Yep. You read the headline. The all-about-paleo girl eats rice on occasion.
Half of you are probably thinking, “what’s wrong with rice?” while the other half of you are internally screaming, “she’s a LIAR! Rice is NOT paleo!” To those in the second camp: please don’t burn me at the stake before I finish writing. Hear me out on this.
I consider everything I eat before putting it on my plate, and the addition of this grain to my diet has been a long process. If you’ve read the About Me section of this website, you know I’ve dealt with disordered eating in the past. After going paleo, I felt so much better. I re-learned how to actually listen to and care for my body, eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was satisfied. I even allow myself treats sometimes. My focus has truly shifted from wanting to be skinny (strong is way more fun, anyway) to genuinely wanting to fuel my body with the best so I can do life better. The problem associated with this emerges from the mindset created in the wreckage of disordered eating: perfectionism.
The day I received rice on my plate by mistake while out at dinner with my family finally shook me out of this nonsense. I was so hungry, and the rice was not mentioned on the menu but was a large portion of the dish. I knew rice was gluten-free, but it was still a grain. I did not want to be any pickier than I already had been that evening about my food, so I kept quiet and ate the rice. And guess what? NOTHING HAPPENED. Well, nothing bad, anyway. I was satisfied and it was a delicious entrée. But all those scary things I’d read about why we should shun grains forever didn’t happen to me. And you know what? The rest of the paleo world is starting to agree with me.
Take for example Mark Sisson, the creator of the Primal Diet and author of the Primal Blueprint. He stated in April that “an insulin-sensitive, sufficiently-active individual can consume [starches] in moderation” and that “any ‘negatives’ are mitigated by the emphasis on resistant starch” (1). This resistant starch is important to our health and should be consumed on occasion to feed our healthy gut bacteria, as stated by Dr. Amy Nett on Chris Kesser’s website. Nett goes on to say that butyrate production increases in the body as a result of resistant starch intake, and this helps reduce inflammation in the gut and other tissues (2). Both Sisson and Kesser work daily with the leading researchers in the field of nutrition and performance (like Dr. Nett), so they know what they’re talking about. And those statements all sound pretty good, if you ask me!
This being said, I enjoy real rice sometimes. I can handle the carb load thanks to my 6-days-a-week of lifting and HIIT, and the benefits of a healthy gut cannot be overstated. I do still make my Cauliflower Rice very often, and think it’s a great way to sneak in some veggies and lower the carb intake when the extra starches are not needed. However, I’ve tried every end of the carb spectrum, and I tend to function better in life and hit more PRs in the gym when I’ve got a slightly higher intake (which is still lower than the RDA from MyPlate, mind you) than someone who is less active would need. So, in regular life, I will use rice to fulfill that need for my body.
The paleo/primal mindset is shifting more and more toward what works for you as an individual, and this is a thing that works for me. Testing out how different foods affect you are the only way you will be able to define your lines, so break away from that perfectionism shell and give rice a go!
If you’re curious about my sources for this article, here they are:
(1) Sisson, M. (2015, April 2). Mark’s Daily Apple. Retrieved from http://www.marksdailyapple.com/resistant-starch-your-questions-answered/#axzz3oaW12vnw
(2) Nett, A. ( 2014, August 14). Chris Kesser. Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/how-resistant-starch-will-help-to-make-you-healthier-and-thinner/