Stop Depriving Yourself [And why I am not ‘Paleo’]

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Images 71 1 | Stop Depriving Yourself [And Why I Am Not 'Paleo']




This just in:


Consuming Diet Coke and other sodas, juice, donuts, breakfast cereals, fruited yogurt, packaged crackers and bars, fast-food, take-out pizza, frozen dinners, chips, candy, cookies on a regular basis is deprivation.


There’s no denying it. We live in a culture today where foods from vending machines, box with one-year shelf life or more, drive-thrus and packages are the ‘norm.’


But here’s a newsflash: They are not.


While moderation and balance most definitely has its place (i.e. eating is NOT perfection; think 80/20, 7030 people), our culture has changed the definition of normal or moderate or “every once in a while” to often.




And there is some serious work to be done to get those words back to their original meaning.


This topic came up yesterday when I was pointed to check out this article and this article about fast food currently being served in hospitals.


What really stuck out to me was this comment: “Pushing fast-food burgers and greasy chicken sandwiches at the hospital can turn visitors and staff into patients, while undermining patients’ efforts to heal.”




And this is only ONE example of our nation’s current health crisis.


You’ve heard statistics like this:


And they go in one ear and out the other.


Statistics have a way of doing that.


However, when did it become so ‘normal’ to consume food like products for the majority of our energy?


When did we get so far away from simply eating real foods?


And why is this a foreign concept?


These thoughts and questions apply to not only the ‘statistics’ (the overweight, obesity and diabetes epidemics). They apply to the Average Joe and Simple Sally walking down the street. They can apply to people like you and me. Even those who seem like they have eating ‘healthy’ together.


Often times, they tell me is:


“I am trying to eat healthy, but don’t understand why I feel the way I do.” (i.e. tired/fatigued, sluggish, guilty or consumed with thoughts about food, cravings, poor digestion, headaches, etc.)


And their food log reveals something like this:



Breakfast-Package of Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal with soy milk, Coffee


Lunch– A Luna Bar, Diet Coke


Snack-Yoplait sugar-free yogurt


Dinner– Brown rice, chicken and broccoli


Snack-Fat-free chocolate pudding


After our initial meeting, with a few basic suggestions of:


  1. Drinking enough water (1/2 bodyweight in ounces at least)
  2. Incorporating protein, veggies and fats at their main meals
  3. Quitting added sugar and sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store for the majority of their groceries


They report things like:


  • “I have so much more energy!”
  • “My headaches I’d get every day at 3 p.m. went away.”
  • “My stomach feels so much better.”
  • “I am more satiated after meals.”






Just the basics.


It’s funny to me when people ask questions like: “So are YOU Paleo?”



Like it is a race, an ethnicity, a religion.


To which I reply: “No. I just eat real food, and I am not a perfectionist about it.”




People, KNOWLEDGE is power—and after running the gamut for 14+ years with soooo many types of diets (on both ends of the spectrum), I settled for nutrition of simplicity (again, NOT perfection)—and my body no longer is DEPRIVED.




From subsisting off of Lean Cuisines, Crystal Light and ‘low-fat, no-fat’ diets in my eating disorder; to the re-feeding treatment based diet of packaged, processed, ‘normal-eating’ foods (i.e. Little Debbie Snack cake ‘challenges’, bagels with cream cheese, takeout pizza, ice cream every night for snacks, Eggo Waffles, etc.)…I finally found balance.



A huge passion of mine today is working with those in eating disorder recovery—and changing the current standard treatment model within the realm of nutrition therapy and developing a healthy relationship with food.


In a recent qualitative study I conducted with girls and women in recovery from eating disorders, who had received in-patient treatment within the past five years, 9 out of 10 of them stated that they were not taught education around nutrition and food.


Instead, the standard models around ‘re-feeding’ and nutrition therapy revolved around being plated a meal plan and told to eat whatever was on their tray.


There was a distinct disconnect between being taught/knowing about the nourishing and life-giving effects of the food they were being told to eat, and ‘just eating’ whatever they were told because ‘it’s what you do in recovery’ or ‘because it’s what’s on their meal plan.’




This week, in fact, I met with a girl in recovery from anorexia whom I have been working with for a little while now on learning to nourish her body—and feel empowered in doing so.


Prior to our work together, her recovery experience with food was just calories she ‘had to consume’ to gain weight. She had worked with dietitians and nutritionists for the past 10 years who gave her a picture of the food pyramid and told her to check off her list at each meal or count calories in order to gain weight. Food was a ‘foreign substance’ she had been told, for years, by treating professionals that she had to eat in order to be ‘recovered’—but was given no real information, or backing as to why or how that food is nourishing, life-giving and empowering for her to consume.


Over the course of the past month or so though, as I have challenged her to:


  • Stop counting calories
  • Throw out her scale
  • And, simply trust the process of what a balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates and water can do for her body…


She has begun to experience an AMAZING transformation: No longer depriving herself.


Instead of being at war, in her mind and with her body, or consuming a diet with a primary base of foods with packages and labels reading: “Gluten free!” or “High in protein” or “Low fat” or “No sugar added”, she’s instead:

  1. Focusing more on consuming real, whole foods (less diet products);
  2. Checking in with her hunger/fullness levels (i.e. getting to know her body
  3. Learning to cook (i.e. not intimidated by the kitchen)
  4. And, no longer looking at labels (a new habit)




Do your body a favor, and more often than not, stop depriving yourself.


And, if you need some guidance or support in doing just that-I would love to help.


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