Hello All, I'm a newbie. I'm just reading Robb Wolfs book and after doing paleo strictly (no grains, no dairy, no processed foods) for about 6 weeks i felt AWESOME. But in recent weeks, i've fallen off the wagon hard due to partys, busy schedule, menstrual cravings, etc. Now I feel retched, run-down, and sick all the time. So starting today i've gone back to being strictly paleo. But here's my question: Will my sugar cravings subside? I'm cutting off cold turkey but today I feel like my mouth is watering non-stop for anything sugary. I don't remember it being this bad when I cut off cold-turkey the first time. I'm scared that I won't be able to control myself. And i'm scared of the potential withdrawal symptoms i'm going to experience. I guess what I'm looking for is feed back from others that have struggled with going Paleo after falling off the wagon once before. Any tips would help. Should I turn to fruit to help with my cravings?
Nora Gedgaudas has a number of recommendations for dealing with cravings (like taking L-glutamine), but my theory is that the easiest thing to do is realize that when you give in to the craving you reinforce it. So that's number one, it will get much easier once you stop. And I don't say this to be cliche ("well, if I could stop, I'd stop"). What's really difficult is the fear (as you mention). But it's better to do whatever you need to do -- check into a spa for a long weekend -- and just get off the junk!
Secondly, I like to think of cravings as the modern version of fight or flight ... it's now fight or flight or food. So sitting there trying to distract yourself from the craving will not be too helpful (despite all those therapists that advised me to "sit with my feelings"). Instead, expending energy in some other way may help you get thru it. Typically 15 minutes is all it takes, so doing any kind of physical activity can help (and if it were me, I'd do a tablespoon of coconut butter if real hunger was also involved).
Finally, once the "danger" is past, I think it's helpful to put actual work into avoiding getting caught in the cravings trap again. What I've done is two-fold: first, I limit going off-plan to a meal at a time (usually once a week). Stringing off-plan meals together (e.g., the cruise ship diet) is a really excellent way for getting your brain out of whack again. Second, I do daily meditation (I call mine assisted, 'cause I'm usually using a biofeedback device or listening to music). Even a little bit can help make changes in the brain that can be useful in dealing with life's daily triggers!
I have had similar troubles in the past. It's an odd feeling, the fear of 'slipping' - until you are able to realise that everything you eat, everything you drink, they are all choices. You make the choice to eat that cake or that pizza. I used to find myself worrying about my own willpower, until I took a step back and gave myself a bit of a mental slap round the face. I remember once after a particularly difficult couple of weeks, where I'd been eating awfully, getting home in the evening and feeling really quite scared about the idea that I might binge on junk again. Then I made the choice. Actually I heard a nice quote about this a little while ago from a friend - if you're feeling depressed, make a decision. The depression in this case is most probably exacerbated by your cravings for sugar, but when you remember how awful you feel when you eat that kind of food the decision to just not eat the bad stuff is quite liberating. Once I made the choice not to eat the junk then everything after that was much easier.
Focus instead on quality, nutritionally rewarding foods. Eat two or three meals a day, to dampen any withdrawal symptoms. If you fill up on fatty meats, hearty stews and lots of vegetables then you will probably find that you're too full to eat much else anyway. Sugar and processed foods provide immediate satisfaction but maintaining and improving your health with foods that heal you rather than hurt you feels much better in the long run.
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