I have made such good progress on paleo since new year, I KNOW it is the right way to eat and thrive. I have learned a lot about what works (grass fed beef, veggies, etc) and things that don't work so well for me(nuts, dark chocolate, dairy, etc)
But the sugar demon has reclaimed me!! Say hello ice cream, milk chocolate and this has spiralled to all bets are off - cakes, biscuits and all kinds of gluten laden nutrition bombs.OMFG!
So today I tried to restart but the cravings were strong and I cracked. How disappointing. I need to crack this and get a few days in but how can I get over this hump! Once I break free from this I can easily trot past this "junk" in the shops.
Practical strategies... Get back on omega 3? Go to bed? Dry my eyes and suck it up? Glutamine - how much? Get a baseball bat and start smashing this junk up in a symbolic effort to reclaim my sanity? Sugar be damned!
**update what a difference a week makes! Last week I was locked in battle with sugar but I got back on the rails with some very low carb and zero carb, glutamine and sleep. But let me tell you that Sunday and Monday were the pits!! Cravings were bad and mood was through the floor. I hope I remember that next time I am thinking of the White devil. Today someone gave me a box of chocolates and not even a flicker of desire. Will pass them on. The biggest turn has been getting into ketosis. Phew. So hang tough hackers to beat those cravings.
Ah I know this one well. Thankfully it doesn't happen to me much anymore cause it sucks.
My strategies tend to be to eat a crapload of food that I can have and stay FULL. I make a bunch of food and have it ready to go. If I even get a tiny inkling of a craving I go eat my allowable foods which generally means tons of veggies. I make some of my favorites so I feel happy with my food. Sleep is good. Glutamine also works well for many. 1/4 tsp under the tongue. When going through this I think its fine to use prophalactically instead of waiting for the craving to come. I like to head them off at the pass and take the glutamine several times a day.
Some cognitive behavior stuff can be useful. Find a mantra that resonates with you and when the craving come do the visual a stop sign then recite your script. Over and over and over again. It can be anything that is meaningful to you like "this too shall pass", "I deserve better". Mine are "it's only a thought and thoughts can be changed", "The only way out is through" and "I accept responsibility for my decisions and the consequences of those decisions. I am happy and grateful for this lesson." Yeah pretty airy-fairy but it works for me. You have to find what thought and words work for you and then use them liberally.
The other thing you really must do is a post-mortem on how this happened in the first place. Go back and find that moment when your little pea brain decided that one little bite wouldn't hurt. Go back and see what was happening and how you were feeling and what the script was that ran in your head that made taking that first bite seem like a good decision. You have to find some way of recognizing what is setting you off because, while learning to get up is half the battle, in the end you have to figure out how to stop falling.
Here is how I am planning on tackling this same problem. I am mapping out my diet for 2 weeks and going back to basics. I am going to drastically limit my diet to one to three choices for all meals.
In my crock pot I am making shredded chicken with Mexican spices with onions an peppers. served with some avacados and lime.
Grass fed beef panang with stir fry veggies. Stir fry beef add in coconut milk, curry, and spices.
I am trying to cut dairy out but I feel sugar is the greater threat at the moment so I am adding heavy cream to my coffee in the morning. It triggers all the happy happy joy-joy opiate centers in the brain and the fat satiates and quell's my sugar cravings...
I'm not paleo though I am friends with people who are and I do keep to natural, unprocessed foods as well as try to avoid carbs/gluten. I'm the weird person that can leave cookies and cakes sitting out and not obsess over them or feel like I need to eat them. It's not that I don't like the stuff, since I love ice cream and cookies, but that my sweetness tolerance just seems to be lower than other people's. I'm Chinese-American and one thing that I've noticed is that Chinese sweets tend to be much much less sweet than sweets from other cultures. This might be why I can leave sweet things alone after a couple of bites and why I always need water or plain tea afterwards to wash the sweet out of my mouth.
My advice is to eat fruit instead of sweets, especially fresh fruit and not the dried stuff that's essentially concentrated sugar. Try tropical fruits like mango, lychee, papaya, etc. which I find tend to be sweeter and more effective in quelling sweet cravings than regular apples and pears. Grapes are wonderful. Although fresh fruit might not hit the same sweet spot, pun not intended, the sugar they contain will elicit the same chemical reactions and they'll fill you up faster (yay fiber). Roasted vegetables like carrots, yams, and beets are also full of natural sugar and are delicious in addition to being healthy and paleo-friendly. Reading other posts on fruit and the avoidance of fruit, I have to say that in the end fruits are better than sweets but veg are the best, if you must have sweet + nutrition.
The problem with paleo as with other diets is that people try to go cold turkey and hate themselves if they relapse. I think that some people might be able to strip their diet of everything bad all at once, but tapering and removing one food type at a time seems like a better idea. Admittedly, it takes longer but your body has time to adjust to every change so you're not left with withdrawal pains/cravings. You essentially have to treat your sugar intake like an addiction. Your body wants sugar because it's been programmed that way (which means that it rewards the intake of sugar with feel-good endorphins) and you've fed that cycle of urge-feed-reward for so long (until you went paleo) that your body will crave sugar when your body chemicals are out of wack. As with other substance addictions, the important part is reducing your reliance on the/your intake substance before finally eliminating any intake.
As PaleoGran said, making sure you're sleeping and exercising enough, drinking enough water, and that you have a structured food plan that doesn't allow for sugar to creep in is essential. Make sure you're full because I've found that when I'm hungry, that's when the crap cravings starts to get to me most. Eat other things that you enjoy or do things that get your endorphins going. In the end, it's all about harm reduction. Replace bad things (sugar) with less bad things (red meat).
I've been struggling with similar sugar cravings the past month or two. I'm thinking mine might be hormonal because the cravings just hit me out of nowhere. One minute I'm fine, the next all I can think about is devouring any form of candy/junk I can get my hands on.
I keep it out of the house so I can't binge on it (although I did eat most of a dark chocolate bar last night at home).
I'm beginning to realize that what will work for me is probably going to be a "Reset" of paleo: Start over with a really strict diet and keep it up for a least a month. Perhaps it's time for a challenge. 8) I remember when I first started paleo you couldn't pay me to eat crap. Now I find myself thinking, "it's all good, in moderation. I'll start fresh...tomorrow..."
The usual answers given on low carb forums are:
When you crave sweets or the taste of sweet: eat animal fats. Take magnesium.
Clean up your food plan, sleep habits, water intake, exercise, lower stress.
Avoid the taste of sweet.
Keep your carb intake low enough that the appetite for carbs doesn't get triggered.
Get all frankenfoods, PUFA, lactose, etc., out of your food plan.
Hope this helps.
If you need inspiration, I find a good dose of Dr. Kurt Harris always helps:
Here is his brilliant blog post, "Smoking Candy Cigarettes".
I have had some awful sugar cravings. I started the diet about the same time as you. I have not broken though I have been sorely tempted. I think it's because:
I get enough protein and fat
I eat some berries when struggle
I have drummed into my head a moral superiority complex from not eating sugary stuff
I anticipate the cravings are on rheir way and prepare by eating something else
The truth is there is nomsimple fix. This stuff is tough.
Go for the fat. Extinguish any craving with it. I'm really beginning to think that our bodies crave it and send funny signals that can get interpreted in so many different ways. I recently had a run of lots of entertaining, which included Primal-friendly baked goods, and found that I was craving them horribly. I smacked that down with bacon, salami, and ribeye steak. Also helped the scale nudge back down.
I also think we have to switch perspective here. Remember that the SAD is not normal. We are not depriving ourselves of anything except toxic garbage. The rest of the country are the ones eating an abnormal diet. So don't think of it as deprivation and don't beat yourself up for sampling some of the "forbidden" stuff. Just make sure to return to where the real food's at.
I was going through the same thing about a week ago (my past sugar binges have been known to be LEGENDARY), and my partner suggested I try chugging a glass of water with vitamin C*. He said vitamin C helps with cravings, and it did seem to dull the urge. Be careful not to drink too much, you can OD on vitamin C.
*We use NutriBiotic powdered ascorbic acid, pharm. grade. Not sure pills have quite the same effect, but haven't tried.
FWIW should you give into the sugar beast again, I found that crazy desire to binge was not nearly as bad when I got gluten out of my life. When I cheat now, I do not cheat with gluten. Gluten makes me feel sick and insatiable all at once.