Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pushing the "Reset" Button on my Cravings

I've had several people ask me if I REALLY (like for reals??) don't crave sweets anymore. And I can understand their skepticism! Anyone who knows me personally knows that I L-O-V-E sugar.

My nickname is D.Q. for goodness sake (b/c of the affinity that I had for DQ Blizzards!!) My two biggest weaknesses were Krispy Kreme donuts and Dairy Queen Blizzards.

So it doesn't bother me that my friends are a bit skeptical of my claims - I think I would be too if it were someone else claiming that they honestly didn't crave sugar anymore. A month ago, I thought it wasn't possible!

I've tried to kick my cravings about a million times before. I've done everything from just trying to ignore them (epic FAIL), to going on a month-long protein drink diet that was supposed to extinguish cravings (yeah, don't ask. . . how is consuming nothing but sweet protien shakes for a month going to help you get over sugar cravings?? What was I thinking?)

I've gone "mostly" Paleo for long stretches of time in the past (up to 6 months), but each of those times, I still had to fight my cravings regularly which never failed to put me in a bad mood. I enjoyed the healthy foods that I was eating, but I still craved sugar daily and it was a constant battle within my head to refrain from eating it.

So what did I do differently this time? I followed the Whole30's instructions not to try to "paleo-fy" Non-Paleo foods - No "Paleo Ice Cream", "Paleo Pancakes", "Paleo Pudding", etc.

In other words, No Fakes!

In the past when I've done my stints of eating Paleo, I'd find ways to paleo-fy EVERYTHING. One of my favorite snacks was raw honey, almond butter, and cocoa powder heated for a few secs and stirred together. While those ingredients were technically "Paleo" (although not Whole30 approved), the combination of them effectively created a dessert. So any time that I'd crave sugar, I'd whip up one of these snacks. I always craved dessert after dinner, so I'd end up eating one (or. . gulp . . two) of these snacks just about every single night. I also stumbled across the "So Delicious" Coconut Ice Cream in the myriad of flavors, and justified to myself that the ingredients were 99% Paleo, so this stuff was okay . . and I'd crack out a few times a month by eating half a pint (or sometimes a full pint) of the stuff. . . yeah, that didn't do much to kill my sugar cravings either!

I'd found recipes for coconut macaroon cookies that used a crap-ton of Agave Nectar or Raw Honey. . . and I'd found recipes for cookies and puddings. All using technically "Paleo" ingredients. . . but essentially just junk food.

Additionally, I didn't cut artificial sweetners (Splenda, Truvia) out of my diet. So I would sprinkle them on everything. I'd put 2-3 packets in my coffee in the morning for a sweet treat. I'd sprinkle them on grapefruit, and even on sweet potatoes (like they're not already sweet enough!!)

So every time that my sugar craving would kick in, I'd answer it with exactly what it wanted - Sugar (or fake sugar). Even if it was from more natural sources - it was still crap!

This time around, I did not Paleo-Fy a single thing. I used no artificial sweetners, honey, or agave nectar. I avoided even "good" foods that I knew might start up a craving. One example of this is fruit.

I know that fruit is good for us, and am not going to sit here and suggest that anyone cut fruit entirely out of their diets. But for me personally, I have chosen to significantly cut back my fruit intake during the Whole30, and will continue to do so after experiencing the results. I only eat fruit once a day, and it's almost always in the morning with my breakfast (usually berries). I also avoid super sweet fruits like pineapples, mangoes, and melons because I've learned from experience that these tend to kick off a rampid sugar craving. I eat a piece of pineapple, and start craving a krispy kreme donut. . go figure!

Of course I understand that not everyone's body reacts the way mine does to fruit, so if you're able to eat it without having it send you on a sugar binge, than great!

I think it's a combination of all of these things that have helped me to kick the sugar habit, and I couldn't be happier. I've never been so in touch with my body, and the way it responds to different types of foods - it's really actually kind of cool :)

**Additional Note (added later)**
I realized after posting this that I should mention that I DO plan on allowing myself the very occasional Paleo Treat or piece of pineapple - it's not that I've cut them out of my diet forever and ever amen. But I have been able to finally gain control of my sugar cravings, so I know when I do something that may bring one on, and can brace myself for it :) So I may occasionally eat some pineapple or a Paleo Dessert (the key word here being occasionally - as in not often), but I will do so knowing that it will likely spur a small sugar craving - and I'll be prepared for it!


Trixie said...

I still have been clinging to my stevia,can't imagine giving it up. You just decided to go cold turkey?

Christie said...

Hi Trixie,

Yes, I went cold turkey. This was the only way that I would ever cut it out. I am a person that leans toward extremes. . .

In the first few weeks, I put cinnamon in my coffee to reduce the bitterness, and it was suprisingly good! I've now found that I actually really do enjoy just plain old black coffee (as long as it's a GOOD coffee - and not some gas station swill ;)

I was able to go cold turkey because I initially commited to 30 days of the Whole30. I told myself at the start that if I REALLY missed my Truvia at the end of the 30 days, I'd add it back in on day 31 and see how it affected me. To be honest, I think I was subconciously planning to add it back in from the start.

But now that I've finished my 30 days (and am working toward 60), I've found that I really don't miss it at all, and have no plans whatsoever to add it back in :)

Good Luck!

Trixie said...

Thanks for answering my question:)
Would love to see what a day of food is for you. Do you try to hit a certain amount of grams in protein,fat/carbs??

Lacie said...

Out of curiosity--is your husband eating this way too? Are you planning/prepping/cooking 2 separate meals for the 2 of you?

Christie said...

Hi Trixie,

In my experience, Paleolithic Nutrition (the macro breakdown and meal timing of it anyway) is such an individual thing . . I mean the macro breakdown that works for one person may not work for another, but there are so many different ways that it can be tailored, that it can me be made to work for just about anyone - it's just a matter of learning how your body reacts to specific kinds of foods, then and making adjustments.

Right now, I am 100% completely and totally unweighed/unmeasured Paleo. This may change later, but for now it's working really well for me. There are several reasons for this, which I'm actually going to get into when I compose my next post early next week.

I can tell you that I limit my carb intake, getting all of my carbs from veggies & fruit, with very little fruit intake. I learned the hard way that I had to significantly take up my fat intake to make up for the reduced carb level (in terms of energy levels). I am NOT afraid of fat and eat a LOT of it :) I do eat sweet potatoes post workout, generally with egg whites or a slice of organic deli turkey, but this is usually the largest amount of carbs that I would eat in one sitting.

I won't take up too much more time here, b/c I'm going to be writing that post in another day or two w/ more details :)

Christie said...

Lacie - I tried very hard to convince my husband to do the 30 day Whole30 program on a "trial basis" with me, but he just wasn't ready to take that step (if you look back about 5 or 6 posts, you'll see one titled "A House Divided", and it explains some things that I did to make the adjustment easier because he wasn't on board).

Even though he hasn't committed to eating Paleo though, he (usually) doesn't complain about the meals that I cook in the evenings for us to share. And if he does complain, I tell him that he can fix himself something else, (Yay - more leftovers for me!), but I will NOT fix two seperate meals. I have a husband. . not a child ;)

I've tried packing him lunches and fixing him breakfasts, but he usually tells me that he'd rather just pick something up while he's at work, so I just go with it.

So basically, I fix all of my own breakfasts and lunches, and I fix dinners that I think we will both enjoy. If I ever fix something that he doesn't like, he'll usually make himself a sandwich.

I try to keep Paleo approved snacks around the house that I think he will like, but he's gone back to buying pretzels, popcorn and Italian Icies. . . so I just go with the flow.

The good news is that watching him eat things that I am choosing not to eat (bagels, sandwiches, frozen treats, etc) doesn't set off cravings for me at all anymore. The first two weeks were rough, but I think once I got everything out of my system, it got much easier.

I hate to see him eating things that I know aren't good for him, but there is only so much that I can do without turning into a nagging wife, which I will not do! My hope is that one of these days he will realize for himself that these types of food are affecting him negatively, and make the decision on his own to try it "my way" after having seen the great results that I have had.

Trixie said...

Thanks Christie,looking forward to that post:)

leena said...

first off great blog!
i hope you keep writing!!

my question: i always thought that sweet potatoe was a no-no along with regular potatoes?

Christie said...

Hi Leena,

Thanks for the compliment on the blog! I definitely plan to keep writing b/c I really enjoy it, and it helps to keep me accountable. Plus, when I get questions (like yours), it forces me to research WHY I follow some of the rules that I follow, and that's a great thing too :)

The original Paleo Diet book did not differentiate and instructed that all "tubers" be eliminated from the diet, however the Paleo Diet for Athletes encourages the use of Sweet Potatoes by ahtletes for recovery. I also follow a lot of info on Robb Wolf's site as well as info from the Whole9 site -and both sites support using Sweet Potatoes in moderation for post-workout recovery.

I also did a little bit of research on this and as it turns out, white potatoes are members of a completely different botanical family than sweet poatotes. White potatoes are Nightshades, part of the Solanaceae family, while Sweet Potaoes are part of the Convolvulaceae family (NOT a Nightshade).

As part of the Nightshade family, white potatoes contain lectins and other anti-nutrients that can irritate the gut and cause inflammation.

Sweet potatoes do not contain these anti-nutrients, and actually contain a lot more vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants than white potatoes do. The high levels of Vitamin A and C in sweet potatoes actually help to eliminate free radicals in our bodies :)

I do want to point out that I eat Sweet Potatoes almost exclusively Post-Workout, and typically only about a 3oz serving.

Hope this answered your question :)

Leena said...

Thank you so much for the thorough answer! Helped a lot! I actually DO recall reading somewhere, now that you say it, that it was recommended for athletes. (I dont consider myself one, as i only CF 2-3 times a week) Handful of nuts is usually the first thing that i eat after I get out of the shower. (Followed by simple proteins when I get home.)

Thanks again,

stephen said...

Hey new here. I found you by the way of the Whole 9.

I found your comments about your husband interesting. You see got my wife to buy into the Paleo Diet, but she still the has the habit of "paleo-fy" foods. (what a great word.}

She keeps asking, if she makes a dish with some kind of paleo sweetner will I eat it and I keep saying no. Yes, she is trying and I do not nag her eating her paleo-fy foods. But I can't help laughing, when she wonders why I do not have her sweet tooth.

Christie said...

Stephen - that is too funny!

I don't have to worry so much about that kind of peer pressure, b/c my hubby doesn't like "paleo sweets" at all. He claims that it all tastes like cardboard to him. I guess when you eat regular sugar, candy, soda, etc that the Paleo stuff must taste pretty bland in comparison. . .

And the great news is that the "regular sugar" that he has around doesn't even bother me any more. I think that a "Paleo Treat" might be more tempting to me than the "regular treats" becausee it would be more easy to "justify"!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I know it was from a while back. Are you still sugar free? i started the whole30 yesterday and feel like I'm eating every fruit in sight. You've motivated me to slow down on the fruit intake. Thanks. I write a blog as well about weigh tloss, CrossFit, Paleo and life as a mom of 4. It's mostly for fun, but you might get a kick out if it! Glad to have stumbled your way!