Is eating your own foot Paleo?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 27, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Today was an interesting experience. I went out to lunch with a friend I haven't seen for awhile and he brought his girlfriend along.

He was asking me how I had been, and let me know how much weight I had appeared to lose. For some reason, ZEALOT MAN appeared and I made some commentary about my diet, and grains suck, and blah, blah... and while not quoting the "wheat is murder" mantra... I still was probably a little over-the-top.

Now this whole time, he and I had either been talking about computers, weightlifting, or diet, his girlfriend suspiciously quiet the entire time. I finally (remembering my manners) turned to her and asked, "I have forgotten my manners, what do you do for a living?"

"I bake", was her response, somewhat coldly.

We had a little laugh, but I was secretly just a little unnerved by my own callousness and disregard. The situation was further defused when I relayed my early youth experience as a sous chef in a few high-end tourist-town restaurants, and my loathe of baking, and love of bakers to do the baking for me... as the discussion moved towards a general love of butter and egg yolks, everything was mended.

Anyone else have that total "open mouth, insert foot" experience while on Paleo?



on February 28, 2012
at 01:41 AM

I took a girl to a steak house. Only to find she was a vegetarian. Oops.


on February 27, 2012
at 11:18 PM

"Wheat is murder." Somehow I've managed not to hear that turn of phrase before, but as a mostly-reformed Smiths fan, I love it so much. It goes in the file with "What do vegan zombies eat? Graaaainnsss..." and "Fur is murder--to clean!"


on February 27, 2012
at 11:00 PM

Ow! You're friend should have mentioned that earlier in the conversation! I bet he was just waiting for her to say that!

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5 Answers


on February 27, 2012
at 11:14 PM

Unless it's actually a debate, I think all participants of a group discussion share responsibility for ensuring things stay respectful despite disagreements. And everyone ought to help each other avoid unnecessary embarrassment. So I'm here to blame...I mean call bullsh*t on the "victim" of this story.

After letting you go on and on about something in perhaps an insensitive way, going for the icy reveal seems pretty passive-aggressive to me. The baker could easily have said something like, "Oh, I'm quite sure grains are evil--that's why my pastries are so sinfully delicious!" Then the boyfriend could have heroically chimed in about how awesome his girlfriend's pie is, and they could have sickeningly nuzzled each other and turned the whole thing into a disgusting romantic interlude that will have you downing your Norcal margarita and flagging down the waiter for a refill.

I employ a similar technique in conversations with people who start grousing about bicyclists (I'm a professional bicycling advocate). People tend to tone it down pretty quickly once they realize not only that I'm a cyclist, but that I'm also occasionally a motorist, and that I sympathize with their complaints. Usually disgusting romantic interludes do NOT ensue, unfortunately, despite ridiculously abundant sexy bicycle double entendres.


on February 27, 2012
at 09:55 PM

That's hilarious! No can't say I've done that but only by the grace of several deities. This seems very much like something I might do so I feel your pain.



on February 27, 2012
at 09:59 PM

YES!!! I recently met my grandson's girlfriend and he proudly told her I'd lost weight and was eating healthy foods. So I happily chimed in about how we eat all this healthy fatty beef and I avoid "toxic" grains (yes, I used that word) blah, blah, only to learn a minute later that her family eats "healthy" as in avoiding beef like the plague and eating tons of healthy grains.


That gorilla remained in the room because although we managed affable gab and laughter on many topics we didn't find our way to much common ground on food other than we both like salads and fruit.




on February 28, 2012
at 12:14 AM

There is nothing inherent in baking that requires the use of wheat flour. There are other flours out there: coconut, almond, rice, etc.

Besides, you may have exposed her to the first shred of the idea that perhaps wheat isn't the healthiest thing around. She probably will dismiss it at this point and think badly of you, but as she's exposed to other ideas over time, perhaps the word celiac and its meaning will be next, perhaps gluten will be next, who knows. Over time, a lightbulb will go off, and perhaps a good baker will decide to make more healthier baked goods available to the world.

Don't feel bad for speaking the truth.

I probably heard of paleo two years ago. I vaguely recall seeing an article back in 2010, describing modern cavemen and women, and having a chest freezer and running around working out before eating to simulate chasing down prey, and fasting to simulate times of famine, donating blood, natural movement, etc. All the seeds were there, had I known to research it more deeply, but at the time, I did not.

I probably saw this quote, but it didn't stick, because sadly the article was in, of all places, the fashion section. Probably I reached it through a link elsewhere such as on reddit. But this was the only mention that things with grains were to be avoided. It didn't say why, it didn't mention any science behind it. So it did not sink in. I would have saved myself a whole year's worth of damage to my health had they gone into details enough to convince.

Vegetables and fruit are fine, but he avoids foods like bread that were unavailable before the invention of agriculture.

It does have this gem:

???Cavemen don???t eat nightshades,??? Mr. Averbukh, 29, said. He explained that tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, arguing that they are native to the New World and could not have been part of humanity???s earliest diet. Mr. Durant shrugged. (Mr. Durant said later that there was nothing uncavemannish about eating tomatoes.)

But, again, the reasons given don't point to the health damaging aspects of nightshades. They blandly state that cavemen wouldn't have eaten nightshades. As it happens, I don't have issues with nightshades as far as I can tell, so again, nothing there that would have turned on a light bulb.

While it mentions various famous paleo folks, nothing in that article struck me as "hey wait, what I'm eating now is harmful and can explain my acid reflux, brain fog, and other issues." It struck me more in the way of a historical re-enactment, as I previously attended Renaissance Faires, and enjoyed them. It was a fun read, but not much more. NYT really dropped the ball on that.

I might have even followed some of the links, or googled Loren Cordain's book. I don't know. But the point it, it wasn't enough of a trigger for me to switch to it. It was simply another entertaining curiosity.

I probably also saw Jared Diamond's The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race article, either in the original magazine, or a blog post about it, but the only thing that stuck in my mind was the part about civilization and slavery, and kings.

At no point, did I pick up on the fact of how damaging to health grains and legumes are, until a few months after spending time reading articles on Mark's Daily Apple., and even then until I actually asked a few questions on Robb Wolf's forums and got proper feedback from Squatchy, that actually stuck and made the path clear.

So, you probably provided the first hint to this lady that she's been hurting thousands of people with the things she makes. It may not sink in, and probably won't at all, but it's probably one of the very first hints, that will hopefully lead to others that may change her path.

And for that, you've nothing to be ashamed of, if anything, be proud of it.

If anything, I'd buy two copies of Robb Wolf's book (or any other Paleo book you think they might enjoy) and send it to them with apologies for putting your foot in your mouth. They might not read them immediately, but you never know what might trigger them to take a look someday and then the lightbulb will turn on.

Even if they donate the books to the library without reading them, someone else will come upon them and benefit.

IMHO, it's worth doing. Maybe also include some paleo-friendly cookies, and other snacks in a gift basket with the books, and a "Sorry" note, but don't mention that they're not made with wheat unless they ask.



on February 27, 2012
at 09:58 PM

Oops!!! I mostly run into situations where people are able to talk all they want about their low fat and low salt diets and I am not allowed to talk about mine. No problem! When I go out to eat with others, I don't have to eat the food or talk the talk. Why don't you send a card or something? Ask her for a coconut recipe? A paleo bar?

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