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Holy activated almonds! Canberra's The Merrymaker Sisters are 'giving up' paleo

It might be enough to make Pete Evans choke on his cauliflower rice - Canberra's The Merrymaker Sisters are giving up the strict paleo diet.

Carla and Emma Papas have built careers and a huge social media following by blogging recipes and advice which included advocating a paleo lifestyle.

They have more than 58,000 followers on Instagram, almost 29,000 on Facebook and have sold 10,000 hardcopy or electronic books. Their blog gets more than 150,000 visits a month.

But in a January 16 post titled "Why We Are Giving Up Paleo", the sisters said they had become  "too obsessed" following the paleo diet which advocates a diet built around vegetables, meat, fish and nuts and eschews foods such as dairy, grains and legumes.

"We were like "OH MY GOSH… I CAN'T EAT THAT SALAD! It has one chickpea in it!"," the sisters wrote on their blog. 

"Now that we're more chilled about things like corn chips, a few cheeky drinks here and there (because it's fun), sushi, chick peas in our salad etc. we are in a way better head space.


"The strict paleo has been part of our journey. But now we are moving forward."

It could be a case of them catching the zeitgeist, with the sisters saying they did want to be part of the "negativity" around the paleo diet.

"To be quite frank, we're totally over the negative flack in the media/within the paleo world/within the whole wide world that paleo receives," they wrote.

Yet they were adamant backing away from paleo wasn't a commercial decision, or about protecting their brand from any bad press or social media around paleo.

"The Merrymaker Sisters is Emma and I - we're the brand. We speak our truth 100 per cent. Every single post is from the heart. It doesn't have an ulterior motive behind it," Carla, 25, told The Canberra Times.

"We've learnt so much on our journey. It's not just food and movement to get to health and happiness."

The sisters said they didn't want to be stressed about what they ate and wanted their followers to also feel more relaxed about food.

"We want to live stress-free. We don't want to go out and have someone recognise us and say, 'Hey, they're eating sushi'," Carla said.

They said they would continue to publish old paleo recipes on their blog, because they were part of showing "our own personal journey".

"Our recipes from now on will still all be free from sugar, gluten and most grains. They will focus on real food, with the goal to add more good to your plate," Carla said.

"We occasionally use good quality dairy as well as some gluten-free grains or pseudo grains like quinoa in our recipes.

"We still follow a real food way of living, meaning we don't eat processed packaged foods packed with preservatives and sugar. You won't see us eating sugar-filled cake or junk food. We still believe and follow a healthy way of living, we know that this is life-changing." 

Before they started The Merrymaker Sisters or started on a paleo diet, the sisters were extreme dieters and exercisers. They have written previously that their obsessive dieting and exercise saw them stop menstruating for two years.

They started the paleo diet in 2012 and said it immediately made them feel healthier.​

"It was the best thing that we could have done because not only did we get healthier in our bodies and our mindset but we also started The Merrymaker Sisters which is our full-time passion now and it's amazing that we could do that for a living," Carla said.

But eventually they said they became too obsessed about paleo.

"We had to eat no grains.We weren't allowed any sugar. We were even getting to the point of 'no bananas'. So we were getting quite obsessive and we didn't feel good about that," Carla said.

Cooking megastar Nigella Lawson recently spoke out about diets including clean living diets which she feared might be used to hide eating disorders.

The Merrymaker Sisters say that wasn't the case with them and paleo

"No not for us. Paleo is and was part of our journey. It actually alleviated our disorders," Carla said.

"Before paleo, we were our biggest worst enemies. We were calling ourselves fat every day. We hated the way we looked. We always wanted to lose weight. We wanted to be thinner . To the point where our bodies actually shut down and weren't functioning properly. Paleo actually helped us get back to health. It's been such a positive thing."

The sisters said they were expanding their posts and advice to include more information about positive relationships and mindsets outside of food.

"The only reason we are letting go of the paleo label is to spread the message of less stress is best. Less stress and more good," Carla said.

"Less stress around our food choices, just focussing on adding more good to our plates, instead of focussing on what's out. More positive mindset, more positive relationships and more fun in your life doing stuff you love."