Completely Paleo? Or…Mostly?

During a recent SKYPE conversation with an international client, I was asked an interesting question.

“Nell, I read The Paleo Diet and it talks about an 85% plan.  Will  you write my meal plan at 85% rather than 100% and then I can still have my favorite non Paleo cheat foods?”, John (as I’ll call him) asked.

At first I thought, no.  I jokingly asked if he wanted me to add a Friday night meal consisting of pizza and beer and, despite my expectation that he’d laugh at my hilarious one-liner (ok, not that funny)…there was just silence and a blank expression on his face.

Because Dr. Cordain’s work is what provided my own introduction to Paleo, and he himself in his own book refers to the 85% idea, who am I to tell this client that I would not be willing to endorse that idea, when I openly advocate everything else Dr. Cordain’s research has proven?

It really proved to be an interesting dilemma.

How far outside of Paleo can one go if they’re ‘85% Paleo’?  Does it mean including foods that many people view as being in a grey area, such as freshly picked green beans, or the occasional drizzle of vinegar on one’s raw kale, or is it a huge leap into the realm of deep-fried, breaded, uber-processed food stuffs?

Ultimately, I still do suggest people at least try to be completely Paleo when they start.   If, for example, you had a latent, mild allergy to gluten that you were unaware of, and, in your first few days or weeks of Paleo you still had some bread, that would be enough to keep you from reaping all the benefits you’d be seeing if you were at the 100% level.

In the end, I told John that I didn’t want to write his plan to include foods that were not Paleo, but that if he opted to include something that wasn’t, since we were already well into our third month working together, he was certainly at his own free will to do so.

And that’s the same message I’d suggest to you.

If you’ve been completely Paleo for a month, or two and you’re curious about that ice cream sundae or Philly Cheese Steak, of course, you can try it and then see how you feel.

My hope is that you can be honest with yourself, gather information and then reassess whether or not that item you ate is really something you want in your diet.

For me, the knowledge that if I were to eat something containing gluten, for example, would leave me in dire pain and discomfort, is enough to make it something I’m not even willing to consider.

Yes, I do recommend being completely Paleo, while at the same time, I’ll have to admit that being 85% Paleo is still better than not being Paleo at all!