Friday, April 20, 2012

I am Burned Out

I know all of us Primalist are supposed to say that food is fun all the time. And that eating Primally provides out of this world benefits so that the prepping and clean-up shouldn't matter. 

Theoretically, I agree. But today (and yesterday) I feel burned out. 

The constant questions from the kids.... "When can I have grain? But Mary is having cupcakes at school today, can I have one? Is this something I want to eat?" etc. I'm always having to be the bad guy. 

I have six people in the house, and I think the only one who is easy to please, food-wise, is Regina. Everybody else has strong opinions on what they like and what they don't like, which makes meal times (especially dinner) really difficult. I know it doesn't matter what I make there will be at least two people who will turn up their noses. (I have a rule: if you don't like what is served you can have yogurt or vegetables.) 

Then the anticipation of eating around friends or family and knowing they feel weird because of my diet "restrictions", and then I feel weird because they feel weird, is really annoying sometimes. 

I guess it's more the emotional side of food. I was so burned out from thinking about what can I eat, what shouldn't I eat, who is going to be upset by what I do end up eating, that I just didn't eat much yesterday. I did eat some nuts and a BLT wrap around 3pm. 

I had (still do) a whole refrigerator full of food and I couldn't bring myself to look in there because I just couldn't handle figuring out what to take out of it.

It seems our whole life has been consumed by figuring out food for the last three months and I just want a break from it.  

Maybe for myself it's really easy to do this "diet", but it is exponentially more complicated when adding in more people.

Don't panic! I'm not saying we're not going to remain Primal. Honestly, I don't think we have much of a choice. The benefits clearly show this is the way our bodies are made to eat... but this stupid emotional thing is a drag sometimes. 

I wonder if since I cook everything and then store it in the fridge if I just have a "free for all" dinner option. "Look, I don't care what you eat, just make it yourself."   The only thing I would be concerned about is it might make dinner feel chaotic (well, more chaotic than dinner time already is) and triple the clean up. 

Or maybe I'll say "this is what I'm having for dinner, you're welcome to join in, or make your own. If you make your own, you clean it up."  

But then I'll have to oversee the extra clean up. 



  1. hugs to you. I used to feel this way when my kids were little and we didn't even eat primal. You probably don't even need any advice but I'll share what worked for us in the hopes of encouraging you.

    Two things that helped our family. Feed the kids early before your husband get's home. Nothing fancy, even encourage them to choose what they want and paper's okay. I'm guessing by this point you only have primal foods in the house so this is a good option.

    Then pop in a video for the kids and have dinner with your husband. Even if you do this a couple times a week, it will give you a break from trying to make meal time this joyous family event which it never seems to be when the kids are small.

    I'm sure you already do this but I just do meat and veggies for dinner. My biggest struggle with primal is all the dishes it creates more that the actual cooking of the food.

    ps-I think I might stop worrying about what they eat at school. Unless it's something that is life threatening. That's just me but I'm guessing it ads a ton of stress to your life. Maybe I'm an avoider but there are some things that just aren't worth the battle. We go for 80% at our house. I hope you get back to feeling peaceful about your choices.
    xo Jana

    1. Thanks! I moved to paper plates months ago! haha

      Yes, we just do meat and vegetables for dinner. Yes, I had the dishes. Tom has taken over kitchen duty, thankfully!

      I volunteer on Mondays at the kids' school at lunch time, so I see exactly what the kids are served, and I just can't tell my kids they can eat it. It's ALL sugar. Even the fruit is canned and filled with corn syrup. Ick.

  2. Hi Heather! I discovered your blog through your husband's blog. We are not hard core primalists, but we are gluten free, and I was on a highly restrictive diet for our colicky fourth baby this past year. I do try to keep the foundation of our menu paleo even though we deviate some.

    I have looked to paleo for inspiration after months of experiencing all that emotional heaviness you describe. I love this e-card.

    I really, really have enjoyed Well Fed as a cookbook. Her weekly cook-up has helped me out a lot, and Scotch Eggs are our new favorite meal! It was the shot in the arm that I needed after much of my time lately was spent staring and staring at paper trying to come up with a menu plan. I highly recommend it. The recipes are not overly complicated, but they are interesting, and again, I can't say enough about the weekly cook-up concept! The author blogs at

    1. Thanks very much for the suggestions!

  3. Totally get it.
    I finally stopped caring who liked or didn't like the dinners. We have these table rules:
    1. Your choices are eat it or don't eat.
    2. If you like one portion of the meal but not another, you must have a reasonable helping of each item including the ones you don't like, if you want seconds of what you do. (This is to be fair to the rest of the 8 of us)
    3.No making ugly faces or saying things like "disgusting" or you are immediately excused. (You may come back when you have a good attitude.)

    I know I am making good, nutritious and yes, delicious food because I am a very good cook. So I think it's ridiculous for them to be so picky. And if they really are that picky there's always the next meal. Lo and behold, all the foods they used to hate - while not their favorites, usually - have become so tolerable they will ask for seconds and thirds with no complaining.

    So there's that. Don't know if it would help you. I know you have some allergies involved too, so that adds a layer of complexity.

    The whole first trimester of my current pregnancy I was just sooo not into food and nothing sounded good enough to get me excited about making it. I got the major blahs. Didn't want to think about food much less prepare it. I waited to the last minute to think about anything and all the dinners were so boring. But that's ok, I think, because they were still nutritious. I literally would just haphazardly form some ground beef into patties, broil for a few minutes and slap that on the table with a few jars of whatever fermented veggies I had in the fridge. Bon appetit! lol

    I think when you get the blahs there is NOTHING wrong with having salad topped with grilled meat every.single.night until you can think of something that excites you to cook. We all have those funks. :)

    Let yourself be ok with it and the love for preparing food will come back. It's happened to me a lot of times.

    If you have any freezable meals on your roster, try to double batch it and stick something away for a day when you just don't have it in you. A few of those in your freezer and you'd be surprised. Just having the backup and knowing it's there sometimes frees you up and you might not even need them.

    Hugs and much sympathy. :)

    1. It's funny, when I was growing up all meals were based primarily on the standard of: you will eat everything put in front of you or you'll eat nothing at all. Luckily, there were no allergies in my family, and my brothers and I were all like garbage disposals (i.e. we didn't care what the food tasted like, just so long as it filled out tummy). I think that I complained one time about the chicken breast being a little dry, and I was excused from the table until breakfast the next morning. Most of the time the problem wasn't that nobody would eat the food offered, the problem was that we had such appetites that we'd run out and want more-- trust me, we weren't poor and the servings weren't small.

      Nowadays I keep things very basic. Shoot, lately I've been having one giant meal a day, usually consisting of a 1-1.5 pounds of meat/fish/foul, a ginormous bed of assorted veggies, all cooked in a giant pan of butter or coconut oil. After the hour or so that it takes me to actually eat that meal, I am set for an entire day. While this certainly isn't very practical for a family (esp. kids), I will say that it is nice not having to cook more than once a day.

    2. Yes, Sarah, I think I'm going to make up some Meal Rules, print it out, laminate it, and hang it... everywhere!

      I myself would be perfectly content with salad and grilled meat. Families are too demanding! haha

  4. something to snack on while you are standing in front of the fridge with the door open and your eyes glazed over:

  5. "this is what I'm having for dinner, you're welcome to join in, or make your own. If you make your own, you clean it up."

    this works well in our smaller family of 4

    1. I would worry that I'd have to oversee even more clean up than I do now, and I'm not really excited about that.


    1. BTW, the implication of my posting that link is not the same as the conclusion in the link (i.e. the boredom angle). Rather, it is only meant to show that there are literally thousands of combinations that can be made from a rather small set of inputs.

  7. I was going to call you today and complain about this very thing! Let's get together and figure out some really good "go-to" recipes, snacks etc.

    I agree that going back is not an option, but sometimes I want a little more of my old food life back. Sympathy coming your way :)

    1. Let's get together and eat primal brownies and commiserate!

  8. Bill the Physics GuyApril 21, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    Hi Heather. I've been reading your blog since the first day and have been eating "primal" since the middle of November. However, it took this post to get me to comment. That's saying something, because this is actually the first time I've commented on any blog, ever.

    My life is absolutely nothing like yours. I'm a nearly 50 year old guy that hasn't gotten to experience the joys of marriage and children. Therefore, it's just me sitting here each meal. I think it's important for me to tell you that you have really been an inspiration to me. If you can accomplish what you do, then I have absolutely no excuses. I just wanted to take the time to say that.

    On a daily basis, I read your posts and am just amazed by your energy, good spirits, and joy. I know a thing or two about self-criticism and concluded a while ago that it's healthy and can spark reflection. However, at the same time, I come back to the fact that this life is a gift from God and I need to live it to the fullest.

    I know this post is somewhat rambling. However, I just wanted you to know that I'm here taking daily inspiration from your example. Some days I'm jealous, other days I'm thankful. All we can do is the best we can.

    Thank you for all the help. Even though your weren't aware of it, your help has been very real. Hang in there and keep up the great work.

    1. I am so touched and humbled that you took the time to write this out, and then were so thoughtful as to share it with me.

      I first read this a few days ago and it really lifted my spirits, so I really thank you!

  9. I totally feel you on this one. I have also been in a funk lately and holidays and family visiting have not helped. My husband and I have fallen off the wagon a bit, with full intentions of returning, but now that the day of return has arrived, we are both not so excited. It's been nice for me having a vacation from cooking completely while the family was visiting, and it's been nice having a break from the restrictions of eating primally, and going back to both feels extremely daunting.
    I think it would be a really good idea to somehow try to coordinate ideas on this blog and make a sort of communal menu for the week. Not sure exactly how it would work, but if a few people put in a few ideas for meals, we could easily make a plan for a few weeks or a month at a time and we could all help each other out with the most difficult part of the journey, i.e., what's for dinner?

    1. Excellent idea!

      I wonder how we could do this: Have a post called "Weekly Menu Help" and ask readers to post their menus? Or ask people to email me, and then I could put all suggestions in one big post?

  10. Oh yeah, I've been there, alot and often. We have "get your own" nights at least once a week. I put all the leftovers out on the counter about a half hour before dinner time (so it's easier to reheat) and tell everyone to make a plate, nuke it and put their own stuff in the dishwasher, no cooking allowed. All I have to do is snap the covers back on the dishes and refrigerate or throw empty ones in the dishwasher. Done and done.
    Sometimes I get my kids Panda Express (yes, they get noodles) and just make myself a small dinner or just snack on stuff.

    1. I am going to adopt your leftovers meal; thanks!