The question that I see come up time and time again is "Is a Dessert REALLY Paleo"? By desserts most people are referring to baked goods and treats such as cookies, cakes, muffins, pies, etc.
It's a good question and one that has some strong opinions on both sides of the matter. So strong that some folks get quite furious about the subject. People take dessert very seriously, whether they actually eat it or not, and that is especially the case in the paleo community.
So let's take a look at both sides of the argument, shall we?
Here are some of the common arguments coming from the paleo "anti-dessert" side:
- Paleo desserts give the paleo community a bad name. It makes it look like that is all we eat every day!
- Cavemen didn't have ovens or the ability to make cupcakes or cookies, so therefore we should not eat them
- Over-Indulging in paleo desserts will make you fat and will not help you achieve your goals
- Food should be viewed as fuel for the body and paleo desserts are not the ideal fuel
And some of the common arguments coming from the paleo "pro-dessert" side:
- Nutrients are nutrients, as long as they are of a high quality, who cares if they are shaped as a dessert?
- It is better to eat a paleo dessert made from ground almonds and raw honey than it is to eat a sleeve of processed cookies or a huge slice of cheesecake
- Offering the ability to have the occasional dessert is what appeals and attracts most people to the paleo lifestyle, and they can eventually wean themselves off of them down the road if that is what they choose
- There is generally nothing unhealthy about paleo desserts if you eat them in moderation
Are you even more confused now?
Some of these arguments are valid, and some a little ridiculous. Should you eat a paleo dessert every single day? Really nobody should eat a dessert every single day, paleo or not. But there are some occasions that generally call for desserts, such as a birthday party or a stupid office picnic that everyone hates going to and somehow you get volunteered to bring cookies..... and make sure the kids don't violently pummel each other in the bounce house... and then you are forced to help clean up afterwards. But I digress.
Most people know how to cook meat and vegetables, but it is much harder to make a dessert that is gluten-free and made from real foods. Some folks want a dessert that wont have them curled up in the fetal position next to the toilet on Thanksgiving while their drunk great-aunt bangs on the door asking where she can find more bourbon (yes, I am speaking from experience). And so that is why I offer a few different dessert options on my site - because I believe the paleo lifestyle is about eating the primitive way in the modern world, and sometimes the modern world expects you to cook a pumpkin pie or bring cookies. But even on these occasions, you can find other options to serve if you don't want to include desserts or treats in your lifestyle (you may get the stink eye from some folks, but just tell them to get over it!)
"I believe the paleo lifestyle is about eating the primitive way in the modern world, and sometimes the modern world expects you to cook a pumpkin pie or bring cookies."
The answer is, there really isn't a right answer. Each of our bodies are different and each of our bodies handles foods differently. If your goal is to lose weight or regulate your insulin levels, then eating a lot of sweets and baked goods is probably not going to help you reach your goals. If your goal is to be more real-food focused but also allow yourself some indulgences, then occasional desserts might be OK for you and your family. Only you can make that decision.
My opinion (because I like to give it)
My advice is, if you don't believe that desserts are allowable on a paleo diet, then don't eat them. Nobody but you can say what is right for your body. If you do choose to eat desserts, I would advise you to eat a couple cookies or one slice of cake, not the entire cake....just like like I would advise you eat one piece of steak and not an entire cow. Don't go overboard and pay attention to your body and how it reacts to what you eat.
There is plenty of room in paleo-land for people who want to eat desserts and those that choose not to, and it would be a much friendlier place if we just accepted that. At the end of the day, we should all just mind our own plates and do what works best for OUR bodies.
Tell us what YOU think
So where do you stand on the paleo dessert issue? Is there room for dessert in the paleo lifestyle?