Angie Alt is wife, mother, world traveler & blogger. She’s also a warrior in the autoimmunity war. Angie confronts three autoimmune disorders each day, including Celiac Disease, with powerful management techniques like AIPaleo & the Paleolithic lifestyle. She blogs regularly about the emotional side of tackling autoimmunity, adopting Paleo, and how it impacts her, her family, & their way of life. You can read more by Angela Alt at her blog and connect with her on Facebook.
You know what is challenging? Walking the line. I’m talking about the line between the Paleo and the Non-Paleo worlds. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit lately, because I’ve notice myself needing a little breathing room in both spheres.
First, you have the Non-Paleo world. Believe it or not, I still live here. Most of the time I have to function within the “Standard American” model. I have to shop at stores filled to capacity with foods I basically see as poison. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis have, at most, only heard the word Paleo and know nothing beyond that. Even TV shows and ads . . . all fit the Non-Paleo mold. The sitcom family sits down to a dinner of pasta and French bread. The couple on the Match.com ad meets for their first date and shares bites of dessert . . . a slice of gluten and processed-sugar filled cake. GASP! The Non-Paleo world can’t be ignored.
What happens when I try to explain who I am, my lifestyle, in that setting? Some people are curious and politely interested, but most people fall into three categories: A) silently confused or B) plainly wondering if I’m part of a cult . . . maybe even one of the cult leaders, or C) aggressively defensive. I think my passionate exuberance for this way of living, even though it has miraculously changed my health for the better, probably comes off a bit bonkers. I end up constantly trying to tweak my delivery, so as not to scare innocent bystanders away. Or worse yet, make them think I am judging their choices. I’ve discovered the answer for me and unquestionably I think it can work for many, but my every thought is not about what others are eating or if they have perfected their circadian rhythms. Basically, the Paleo movement is still seen as a little counter-culture and I am trying to walk the line of confidence in my choices, without pushing away everyone.
Then there is the Paleo world. I blog in it, I read it, I listen to podcasts on it, I run a Facebook page in support of it, I live it, my family lives it, and many of my close friends live it. It is a bit of a bubble. It can be very, very easy, almost disturbingly so, to forget that there is anything else. Doesn’t everyone know they should be eating grass-fed liver for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone talk about how to render lard at a dinner party? It’s not normal to pay $40.00 for four-dozen soy-free, grain-free eggs? Huh.
Here’s the rub. Although I have tons of awesome friends and supporters in the Paleo movement, being real can sometimes be a very vulnerable moment. Especially in my case, where I run a public page and blog and collaborate with lots of others in the movement, not maintaining 100% perfection can get you in trouble. None of us like it, but there are “Paleo police” everywhere. Just to up the ante even more, I’m an AIPer. The “Autoimmune Protocol police” can be more like vigilantes. Yikes! For example, I once posted a picture of my new food processor with lots of farm fresh produce around it, including tomatoes and peppers (I was getting ready to make fresh salsa for my hubby and daughter). The AIP vigilantes came down on me hard about the “illegal” nightshades. I have not been able to reintroduce them and had to quickly explain myself. God forbid you do not “look” like the Paleo ideal! Too heavy, too thin, no ripped six-pack abs? You’re out! Being a human being and being Paleo can sometimes feel incompatible.
I doubt I am the only one that finds the line in these two worlds tough to walk at times. So what can we do? What do you think Paleo community? How can we make it easier to function in both worlds? How do we make our way more comfortably in the Non-Paleo world and find a way to relax in the Paleo one? I’d love to hear your thoughts.