Since I started eating this way and got more involved with the Paleo community, I can’t help but notice several distinct types of Paleo Followers.
1. The Ex Vegetarians and Ex Vegans
I am always amazed at how many people fall into this category. To go from a Vegan diet, with all of the legumes and grains that includes; and complete lack of animal products – to the complete opposite; eating all parts of many different animals from head-to-toe and no grains or legumes?
When you think about it further, it isn't really all that surprising. Vegans and Vegetarians tend to be health conscious and chose what, at the time, appeared to be the healthiest course of action. It can’t be easy to make such a radical transformation, particularly as being Vegetarian or Vegan almost becomes an identity.
2. The “I Want a Bikini Body/ Get a Six Pack in 10 Days” Group
Most of these people don’t hang around for long. They are looking for a magic super food they can eat with their usual meals that will make the fat melt away. Overnight. Paleo sounds like a good option – you can’t argue with bacon and eggs for breakfast and the premise that calorie counting is not required. This falls down because Paleo isn't “a diet”, it’s a lifestyle to follow for the long haul. Without addressing the lifestyle factors like sleep, sunshine, stress and fitness, it’s not going to have the same benefits.
A minority of the weight loss entrants do realise there is more to this lifestyle than vanity. Health problems reduce or disappear, energy levels increase and they realise weight loss is just a positive side effect – the real reason for Paleo is health.
3. The Scientists
This is perhaps the most influential and loudest group. We all know who they are! Instead of focusing on common ground, this group like to create and resolve contentious issues. Paleo must follow prescribed macro nutrient ratios. Blood tests and specific supplements are essential. A Very Low Carb Ketogenic diet is optimal. Carbs are essential. Cold water immersion. Safe Starches. Food Reward. Fructose. As soon as one debate dies down, another rises.
I'm happy for them to argue these issues out in the background, so long as it doesn't distract from the 99% of common ground they all share. Meanwhile, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, experimenting and exploring which brand of Paleo works for me.
4. The Antagonists
There are both Antagonists within the Paleo community and those Antagonists alone in their Paleo adventures.
The Antagonists within the community are vocal in their outlandish views – and aren't afraid to call out when they feel someone in the community is not right or just. Provocative yet fun – and essential in keeping those in the community accountable.
Others followers come to Paleo as Antagonists. These people positively enjoying riling their fat-fearing friends, by eating copious amounts of meat. Without cutting the fat off. Or pouring away the excess fat. When their concerned friends and family try to intervene and push margarine on the Antagonist, they will be among the first to challenge their friends to a six-pack-off.
5. The Covert Paleo
These are the sneaky converts. They've been watching and mocking you for months. They've shot down everything you've said about nutrition and were the first to tell you what a silly idea this Paleo nonsense is. But you've recently noticed you haven't seen them eating bread for a while – and their skin is looking clearer and brighter? That’s right – they've finally realised you were right all along, but feel a bit too sheepish to admit it to you. Best to invited them round for a hog roast and say no more about it.
6. The Athletes
They heard Paleo might increase their performance. Despite being sceptical about avoiding the pre-race pasta party they gave it a try – anything to get an advantage is worth a shot. Amazed at the improvements, the next step is minimalist footwear!
7. The Formerly Unwell
There is nothing like being sick to force a change. Many people go from doctor to doctor and drug to drug. The net effect is often side effects from the drugs – rather than improvement of symptoms. Fortunately many people reach a point where they take on the role of detective themselves and question the role of their nutrition and lifestyle in their health and stumble upon Paleo and become avid followers.
8. The Parents
They may have had no more than a passing interest in nutrition – until they became Parents. Suddenly the responsibility of another person and desire to be healthy to bring the child up spurs them to find out how they can eat and live to thrive as a family.
These are one of the most important groups, with the power to influence the next generation – and the burden of trying to influence the outdated views of the schools and other parents they need to interact with.
9. The Wannabies
These people love the idea of an ancestral lifestyle and being part of the Paleo community. They’ve even done a Whole30. Apart from at Friday work drinks. And business trips. And family meals. And when they were in a rush to get to work. And when they forgot to go shopping that time.
“Cheats” creep up from rarely, to a daily occurrence. A small amount of good quality dark chocolate occasionally, becomes a daily indulgence in cheap junk chocolate.
They aren't Paleo anymore, but haven’t quite acknowledged it.
10. Paleo Fanatic
They follow all the key Paleo blogs and are quick to jump in when a friend ponders whether to go for brown or white bread. They find themselves tutting when noticing strangers feeding their children with Neolithic junk and often have to hold themselves back from commenting.
Their bookshelf resembles a who’s who of Paleo authors and they are on first name terms with their local butcher, who knows to put aside chicken feet and heart. Their kitchen is the frequent location for experimental cooking and a scoby isn't a cartoon character.
Which Type of Paleo Follower Are You?
I confess, I was a 2, who was starting to become a 7 – but now I am most definitely a 10 working towards a 6…
Did I miss any groups? Which group do you fall into?