The Evolution of the Paleo Diet on Quiet the Diet with Michelle Shapiro RD

QTD: The Evolution of the Paleo Diet

Season 2 Episode 3 of the Quiet the Diet Podcast with Michelle Shapiro, RD

The Evolution of the Paleo Diet w/ Liz Wolfe & Steph Greunke

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In this episode, Michelle sits down with Liz Wolfe, NTP and Stephanie Greunke, RD to discuss the history and evolution of the Paleo Diet over the past 15 years. They touch on its history and health benefits, but also its downsides and what the paleo movement spiraled into.

They discuss: 

  • What is the Paleo diet & why was it created? 
  • The response of different nutrition communities
  • Strict Paleo rules vs. general principles 
  • Downsides of the movement
  • Its ties to orthorexia/ eating disorders/ diet culture
  • Evolution of the Paleo diet into a functional health approach 
  • Where we go from here – finding a “structured flexibility” approach
The Evolution of the Paleo Diet on Quiet the Diet with Michelle Shapiro RD


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Liz Wolfe’s resources: 

Balanced Bites podcast
Follow Liz on IG

Steph Greunke’s resources:
The Doctor Mom podcast
Postpartum Reset Program
Follow Steph on IG

Work with Michelle and her free resources: 

Quiet the Diet
Podcast Page
Work 1-on-1 with a functional Registered Dietitian at Michelle Shapiro Nutrition LLC
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I know I don’t have to tell you this but this episode is only for educational purposes. It is not nutrition or personalized medical advice. We want you to get the most from the episode!

The Resurgence of the Paleo Diet

Welcome to the Paleo episode of quiet the diet. I am so excited to have two darling close friends with me. Liz Wolf and Steph Greunke. I originally wanted to have Liz and Steph on the podcast to talk about, you know anything nutrition related. Liz is an NTP and Steph is an RD. And they’re both very functionally minded.

What kind of brought us together was that we were all early either adopters or in their case professionally associated with the Paleo diet. And I’m seeing a lot kind of culturally and in our society with the Paleo Diet being now having kind of a resurgence and people feeling like they need to be really strict on it to get any benefits and the Paleo diet is important to me, because I think it was for a lot of us functional dietitians, the first kind of step into the idea that food can be healing.

And that was you know, a while ago that a lot of us were introduced to it and Liz and Steph have been integral in the messaging behind the Paleo diet. And I wanted to bring them on to talk about it talk about that really special period of time where we all were like, holy moly, this is way different than anything we’ve learned in nutrition school, what got us so excited about it, and then what we see as being kind of problematic now when people are adopting a strict paleo diet.

And I jokingly say, if Liz and Steph are not perfect paleo, probably, it’s not necessary for anyone to be because they were the people who were behind a lot of the materials you see today, a lot of the messaging you see today, and we’re hugely integral in the Paleo community with both of their very successful podcasts for a very, very long time, both of them so I really wanted to hear from them and their perspective, because again, I’m seeing so much material about all this now.

And I think the Paleo diet has evolved for its usage, the science we know about it. And it’s something that was very important to me, and remains important to me and as my path from being more of a conventionally trained dietitian to a more functional one.

And I want to talk about what some of those downfalls are with following any diet even an awesome therapeutic one blindly and I could not have two better guests for that. So I’m so excited to have Liz and Steph today. And I can’t wait for you all to hear this episode

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Intro to Liz Wolfe and Steph Greunke

Michelle Shapiro

I’m gonna set the stage for everyone on this podcast. The year is 2009 ish. Podcasting has become a sensation and rising to the top of the podcasting world is the Paleo community. Within that paleo community are two brilliant minds. Steph Greunke and Liz Wolfe. And we have them both here today. Hello, paleo and podcasting. OG’s, Steph and Liz, thank you for coming on today.

Liz Wolfe 

Are you going to have like, applause track? Hey,

Steph Greunke 

Michelle, you had me laughing like two seconds into the podcast. So this is going to be an interesting one.

Michelle Shapiro 

I’m nervous. I’m literally nervous. Wait, you know, the three of us have been talking in our group chat, which I formerly titled all of our heights and weights, because we’re all kind of the same height and weight, which I thought was very chill and fun. We were talking about how our biggest fear of this podcast was that it would be a six hour podcast, and we all have lives and businesses and you know, you to have children to get back to so we’re gonna do our best to laugh a lot and to share a lot but within you know, only like a four or five hour timeframe.

So I want you guys I’m gonna do an intro for you guys. But I want you to intro yourselves also so that my listeners who I’m sure already know both of you can really get get reacquainted or if they’re new to get to know you. So, Liz, or step one, have you hit us with your intro? Tell it and then we’ll kind of roll from there.

Liz Wolfe 

Okay, well, I’m Liz Wolfe. I’m still getting used to these headphones. Because even though I’ve been podcasting for 10 years, I have not actually adapted to all of the cool equipment that’s out there, like headphones, or that’s new. I have been doing the like online talking about food things since probably 2011.

And in that time, I’ve done a lot of programs and I published a book or my book was published in 2014. It’s called Eat the yolks. And 10 years later, it’s still shocking to me that I’m hearing people talk about egg egg white omelets, and that they’re still on the menu. Anywhere I get it. It’s protein, but it’s floppy, and it’s watery, and it’s disgusting. So just double double x’s in both columns for flavor and nutrition.

And now I’m sort of in the more in the mom world, doing a lot of encouraging moms to get moving in a way that resonates most with them, providing resources as much as possible, and hopefully sort of simplifying the dietary stuff to the degree that I can to those with whom my message resonates. There you go.

Michelle Shapiro 

I think you do a masterful job at that. And I think you’re extremely funny along the way. And I already have some really fun. You’re extremely funny and have amazing hair. We always talk about this every podcast we do together. And less. Also, I think it’s so funny because you wrote ether yolks in 2014. And I just did a podcast last season about the cholesterol debate because we’re not through it yet.

We’re not out of the woods yet people still believe wholeheartedly. You know it within the medical system practitioners themselves that consumption of cholesterol causes heart disease. So the fact that I think this conversation is going to be very relevant. The conversations you were having in 2011 are still the same conversations in different forms we’re having today, which is frustrating in some ways. And then in some ways, I think we’ve gone farther and a good in a good way. So thank you guys. Thanks for the book to stuff. Drop us your intro.

Steph Greunke 

Yeah. Like you just you’re more amazing when you give yourself credit for oh, I don’t know, like, who am I? I guess like I graduated as an RD in 2009. Are we gonna get like really philosophical? And I remember graduating and one of the first things that I encountered as a dietitian was my husband coming home from a CrossFit class saying, Hey, I’m thinking about doing this paleo diet, what do you think and at the time, I was a vegetarian.

And that’s what I was kind of indoctrinated into in my training as a dietitian, and I immediately told him no, because of that cholesterol stuff, like, oh my gosh, all those egg yolks all that saturated fat. And reading the Paleo diet by Robb Wolf was my first, I guess, conflict or like, just push me against what my beliefs were in a way where it was a different style of teaching that made sense in all the pathways made sense and what he was talking about. While it was conflicting, it was something that I wanted to dive into.

And I would say that that was really the start of my functional medicine and holistic career of being able to take conflicting advice in giving it the time of day that it deserves to really understand how I feel and what’s out there. So I’ve been working with women for a really long time in different capacities, whether it’s supporting them through elimination diets, I worked with the whole 30 for about six years, and did programming with the founder and worked with them full time and with their whole Mama’s pregnancy program.

So Women’s Health PCOS elimination diets, then moved on to prenatal and postpartum nutrition, because those areas of health are really underserved. And the quality and quantity of information that’s given of what you can do proactively to take care of yourself is just not there. So that’s what I’m doing today is working on prenatal postnatal nutrition for women, that does not necessarily always equal a paleo diet.

Michelle Shapiro 

And I love stuff to your approach just you as a person, but I love your approach to working with clients. It’s so compassionate, and you have these beautiful long term clients you’ve worked with too. And I know you kind of like you said, you see the science for what it is and you’re also open to applying curiosity and looking deeper unless you’re the same way when something feels, I don’t know, revolutionary or wrong. You’re like, well, let me learn why this is interesting in the first place and what the merit is.

I think the Paleo diet for all three of us was I was like, gobsmacked when I first started reading like, you know, Chris Kresser’s books, Robb Wolf’s, like you said, I was on like, Robb Wolf’s blog, and I was like, Whoa, this is so cool. And it was, for me, the Paleo diet was for me, the first time that I was like, Oh, this is so different and feels so much more right to me than what I had learned and that, at the time, the Paleo Diet 2009 2011, like we’re talking about was really popularized, like you said, in CrossFit gyms and with these practitioners or researchers, but it definitely was not popularized in the Nutrition and Dietetics community.

It was definitely very counter definitely very, not chill, to be saying that. And it wasn’t so much then like a diet culture issue. It was a snake oil issue. It was like this is not scientifically based and all that stuff. Can either of you kind of speak into that a little bit. And what your experience is, was Liz as an NTP, and Steph as an RD, we had this kind of idea, oh my God inside of us. Paleo is like, oh, there’s some promising interesting stuff about this as a new way of looking at things. But then what kind of was the response from your, your nutrition communities at the time, in the beginning,

Mixed opinions on the Paleo diet from Nutritionists

Liz Wolfe 

what I ended up doing was, this is the whole reason I wrote my book in the first place, was that there was this push pull, where there are things that I was saying, they were making sense to people, and you know, we can get into the nitty gritty of how, like, at the beginning, Paleo was very low carb, and it was, you know, all of these different manifestations and iterations of it that have sort of popped up to the years as people experiment and you know, look back and look at their mistakes that might have been made.

But when I was first talking about Paleo, it was fully like sprung from my involvement with CrossFit. I was a level one coach for a very short period of time a certified level one coach for a very short period of time, going through the nutritional Therapy Association’s program and becoming an NTP. All the things I was talking about, would be met with that type of resistance like but what about the cholesterol? Well, is an animal protein doesn’t cause cancer, or carbs, you know, don’t I need fiber from bread and isn’t isn’t that really important?

And so I actually wrote this book and divided it up into sections. The chapters are literally like we have the protein chapter, we have the carb chapter, we have the fat chapter, we have the nutrients chapter, and every single one of them was just like everything that I was saying to people on a regular basis, like this. This is what you’ve been told about cholesterol. This is what the evidence actually says. Or at the very least, this is the evidence that exists to contradict what you’ve been hearing. And it’s, it’s valid.

And so presenting that talking about how important cholesterol is in the body for hormone health, all of that. Then going through a lot of what I learned from some of these other really intrepid thinkers and scientists in the Paleo community who were breaking down things like the China Study, which by the way, the China study a book by T, Colin Campbell, it’s not a study, it’s a book about a study that was done.

It’s it’s a little bit it’s complex, but people like Denise Minga, who I don’t even know what her status is these days, but she was just this, really, she was like a watchdog like she was somebody who was really intelligent, with enough spare time to go in and break down a lot of the things that people were saying about the China study about animal protein, causing cancer, and then going into fat, saturated fat, trans fat, all of these distinctions that we hadn’t made, and just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So it really was just meeting people where they were and saying, I know, you know, this, this is what I knew knew and quotes as well. And this is what there’s actually evidence to fully contradict that, that also dovetails with, like, our instinct, and our evolution and our common sense. So I’m not saying paleo as presented by any one person or organization is right, or I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I’m saying the ideas within are compelling enough that I think they deserved another look.

And then, you know, at this point, I think they’ve kind of been folded into the overall like cultural. I don’t know if you’d say zeitgeist, nutrition zeitgeist, but this idea that whole foods from nature, are pretty much as close to optimal as you can get. And then it’s just kind of how you implement that, how much of one thing and how much of another.

Michelle Shapiro 

And I’m gonna agree with you times a million on the fact that, you know, for paleo for me, and why it appealed, I think, to all of us was, for the first time from a nutrition community standpoint, that I was looking at something and I was looking at it not from the same framework.

So it’s not so much what the Paleo diet is in ways of the foods or anything like that. For me, it was if I was learning about IBS, and my undergrad, I was learning about not even a low FODMAP diet at the time, probably, but I was learning about, here are some foods that could make IBS irritated, you know, that’s kind of what it was, at the time. Don’t piss off your reflux, don’t eat spicy, or acidic foods that are going to make your reflux worse.

And paleo was the first time for me that I was like, Oh, the whole goal is different. The goal is you’re reversing disease using food. And that, for me, was hugely revelatory, especially on my own anxiety journey. Because I was like, Wait, these foods that I can eat can actually help me with my anxiety. I couldn’t. It was like unfathomable to me, essentially. And that’s what I think was so charged with the r&d community at the time. And why it was it was so dismissed in the r&d community. And I know stuff.

You’ll talk into this too, but it wasn’t even like a thing. It was like, yeah, yeah, it’s some Jim Burroughs of CrossFit talking about, you know, all this stuff. But I think for me, it was that initial shift into what you know, I consider functional nutrition or functional medicine and the kind of at its root, this idea that we’re not just trying to manage illness, but that we’re actually trying to reverse it.

And that food has a role in that. You know, that, for me, Paleo was huge, and just opening that door. And again, we’re not saying it’s perfect, and we will also talk at some point about what a paleo diet even is, if it’s new to some people, it’s been around, you know, like we said, 15 years, and actually longer, but we will talk about that, too.

So Steph, tell me, you got fascinated with the Paleo diet, too. And you got fascinated with kind of functional nutrition. What was that like? Having come again, from this vegetarian kind of mindset? Were you getting pushback from our D peers? What was your experience like?

Steph Greunke 

Yeah, so I remember actually going to there’s an annual conference every year for Dietitians. And it’s very interesting conference, there’s a humongous Expo that is largely sponsored by Coca Cola and Nestle and all of these different brands.

And within that Expo, there was a booth that was set up for victory about publishing, which was the book that Robb Wolf’s book and a couple of others down the line were published by and they rob had asked me to come and stand at the booth and talk about the Paleo diet to dietitian so you’re giving me all these flashbacks and things that have happened that I just remember now.

And I remember standing at the booth and having all these Dietitians walk by and what was so interesting to me it was that it seems like the dietitians that have been in the game for a while were the ones that were quick to dismiss and kind of roll their eyes at me at the booth and maybe come up and see what was going on or tell me their concerns and complaints and it was that like, where are you gonna get your fiber and whole grains are really important and Aren’t you afraid of the saturated fat and the things that we are constantly hearing that have value but You have to take that next step to understand like, okay, well what does that actually mean?

And is desaturate that a concern for everybody and all of those things that we know in functional medicine, so but the younger RDS that were maybe RDS to be, or they had just gotten their degree, they were the ones that were interested, they were the ones that were maybe questioning things themselves about the food guide, the food, play, the MyPlate, whatever it was, you know, whatever you want to call it, or you understand it by. So there was definitely a mix.

And I think it was interesting to be able to talk to the people and spend my energy on the people that were open to it. And I hate confrontation. So my approach has always been, I will speak my truth to the people that will listen and I will not expend my energy on the people that are intentionally wanting to misunderstand, because you’re just gonna spin your circles and spin in circles with people who have already made up their mind that it’s a terrible approach. So that’s, that’s kind of how I had

Michelle Shapiro 

Yeah, I when I graduated school, I was in what I would call like, hardcore conventional nutrition working for private practices that were very within kind of the model of what I would call the consensus of nutrition, which was like weight loss, calories, that kind of game. And what I would also say is the Paleo diet was extremely challenging to all of the scientific truths that we learned in school.

So I think it was really hard for dietitians and an honest way to be like, what what did everything was everything I just learned, like, totally not it like did I actually, it really challenged the core of conventional nutrition and a lot of ways which was like earth shattering for me. So there was like a grieving for me too, because I was like, Oh, I was so proud of this dietitian degree.

I’m not not proud of my Dietitian, degree, I think the basis of science is still really great. It challenged the ego part of my degree, which is, you know, there’s a lot of ego in the nutrition community on all sides, certainly in the Paleo community, too, and all this. But it challenged us to look at our own attachment to our identity through our degrees also, I think it was it was like very harrowing. I was like, oh, whoa, this is totally not what I you know, what I’ve been looking at our learning.

What is the Paleo diet and why was it developed?

And I think, again, a paleo diet. So silly, because we’re talking about like a style of eating, having such a grand impact, but it certainly did. And I think it was kind of what led a lot of people into the field of functional nutrition and the passion for it. So I’m going to walk 15 steps back. When we say a paleo diet, what we’re talking about is is this specific style of eating, which includes consuming foods and their most whole form and excludes foods like corn, soy, lagoons, grains and dairy.

Can you either of you just on the most basic level speak to why this diet was developed and why these specific foods are not included? Less you want to jump in?

Liz Wolfe 

Sure. And I wanted to make a quick comment on ego as well. At one point, I felt like you and I have talked about this. At one point, I felt like I had to get my rd to be able to move forward and be helpful to people. I’m so grateful that I found the nutritional therapy Association. But what I decided to do instead was to go get my MPH my master’s in public health. And I’m telling you, one, I got one course in to my MPH.

And I recognize that same level of ego around how what we know scientifically, or what we think we know scientifically is applied on the public health sphere. And it’s just it’s just wild to think how all we want to do is help people right and how many layers of special interests and and scientific sort of illiteracy and ego can be sort of layered on top of good people who just want to be helpful. It was it was pretty crazy. So I dropped that pretty darn quick. So I am still wildly uncredentialed.

Michelle Shapiro 

It’s your wild down credentialed and I again, I’m not the type of Dietitian, who you know, and I’ll say this stuff, and you can agree or disagree, but in school, it was a lot of like, dietitians are the only nutrition experts. And the reason that kind of, I think we do that it’s because we want to gain licensure and get higher salaries for Dietitians.

My approach and this is just, you know, the first time I’m really even talking about it on the podcast, I was working in nursing homes, and part of my work in nursing homes was to give if someone had lost X amount of weight and the time that they were in the nursing home, it’s obviously a risk factor. If you’re elderly and you know, fragile in any way to lose weight rapidly could be a sign of a bigger issue.

So you have to put an intervention in place when that happens. It’s absolutely required. And the intervention for dietitians is generally you have to give ensure, and I was like well can we kind of make smoothies and some nursing homes are more open to this than others. Not really the ones I was working on it was always a cost thing I was like but these are actually expensive and it was very hard for me to understand kind of the system that was in place and I am by nature on Like Yusef, I’m very rebellious.

And I’m very willing to go against the grain, but only when it’s for a good reason and not in harming anyone. And for me, there was like a, like I was getting sick over the work that I was doing. And I realized, and this is the honest truth, I was like, I can’t work within this system. So I’m gonna have to just leave and create my own business altogether, because I can’t be bound by all of what you’re talking about LIS I can’t be bound by other people’s egos. Bad science that’s been perpetuated by lobbying and food companies and food workers.

I was like, I’m just not there are people like Marion Nestle, like, God bless her because she does. Day in and day out does everything to fight these, the system wide issues, but for me, and most transparency, I wanted to help the individual and maybe that makes me a worse person or something.

But I was like, I need to leave so I can do the actual one on one work, because I realized how ingrained all these systems were and in my own head to like about, I’m telling you, it’s so silly that something like paleo could have taken me there. But it really did. I was like, Whoa, like, this is so so challenging who I am as a person and what I believed before and it was just like, don’t eat grains like that, that little thing could could have such an impact.

Okay, so, anyone take us back really quick. Give us a little paleo rundown to stuff you will remember. Give?

Liz Wolfe 

Yes, you go ahead. I was thinking about Lauren Lauren Cordain. To way back there. Yeah. Yeah. Georgia, cheese. It’s everything is like 80s. So they’ve been talking about for a long time. But yeah, stuff. You. You go.

Steph Greunke 

Yeah, I think when a lot of people think about Paleo, what I heard at least from Dietitians, were was this understanding that paleo is just eating what ancestrally was appropriate or what caveman used to eat and these type of things.

But what we’re looking at is a framework that you mentioned that Michelle is focused on whole unprocessed foods. And so it’s not about eating a specific way that our ancestors ate, or based on maybe like paleo, lithic principles necessarily, it’s about getting back to the roots of what is the most nutrient dense foods available.

And when we think about a paleo diet, what are the most nutrient dense food is going to be your meats is going to be your seafood, it’s going to be your fruits and vegetables. It’s going to be the addition of whole fats like avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, not ones that are processed with a bunch of honey roasted or sugars, sweeteners that are more from maple syrup and honey versus maybe stevia splendid type things that are more highly processed.

And so I know there’s a lot more history and maybe Liz, you can get into that of like, where it stemmed from I know Lauren Cordain has like his he had a book actually before Robb Wolf that went into his understanding of the literature. But for me, what paleo is, is looking back at what did we do before we had the invention of industrial food processing, where we are able to make foods quickly, cheaply, using R&D, like research that basically makes food hyper palatable, so we can’t resist it.

And thinking about the example of a paid potato is one that I hear a lot. It’s like, how many baked whole potatoes Would you eat? Versus chips? Potatoes are controversial in the Paleo world.

Michelle Shapiro 

Well, you know, this is so I’m so glad we actually brought up potato stuff in your, in your amazing definition to the Paleo diet. Because, again, we’re thinking of the Paleo diet on a concept level versus an execution level. So on a concept level, it’s like this idea we’re eating like our ancestors, our bodies haven’t evolved so much since then, like the our internal workings are the same.

So if our environment changes a lot, it’s going to create illness. And I feel like that’s pretty solid. The funny part and what is a response that I’ve often heard from conventional practitioners is cavemen had a small lifespan? So it’s like, why would you even want to like them? It’s like,

Steph Greunke 

Oh, my God, we can’t look at the amount of times I’ve heard that. It’s not

Liz Wolfe 

just one to break down, like, Yeah, sure. You know, and you can, I mean, you can oppose that pretty quickly.

Following strict Paleo vs. general nutrition principles

Michelle Shapiro 

And it’s also the idea of eating in a Paleo way is not to say that you dismiss all of conventional modern medicine, which there’s hugely positive applications for like, there’s many, many aspects of modern medicine that are absolutely incredible, especially for acute illness. We’re really talking about the Paleo diet in the context of chronic illness, which cavemen did not have that was like, or very, very, very low rates and just a genetic level.

So it’s a very funny response. Again, this other interesting part of it is within the Paleo kind of community. There’s also been like, a lot of heavy debates, right because People understand things like butter are awesome. But it’s like dairy and dairy is no good. People understand potatoes are awesome, but like potatoes weren’t cultivated during this specific region at this specific time.

So I think like, you know, where all of us have kind of landed is like, eat real foods like paleo, not this kind of fragmented super Bible-istic like word for word from like the word of the Paleo Gods kind of version of it. Can either of you jump in on on that too? Because I know you’ve had those. Well, first,

Steph Greunke

I love the word Bible-istic

Michelle Shapiro 

Is that illegal? Sorry. Like, I’m not meaning to be offensive. I just mean, like people taking the literal word of the books as opposed to applying with, you know, yes, their spirits are saying shutter. Yeah, totally. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe 

But I like it. Well, I remember, you know, people, they they layered things together. And it was interesting at the beginning of paleo and stuff I want to hear if you remember this when it really grew out of CrossFit.

But the CrossFit people were also at the time very interested, I don’t say preoccupied, but they’re very interested in leanness like, people were always talking about leaning out. And like, that was the that was the tone. We want to lean out. Yeah, leaning out that like the the new word for toning, like, same exact same thing, different term, you know, we cover our multitude of sins by just changing the vocabulary.

So it just naturally got folded together where we were, we’ve talked about this Michelle around other things that you want something to be true. So you kind of retrofit it to what sounds reasonable. And that’s paleo. Paleo sounds very reasonable.

But then you’re using paleo as this tool to lean out and to increase performance and to do all of these different things. And it ended up that paleo got sort of wrapped up in the low carb, performance type community. And you know, people is an experiment, like you’re experimenting with that, because there’s a million different arguments for how many carbs you should eat, when and why and who you are, and all of that.

But we were kind of painting over the whole of people’s experiences with, if you have a problem, just eliminate gluten, go paleo, and cut your carbs down. And I say this all the time, somebody was on my Facebook page, like 10 years ago, going, I shared some kind of tomato sauce or something on my Facebook page, and they were like, tomatoes are way too full of carbs, way too full of carbs, like you shouldn’t be eating.

And I was like, oh, there’s no standard plot. We’ve just like I was like, I don’t I just I don’t know how to talk to you. And that’s where I think we get, we have to be willing to tease apart all these little elements of what’s informing our point of view. So we’ve got this paleo framework, which is a great idea.

We it evolved sort of from the 80s and 90s into the early 2000s, I think we were talking about canola oil being beneficial because of its Omega three omega six ratio, and then we start learning more about, you know, how canola oil is super highly processed. And rather than trying to replicate something that we decide from whatever era of human history is most pertinent to our bodies. today.

We talked about this as well, in the past, Michelle, where, what what epoch are we talking about? Are we talking about when fruits were abundant? And there were a lot of carbs available? Are we talking about like the selective pressures that lead our genetics to evolve in certain ways in different parts of the world? We can get into the nitty gritty of that.

But first, we’ve got to tease apart like, Am I really looking at this through a lens of you know, being pragmatic, and really looking at the evidence for what it is and teasing apart? Whether I’m adding this layer of say low carb, it should be low carb because I want to be lean, or because it actually makes sense for my body.

Michelle Shapiro 

Totally. And I think you’re you’re touching on this community aspect of it too, which is to become like, it’s almost let’s use paleo as like a noun or something like to become paleo. You almost had to follow the rules and ignore individual choice, which we see amongst any diet. And I think paleo was really specific.

And I want Steph you to speak into this too, because it had a community aspect that was of mostly healthy people. But it was being marketed to mostly sick people. So it was a very interesting dichotomy.

And certainly, I believe that kind of many types of, I would say every single person benefits from eating whole unprocessed foods, but let’s talk about what the community felt like then stuff and the kind of inclusivity of the community then and that pitch that weird pitch that it was like CrossFit bros pitching to sick people, and it was like the the science kind of messaging miss, talk to us about that a little bit.

Negative effects of the Paleo movement

Steph Greunke 

Yeah, what’s coming to mind right now, I don’t know if this is what you’re hitting on. But I think this is an important point is that every year there would be a paleo conference that was held and the who’s who in the Paleo community would speak and people that were fine Following the plan and really excited about it would attend, and you look around the room and there certainly was a time, I am sure you were there, Liz, like, there’s like a type that’s there.

It’s somebody that is fit somebody that is healthy, somebody that is relatively lean, somebody that is following multiple different wellness hacks, whether that’s including intermittent fasting and doing a certain workout. And I remember hearing from people that were really excited to go to this conference that didn’t, because they felt like they were maybe too out of shape, or maybe too overweight, or maybe not, not paleo enough to be to be there.

And I remember hearing that, and it broke my heart. And I actually heard from people that were like, just breaking down while they were there. They’re like, I am so excited about this movement. And I don’t feel included in it, because everybody around me is a certain type. And people were

Liz Wolfe 

being judgmental, by the way, like people were, I mean, they were talking online, like so and so looks this way, like, why are we even listening to them, it was really toxic.

Steph Greunke 

So I think that I mean, that’s definitely part of it is, it is easy when something is working for you to get excited about it. And to shout it from the rooftops, and maybe miss a step and being thoughtful about how you’re explaining how you’re doing it or for the case of paleo.

I know, I feel like it was really important, Liz and I being part of the movement early on is because a lot of the messaging was for men, it wasn’t for, like, necessarily women’s health. So when we’re talking about the carb situation, I mean, I had lost my period for a really long time, because I wasn’t paying attention to the amount of carbs that I was eating for the workout I was doing right doing CrossFit.

But having a little bit of a sweet potato is not going to be the best for reproductive hormones, but the guys seem to get away with it. Okay, right, or, you know, just paleo going harder, and maybe putting in more intermittent fast because that’s healthy, may not be beneficial for a woman I wrote a blog post for Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution blog, about keto and concerns about keto for women, because I had experienced that myself where I lost my cycle, I was experiencing signs of the female athlete triad.

And I had at that time after women have been doing it for a while, that was the concern that was coming to me right in the beginning, in any kind of diet, if you change to eat more whole foods, and healthier and you’re thoughtful, you’re drinking more water, doing all the things, you’re gonna feel great. But then after a couple of months, it really starts showing if it’s working for you or not.

And I had been seeing that over and over again, that women would lose their cycle, or they would just start crashing and burning out their workouts or they started experiencing mood changes, because they weren’t getting enough nutrition, low energy, thyroid issues. And so within any diet framework, it’s really important to understand what your context is, and apply it specifically for your life stage.

Michelle Shapiro 

Yeah, I think at the time again, people were authentically, they weren’t meaning to be judgmental. They were they were so freaking excited about this information they were like, and yeah, there are definitely people who are being judgmental, I am validating your experience both. It’s not even a question.

I am certain about that because of the community aspect. But it’s so it was so wild for people and they all felt like us three dead. We were like, oh my god, this is it. This feels like it and it was exciting. And it was so especially in the realm of chronic illness where before and ways of diet interventions. Sure there was a ketogenic diet specific for seizures, we kind of were like playing with the Mediterranean diet a little bit. Of course, vegan and vegetarian had been the reigning winners for a very long time.

But it gave an inspired, I think, a lot of hope and people that they hadn’t had before that like food could actually scientifically reverse or change the course of disease. But what happened with it, it sounds like from what you’re both saying is, it kind of got into maybe that excitement, got into some hands that weren’t as cautious from a practitioner standpoint, as they were from a research standpoint, because researchers look at things very differently than a practitioner does.

So you can give these kinds of broad recommendations and say, Look at this study with Ms. It reversed. I’m asked can you freakin believe this, you know, like, it’s so exciting. I get it. But the critical application is so much more important, and the clinical application than the diet itself.

So the premise was there, but the excitement was higher than the promise I think in the beginning because we weren’t really sure how it was going to impact people have different kind of varying illnesses. Liz, do you want to speak into that a little bit too?

Liz Wolfe 

Well, yeah, it was like I have so much to say I need to be like jotting all of this down. This is so good. Because it’s it is it’s like stuff that it’s bringing back so many memories, but it’s like it was we thought paleo fixes everything. ain’t all the time. It fixes em. I mean, I, we had Terry walls on our podcast, we had so many individuals on the podcast with anecdotal experiences, and anecdotes are useful.

That’s how we construct hypotheses. That’s how we like push something forward into actually becoming, you know, peer reviewed science. But what’s happening is rather than saying real food, nutrient dense food from nature is an excellent tool for the right people at the right time. It’s one of the tools in the toolbox that we should probably be implementing in a very considered thoughtful way.

We were saying paleo does this, and it does this and it does this. And it is the way and it’s the only way. And even if we would have said intellectually, no, I don’t think that no, I’m not painting with that kind of a broad brush. I think we and I think myself included, we’re really approaching it that way. Like, look at everything it can do, is there anything it can’t do. And if it’s not working for you, then you’re doing something wrong, and not like you’re the problem. You’re the problem.

And it amounts to that it amounts to like paleo, harder, and you’re the problem. But what we were saying felt very innocent, we were saying things like, Well, are you still having cream in your coffee? So you need to get that cream out of the coffee? Like that’s the problem, you know, so that’s, yeah, it’s up potato. It’s

Michelle Shapiro 

a white potato. It’s all paleo. Yeah, we use, we use a really good premise as a more than just a framework. It was a prescription. And I think that was the issue. And it was, I mean, I have to say it, it was so out of excitement, and so out of hope, you know, again, stuff, even when we were in school to be a Dietitian, I didn’t get like, I got jazzed about like, the numbers.

But what I never saw in schooling was like, how besides helping people lose weight, how am I actually what tool am I going to have to literally be able to help someone and I felt like, Oh, I got something now. And it really felt like that. And again, I think it was overzealous, but I have to say, I mean, even to this day, some of the framework, it’s still there, I have to just laugh at us for a second.

Because the fact that we have to have a podcast after 15 years saying that eating real Whole Foods is probably more helpful than eating processed foods is we’re living in like a twilight zone. It’s a it’s a crazy conversation that we’re having. It’s just I had to laugh at us. And like, be so meta about this. Because it’s like, wow, we are having the same conversation today that you guys were having for the past 1415 years, it’s the same conversation. And I’m still as excited about the applications of food in ways of reversal of illness. What I’m more critical of now is obviously the environment in which people’s bodies receiving that food and obviously, making it more individualized.

But that original hope and promise, I still think we can, after 15 years, I still think there’s something there that we all kind of implement in the work that we do and the thoughts that we have. But what we’re talking about also is when it got kind of hijacked and ego and moved in the wrong directions. And when I think all of us were overzealous in that hope to stuff. Go ahead.

Steph Greunke 

Yeah, I was gonna say like, it’s funny, you mentioned that because I remember reading the Paleo Solution book, and I was a Dietitian. So like, at the time, I was credentialed to talk about nutrition, and I was on my couch reading it. And I remember I stayed up the whole night reading it because I was just drawn in and fascinated and really excited about the potential of this even as a vegetarian and I remember thinking, like, wow, eating one ingredient foods and thinking through what I was eating in a day, and I’m like, I’m not eating very many one ingredient foods, especially when it came to a vegetarian diet.

It was a lot of the you know, even though I thought it was hot the other time the process like plant based alternatives, and maybe, or they also had a ton of ingredients versus just yeah, a one ingredient oatmeal and the nonfat or non dairy yogurts and all the ingredients that were in there. And so it was eye opening to me that like, oh, like I’m not eating as healthy as I think I am.

Even though the foods are fitting a framework that I think is healthier, which is a vegetarian, and there’s a million ways to spin it right vegetarian can eat a whole unprocessed diet, for sure. But it was it was at awareness to me and I think that it brings awareness to people when they start on a paleo diet or something like a paleo diet, like a whole 30 diet where they take a step back from the routine of what they’re doing.

And say I had no idea all these foods had added sugar. I had no idea that this had coordinated I had no idea that I actually wasn’t eating a lot of vegetables. So there is validity to that. I think where people get hung up is that they almost enjoy some people do the black and white rules of this Yeah, to eat healthy because it feels like they can go on autopilot and if they follow somebody else’s rules, and they don’t get results, then you know it’s Not on them, or it just seems like the easiest way to go.

And I saw this all the time when I was coaching people with whole 30. It’s like they would want to keep on hold 30 Because there was comfort in that rule and outline and structure of what they should and shouldn’t eat. This isn’t for everybody. There’s definitely rebels and people that like the middle, but there wasn’t a certain group that liked it.

And I think what is important with really any diet is to experiment with it, and then move on to better understanding what feels right for you having a set period of time where you do reset and recalibrate and have your body get into a healthier state by flooding it with all these nutrients and whole unprocessed foods gives you that framework to then jump off from and say, okay, cool, I follow this, I know that I feel better without gluten. What happens when I reintroduce gluten Do I still feel okay or not.

And only you will know that and working with the practitioner can help guide you. But what can happen is we just we feel really good for a set period of time. And then we either crash and burn because it was too restrictive. And we just give up or we try to continue with it long term. And that can turn into orthorexia, or nutrient deficiencies or X, Y or Z.

How strict Paleo can lead to orthorexia and eating disorders

Or, you know, we we might try to get a little bit overzealous and add too much back in at once and then not really be able to pick and pick apart like Oh, was it the dairy that actually didn’t make me feel good? Or was it the gluten and then you just kind of either have to go through that process again, or you forget how powerful food can be. And so with all of this, it’s not necessarily that the framework is bad. It’s just the implementation of it for the person.

Michelle Shapiro 

So there’s two essential things that I have to unpack that you just said first was this idea that you you intuitively knew once you read that book, you were like, Oh, I’m not eating, quote unquote, healthy. So you were like, I’m actually I was eating literal Ezekiel sprouted bread with Morningstar veggie burgers hard. I was vegan and Old College, basically. So I was like, until like the last six months of college.

And I think, again, when I read, I’m assuming it was Rob’s book too, to be honest with you when I read Chris questors blog, maybe two at the time, Paleo cure, maybe. But when I read it for the first time, and for me, I said, Oh my God, there’s this whole world of healing and ways of my anxiety and ways of my gut health that I haven’t even dipped my toe in because I’m doing everything wrong. Compared to this.

What I mean literally, the nutrition world was hard set on like, low fat, kind of like not low fat was a little bit moving out what even when I was in school, but which is over 10 years ago, when I started, but it was this idea of oh my god, every single thing I’m doing could be wrong. Which leads to the kind of orthorexia piece of the puzzle, which was is I if I were to say this, so orthorexia is a eating disorder where people are fearful for people who don’t know where people are fearful of consuming foods that are not perceived as quote unquote, like ultra healthy, essentially, I think paleo is like a kicker for the orthorexia crew.

I mean, I think paleo is like one of the most, because you’re talking about, so Alright, I just thought so important. I don’t want to mess it up. All right. We were talking about a diet for the first time that could reverse chronic illness. So this was appealing. Yes. To the jimbros. Yes to the CrossFit, ultra paleos.

Now music, like we’re gonna use in every type of verb, every single every single type of way Liz will lay out for us with those are the wordsmith, but it was the first time that we had we had this kind of answer in our heads to chronic illness, people who are freaking sick, we’re talking about really sick people who are feeling their digestion is so off that they’re running to the bathroom all day for the first time and possibly their lives. They’re having some relief from those symptoms.

And paleo was the first diet of its kind that didn’t just offer weight loss as a potential, right, it was, it was saying, we’re going to give you everything, we’re gonna give you everything and in some ways, again, like I said, there’s some merit to what they were saying. And in some ways, it created probably one of the worst versions of orthorexia for people, because you’re appealing to people who are sick and are more likely to be afraid of foods thinking this foods gonna really harm me.

So what came after paleo was a lot of these elimination diets and doctors offices and Dietitians offices because again, we realized okay, this food can not only help someone lose weight and it’s not a tool for weight loss, it can be a tool for healing and this was brand new, this was not a thing this besides you know for 10,000 years and iron Veda and traditional Chinese medicine but in the Western world, this idea that we can heal using food as medicine was like this was you know, very cutting edge.

So I think for people with chronic illness it put them in a particularly vulnerable position of having food fears in the long term, because they would actually experience sickness upon reintroduction of gluten or things like that. And we didn’t know that it meant your gut needed more support. We just thought it meant gluten is freakin poison. And we didn’t have the information we have now then, where I think that paleo for a lot of people, again is was like a little bit of an OG orthorexia situation.

And certainly elimination diets now we know can definitely cause huge food fears for people, especially if you’re doing them for too long and you don’t reintroduce your body is actually less likely to be able to tolerate it. So, and we’ve talked about this in other episodes, and I would bring you guys back just to do a whole elimination diet episode. But I think that for me, I’m realizing was what made paleo so threatening, and at the same time, so hopeful, you know, it was that it was appealing to people who had never thought they could have hoped in these arenas before.

And the other thing I want to say is, you know, in critiquing paleo, against kind of this idea of it being a diet culture thing, I want us to kind of go into that, too. You know, where, where’s the intersection between paleo and diet culture was the intersection between paleo and intuitive eating? Because I think of paleo, again, a at its roots being a totally different diet than it is now. And I don’t think of it as being the same as what I would consider diet culture lives. Can you tell me what you think about that?

Evolution of the Paleo diet into a functional health approach

Liz Wolfe 

I’m gonna be combative here. I’m actually it’s not combative. I’m actually agreeing wholeheartedly, and tracing the sort of map in my head around the evolution of paleo, where at the very beginning, we were like I said, quibbling over tomatoes, and what type of gluten sensitivity you had.

So it was like, Are you celiac? Or do you have a gluten allergy? Or is it non celiac gluten sensitivity? Or is it like just gluten intolerance? Or just like the, you know, so we were all like, yeah, none of us can eat gluten. But like, if I’m not celiac, then I have this. It was all kind of while we were trying to heal conditions, we were also ascribing conditions to ourselves, like, what kind of intolerance you had to something?

And then we were, you know, like, is it FODMAPs? Is it C? But like, what, what, you know, where do we need to take this and also be paleo, which I thought was interesting. But at the same time, I think there were a subset of us that sort of evolved out of that to a point where we were willing to admit that this isn’t it, this isn’t going to be it for everybody that we do need deeper levels of healing.

And in that sort of seeking and that curiosity, there were some of us who took that fork in the road and started talking about sleep, and stress and trauma, and all of these other you know, circadian rhythm, all of these other things that are also you know, ancestrally rooted in how you know, the human being should actually be living in the world. And we took it that way, which I think ended up being a good thing. I think it sucks that people have to be collateral damage on some of these, but it’s also a reality.

And I think where we can plug in as people who care you all as dietitians, me as nutritional therapy practitioner, and people who are generating content is to hopefully bring those people with us and say, like, you’re not just collateral damage of this process that we’ve had to go through to learn that what we’ve had to learn, like, we’re here we see the nuance, we can place this in context, or help you place it in context for yourself.

And like, like, come with us, like, I know, you hate people who feel you hate people feeling alone or lonely. Michelle, and that’s like, I just see that is so much of your imperative is like you’re coming with us like you’re, you’re part of this, we can be curious, we can figure this out for you. What was the question I was actually supposed to answer.

Steph Greunke

I mean, that’s diet culture. Yeah, but but I don’t know. I don’t know what to say.

Michelle Shapiro 

I agree with you. You know, and there’s a piece of this when it comes to the Paleo stuff with all of us. I mean, I consider you guys like, total OG paleo crew. Like, you know, you really were for so many people, I think, such a beacon of hope and light at that time, and it was so exciting. And it was so amazing.

So I don’t want us to be I think all of us can take accountability at any stage in our career for us being too overzealous, too excited. That’s just, it’s what you’re you’re studying at the time, you’re freaking excited. You want to help people, that’s okay. And at the same time, that’s where the nuances I do want to say like, again, there was some excitement there. And that excitement still stands for all of us, you know, 15 years later, so there was some juicy stuff there.

And we can take that juicy stuff and apply it in the in the new tools we’ve learned, like you said, Liz and carry that with us. If you look at any of our posts from 10 years ago, they’re going to look different, but they’re not going to look as different as I think other people who were still in that kind of nutrition pack I met all of us are very, not egoli. And very not like I’m very down. Like, there’s definitely horrible posts. I mean, it’s not even a question. There’s definitely horrible posts I’ve made.

But I feel like compared to my colleagues who, again, were in that full on conventional nutrition mindset, I feel like we’ve stood the test of time for some things, where things run into a problem, like in your example stuff is when you’re following things and ignoring your own body signals, obviously, which is the whole premise of quiet the diet, right? Which is that you were like, I’m going to paleo so hard, that if I’m not if I’m losing my period, or I’m getting sick, it’s because I’m not paleo weighing hard enough. And that’s all of our personalities.

By the way, we’re like, we’re gonna do it right. If we’re going to try to do it, we’re going to do it right. And the answer we thought was going harder, always we thought, oh, and you know, what, there was that accountability piece, which I always hated about my dietetics degree, like, the thing I hated most was, we were and I, this is when something started clicked with me, junior year, we had a counseling class.

And we were learning how to do 24 hour recalls, which is just literally when you have the client go through what they ate in the last 24 hours, very popular in hospitals to to understand to overall consumption, right? So while we were doing the 24 hour recall, what we were learning in class was how do you make sure that the person isn’t lying to you? And I was like, Is this a competition against the person? So it was like, well, most people don’t recall what they’re eating.

So our goal was to make people very accountable. That was it. And it was putting the onus on the person so much, it was like, No, you know, they probably are snacking and not even realized. And that’s why they’re not losing weight. What I did love, again, about Paleo in the beginning, was that for the first time, I felt like it was putting it back on the system. And it was saying, like, Guys, you’re not sick, because you’re eating the extra snack in the afternoon, you’re sick, because everything you freaking learned was wrong this whole time.

And every food systems against you and pharmaceutical systems are against you. And that’s what the hell is going on here. And I think when paleo kept going on, it kind of turned into what you’re saying stuff, which is it put the accountability back on the individual so much, and being like, well, it’s not our system that’s broken. You know, it’s all the other ones, our systems, the only thing in town, the only thing that works, if you’re not doing it, right, you’re not with us, and you’re not you’re, you’re the problem, you’re sick because of your own problems.

And that was that lack of nuance that you’re talking about Liz, where we’re talking about bringing the trauma piece in bringing real evolutionary biology and to understand, like the cortisol picture, right to understand all of that. And that’s where I think functional nutrition is starting to get really right to but that’s for me, when paleo switched into diet, culture, diet, culture is all about putting the onus on the individual, but selling them a solution for that onus and saying, if and then this is the way you do it, if you do it, right, you’re gonna get the benefits.

Paleo wasn’t really like that. In the beginning, it was really like we have a system, its job, the reason you’re sick is because you don’t know that this system exists in the first place. And it felt like we were together on it versus the accountability was not on the person. So I think in what in ways of the diet culture we actually wrapped? We did wraparounds, the question was, which is that it became diet culture, when we started to blame the individual over the systems, I think, and either of you want to jump in, please.

When Paleo became diet culture

Steph Greunke 

Yeah, I love that. Or even just what Liz was saying is like saying that Jaya is the only thing and that it doesn’t matter. If you’re not sleeping at all at night, it doesn’t matter that you have these wounds from childhood that are impacting how you’re eating or what you’re eating, it doesn’t matter that you are working 50 hour weeks and then pushing yourself at home.

And it doesn’t matter that you might have these food intolerances that are just undefined or mold toxicity or like all these other health issues that may be contributing, it just matters that you’re following this diet. And if you do that, then you’ll see results. And if you don’t, then you’re a failure. I feel like that’s it.

Also the reason they you know, somebody goes into a paleo diet, that’s the the diet culture message, if, if they’re going into it purely from an aesthetic perspective of, I want to do the Paleo diet because I have a wedding in two months, then I’m using it solely for weight loss. That’s where I see the mix to versus actually think this might be a really healthy option for my body.

And I’m looking for all of these different side effects that are maybe not body composition related. And body composition change can be like a nice side effect. Like that’s a different way to approach it. Or if you’re going into it like I don’t know why I want to say balls to the wall but like you’re going into it with like I’m going to do paleo plus, investing plus cert CrossFit plus not have blueberries after 4pm Like all of these different things. If you’re going crazy with it and adding on more rules, then that’s diet culture to like making it harder than it needs to be.

I think the other thing that is hard for me as a practitioner is I will have people Have that come to me and they have a laundry list of diets that they have tried and often includes paleo. And I think it’s really important to be able to pull out the gems from each of these protocols that you have tried in the past, like not using your past diets as a sin or something you’re shameful of, but being able to learn from them. And so I’ve worked with people in the past, where they’ll come to me after being on a bunch of different protocols, and they’ll have worked with different practitioners.

And there’ll be they’ll say, you know, my practitioner told me to do the 180 degree opposite of what I was doing. And that doesn’t feel good at all, like, my body is not responding. And then they come to me and I asked them, well, what what was the benefit of it? Did you notice that when you were on a paleo protocol, you were eating more vegetables? Did you notice when you are on, maybe paleo, you are eating more seafood, because you have limited protein options.

Maybe you drink more water while you are on this versus soda, there are so many different things that could be beneficial parts of the protocol that you can implement into your own next step. And I feel like we can gaslight people by saying, No, that diet didn’t work for you, you should never do paleo. Paleo isn’t the answer. And instead, take a step back and say, what pieces of all of these different protocols did work for you? And do you feel like you could maintain long term and make sense within your contacts?

Because I can think about any single guy that’s out there and pull out something that could benefit somebody long term? It’s just how are they mixing and matching these protocols? And does it feel good to them and like you said, Only they know. And to have the ego as a practitioner to say, Paleo is bad for everybody vegetarian is the way is not listening to the person and is completely missing the point, and not advocating for them which that’s your role as a practitioner.

Michelle Shapiro 

Yeah, this idea that not everything is diet, culture, and not every single component of all these diets is bad, which is why again, I’m here saying, I think if you do a paleo diet, and you paleo too hard, you’re gonna ignore your own body signals. And it’s the same thing as doing any other diet period.

Also, in functional nutrition, we have what’s called mediators that we learned about our clients, which are things that make us feel better or worse, right? So we can learn. If someone does any diet, we can learn a huge amount of information, everything’s an opportunity. So like you said, instead of viewing it from this aspect of shame, we’re viewing it as a huge opportunity to learn what worked and what didn’t.

I will also say that this applies to vegan diets, Weight Watchers, it could apply to any diets that also are more in the like, realm of, of diet culture to, it’s always more important with how it influences you. So when clients come to me and say, Oh, I know I shouldn’t want to lose weight, or I know I shouldn’t have done this diet, but I did. I’m like, You did it don’t care.

Let’s learn from it. And that’s it. It’s like, let’s move on from the how we feel about what we’ve done. And just talk about what we’ve done. So we can actually learn. Let’s talk to us, I see, I see, you’re always ready to go, tell me what you got.

Liz Wolfe 

It’s just all so good. I honestly didn’t have anything I just love. I love what you’re saying. And so much of it is listening to people. And this is the practitioner side, you know, and not everybody can afford to work with a practitioner. That’s the unfortunate truth. But I think at the point where you start to get so granular and so confused, and you’re starting to say well, okay, I’m not going to eat kale anymore. And I can’t eat that like all of these really, continually, like increasingly restrictive protocols that are out there.

I think at a certain point, it is best to work with a practitioner to the degree that you can because it can get so profoundly confusing, and you can end up exhibiting all of the hallmarks of orthorexia. Without even knowing it completely, accidentally, without feeling like you’re aiming for obsessive behavior, but just again, you’re so afraid of food, you’re so afraid of every bite that you’re gonna put into your mouth.

And then at that point, it is the stress of it like that, that stress is having physiological consequences that are actually interacting with the food that is going through your digestive system. And it’s just wild how all of these things can interact. I just I love everything that you said.

Michelle Shapiro 

And from and I’m just piggybacking off of Steph, so we really love what Steph said. I think that

Liz Wolfe

Oh, really this all started with Steph.

Michelle Shapiro 

Well, hell yeah. I think also what I want people to take away as a tangible from what you said, step two is when something isn’t working for you. Use it as two things an opportunity to evaluate and be a trigger not to go harder doing it and assume that it’s you. That’s the problem. Use it as a trigger to learn if the actual system you’re using as a problem.

I am a person who believes in obviously being responsible for our own lives, but I’m not a person who believes in this intense level of accountability that we put on people to figure out all their health ails, given the systems that are at play, and be to go again harder into something this pain, no pain, no game kind of mindset really takes away from us listening to our body cues.

So if you notice a protocol, or an elimination diet or something is not making you feel better. And you know what I actually want to touch on this too. I have this new, amazing client. She won’t be new at this point that this airs, but she’s amazing. And she was talking about how she’s been to like every functional medicine doctor, and she’s been on every elimination diet. And basically what she was getting from those doctors offices was, the more you’re kind of experiencing from a sickness level, the Herx thing, you know, you’re Herx saying it’s good thing you have the Herxheimer reaction, this is a better thing.

This idea of no pain, no game, there’s a definite nuance to it, which is that sometimes yes, when we’re detoxifying, it’s not the most pleasant of symptoms, but it’s finite. And we need to make sure that’s why you’re actually experiencing those symptoms. It can’t just be that we torture our bodies for the namesake of you know the name in the name of all these diets. And if it’s not working for you, it’s probably just literally not working for you. It’s probably not that you’re not working it. It’s not like you said, Oh, you introduced butter. And that’s like not that paleo because the dairy like, which is I know, white potatoes and butter are like very, you know, whatever.

This is something I actually want to talk to you about too. So there are some diets that I want both of your input on this to pull us into this paleo piece to back into the Paleo piece. So you guys, again, are oh gee, that’s in the Paleo community, very well known. We’re, we’re super hardcore and your personal lives, professional lives, really believed in it. And it was, you know, a lot of the materials that people see floating on the internet was probably made by you and your colleagues.

You know, that’s the things that we see today. So it’s funny to me, when I see people today with like, no, like telling me or telling you guys like, No, you got to do paleo. You’re like, Guys, I literally made that thing you’re looking at, like, you know, don’t tell me how to paleo. Okay, like, I know how to paleo. So tell me also, at this point, what we’re seeing in ways of how it’s been watered down, and who has the materials now, and what you kind of see as the Paleo diet, community and world now compared to again, like how you feel about it. I want to talk about that stuff, you know, hit us off with that.

Steph Greunke 

Yeah, well, I actually don’t know. And the reason that I don’t go Who is talking about Paleo, and no, it’s because I feel like I don’t know, my world has expanded so far and wide outside of paleo, and even diets in general, that the people I follow or people that helped me become a better person, helped me become a better listener helped me become a better mom helped me think about things from a different perspective.

I certainly don’t just follow paleo people. I think that if you are, like just following people that speak to what you want to hear, you’re never going to be able to fully understand what you’re doing. You need to actually be following anti Paleo Diet people too. So I don’t really know. I don’t know. You don’t you said you don’t know anybody either.

Liz Wolfe 

Well, I think this is why we’re here. I think that’s why you saw here and are still are still doing this. Because I think, at least to my perception, this might have just been the way I drifted. But a lot of that really dogmatic stuff over the course of the last 15 years, they’re not even doing it anymore. Why? Sustainable is so helpful.

But we’re still here, I used to joke about how I’m the only person in paleo, that’s not paleo, you know, and, of course, I wasn’t the only person but it felt that way for a minute. But I really think that’s we’re still here. And we’re still here for a reason. It’s because we have been amenable to the context and to the nuance and to all of the complexities of this entire journey.

Michelle Shapiro 

So I, you guys answered it, how I wanted you to you, you fell, right. Gotcha. You know, this isn’t like an antagonistic podcast, where I’m manipulating you both. So that is the reason that I’m asking you both this question. I know where your bowl stands. I know how you both are. But it’s just so funny to me that there’s people today, there are people today for you both to know, who are going so hard with you need to follow it perfectly and are going so hard on paleo and I’m like, Dude, I’m sitting with the people who made the thing you’re looking at.

And they’re telling you, there’s nuance around it. They are the ones who are telling you don’t follow this paper blindly. And if you are the people who are again, not originating the diet as we named some of the amazing originators of the program, but if the people who made a lot of the materials and a lot of the frameworks around what you’re looking at and were foundational myths are telling you, it’s not that simple. I promise you it’s not that simple. If it was that simple, y’all would still be you’re very smart.

Both of you, you would still be way in it, you would still be going hardcore you both you both did it for your own bodies. It didn’t work for your own bodies. There might be some people who it still works for their own bodies, but I have to tell you even the most popular diets now that are really hot right now. And we’ll call it in the Keto arena. The originators are changing those diets all the time, the ones who just there’s some that just came out in the past two years or so, they’re not even eating that way anymore.

Because at the end of the day, what we know to be true is that there is not, there’s truly even the most hopeful one of all paleo, the most hopeful style of eating that should and can be applied to everyone supposedly, still isn’t perfect if you don’t apply it individually. And I still, again, it’s been 10 plus years that I’ve been interested in paleo and excited by paleo. And I still believe in some of the principles of it again, and I’m Mike, this is quite the diet, the whole point is to not use our egos to listen to our intuition.

And still, the science does stand in some way. That being said, when you twist it with diet culture, it’s, it’s the same thing as as anything else, it’s not actually gonna rephrase that, it’s really not the same thing as everything else. Because I don’t believe that any diet at baseline will produce good results. But I do believe that the very basic concepts of eating real Whole Foods will stand the test of time. And I think that’ll be true in 50 years, and 100 years.

And I also think we’ll learn more and more with nutrigenomics. And with all these other amazing new sciences that are coming out how darn individualized nutrition is, but it’s just so funny to me when people are so hard on it. And I’m like, Alright, I’m on a Yeah, go. I’m on a podcast with Liz and Steph, and they’re freaking telling you not to do it. Go ahead, Liz. Yeah.

Liz Wolfe 

Everything you were just saying reminded me of this quote that I’m gonna butcher but it’s this quote is being changeable. At its best is wisdom. It’s not inconsistency. It’s wisdom. And we certainly have, you know, a fork in the road there where some people are just kind of trying to throw anything they can at the wall. And this isn’t working. So let’s throw this into the protocol.

But there are also people I think, like, the three of us, I hope, who say, I observe this and wisdom would guide me to say, maybe now we need to look here. And maybe now we need to add this layer on to this thing. And if we are approaching it that way, I think with wisdom as a guide, I think that’s where we are going to end up with the best possible outcomes.

Michelle Shapiro 

Not only the best possible outcomes, Liz, this is even cooler to add on. Not even cooler, because what you said was really cool.

Liz Wolfe

Yeah, it was really good. I want that to be my quote, podcast, exactly.

Michelle Shapiro 

I got you it’s on, it’s on your reel baby. See, so in addition to that, not only is it going to guide you in the right direction, it actually guides you in the same direction, all three of us came from completely different perspectives, and kind of met in this Ooh, there’s hope and excitement here. And now it’s 1015 years later, and the three of us kind of live our lives really similarly as practitioners as people as eaters, and the truth that evolves, I think, does evolve.

But what is so beautiful and so amazing is that underneath, kind of all of these diets, and underneath all of these things is innate wisdom, and truth, there is real truth. And all three of us practice under that truth, which is that people matter, our soul and the way we feel about things matters, and that we are all so unique. And I think that we all landed in the same diet kind of mentality, or ideas about diet, culture, or ideas about intuitive eating.

Because when not only when you pursue truth, without ego, you all land on the same truth, which is so amazing. And I feel that way, why the three of us, I think, feel so connected. And why we’ve always just Jive so well is because underneath ego is just there’s inherent truth, I think, which is so cool. Yeah, yes.

A Structured Flexibility Approach

Steph Greunke 

I love that. so beautifully said I love I love how you speak. It’s just very true and raw and real. And I would say like how my protocol or like how my eating style has changed now is I follow something more of a structured, I call it structured flexibility. So I use the concept that I’ve learned through paleo, and through trying different things over the years, to inform what makes sense for me and the broad concept for each day.

So I know a certain amount of protein makes me feel good, then I can plug and play what that looks like based on what’s available. What sounds good. I know having vegetables, a large amount at lunch and dinner feels good. Whatever those vegetables are like I can play with. That’s like I know I need to have a good amount of fat at each meal to feel full. So from there, I have so much flexibility where it keeps things fun. And interesting.

I know I’m going to feel well because I’ve gotten enough of that protein and fiber and phytonutrients to really thrive. But I’m not so rigid in what I can and can’t have, especially as a mom where I’m going out to dinner with my family and I don’t want to not have the ice cream because it’s not paleo. I don’t want them to see that I’m counting or weighing a certain amount of food because I don’t want them to feel like food is a number. I want them to understand how it’s broken down and actually teaching my Kids about the structure of what actually will make their body feel good, but not bound to the rules.

So like, for example, dairy with my kids, like sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t gluten, if they’re out at a birthday party, sometimes they have it, but most of the time they don’t. And I think it’s really important, especially like Liz and I are both parents is to work on yourself. Before you know you have kids ideally, and but when you do have kids, make sure that some of your like food issues aren’t subconsciously pushed on them.

And I think the best way to start is to eat well, but not be so structured or rigid with it, that there’s fear attached to it. So I don’t think it’s wrong to kind of have a framework that works for you. But the problem is, is when it’s become too rigid, where if you steer off track, or if you start becoming more isolated, or not going to a party or events because of it.

Michelle Shapiro 

stuff, I just made like a marketing thing for you and your business. By the way, you don’t need it, you’re fine, but I just made this and I need to share it with you. Okay, so in the functional nutrition matrix, we talk about Adrienne Akiyama. We talk about mediators as being things that upset I mean, she’s one of my closest friends of mine, I can’t even talk about Andrea, and she lists every episode, she’ll die when she hears. But we think about mediators being the things that make us feel well or don’t, the Steph Greunke promise is that the plans that you make will be based off of your mediators.

So the advice you’re giving people is start off with, first of all, you have to listen to and know your body, you have to track you have to see what works for you. And sometimes that can be you start with something like a paleo diet, you take don’t, I’m not saying do that. But you take what you learned from that. And you basically make your meal plan or your meal template off of your mediators. So if you know for a fact, hey, I don’t feel good when I eat gluten based or plan off that now you have to know where you’re getting your carbs from.

If you know that you eat a lot of protein, you need to base your plan off your mediators and to know what your mediators are, you actually have to do some experimentation. And that could be starting with something more structured, and then taking from it what you can and building based on that. So the Steph Greunke thing is she’ll help you build your meal plan. I got you Exactly.

Steph Greunke 

That’s exactly what I do. But it’s honestly what I do with clients. Like if I come if somebody comes to me, and they’re eating a certain way, and they’re close to that structure, I’m not completely changing the structure, I’m going within the bounds of what they’re eating. But how can we maybe add a little bit more protein or maybe add a little bit more fiber? Or maybe we take out a little bit of sugar?

Because people in human behavior doesn’t often do well, with dramatic change. Especially they got a lot on their plate already. And so I know we’re talking about like, all these inputs, too. But sometimes it’s like, when I’m working with somebody, we don’t even start with food. We look at what is their what is their hang up? What is their mediator, even outside of food? And it might be three Yeah, like until we get here. So not only regularly.

Michelle Shapiro 

Yeah, totally. Yeah, I will call those also like your your functional foundations, which I always have this image and I’m sure we’ll talk about this in many other episodes of our body is like a house. And what a lot of functional Dietitians or conventional dietitians do is if the foundation of your house is crumbling, but then you just throw some supplements in there, you throw in some diet changes, almost like hanging pictures upstairs, you know, it’s you’re not handling those foundations.

So that’s a different kind of component of the functional nutrition matrix too. But absolutely, what you’re saying is you need to get your foundation squared up before you even find out what your meat eaters are and things like that also. So that’s really, really important. Liz, what do you got?

Liz Wolfe 

I know, we’re like getting short on time. But I wanted to make a quick comment that sort of reflects on what you were talking earlier about where we’re at with like diet, culture, and paleo. I think what a lot of people began to feel was very diet, Kultury was this encouragement to track things tracking. And what I had to the argument I had to have with myself was like tracking and, and sort of always pulling out these little things like how you feel and what you ate, and how many carbs how many calories and tracking your macros and all of that. I sort of put that all into the same bucket.

And the bucket was the obsessing bucket like we’re obsessing. But what I see now and I’m always learning like this, and this never ends for me, I’m always learning but what I see now even based on this conversation, that we’re having something that should have been so obvious to me, but I don’t think it was is the difference between obsessing and observing and what you all are talking about.

And what I’ve learned so much from you guys is that this idea of looking at how we feel and put it in taking back that agency and that onus, how you feel is very different tracking how you feel is observing, tracking your macros and even some of this new wave of of tracking every single nutrient that you take in. That can vary they quickly become obsessive behavior and orthorexia. But that distinction between obsessing and observing is just so huge to me right now. And I think that’s where we can sort of guide that away from diet culture and toward personal agency. And that that was all inspired by what you were just saying.

Michelle Shapiro 

I love that. And it’s where the input is coming from, is it coming from outside or within and that’s what’s so essential. And I will, I’m going to just, we’re just going to do in a whole Andreea obsession thing. But in Andrea’s work, she often talks about keeping a food mood poop journal. So even if you are tracking the food aspect of it, you’re immediately tying in what the Insight is based on what you’re seeing from a sign or symptom perspective on the outside.

So that is, that’s a really good way of putting it and I think, takeaway wise for people, get to know yourself, get if you’re engaging also in something like a paleo diet. Notice how you’re feeling along the way. Also, if someone is coming at you. And as like, gotta do paleo. Just be like, I listened to this podcast with people who like literally made the thing you’re talking about in some form. And like they said, don’t like just blindly do that.

So like, I’m literally not going to do that. So you have that you have that right now that you can give to people just send them the episode and be like, listen to stuff and lives, okay, you can respond in the same way they talk to you, but really know yourself. Know yourself, when it comes to food changes. Tap in instead of looking outward, you can absolutely experiment with things, but you must listen to yourself along the way while you’re doing that. And also, there’s some things about the Paleo diet that are so cool. That’s all I’m saying.

I think that’s the nuance of it is that it’s not this thing where you throw the baby out with the bathwater, like don’t throw babies out in general, like, don’t be so rude. And it’s like literally for food. Wow, this can become political. I didn’t mean it like that. But I think for people again, tapping in versus stepping out, understanding that when you’re trying something, you’re trying it for yourself not to be a part of the larger community.

And if you’re going really hard at something, and it’s not working, let that be a trigger to look inwards, not a trigger to go harder. I’m obsessed with both of you. We’re obviously going to be doing these episodes every freaking season.

Steph, can you tell us where these amazing people can find you, Steph Greunke look at the spelling. Because it’s not it’s an unexpected spelling when you’re going to her website. I’m of course like your website in the show notes. But how can people work with you find you be obsessed with you like I am?

Steph Greunke 

Okay. Oh, you’re so sweet. Thank you so much for having me. This has been fun. So my last name is g r e u n k e I’m playing with what I want to do with my business right now I am working full time. But I do have so much in my head that I want to share clearly. And social media it hasn’t been my favorite place to be. So I’m thinking about playing with a blog. So keep track on that. I do pop it up every now and then on social media and usually in stories, because that’s more fun.

And I have a podcast Doctor mom podcast it is about preconception pregnancy, postpartum and motherhood in general that I host with a pediatric naturopathic doctor named Dr. Ilana Rommel. we interview guests, you both were on this upcoming season, and about all things like health and wellness.

And I have a program called postpartum reset, which is a guide for moms that have had their baby that want to learn how to eat well and nourish themselves in a really realistic way. This isn’t a paleo diet or a strict it’s really that structured flexibility that we were talking about, along with labs to get done and supplement recommendations. So it’s like a functional medicine course in your pocket for moms, which really there isn’t much out there like it.

Michelle Shapiro 

That’s amazing. And we will link everything because I know people be running over to your page and certainly to your podcast and certainly to resources. So thank you, Steph, and we want you to blog. We need you to talk we need to hear from you. So yes, I like those project ideas for you. Liz Wolf, what do you got for us? Where can we find that

Liz Wolfe 

you can find me you can find me just standing Michelle and stuff. I think the kids are staying standing these days. Isn’t that is that the proper term? I don’t think you should say it I’m kidding. You could say whatever you want. It doesn’t it didn’t feel right coming off my tongue there.

You can find me I have a podcast where 400 episodes and counting the balanced bites podcast and it’s really about everything that we’ve talked about today bringing balance on all levels food fitness life, you know doing doing right by yourself not doing right by a diet or a plan. So you can find me the balance Bates podcast I aim to give new episodes weekly. And you can also find me at real food You can sign up for my email list there and at Real Food lists on Instagram.

Michelle Shapiro 

You everyone listening will become as extremely ferociously obsessed with these two as I am and it is a guarantee I will be having you both back because we did really good and our 21 that’s like not that bad. I don’t know what it’s going on internet thing but I thought we were gonna do like six seven hours like i have i fueled up my glycogen stores before this. This is a marathon we could.

We were all very on task that was okay thank you guys so much and I can’t wait for this episode to come out thank you so much for tuning in to the quiet the diet podcast. If you found any of this information relevant or you related to it, please feel free to share the podcast it would mean the world to us. Also remember to subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes and you can follow us on Instagram at quiet the diet pod. We’ll put the link in the show notes after each episode. Thank you again for listening and I can’t wait to see you in the next episode.

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How To Leave Your Doctors Appointment Without Feeling Like Crap

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