I've been following strict(ish) Paleo for a few weeks, and I feel fantastic. I'm satisfied, performing well, and have had no cravings for the usual carbs and sugar. I've had the occasional cheat, but even they tend to be home-cooked and non-processed (the way I've been eating for years). Tonight my husband served me a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise (meat and pasta, home cooked) and I was INSTANTLY insatiable. I finished my bowl, the kids leftovers, seconds and found myself searching the cupboards hoping for some chocolate or ice-cream. Luckily I keep a Paleo house so there's nothing more for me to gorge on. My question is why? Was it all mental (I've blown it now, may as well keep going)or is there something physical going on? Again, I wasn't craving carbs, just ate it to be polite, and the effect was instant.
If you have been relatively strict Paleo (since the word "Paleo" really isn't very informative, I am assuming the standard wheat-free, legume free, dairy free routine with fruits and veg as the main source of carbs) eating an entire bowl of pasta probably created a higher glycemic load (overall metabolic effect) than anything you ate over the course of the past few weeks.
Additionally, there is information that suggests a reduced muscular uptake of glucose (insulin resistance) when you eat low/no carb, so you quite possibly experienced a particularly large spike of blood glucose and a similarly large release of insulin.
With the insulin spike, your blood sugar (glucose) levels began to drop. Your brain (hypothalamus) then perceives this as a "low-fuel" situation although it was actually a "low access to fuel" situation. The sensation of fullness (satiety) was also impaired by insulin's effect on free fatty acids (it prevents them from being released from fat cells).
The end result, you ate like you were starving because that's exactly what your body thought was happening.
In my opinion, the WORST thing that you can do in this situation is take it personally and fall victim to the "primary attribution error" (PAE). The PAE is what goes in effect when we take a highly specific, conditional, complex situation and reduce it down to a simple, easy to process, statement about your personality (i.e. you "lack self-control", "weren't committed", etc.) All of this is bogus and is simply a method of avoiding a deeper analysis of the situation.
OR, you could use this experience as a learning opportunity. All other conditions remaining equal, you know now how you respond to a bowl of pasta and you can use this information to navigate future meals for a different effect (such as following the advice provided in other answers such as using shredded zucchini, the aptly named spaghetti squash, or sauteed mixed vegetables instead of pasta.
It might not be the carbs triggering your (attempted) binge.
Due to a phenomena known as the gut-brain axis, gluten consumption can produce psychological as well as physical effects in the sensitive, including the desire to binge eat.
Dr Emily Deans has covered this at her blog Evolutionary Psychiatry, as has Chris Kresser at the Healthy Skeptic.
While you try and work out if this might be you, in the meantime I suggest cheating with rice pasta.
I have the same-ish thing happen to me if I eat ice cream or something. I can't stop and finish the whole carton. Here's my two ways to avoid the situation:
1: Buy a small portion so there is nothing left for you to eat. Go out for ice cream and get a small. Then there is nothin left for you to cheat on. Or in your case, go to an italian place.
2: Dont think of this as a "go big or go home" event. That is my classic fail when I cheat. Think of it as a singular event and pull yourself back under control afterwards. This is very difficult though.
The main thing is not to have cheat food in your house. If it's not available, even if you would eat a ton of it, you're probably not so addicted that you'd drive to the store to buy a bag of pasta, come home, cook it, and go crazy.
If you're having issues with carbs causing benders you probably cut carbs too fast in my opinion. Keep some bland carbs in your diet (plain potatoes) and that should help. It helps me.
To answer your question directly:
Yes its all mental.
You tasted something you liked but don’t eat anymore and simply decided to eat more things you like but don’t eat anymore. You chose to.
Your body has no control over your hands and mouth.
This will always happen. Actually that sentence is too passive. You will always choose to do this when you choose to do this. Sounds silly I know. But that’s the reality.
I know this sounds harsh but it is the honest truth. All people know this. We still choose to do silly things but that choice is never anything but our choosing.
Well I started a whole controversy last time I said this (I can't find the post, so you can search for it yourself). But wheat hits the same opioid receptors that heroin does. The difference is degree (heroin lots, wheat little) and frequency (heroin low, wheat just about every meal plus snacks). So it's completely understandable that once you got a hit of spaghetti you were seeking more just like a recovering heroin addict being given a hit.
This is one case where you just need to define some foods (wheat, for example) as poisons and just NEVER have any.
In my experience, carbs beget carbs -- when I cheat with a lot of carbs, they actually make me hungrier, and I then crave more carbs. For example if I cheat and have bread or a starchy side (i.e. white potatoes or hominy) at dinner, I crave a starchy dessert.
This feeling often extends to the next day. After a dinner where I cheat, I will crave starches at breakfast, and have more of a sweet tooth during the day. This will go on for 1-2 days unless I go very low carb and absolutely no cheats for 2-3 days then I finally get back to "normal" (Paleo normal).
I have also had the "trigger" effect like what you say, especially at night after a couple of glasses of wine, I will have something starchy, and my body goes into some kind of overdrive, and I'll eat anything sugary or starchy, even if I know it's crap.
I suspect the explanation is something related to insulin, when I eat the carbs my insulin spikes, which in turn instructs my body to find something to counteract the insulin. At certain times (not sure why), the spike is very high and the craving is very intense. It could be a defense mechanism by the body, when it detects what could be a hazardous level of insulin, it tells you to get some carbs quick.
This seems very similar to a recovering alcoholic who has one drink and then goes on a 3 day bender.
This is basically the insulin death spiral that leads me (and I think a lot of other people) into a poor diet, energy peaks and valleys, insatiable snacking, overweight, and other issues.
As others have said, it just isn't worth it to have these kinds of cheats. The few moments of pleasure from the cheat isn't worth 2-3 days of recovery. If I'm going to cheat, it'd be something like a cocktail or ice cream rather than bread or pasta.
For me, a strict Paleo diet is the cure for this. I have learned that I just have to be very carful with the starches. I am better with sugar than starch, a small amount of sugar doesn't seem to have this effect, but anything like bread, pasta, cookies, etc. just has a very ill effect.
Your body has a biological need for carbohydrates and it would rather not stress your organs to produce it from protien. You ate the spaghetti and your body decided it needed more carbs. So either stick to VLC or get enough carbs through paleo sources like tuber, fruit etc.
Personally I would include the carbs, theirs no advantage to making your body produce them from protien.
As for me one little carb in my case a few chips and salsa have been adding up quickly. I spent the last two days nursing a upset stomach because I ate chips, pecan pie, flour tortilla with cucumber yogurt and breaded chicken wings. WTH! I couldn't get enough! Oh let me add Starbucks to that list. My thinking is when I did not eat any except a sweet potato after a wod, I felt great. Once it was in my system my body "needed" more. Currently I'm realizing I hate feeling sick and sitting on the toilet so that will keep me away from it for now!
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