up, not stress about it, and enjoy a delicious meal because I am young and healthy and my body can take lots of things.

I'm lucky in that I only had ~year of SAD/super-crappy eating, so this advice my not work for those who actually do need to watch what they ingest.

N=1 aside, don't stress! You feel like eating something? Go for it. Make it real food. Understand that biochemically, your body can process a wide array of macronutrients. Eat some yummy fat, some solid protein, and some delicious carbohydrates. Biochemistry and low-stress will take you the rest of the way.

2
Ab51762016a8860950eecb91eafd9e55

on March 27, 2012
at 05:21 PM

I bought some egg molds and bento box decorating books. My solution is to make my Paleo food fun looking! Eating hard boiled eggs in the shape of hearts and stars is way more fun than just plain oval ones.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:27 PM

I like that! I fried my eggs inside slices of green pepper once and that was fun (got the idea from ChowStalker.)

1
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on March 28, 2012
at 02:32 PM

I think this is a very refreshing question; thanks for asking.

For me, food has always been about joy. My parents are both very good cooks, and draw from generations of family recipes. Most of these recipes I've adapted to paleo, but that is for another post.

For me part of the motivation to go paleo -- and to continue when I fail -- is that I enjoy sweets too much. I went paleo to be healthier and nutritious and all that, yes. I also went paleo to rediscover other flavors.

That for me is the ticket out of analysing the food benefits. Like if I cook chicken curry with a non-paleo friend, I'm not going to discuss all the nutritional benefits unless they ask. They can see it is healthy. But I willdiscuss my choices of spices, the way lime interacts with other flavors, etc. Food then becomes something to enjoy more, as you said.

And in my experience, such conversations remind people why food is so wonderful in the first place.

1
Ff1dbd6cecad1e69a8234fb2c2c5c5ed

(1409)

on March 28, 2012
at 06:42 AM

Well, I'd say eat some dark chocolate, red wine, artisan cheese and fresh fruits.

1
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on March 27, 2012
at 08:32 PM

If you haven't done so yet, think you might benefit from reading some of Michael Pollan's work about how the nutritionism mindset actually interferes with our ability to enjoy meals, fully benefit from food, and may have even contributed to the derailing of what actually constitutes healthy food.

1e36119906da54831601a7c23674f581

(698)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:26 AM

I dunno about this. The more I eat paleo the more I freaking love the healthiest food I can get!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Ditto, but that isn't because I reduce it down to its good and bad components, I believe that gets in the way. It is because I celebrate how it makes me feel and tastes so damn good.

1
0266737ea1782946902fd3f8e60fa0b9

(2504)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:32 PM

I feel your pain. I've slowly but surely been transitioning to a paleo lifestyle (jelly beans and diet coke being the main holdouts now). That means no more cookies, no more pizza, no more sandwiches, etc.

I don't especially crave those things I've given up, but I am a picky eater to begin with, so there's really very little that I look forward to. I realize there are many restaurants, or special foods that I just don't have access to anymore.

I think one of the ways to improve is to spend more time with like minded friends while enjoying shared foods-that way, you can associate happy feelings with your eating, while at the same time trying their favorite foods too :)

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:27 PM

I think you just need to make the transition from analysis to intuition; and, it comes easier to some people than others.

Since I come from a physical sciences background, I have lots of experience with this. As I transitioned from high school into college, I learned more and more about science and thought that once I knew all the rules I could solve anything I needed to with all the accuracy in the world. This is a common belief, the more you learn, the more you think you can nail things down - this is also what drove me into theoretical physical chemistry, the thought that I could just calculate the solution to all problems.

The later as I transitioned into my grad school career from college, I slowly learned that you can't "calculate it all to infinite precision" and that most of grad school isn't "learning more chemistry (or physics, or whatever your field of study is)", it's "learning how to think" or "making your field of study intuitive" to you. So after a couple of years in grad school, I was no longer "calculating" answers as the first step to solving a problem, I was figuring out the "order of magnitude" of the answer and getting an intuition for what the answer should be and then doing different levels of calculations to iterate myself to the right answer. It's easier to be right if you have a gut feeling for what right is (except when your gut feeling is wrong - and that's the hard part of science, balancing intuition with skepticism).

Here's another good post about that transition in the ways of thinking from one of my favorite blogs: http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2011/01/25/coming-full-circle/

Now what does this have to do with your question? Well when you start out with paleo you're trying to get all of the details about how much and what kind of food you should eat. If you come into this from the Crossfit side of things and are doing Paleo-zone, you're weighing and measuring food and trying to be "good" and get everything "perfect". As you found out that's getting hard to sustain, even if you have the time, it's probably a pretty big drain mentally. So what you need to do is make the transition to intuition. For example, I can pick up a handful of meat and know that it's about 8 oz (which is my typical serving size), so I don't have to weigh it. I can look at a buffet and figure out what foods aren't going to kill me (gluten, vegetable oil, etc). It just takes a little stepping back from the details and trying to get the big picture. Don't sweat the small stuff; focus on the important things.

That's a bit long, hope it's helpful for you.

1
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 27, 2012
at 04:49 PM

I took up learning how to cook old world foods.

0
2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

on March 27, 2012
at 11:18 PM

Screw it, I say! I eat food I like, such as sweet potatoes etc.. (although it might not be low carb) but I want the lifestyle to work for me, not for me to work for it.I look up recipes on chowstalker/dessertstalker and pintrest and make sure they are easy and adventurous!

0
Medium avatar

(2338)

on March 27, 2012
at 05:44 PM

I went through a phase where I felt the same way but I just stuck through it and got more creative with spices and by cooking organ meats and making different things like bone broth and sauerkraut and now I've never enjoyed eating/food/cooking more. As far as eliminating those foods if it's causing that much distress for you just eat them they were all paleo esque. I know you said you want better body composition but just eat them at the right time (post workout/post fast) and you should be just fine

0
Medium avatar

on March 27, 2012
at 05:00 PM

If you enjoy the food you eat, then perhaps the surest path to experiencing the "joy" hidden in "en-joy" is to call a halt to over thinking and related species of disruptive cognition. Test for a correlation between 1) ceasing that and 2) experiencing the joy (or at least the pleasure) of eating good, wholesome, delicious food. If you discover such a correlation, I speculate no one here will bust you for claiming #1 causes #2.

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