My Response to Mean Commenters and Why My Husband Eats Paleo

Neely Quinn, Nutrition TherapistI’m told over and over again that I should pay no heed to people’s negative, nasty comments on this blog. So I steel myself to their cutting insults, their glib responses to my thought-out posts, their unwavering buy-in to conventional “wisdom”, and to their ignorant assumptions about me.

Here’s a good example from my post, “Dr. Oz Is Lying To You” (because he was, in fact, lying) to demonstrate what kind of comment I’m talking about:

“Yikes, your review of Dr. Oz was annoying. I can’t stand your constant nagging. Figures why he’s famous and no one cares about your blog.”

But yesterday I received a comment that was the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back, and I need to personally ask you all to please stop and think before you write a comment on this blog or any other. Be kind, compassionate, and productive with your comments, anywhere you post them. You’re writing to real people who have feelings and cortisol levels that are affected by stress, just like you. I write on this blog because I like to help and educate people, and because I love writing. And I love constructive criticism and healthy debate, but I don’t like being cyberly sucker punched in the face.

So, I’m making an entire blog post out of one commenter’s comment because 1) I’m sick of asshole commenters and 2) my husband’s autobiographical Paleo journey is worth sharing.

Ok… Now that that’s out of the way, the commenter that sent me over the edge (who will now be called the “camel commenter”) wrote in response to a blog post called “Why No Grains and Legumes Part 1: Lectins“, which I wrote in March of 2011. I opened the post with this statement, and you can read the rest of the post here if you so desire.

“Recently my boyfriend has been straying from his normal Paleo ways because he feels that grain-laden cookies are more important than his overall health and longevity.”

After receiving some negative feedback about the contents of this post in the comments, I recently commented myself that I had “anti-fans”. The camel commenter, Jim O’Donnell, wrote the following in response to the blog post and that comment:


I doubt you have “antifans” as much as your lifestyle has skeptics. Much of your article is very much your opinion and people will take issue with statements like “since they’re basically poisonous” regarding whole foods which have been staples of societies that remain healthier than eurocentric populations and have for thousands of years.

None of this is particularly “well documented” and there are certainly contradictory studies indicating that beans and grains, certainly, are beneficial. You admit that you are highly sensitive to some of these foods. I submit that you are in a small minority, that people would benefit enormously from simply omitting highly processed foods and selecting organic wherever possible.

Paleo devotees sometimes come off as the sort of handwringing worriworts that wear masks in restaurants, shun digital audio and believe gluten and casein cause autism. Let’s be clear: SOME people MAY be sensitive or allergic to SOME environmental constituents, including certain foods (and some may be obsessive-compulsive hypochondriacs).

You clearly state that you feel worse after eating beans and grains–that they make you sick. While I accept that about you, it may not actually apply to your boyfriend. He may tolerate the occasional cookie very well and, assuming his lifestyle includes an abundance of healthy alternatives, exercise of mind and body, adequate rest and limited stress, he may well outlive you by many years. If I, however, happened upon a public article written by my girlfriend and beginning with such a narrow-minded and judgmental opener, it might give me cause to rethink my situation and pack my things. Just sayin’.

That was a well-written comment; I’ll give him that. Everything was relatively friendly (except for that whole hypochondriac thing) until he told me he’d think about leaving me if he were my boyfriend. Here’s what my boyfriend, Seth, who’s now my husband, had to say about it.


Seth and Neely@ Jim O’Donnell

I am the boyfriend Neely was writing about in the first few lines of this post. As she mentioned we are now happily married (perhaps you shouldn’t imply that a couple should separate based on 2 lines in a blog post) and while I don’t usually comment on her posts I thought that since I was specifically targeted here I should respond.

This post was written at a time when I had been on the Paleo diet for around 6 months. I was transitioning out of Architecture school and into a desk job and was rock climbing consistently better than I ever had. I was regularly climbing 5.14 and V11 and if you know anything about climbing you will know that these grades aren’t something you accomplish as a hobbyist. I spent 8 years of my life in pursuit of 5.14 and didn’t do a single one until I switched to Paleo. I was suddenly able to train for 6 hours instead of 3 hours, recovering faster, and feeling better on my days off. I also noticed that my complexion got better and I was much less gassy. I am someone who’s prone to injury and I noticed that my old injuries were less inflamed after training and I wasn’t feeling any new injuries lurking.

So, you are probably asking yourself why would anyone stop if they were seeing such great improvements? Well, I stopped for two reasons: First, I missed all of those foods that I had eliminated and wasn’t sure whether the diet was actually helping me or whether I had suddenly turned into SuperSeth; and second, I had gained 10 lbs of muscle and a little fat (a bad thing as a rock climber) and I was concerned that the Paleo diet might have been the cause.

I had several very long talks with Neely about what I was thinking and about whether she thought Paleo might have been the cause. She said she didn’t think so and that she was worried that all of my old symptoms and injuries might flare up again. She also said that while she was worried about my health, she thought it might be a good idea for me to add foods back in to my diet slowly in order to see their effects.

As I began adding foods back into my diet, Neely was right, the symptoms and injuries slowly started to return. An old finger injury started to get worse, my arms would get sore and tight for days and I couldn’t recover, my performance dropped off, and the weight stayed on. Neely wrote this post around this time in the story as she was listening to me complain about my poor performance and watching as my face broke out for the first time in 6 months. As you might imagine she was worried and frustrated and wrote this blog post about her struggles with my dietary shift. She consulted me before writing it and I told her what she wrote was fine.

Since this experiment I have switched back to the Paleo diet and am climbing and feeling better than ever. I was laid off from my position at the architecture firm and my weight immediately dropped back to normal. It turns out sitting on your butt for 40 hrs a week and getting older means that it’s easier to gain weight on any diet.

So, that’s the background behind this blog post. As you can see there was a lot more going on behind those two lines in the blog post. There has been a rash of negative, presumptive, and ignorant comments on the blog that Neely has been having to deal with lately. Jim, I would just ask that before you personally attack someone based on what you would like to assume is their stupidity, ignorance, or whatever other negative generalization you choose, consider that they might actually be an incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and well-read individual who has spent over 10 years of their life researching the topic about which they have posted. You are entitled to your opinion, but it might be good to (like I hope your parents taught you) apply a filter.



  1. Interesting. If I disagree, I tend to ignore the post and if I disagree a lot the blog disappears from my Reader. I’m enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. Keep doing what you are doing and don’t sweat the negative posts. You have a ton of folks behind you and because you are liked by so many you will have to deal with a few jerks, that’s just the way it is. I love your blog and I enjoyed hearing your husbands story. Also, v11–super impressive; strong work and keep it up. I like how someone tagged ‘assholes’ in the text below the article, made me laugh.

  3. Well said – both of you!!! It’s so easy for people to cyber bully because there is no physical confrontation and bloggers with any sort of opinion are easy targets. Very sad!
    As for the points that Jim was trying to make, I have a theory. He sounds like someone who is or was trying to eat Paleo and couldn’t stick to it. I could be wrong but, in my experience, that’s what so many people that are in that situation sound like.
    I love your blog! I am a chef turned health coach that follows a paleo diet. I have struggles with it too but it’s the longest eating plan that I’ve ever been on (over 1 1/2 years) and I feel better than I ever have.
    Thank you!!!!!!!!

  4. This was a great read! I’m with Sassy, regarding disagreement with blog posts, and I concur – keep up the good work. Now, if only I could convince my disbelieving DH about Paleo……! It would be so much easier for me to prepare and eat the *same* types of food in this household!

  5. Hi Neely,

    You’re awesome! Whether it’s emailing me back (usually within a few hours) with well-written advice to my problems, or challenging me to think outside of conventional wisdom with your awesome blog, you have helped me feel better and understand fully why I choose to live and breathe Paleo. In the end, all that matters is that you make the world a better place, even if some individuals don’t realize how lucky they are when they read your posts. If Jim reads this, he should realize he is one individual writing something negative to not just one blogger, but all her supporters as well… Ultimately if a reader can’t write anything nice, please stay away from here because we don’t care. We’re all living proof that Neely’s (and others’ paleo) research is correct, so your opinion won’t suddenly change our minds.

    I know I can speak for most of your readers when I say we all feel blessed to have you here, doing all the research for us, for no cost, and we sincerely appreciate what you do. :-)


  6. I am relatively new to the paleo community and have yet gone “all out” with it but I do enjoy your blog. While I do take issue with some of the broad statements regarding the science (lectins are poison etc.) I know that such opinions are broad spread across the entire paleo community and there is research to support it. Like your camel commenter said I think that there is a group of people who are sensitive to grains (although I personally believe that number is growing with our generally sedentary and over-indulgent lifestyle) I cannot imagine ever degrading myself to the point of personal attacks.

    tl;dr Scientific or point based disagreements are wonderful and beget discourse. Personal attacks are stupid and only degrade the person making them.


  7. I love your blog and look forward to every post. Paleo and Paleo Plan have helped me rethink how I eat and the choices I make with regards to my health. I have lost weight, I sleep better, my body composition has changed for the better (leaner), and my workouts are more focused. Also, my fiancé has switched over to paleo, and within a few weeks he noticed a change in his skin and all his stomach issues have nearly disappeared. Keep up the great work it’s greatly appreciated by many. People that have to be so negative have deeper issues then just disagreeing with a blog post. I love how you told the ‘camel’ to basically stuff it in such a polite manner!

  8. I feel compelled to comment to the commenter that we are not too small a minority (people who react to beans and grains.) And I am convinced that many people, like myself, go along not even knowing that they are damaging themselves eating these things until years later they start having problems-problems that do not seem to stem from diet at all.
    I happily ate “healthy whole grains” and beans and soy and all that other stuff for years of my life. I considered myself healthy. I didn’t have “reactions” to foods. I also took a lot of advil and never thought I had any problems with my stomach because of it. Now, 10, 15 years later, I found myself so sick over the course of 2-3 years that I thought I was going to have to go on disability. My doctors never suggested I change my diet. After all, I was eating healthy foods. But one doctor finally suggested even though I had a negative celiac test, to go gluten free for one month. I did. I didn’t notice a difference. I ate some gluten and I didn’t react, but then, I also seemed to have lost my taste for it so I decided to remain gluten free. Oh, I DID lose 25 pounds :) That may have motivated me. Then, my problems with digestion persisted and I found paleo and 5 months later went grain and legume free and suddenly I felt SO MUCH BETTER. Better than I can ever remember feeling. EVER. So, for some people it may not be obvious at all. And then one day you give it up and it’s like having lived with some annoying sound your whole life that maybe you got used to and thought you didn’t notice any more, but then the sound suddenly stops and the beautiful silence is so profound and wonderful you can’t believe you ever lived with the noise.
    I would hate to think of trying to silence someone just because their issue doesn’t seem to apply to me. Why not just skip it if you think it doesn’t apply to you? That’s what I do.
    At any rate, Neely, good for you and Seth. Don’t let the haters get you down. <3

  9. I dont think Mr. Jims comments were all that bad. Consider that some pale people can come off like righteous annoying vegan types. My neighbor for instance did a free workout at the Crossfit I belong too and who ever was there preached Paleo a little too much causing him to be turned off completely.

    Perhaps he was a little harsh but I’ve definitely seen much worse on the interwebz.

    1. Eric – I agree. I’ve seen much worse on this blog, as you can see by the comment I posted at the start of this post. I think I made it clear that he was for the most part fair, except for the couple bits of his comment that got me. I used his comment as a vehicle for this blog post, and as a way to tell Seth’s story. And I know what you’re saying about the Paleo die-hards – I think they’re giving Paleo a bad name. My opinion still stands, though, that Jim’s comment was out of line and people need to be nicer online…

  10. Neely ,

    good entry.. and good on you for approaching the subject. Sean and I are regularly shocked at what people have the nerve to say on comment threads… there are always going to be haters out there. The dedication you have put forth to nutrition and health is important to me… and so many other people out there seeking a better life for themselves. I hope you never stop sharing your journey because it is an important one. I’m so looking forward to your adventures to come. I hope all the positive comments counter the negatives and you know how admired you truly are. xoxo Hannah

  11. I’ve never understood why people found it to be acceptable to write such horrible things to complete strangers on the internet.

    I personally LOVE your blog, and your Paleo Plan program has been a huge blessing for me in making the transition to the Paleo lifestyle.

    Thank you!

  12. I am new to the Paleo lifestyle and I just wanted to say that your website has been a life line for me. My sister and her husband own a wellness business, and after receiving news that my cholesterol was high at 25 (?!?!) I decided I needed to change my life and they recommended Paleo. I had no idea where to start but I ended up starting here, scouring your recipe pages for ideas on what to eat. I feel SO MUCH BETTER and this diet has really changed my life and my lifestyle. You are doing great work and I hope you continue in it. Forget the HATERS! :)

  13. I am always so shocked when people have such a negative response to MY dietary choices. Why does what I eat cause such fury? A random stranger on Twitter attacked me for living a paleo lifestyle. Claimed he had many degrees from prestigious universities and was a leading authority on healthy lifestyles and had helped many people change to a healthier lifestyle. It was ridiculous what lengths this random stranger went to in order to persecute my choices.

    A friend had a great response- “Why do you care so much about what she puts in her mouth #TWSS.”

    I mean, neither you nor I are going around forcing anyone to eat paleo. You’re a resource for those who want to try out the lifestyle. His response to your blog is the sign of someone who is very insecure about their own eating habits; instead of making an accurate assessment of the diet (or, gasp, trying it!) he chose the very impressive path of being a jerk.

    Keep on keeping on :)

  14. I don’t understand being so self righteous to go around correcting people on their blog. If someone knows so much and feels so strongly, they can have thier own blog. Not to mention, he’s wrong. Lol. He’s just like everyone else still eating grains, thinking bloat, fatigue and farting all day long are normal.

  15. I’ve found that the vast majority of people who comment negatively on my eating paleo and being dedicated to fitness (I’m a distance runner and crossfitter) have really unhealthy habits, and just seeing what I’m doing makes them question their choices. They have a warped idea that just because I live my life a certain way means I’m judging them.

    Although I do have to admit there have been times I’ve seen a kid walking to school in the morning eating a bag of chips and drinking an Arizona iced tea, and I just want to grab them and say, “do you have any idea what you’re eating and what it’s doing to your body?”

  16. What T said, in the post above! People might be hurting themselves for the future without realizing it, because our bodies will work hard to function even if we feed our bodies the wrong things. As we grow older our bodies just have a harder and harder time coping with the abuses we so blithely subject them to in youth.
    So people who “have no problems” eating foods that cause leaky gut syndrome now might develop leaky gut symptoms later, once their gut is thoroughly leaky and their immune systems are out of whack!
    I am researching and getting ready to try Paleo eating now. But I used to say I had a “cast iron stomach” in my youth! I never got sick from what I ate, and never had health problems, and didn’t even gain weight. Now, well… guess the cast iron got rusty…
    People should realize that there are persons willing to research and find some answers to questions about dietary “rules” that don’t work well for too many people. And some of us need to read about it!
    You just keep blogging as you do. You seem to be a great help to many. You are helping me to make a choice for myself by offering information in a friendly and knowledgeable way.
    By the way, your photo is lovely. You and your groom are also!

  17. Seth Godin had a good post about people who are very unconstructively critical:

    “For the one person who didn’t get the joke

    The fabled comedian is killing it at a club that seats 400. One guy in the back, though, isn’t laughing.

    Miles Davis was shunned by a few people in the audience, even at his coolest.

    The theater critic at the Times might not like this play, the one that made people cry and sold tickets for years.

    And just about every blog post and book listing collects a trolling comment from someone who didn’t like it, didn’t read it or didn’t agree with it (or all three) and isn’t shy about speaking up with a sharp tongue.

    For those people, the message from the creator of the work is clear: “It’s not for you.”

    Unanimity is impossible unless you are willing to be invisible. We can be unanimous in our lack of feedback for the invisible one.

    For everyone else, though, the ability to say, “It’s not for you,” is the foundation for creating something brave and important. You can’t do your best work if you’re always trying to touch the untouchable, or entertain those that refuse to be entertained.

    “It’s not for you.”

    This is easy to say and incredibly difficult to do. You don’t have much choice, though, not if you want your work to matter.”

  18. Most negative comments, in my humble opinion, stem from people who find eating RIGHT just too difficult. Do yourself a favor-just delete and move on. Don’t even give (the truly ugly) people the time of day or feed their negative energy. I know…easier said than done. Do yourself another favor-copy and paste some of the encouraging and loving comments onto a word doc, print and post where you can remind yourself of the good impact you are making. Do this often. I just found your blog and am just starting this path. Thank you, thank you.

  19. Neely, I totally get it. It sucks when people make boneheaded comments. Obviously Jim knows nothing about your realtionship otherwise he would not have been so narrowminded. I think you do a great job and you have taught me a lot over the last year. Thank you! Remember good or bad — people are reading your blog that’s what is important — Also, if they cared enough to comment, whether good or bad, you matter and so does your site :)

  20. Neely, I just found your blog today and was SO impressed with your insights, your writing, and your willingness to engage and help other people. (The fact that you live in Boulder, as I do, was just a really nice surprise!) It’s so easy for people to make snarky blog comments and pass judgment on things they don’t understand or agree with. The thing is… that “stuff” is all his. It’s not yours. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. I’m sure he felt mighty sitting behind his keyboard, and puffed up his chest after he hit submit. Good for him. The people who come here to learn and share can tell within one minute that you’re incredibly knowledgable and in it to serve others. He’s just not one of your people – and thank goodness for that. :)

  21. Neely, I am new to Paleo and it is largely through your blogs that I find my motivation and the desire to learn more for myself through research. I enjoy your writing and advice and I hope you know you have a “fan” base that supports you rather than desires to bring you down. Your rebuttal was intelligent and non-threatening, which (hopefully) showed him the error of his ways. As the internet grows, so does the population of sad and pitiable people that can only feel good about themselves by attacking others that have obviously worked hard for their lives.

  22. Maybe Jim works for a company or industry that sells products adversely affected if people change to a paleo lifestyle…..and we know how we’ll informed our own doctors are on nutrition … I have been sent to a number of specialists thru the years for various symptoms… Had a headache that lasted 10 years….

    Told i had allergies, given shots, given strong drugs… Recommended others with strong side effects….which had me searching for better data than my doctors had given me.

    No one ever told me what I was eating could be problem.

    Grain free and sugar free now……my symptoms are gone. No drugs needed.

    Jim’s science might need updating by studies that are funded without strings on the acceptable results. Also suggest he invest in the Wheatbelly book on best seller by a MD who presumably does have the science to explain why grains make you sick and fat.

    And if our doctors are so frequently so unaware and untrained in nutrition, we better get informed ourselves.

    With the obesity explosion and its high medical cost and impact on the National Budget, could it be that the wheat lobby and others might be very effective at maximizing the belief that whole grain is healthy?

    Thanks, Neely…only recently discovered your site and it is a great help.

  23. My family has been following your paleo plan since the beginning of the year. This website and blog has changed our lives in such a positive way, I recommend it to everyone! So please continue doing exactly what you have been doing. Although we have been gluten and dairy free for years, I have never felt better or had more energy since going paleo. My son is on the Autism Spectrum and also has allergies, asthma and a multitude of other health problems. He used to constantly be sick from September through May. He has not been sick once in the past 6 weeks since we went paleo. But my favorite thing about the Paleo Plan is the menu plans make it so easy to follow and the recipes are ALL good!
    Thank you for all your hard work and I know it’s hard but please try to ignore the haters!

  24. If it was a recovering alcoholic or recovering drug addict would anyone be making comments like that to the blogger?? Im sure he wouldnt have said let your boyfriend have a drink here or there its not going to hurt him. For some Paleo lifestyle is a way of living. If I eat certain foods I will be in horrible pain for weeks!! Paleo helps me steer clear from the trigger foods. For many Paleo keeps them healthy and disease free. Why do people have to hate that?! I never push anyone onto paleo. but MANY if not MOST people try to bash me or argue with me that paleo is dumb. What can we do though?! just live your life the way you choose and if people don’t like it then be the better person. Keep it up Neely!

  25. aha, I love your blog, quite educating, please keep going on and ignore those non constructive commenters. This is the first time I came here, I fall in love with your writing style, quite interesting and showing another world to me. Thank you.

  26. Neely and Seth:

    First of all, congratulations on your marriage.

    Secondly, if Seth did not see anything angering in those first two lines, then that’s all that matters. I didn’t see what Jim saw when I read it.

    Thirdly, Jim’s comment (which didn’t sound aggressive if you asked me…but you didn’t, so disregard that – hee hee) would be valid IFFFFFFFFFFF you were being seriously judgmental. If you were saying it in context of “honey, I want you to feel like you did when you were eating Paleo,” then Jim is misinterpreting the context of which those two line were said.

    And, lastly, we love you when you’re doing what you were born to do …. educating us everything you know about Paleo (fad diet or not)…which reminds me, I left you a question on an old post.

    If you don’t mind leaving this “draining” post behind, could you check out my comment? Thanks Neely!


  27. People should eat what feels right for their body. NO body is alike and that goes for their dietary requirements.
    I could never see myself gorging on animal flesh. its uncivilised and not necessary. I do notice that people who eat paleo dont look as healthy as youd might expect. They always look gaunt, sunken eyes ad their heads look bigger than their bodies. Its a bit vain to not want to include some starchy veges. Too much protein is dangerous. and having it for lunch breakfast and dinner is a bit over the top, Its not a perfect diet and I can hardly see a huge world wide revolution. People wont give up their addictions. Coffee, chocolate, ice cream ,alcohol. And all that crappy McDonalds garbage

  28. I loved both your comment to the cyber-butthead. Your then-boyfriend/now-husband’s response was AMAZING. Why people think cyber comments are less hurtful than being an a@@hole in person is beyond me.

  29. Hi Neely! Just starting Paleo on a new doctor’s recommendation. After years of miserable pain and inflammation, mood swings, and just about every hypochondriac dream’s list of symptoms, I was told that three things that I already intuitively knew but was sort of ignoring: 1) I am so intolerant of milk that no amount of lactaid can help me avoid symptoms after a grilled cheese swandwich, 2) I was desperately needing more B complex, and 3) I am kind of addicted to carbs… Enter….paleo diet suggestion! So very excited to try. This is practically how I grew up as a child in Argentina (grass fed beef and game plus veggies for the most part).
    ANYWAY, the reason I’m really writing is because I do suspect that while this is a good eating approach for many people, it may not work equally well for different “types”. I say this not because of any scientific knowledge on my part but mostly as a speculation based on Ayurveda’s doshas (or types). Are you familiar with this? I find it very interesting that there is quite a bit of overlap in the types of things recommended to me by an Ayurvedic practitioner based on my primary body type and symptoms and the new recommendation from this doctor using muscle testing. The main problem with Ayurveda is the spiritual dimension that encourages abstaining from animal eating. In my case, that left me with little to eat, so I was not following very closely. Just curious.

    1. laura diaz – Interesting question. I hadn’t really considered the question of whether Paleo would work better for different Ayurvedic types. My opinion is similar to my thoughts about the whole “blood type diet”. I think when you’ve grown up eating crappy, sugary, refined, overly processed, grain-laden, gmo foods, it doesn’t really matter what blood type or what Ayurvedic type you are. If your gut is destroyed and your immune system is overworked, you need to go back to the basics to heal all that. Humans are well-equipped to eat all the very basic foods on the Paleo diet, as opposed to the grains, sugar, soy, and pasteurized dairy we’ve been eating. It may be that depending on your type, you do better with, say, pork than you do chicken. Or that you do better with more meat in your diet than other types. But the fact remains that Paleo is just very simple, healthy, wholesome foods that will help pretty much anyone who suffers from symptoms of a bad diet.

  30. Unfortunately, I also receive harsh comments sometimes. I try to ignore them, and keep doing what I’m doing. It is rewarding to be able to inspire people. I am sure many people admire you for what you do, myself included. I know, it’s not easy to share your life with the world. I think you are doing a great job!

    1. ilona – I LOVE your blog! That is so cool how you’re breaking down the diets of people around the world from that book. I just say for the last half hour scouring all your posts. Please keep doing that :)

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