Random Thought: More Stoic Paleoism

by Paleo Rob on 15/01/2011

Over my holiday I had the extreme luxury of reading some of the stoic literature I had. Particularly the lecture series of Gaius Musonius Rufus one of the Roman stoics. From his 21 discourses, discourse 18 labelled “On Food” is what caught my attention. Now I don’t agree with many of Musonius practical stoic ideas, such as not eating meat, but there is one piece of advice he gives, that has stuck with me.

In Discourse 18, Musonius advises that we listen to Socrates and not live to eat, but rather eat to live. What he means here, is that food is just that, it’s food. That is, rather than constantly be thinking about what you are eating, we should treat eating as what it is, something we must do to survive.

I am sure most of us, if not all, have come across the judgemental individuals who will pipe up with something along the lines of “why deprive yourself of food” or “you only live once” or whatever other justification they use every time we politely refuse a piece of cake or a bowl of spaghetti. To these people I often echo Musonius, and mention that not eating a caramel slice is not deprivation to me. I eat so I can enjoy life, I don’t enjoy life by eating.

A lot of us paleo dieters fall into an orthorexic lifestyle. We obsess about our food. This is not a healthy mindset by any means, and is just as bad as eating what we consider to be unhealthy.

A lot of us will do well taking this stoic advice and just eating what we know is healthy, in amounts that allow us to live better. No more and no less.

Just some thoughts.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Girl Gone Primal January 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Yep, that was me in 2010 🙂 Amazing what a little weight gain will do to your mindset. But I don’t think anyone can understand any eating disorder until they experience it, so it’s all too easy to brush off the appearance of obsession as self indulgence rather than understanding why people end up there.

When we know so much about food and the dangers that can come from eating ‘foods’, it’s not surprising that we end up with a fear that makes us obsessive-compulsive. Even Richard Nikoley ranted about how he finds his old body repulsive, but didn’t feel too badly about it when he was that size. Imagine what would happen to him if his weight started creeping up again…

When we’re experiencing positive results, it’s easy to forgive ourselves when we take a cheat meal etc, but it’s not so easy to stay relaxed when things start to go wrong and food/exercise is the only tool we have to wield against weight gain or health problems. I see it so often when girls of 11 or 12 start developing their first curves and do whatever they can to slim down. 🙁 Viva la acceptance of the human form in ALL its forms…


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