5 Reasons Why I Hate the Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet.  Honestly, the thought of it makes me rage a bit inside.  And by a bit, I mean the kind of rage where you’re sure  smoke is going to start coming out your ears like a Bugs Bunny cartoon and you are going to punch someone in the throat.

Why does it get me SO enraged?  I’m glad you asked.  Let’s start with a history lesson.  What, exactly, was the paleolithic period?  Let’s think about it.  A little lingustics can help us here, “Paleo” meaning ‘old’ and “Lithic” meaning stone – it’s the Old Stone Age.  This is the oldest period of the ages collectively known as the stone age, beginning about 2.4 million years ago.  Yes, 2.4 MILLION.  It ended about 12,000 years ago (so for all of us who learned BC – we are talking about 10,000 BC or BCE).  We consider this period part of human pre-history since it happened before writing was developed (not until about 5,500 bce)

This is a pretty broad distinction as far as human history goes.  In the beginning of the era human beings werent even developed to the point of homo sapiens yet.  Seriously. That didnt happen until about 200k years ago.  As best as the record shows, People werent in America yet (that didnt happen till the Mesolithic Period).  So lets start that list.

1. There were many different types of human during the Paleolithic Period.

As indicated above – the human race spans the gamut from homo habilis to what we all refer to as Neandertal and to what we know as homo sapiens.  You think all these peoples ate and lived the same way? Big fat nope. Diverse geographies and abilities mean these peoples didn’t have some magic unified diet.

2. The era is defined by the use of crude stone tools.

Ya’ll can put your KitchenAids and VitaMixes away,  because the distinction made to signify the start of this era is the use of crude stone tools.  Stone arrows, hand axes, what became spears and spear tips and harpoons – GREAT! We could totally hunt all those free-range, undomesticated animals.  We had fire and did know how to use it, and our tools got a bit more advanced as the period went along, but if you think our paleolithic friends were making kebabs and singing kumbayah you have another thing coming.

3. Animals weren’t domesticated yet.

We domesticated dogs to help with hunting. Our prehistoric ancestors didnt have cattle free grazing on their neatly protected territory and they certainly weren’t making organic grass-fed butter.  I almost choked one day when someone talked about that shit as being
so paleo.  The hell it is.  Domestication of animals didnt come until well into the Neolithic period – indeed, it is one of the reasons we draw the line there and call it the end of the Paleolithic period. That started with pigs, then sheep, then cattle (thank you AMNH!)

4. Plants werent even really domesticated.  Seriously.  

The hallmark of a Neolithic (note I did NOT say Paleolitthic) society includes planting down some roots for you and your peeps and growing things.   Planting fields of rye or millet, tending some fig trees depending on where you were – these are the hallmarks of early permanent settlements – conclusively NOT what our nomadic hunter-gatherer friends were up to.

5. WHY IS EVERYTHING MADE WITH PUMPKIN!?

Can we discuss?  I dont know why it is a go-to. Pumpkins are a South American gourd. CLEARLY not something we were domesticating and baking  in our non-existing paleolithic ovens.

6. I know I said there were only 5 reasons. But I have to make another point. PEGAN IS EVEN MORE FRIGGING RIDICULOUS.

Seriously, I saw something labeled as “Pegan” and while I laughed a little because it sounds like Negan (love me some TWD) i had to look at the note to find out that a Pegan is a Paleo-Vegan hybrid.  For Fucks Sake. Forgive me.  But if you think for one split second Mr. Neandertal was going to give up that juicy undomesticated deer he just stalked and killed with a shoddy assault weapon made from stone by choice…..just get out.

 

So, next time someone offers you a paleo friendly chia-and-pumpkin smoothie made with organic hormone free, free-range cow milk in their fancy Vitamix blender…just tell them to shove it.

If you want to try to eat fewer processed foods, be my guest – but just dont drag my paleolithic friends into it.

 

 

I love NY….and MA

Okay well, I’ve now learned that uploading a photo in WordPress can actually remove everything you’ve already written and the quick-save function is really a great way to make sure it’s gone forever.

Anyway, I, as I think everyone who lives in Upstate NY (which I define as above Kingston, but below Lake George – the geography and regional names can be a whole separate post) goes through a really crazy period when they’re growing up where we hate all things about Upstate, Hudson Valley, etc.  I hit mine around age 17 and didn’t outgrow it until after college, I think.  Now mind you, for some context – I grew up here, went to small private school, didn’t know what The North Face or Coach or anything like that was (seriously) until I went to college in Westchester.  Sheltered, if you will.  At that time in my life, I was baffled why anyone would want to live so sequestered from NYC ie/civilization.

Fast forward 10 years and I think Upstate is PERFECT.  Why?  Because I can have days like the one I had this past Saturday.  Babies (okay, little people, they’re not really babies anymore) wake up, we get ready and just as they start the “okay I’ve finally woken up now antsy” phase we load up and head out to Lee.  It’s about a 75 minute drive, perfect for the tiny one to take a quick post-breakfast nap and long enough for the older one to get out the sensory anxiety of mornings being morning.  We get to the outlets – which opened early that day – by 9 am and I actually accomplish my goal – boots for mama! x2! No tax! Sales!  Icing on the cake is shoes x4 for the kids….although that also involved buying one two bouncy balls (13.99 each, mind you. But they were buy one get one half off….the price of silence and cooperation).   My son, who normally doesn’t do well with such shopping outings, did incredibly well thanks to my advance planning *high fives myself* and that chocolate milk I picked up in the food court.  He walked around with me happily for a while then took a seat to drink up and chow down on a pop tart.   By the time we got the kids shoes done I was READY to cough up quarters into a silly little Garfield ride along and celebrate the successful morning.

It got even better, though.  Kids were still in a pretty good mood, everyone was pretty well fed, so we made the drive from Lee to Whitney’s Farm Stand, about a half hour drive the way my GPS took us.  We went back through Pittsfield (which is starting to look familiar since I drive this way quite often!) and the kids got out to play.  They went down some slides, climbed a bit – my son had a HUGE smile (which is amazing and a sign I did something right!) when he was climbing through a wooden thingy shaped like a tractor.  Mom. Win.  The little lady cautiously approached and ran away from all the farm animals and my son fell in love with a pumpkin, so we spent some money in the farm stand and set the GPS for home.

The drive back was about 90 minutes, and the kids slept for almost all of it.  I was driving, windows down a bit, smell of livestock and nature coming into the car – and I reflected on what a little jerk I was to hate this area as a kid.  Seriously? We have so much “civilization” (you don’t realize what a luxury a teaching hospital, a university with a research facility, and a sizable airport are until you meet people who have to drive 3 hours for any or all of them) right here and then so much more within day-tripping distance. Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, the incredibly diverse regions of NY – hell, Canada could even be a day trip if you were so inclined – everything from whales to mansions and good old-fashioned apple orchards.  I LOVE this state and this area…and our great neighbor Massachusetts.

 

She Shared an Article

That sounds incredibly harmless, doesnt it?  But that article, and the comment string, got me upset – actually, SAD – enough to sit down and start this blog and begin pouring my two cents onto this darn site.

What could have been so offensive? It was an article on Psychology Today about a book called Why French Kids Dont Have ADHD.  You can read it here HERE if you are so inclined.

Now, aside from the generalized first world problems we all have since we have the luxury of reading books about parenting and trying to determine an appropriate parenting style (can you imagine your grandparents, or even parents even having that kind of conversation?) I was actually hurt by some of the conversation on that post and similar ones where the article was shared.

Why? Becuase my son has special needs.  He is autistic and hyperactive. Yes, it is NOT ADHD the subject of this article, but the concept is similar to what you hear about the prevalence of Autism in America, and hyperactivity all the time. By devaluing the American standards of diagnois and the near denial of an actual condition this book and the commenters present, you not only blame me and other parents for our childrens conditions  (a consession that some small percentage of kids actually have brain chemistry problems doesnt cut it here) but you create yet another hurdle for my already struggling child to jump over.

It is like someone with excellent vision telling the guy with glasses that he thinks most people with glasses are just faking it.  “Oh, you know only about 10-20% of people with glasses actually have REAL vision problems.  The rest of them could be treated with behavior modification, like turning the brightness down on their phone or not watching so much TV, or sitting a little closer to the TV or holding their book a little farther away to make it focus.  They dont have REAL problems.”  Can you imagine saying that to someone?

For the record – my child is NOT medicated right now, so Im not even enraged over that conversation.  It’s the exacerbation of a social stigma around  having a nonpshycial disability that has me so sad and enraged.

What do you see when we go out? You see a three year old who cant speak as well as his peers and literally cant sit still.  Clearly, I didnt read the goddamn book about how the French talk to their children.  Clearly, I didnt provide him enough structure.  Clearly, I should have just let him cry in his crib by himself all goddamn night so he knew who was boss.  Then he would be able to read my face, to make eye contact, to know what “NO” really means.   He would know how to wait in line then. He would understand what is appropriaite in public and what conversational language is.  Hell, he might even eat food that isnt mac and cheese or pizza. EXCEPT NOT.  None of these things would have prevented a diagnosis.  Some of these things, particularly the ones revolving around getting my son to “know who is boss” could have seriosuly hurt becuase my son was in no way ready to understand such concepts.

Sure, we overdiagnose. I wont argue on that. I am sure there are kids with labels on meds who dont need them.  And hell, before I had my own children I thought the equation was as following the rules.  Feed every x hours, channge a diaper, tummy time for x minutes a day determined by how old they are, scheduled nap time, Back to sleep, leave the room, blah blah blah…until that just didnt work.  Sometimes, it just doesnt work.

Not only did we have to work to get an appropriate diagnosis (notice how I didnt say it was handed out like candy, here?) but we have a list a mile long of everyday challenges, and this just adds one more. I am judged. He is judged.  Then I am faced with yet another article planting the seed to question whether his diagnosis is *authentic* per their facebook-informed standards?

I spend my days working. My mornings and nights and weekends, with my children.  I am incredibly lucky to have a village to make it all easier. Little things like getting dressed can be a strain. First we get dressed, then we go outside. First we need shoes, then we can get in the car.  First we eat breakfast (seriously, eating is one of the hardest) then we go see grandma. And, while I am getting some conversational responses, I am more often met with: “The boogie bear.  ABCDEFG.  hahahahaha. Bubble Puppy.  Everybody Say Oh, Toodles. 12345678910.  MommY? MOMMY? MOMMY! Oh,  Baby. Hugs. Love. Hugs Mommy. Want to do this. QRSTUV.  the itsy bitsy spider go up the water spout…”  Yes, that is one continuous thought.  My son memorizes pretty much everything he hears, and my understanding is that his brain just plays all of it on repeat all at the same time.  No amount of structure is going to change that.  We can teach him how to manage it, strategies for sorting through and applying filters – but we cant do any of that if we deny the valididty of his condition.

And while I sit here thankful to hear what is running through his brain, knowing what it is like to have a child who is pretty nonverbal, and with friends who would kill to hear even a seemingly disjointed string of many words – someone out there is telling me my kid only has problems becuase of my shortcomings as a parent?  Sure, I have many shortcomings. But I did not cause my childs brain to be wired the way it is any farther than genetics is involved. I spend my days and nights worrying about him. Losing sleep before he starts his new school. Worrying that we wont have the right Speech Thearpist.  Worrying that the other kids will be mean to him and he cant tell me. Trying to build vocabulary, trying to convey emotion, trying to teach social skills – and then to have one author and many, many commentors who dont undersand this day to day reality say that these kinds of problems are due to my parenting style?   Because the French raise their kids differently?

Forget that.

Moral of the story here?  Know that it hurts.  Know that we take it personally.  Know that every mom of a special needs child has spent many sleepless nights wondering if it was all their fault, but to have some stupid parenting methodology from France touted as the cure all rubs salt in very open wounds.  I would rather live in a world where we overdiagnose and accept that some kids need more help and that is okay, and where EI services are provided and where IEPs are common than to live in a place where a child has to elimiate  Red #40 from their diet before they can get speech therapy.

 

 

I should add…I am not even particularly upset or angry with the individual who indirectly  brought the article to my attention.  If you somehow read this, its not personal. I just think adding qualifiers to diagnoses is a terrible and dangerous road to go down that makes it harder for the kids who need extra help.