After looking through the amazing before & after photos http://paleohacks.com/questions/7058#axzz18CESLYSj (good job to everyone!), I wanted to hear a little more about everyone's story.
This question goes out to those who had an unhealthy relationship with food. Or I should say these questions, because it is a two-parter.
1) What was it that made you change? What was it that finally got you to say, I can't eat like this anymore, I need to transform my eating habits and put my health as a priority?
2) And for those of you who eat to deal with emotional issues (binge eaters, emotional eaters, etc), how has this changed since going paleo? Do you still binge when in emotional distress, just on paleo foods? Or do you break down and go non-paleo? Or do you find you don't have the urges anymore? Did you transmute it into something else, like exercising? Or did you find a magical way to help you deal with your emotions in a healthy way?
I ask, because after losing 30 pounds going Paleo, I'm at a bit of a roadblock (still have about 30-40 left to lose). I use food & television to help me escape from stress/bad emotions/etc, and I haven't been as Paleo as I would like to be. So I'm trying to get healthy now and learn and change and grow. I would really appreciate ideas & inspiration! And I figure it would be helpful inspiration to a lot of others out there...
1) My downhill slide was slow at first and then all of a sudden I was 50+lbs overweight. I started suffereing from IBS in 2003 and took 3 types of prescription drugs to combat it plus OTC fibers and pills. I played volleyball 5 times a week (at a very competitive level) and I slowly went down to playing 3 times a week because of my work schedule. then I injured my knee. Then it hurt to play, it hurt to do anything. So I became a couch deweller and Pizza Hut became my best friend...what made me change were multiple reasons: I was a former college athlete and all of a sudden I couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for air. I felt miserable, I was sick, depressed, sad, none of my clothes fit, I hated going shopping (which was something I used to LOVE to do) because I was beginning not to be able to fit in "normal" sizes, I was embarrassed to see old friends. I used to LOVE my body (seriously! I did) and now I was hearing myself actually say horrible mean things about my body not only in my head but outloud! :( I would eat a large meal be STUFFED and 20 to 30 minutes later feel like I was STARVING! But what REALLY made me change was my IBS was out of control, I was in serious pain, my decline in health was scaring me but even more than that...my wedding! (ahh vanity) I didn't want to be a fat bride! And when I went dress shopping with my mom and I successfully ripped a sample dress with my a$$ - that's when I knew it had to stop. (we laughed at the time, but when I got home I cried myself to sleep that night)
2) I no longer binge. Once I got off the sugar (I used to eat and eat and eat!) I found it was easy to say "no" to food AND/OR not be tempted like I used to be. I've noticed that when I'm tired I now crave cupcakes. So instead I go get a glass of water and make a mental note to go to bed earlier or take a nap if I can (SLEEP can help you cope! seriously, get that rest!!!). If times get tough and I'm stressed, angry, sad, upset - I go workout. Even if its just a walk around the block I feel better! I do have to say that CrossFit saved my life (and my husband's too) We found CrossFit and CrossFit taught us about Paleo and in turn I've lost 30 lbs, my husband has lost 52 lbs. and we started doing both in May) Also, at night I journal. I write down all my ideas and thoughts and emotions and just get them out of my head. that way I won't toss and turn all night and I get all the emotional stuff OUT. I highly recommend it. don't worry about spelling or even if its legible - just write it down. I buy notebooks/journals from the dollar store. Sometimes I keep them but normally I just throw them out. If I had an outdoor firepit I think I'd take great joy in using them as kindling! ;)
I hope that helps!!!! Keep up the great work! You should be really proud of your progress! :)
1) Well, for me, I didn't start as Paleo. What made me decide to lose weight was an epiphany I had while visiting my dad in the hospital in July 2004. He had cancer and the chemo had damaged his heart and I had just watched them shock him back after his heart stopped. I was outside in the Florida heat, 250lbs, smoking, sweating and just feeling awful. I realized that I was going to end up like my dad, but not because of cancer, but from laziness and not caring about myself. Here my dad was fighting for his life and I was wasting mine. He was only 56 when he died. I didn't want my daughter going through that because her mom didn't care enough to fix it. I went home from that trip and signed up for Fitday and Bally's - it was like a switch just clicked for me. I had tried before, but none felt quite like this.
2) Getting over my binge eating and emotional eating was the hardest part of the weight loss. I had to fight the mental battle with myself. When I would binge, I had to learn to stop and acknowledge it. Sometimes I sent a text to my trainer or my sister or another friend, sometimes it was enough to acknowledge it just to myself. Then I had to learn to STOP eating and figure out what had triggered it. It's always something stressful for me. It sucks having to deal with the feelings rather than eating them (or shopping, which is what happened next), but I am so much stronger now.
One thing I learned to do to help with the unnecessary eating was to eat every 2/3 hours. I know its very non-Paleo, but if I get over hungry I make bad decisions. I can go longer now and I even fast occasionally, but initially it was extremely important not to let myself get into extreme hunger where I would just shove random food down my piehole.
Another very important point from an emotional/binge eating standpoint is that when you make a mistake and eat something you didn't plan on eating or that isn't in your food plan you cannot use it as an excuse to continue to eat badly. THE DAY IS NOT "RUINED". You do not have permission to now eat like crap for the rest of the day. STOP the behavior, forgive yourself and move on to the next meal and make it a healthy one. You cannot let one "mistake" turn into a bad day or weekend or week or month.
I came to Paleo after losing about 100lbs looking to get over the last plateau and lose some bodyfat. It's worked for me really well. I love to research things and have jumped into this with both feet. I felt kind of "non-Paleo" with my food logging and calorie counting and extra meals, but I have to accept that this is what works for me. Coming from a formerly obese person, with food issues, I have to learn to except that I need boundries. Maybe someday I'll relearn how to eat to satiety, in the meantime, I am happy understanding what my brain needs to keep me on the right path.
Goodness, if you made it this far, I'm impressed. I do love to talk about this stuff. :) Good luck!
I was a competitive bodybuilder for 11 years and it was killing my health and the food obsession was killing all of my relationships. I was unhappy and unhealthly doing something I always thought was healthy.
I had to come to terms with what I was chasing with bodybuilding, working out 1.5 a day, 7 days a week and eating 7-8 meals a day. I developed IBS, malabsorbtion and adrenal fatigue. Something needed to change.
I did a 2.5 day fast and meditated like crazy and began the Paleo Diet after the fast. Since Sept I am IBS symptom free and my adrenal fatigue is 95% gone. I am happier and healthier than ever before.
The one issue I have now is some of my mental issues with food obsession and body image issues I developed from bodybuilding are starting to creep back with this diet. Thankfully I have found this site and most of you say it like it is and have helped me to relax a bit.
I embarked on my first diet when I was six years old (trying to emulate my older sisters whom I adored!) and have always battled with weight problems, in spite of being relatively active and tried to eat well. Now of course I have a good idea why I have always had weight issues! I have been a vegetarian (5 years) vegan (2 years) did Body-for-Life, South Beach, Abs Diet, P90X, Weight Watchers, etc. etc. I always felt like I was fighting my body and I hated the feeling of deprivation that seemed to go hand-in-hand with "doing the right thing" for my health and fitness. About three years ago I dropped everything and resigned myself to the fact that I was doomed to be frumpy. Eventually I became well-adjusted to my frumpiness though never entirely happy with myself. I certainly felt like it wasn't fair that this was my lot in life but it was what I had to go with.
Fast forward to the beginning of last March. A very close friend of mine, a young man of considerable maturity and talent, took his own life. Needless to say, his death devastated me and everyone around him. In the weeks that followed, wading through the heartache he left behind and trying to make sense of the mess, my own health took a turn for the worse. Migraines, IBS, debilitating fatigue and a mess of other symptoms were all worsened by the simple fact that I just stopped taking care of myself - I was so depressed I couldn't be bothered to eat well. Seriously for something over the course of three weeks I'll bet I didn't ingest more than 50 grams of protein. Easy, carby, greasy food was what I ate - if I could remember to eat at all. And forget about exercise or playing or even moving around any. My weight crept up to 170 and my husband was really worried about me. I looked terrible and felt even worse. And my crappy health was NOT helping me deal emotionally with the loss of my friend.
At the end of March I got this random email from Tony Horton (P90X) announcing Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint Book. I certainly wasn't looking for yet another diet to plunge into but everything I read on Mark's Daily Apple and the book made sense. I downloaded it onto my Kindle and read the entire thing that day! More than that, I was excited about the prospect of having great health and fitness AND enjoying my life. At the same time, even! The idea that the human organism tends towards excellent health if we only treat our bodies the way they expect to be treated really appealed to me.
What's more, my husband was completely onboard with the plan. I realize how lucky I am that he was actively involved with this from the beginning. We eased into it over the course of a month, cleaning our our pantry and fridge, joining some friends on a cowpooling adventure, and trying out new recipes. Going on more walks together and playing more.
I think it was my friend's death that was ultimately the catalyst. Not only in the sense of me realizing how precious life is, but as sort of a defiant act. If you've ever lost a loved one to suicide (and I'm hoping if you haven't, you never ever will) you know all about the period of intense anger you go through during the grieving process. The feeling was, I'll never know why he chose to end his life but I choose to live. And in retrospect, Paleo is THE most life-affirming way to live of anything I've ever tried. What can be more life affirming than a way of life that nurtured and allowed our ancestors to thrive for millions of years? I feel more alive, more healthy, more hopeful and positive than I have ever felt before. I'm down only about 10 pounds since March (but two pant sizes!) I am doing CrossFit now (as of July) and my strength is amazing to me. No more migraines or IBS. I haven't yet met my weight goals but I'm well on my way and you know what? I really am not worried about how long it takes me to get there. My well-being is light-years from where I was when I started paleo and I'm enjoying every second of it.
For me, paleo didn't magically "fix" anything, but it basically made me realize I had a problem. The reason that happened was because paleo asked me to really examine everything I was eating. Incredibly, though, I've been working through my issues with compulsive/binge eating since going paleo - they're nowhere near being gone, but I am on my way! Here's what helped me:
-loosening up on paleo rules. I noticed, for example, that when I REALLY craved bread or a bowl of cereal or something, I would tend to binge on replacement foods (nuts, dried fruit, paleo baked goods) or the actual non-paleo food itself. By letting myself eat a bowl of rice instead, I've found that my desire for that particular food is much more abated. (And a bowl of rice is much much better than a binge, even if it is technically "paleo.") I don't, however, let myself eat just anything that I crave... there's still a certain amount of effort involved to steer myself in the right direction. This effort is not to be confused with willpower though!! If you feel like you are exerting extreme force and willpower to keep yourself from bingeing or eating compulsively, I'd say what your approach is not healthy or skillful (and will probably fail).
-Acknowledging, and paying attention to, how terrible it feels to eat horrible foods. Rather than viewing paleo as a bunch of rules and restrictions, I've actually internalized the knowledge of how unhealthy some food is and now I don't even really want it anymore.
-MINDFULNESS PRACTICE. If you aren't familiar with mindfulness or Buddhist practice, I REALLY recommend it. Here's what it means: noticing the emotions when you binge, what conditions or intentions or desires or feelings accompany or prompt compulsive eating; bringing awareness to how you feel after eating compulsively; noticing what desires or needs eating does or doesn't fill; accepting yourself; and letting go of certain ideas or self-images.
-For me, it also helps to ask myself these questions before I eat (or when I have the desire to eat): Am I physically hungry? If the answer is yes, I ALWAYS allow myself to eat. Not letting myself eat when I am actually hungry always leads to problems. If I'm not, I ask: What is the emotional/social/psychological reason for my desire to eat? Will eating fulfill that desire? Sometimes, the answer is yes to that too; if I'm at a nice dinner party, for example, or if I want a warming, soothing bowl of soup when I'm feeling very sad. I also ask: will eating now cause me more suffering in the long run, or less suffering in the long run? After asking myself these things, I am more guided to make the right decision.
-Simply getting distance between myself and the act of eating. Going outside, calling a friend, even just putting the fork down for a minute. Usually I regain my sense of self and remember what I really want.
Getting over compulsive eating is one of the hardest things I have done in my entire life. But I'm finding that when it is lifted I feel joy and energy - I'm not dulling my senses or emotions, I'm dealing with things instead. I'm actually encountering the real world, not escaping from it with food. And encountering the real world, and encountering my own problems and emotions, can be beautiful!
As for those questions you asked - here are my answers/approaches to them:
Do you still binge when in emotional distress, just on paleo foods?
For me, that's not good enough - it's not fixing the root of the problem. Like I said before, I think that eating a bowl of rice is better than a binge.
Or do you break down and go non-paleo?
To me, paleo/nonpaleo is less important than compulsive/intentional.
Or do you find you don't have the urges anymore?
I still have the urges - the task is to become aware of them, and understand them for what they are.
Did you transmute it into something else, like exercising?
Again, that doesn't really solve anything - that's just trading in one addictive behavior for another.
Or did you find a magical way to help you deal with your emotions in a healthy way?
For me, that's what mindfulness practice, meditation, and Buddhism has been.
One last thing: I really recommend any of Geneen Roth's books, Women, Food, and God or Overcoming Emotional Eating. And if you're at all interested in mindfulness or Buddhism, I'd recommend the (free!) podcast Audio Dharma, any of the talks by Gil Fronsdal.
In response to #1, part of my motivation came from looking at pictures of me with my daughter. Apart from looking like Hell, I found that many pictures showed me with my eyes closed, sitting down, or lying down. It took seeing this to make the connection that I was essentially a mouth-breathing, ambulatory coma patient.
I've only been on this for about 3 weeks, lost 8-12 lbs already! (My highest weight was 320lbs, I'm down to 304 with my winter clothes on!) I originally saw John Durant on the Colbert Report and something about it stuck with me. Fast forward to 2 months ago and I started reading blogs voraciously and it all started to click. My digestion problems, my addiction to sugar, my constant fatigue, my asthma.
I'd tried changing my diet before, but I always fell back into the "just one time" eating fast food, and it'd all go downhill. If I STUCK with the Paleo, I couldn't say that. I couldn't say "oh I'll just work out more tomorrow" or any of that B.S. I told myself.
So I decided that I'd start the diet the day after Thanksgiving. Get one more "good" meal in before I started hating food...right? My husband agreed to do it with me, and while he "cheats" more than I do, he's noticing the difference too. He's fresh out of the military, used to running 2-5 miles a day, so all this relaxation has put 30 lbs on him fast. He's down 6-8 lbs in 3 weeks too.
But anyway, my goal...I want to go hiking. I want to shop in the normal section of stores. (That last one might be reaching it...I can't fathom being smaller than a size 16 at my height...) I do a lot of travel for my work, and I hate being so tired from just walking around a conference center! So I guess it's because I want to live, and experience all these things that other people do, but I've just been too fat or scared to try!
1) I've always struggled with weight and tried a number of ideas. Paleo was the solution that showed results relatively quickly with little effort. Plus the reasoning behind it was scientifically sound, meaning, it's not a trend or snake oil.
2) I did binge on occasion for emotional reasons, but I also binged just because. The closest thing I've done to binging on paleo was downing a whole chicken in one sitting, so at least I stay on track.
I've always had anxiety issues and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Before I went paleo, I calorie counted to the last bite - I literally wouldn't take another forkful if it would put me over my daily limit. I believed I had to have 5 perfectly portioned meals a day, and as an growing athlete with a wicked appetite, five hundred calorie meals didn't cut it. However, if nutritionists recommend it, it must be effective, right? Feeling hungry again an hour after eating is normal, right? Eventually, I stumbled upon Mark's Daily Apple, and balked - what he said made sense! I cut grains. A few months later, I cut potatoes. I now eat slabs of meat with pounds of vegetables, usually in one to two meals a day. I eat as I am hungry. Conventional Wisdom can suck my 1000+ calorie dinners that sate my carnivorous belly at -gasp- 8 or 9 at night. The best part of this is I have lost all vestige of food anxiety. The food I'm eating is no longer "five hundred calories of beef". It is a steak. The paleo diet has improved my brain function to the point where I am calm and happy.
I still overeat on occasion - pistachios and cheese are too easy to snack on. However, I no longer WORRY about it anymore. I enjoy the taste even if they are more calories than I need, and try to eat mindfully the rest of the time.
I was once 125kg, now mid 90's, lowest 88. my advice to those suffering would be to go and see a psychologist and deal with the the underlying causes of the binge/emotional eating rather than the symptoms (namely the binging itself). I wish I had have realised this soon. Paleo is amazing for me for the health benefits and feeling of well-being when eating this way, but by going and starting to see someone qualified with the mental side of it, it makes the benefits of paleo eating so much more rewarding, and by stopping the bingeing then im getting results and not continually taking 2 steps forward and then 2 steps back.
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