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Make Paleo a Religion

There are times when everyone feels overwhelmed. In this fast paced world we live in, patients repeatedly remark that they do not have the time to cook which makes their ability to stay on any food plan difficult. Patients are constantly looking for ways to be compliant with some sort of variation of a Paleo or ketogenic diet, with the added convenience of McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, or Wendy's. All of us are always on-the-go.

What makes matters worse is that the majority of patients want variety. No one likes to eat the same food day to day unless they have to. If someone has the discipline to eat the same food over and over, but does not experience joy with their self-control, they just suffer through their meals. Mealtime creates a large amount of anxiety, and many people decide to avoid eating all together. That is not eating a Paleo diet. That is starving.

For the most part, illness is an epigenetic phenomenon. Epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors. These factors or confounding variables switch genes on and off and affect how cells read genes as opposed to being caused by changes in the DNA sequence. Epigenetic research seeks to describe dynamic alterations in the transcriptional potential of a cell. What everyone eats is a major epigenetic factor in their gene expression. Psychosocial stress is another major one. Hence, eating a Paleo food plan and having healthy relationships are two great steps to creating a healthy environment.

As most people mature, hopefully they realize that decision making is not binary; there is no right or wrong, on or off, black or white, with nothing in between. When situations arise that require a decision, most are in the gray zone and the wiser the patient, the more they appreciate all the shades of gray related to their situation. I've found that in treating patients, one rarely recovers or has a positive outcome without giving something else up. A corollary exists: patients rarely experience illness without gaining something in the process. Sometimes the gain is just having the wisdom to better deal with their illness somewhere down the road. Or, realizing more compassion for the infirm.

Recently, a patient came into the office and related she was reluctant to return because she had not followed any of my advice since our last visit. She thought I would become irate and kick her out of the practice because of her non-compliance. I found her thoughts amusing. We all have been non-compliant at some point in our lives, some of us more non-compliant than others. There are many factors that contribute to non-compliant behavior, and I do not see non-compliant patients as trouble for the office. Since they are the ones suffering from their illnesses, if they choose to stay unhealthy, I honor that decision and try my hardest to treat them as best that I can in their worldviews. But most patients do not choose to stay unhealthy. They just cannot find a way to change their lifestyle enough to be compliant. Most of the time, non-compliance is rooted in the lack of time to shop, prepare food, and cook. Most people are in a hurry these days. Always.

I recall reading a study executed immediately following WW II which evaluated the time homemakers spent cooking food. In that study, one of ten women worked outside the home. The average time housewives spent cooking was eight to nine hours per day. A similar study was repeated in 1956. Three out of four women were employed outside the home. The average time spent cooking meals had dropped to three hours a day. I would like to see that study repeated today. I suspect on average, people spend less that ninety minutes cooking a day and almost all women work outside of the home.

Healing from an illness, regardless of its severity, takes time and lifestyle change. Changing to a Paleo food plan is difficult since most restaurants and fast food joints are not concerned with those of us who are Paleo eaters. Grocery stores are catering to the masses, not to a particular subpopulation interested in only a few foodstuffs. Processed foods have made life easier, more convenient, but by using those products, you are going to give up something for the convenience: your health.

I believe that communities will begin to embrace healthy food. Instead of spending millions of dollars for swim clubs and recreational playgrounds, someone somewhere will construct a community commissary for healthy eating. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be prepared for either take home dining or eating in. The community members will pay a monthly fee to assure that an appropriate economy of scale is achieved. And, the demands for chefs skilled in the Paleo culinary arts will sky rocket as well as the need for local fresh vegetables and meats delivered to the commissary daily. Sound absurd? Not at all.

When all of the health care reforms have been put into place, the cost of being ill will be so outrageously high that people will be looking for ways to stay healthy. Eating healthy will be less expensive than being ill. Although the costs are very high now, in the future, they will double, maybe triple. I think most people will welcome community eateries and commissaries that provide healthy Paleo experiences because their health will be the most valuable asset they have. Now all we have to do is change the zoning laws so that eateries can be built within communities. Or, make Paleo a religion. If Paleo becomes a religion, the commissary will be its church.

And, no one can stop a church planting in any community. No one.

Doc
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