I have been eating Paleo since about January 2011, generally around 80%, with a few weeks which occured 2-3x this year, where it was more like 30%, with the non-compliance being sugar, dessert related, a bit bingy in some instances. Before going primal, I can't say I recall ever having issues with a sweet tooth, or having a bite of something sweet turn into having 3, 4, 5 sweet things in one seating. We hear all the time that folks who have been on paleo for sometime, eventually reach the point where sweets become disappointing, or something being not as good as they remembered, or just too sweet -- how long does this take!! I'm confused as to why I seem to have the opposite experience of sweets becomeing more palatable after I started eating paleo!
Even though I have found that eating a big protein breakfast has a significant impact on regulting sugar 'cravings' during the day, if I were to consume or taste something sweet, it would still be tasty to me, I am just able to exercise more self-control and not consume the whole thing, or more. When will this go away? How long will it take/what will it take to really be at peace with sugar?
I think these are two different processes at work. I have found that the less sugar I eat, the less I have cravings for it. And it's true that the less sugar, the more sweet something tastes ... this is why I find my 85% chocolate delicious, but my siblings who eat lots more sugar think it is bitter.
But I think that's separate from what happens when you actually eat something sweet. Your tongue sends messages to your brain and at that point, some real evolutionary behavior can be kicked in, a la "ooh, sugar means a calorie source, I need calories to avoid the upcoming famine, nom, nom, nom" ;).
I doubt I'll ever get to the point that sweets are disappointing. I keep in mind that, for me, it's a slippery slope back to disordered eating and I generally keep my industrial sweets to a minimum and as controlled as possible (i.e., it's infrequent, planned, and always in the context of a meal).
Lowish Carb paleo/primal (fatty meats, veggies, eggs, some cream and cheese, few nuts, water, little fruit) and eating "safe starches" when I really feel like I need something carby, combined with very immoderate exercise (low intensity activity for long durations and really high intensity short duration strength training/conditioning) is what finally helped me to kick my lifetime sweet tooth.
I've been struggling with it since childhood and in young adulthood tried to control it with exercise. My habits at that time would have definitely qualified as "exercise bulimia" and it was very trying on an emotional and psychological level.
The holidays were always tough (Easter and Halloween candy, desserts at Christmas and Thanksgiving, etc.) and I would have a love hate relationship with them. On one hand, it was exciting to think about how wasted I was going to get off of food, but feeling out of control and physically ill after an epic binge was terrible.
Compared to that, I'm living in an entirely different world now.
This year I didn't eat a single piece of Halloween candy. It wasn't because I forced it away, it was because I didn't even have the desire to eat it.
My wife and I attended a wedding this past weekend and I had a few bites of cake, some bananas foster, and a few other things, but a few bites was enough and I didn't even finish my small portion (can't say the same thing about the filet though!)
My brain almost can't process what's going on. I still expect to feel the same way that I did before, that crazy sense of craving more and more and more and really just going to the point of stuffing myself sick. To not have that happen and to not even feel that way tells me that there is a profound shift in my basic physiology.
I actually weigh more now than when I was dealing with cravings/binging but I feel freer and more confident so I am happy to continue eating this way.
Of course I have worked a lot on my mental/spiritual/emotional self and learning how to forgive, let go, and roll with the punches has been part of the process too.
I've never really had a sweet tooth and I was raised in a household where there wasn't much on offer in the baked goods department, so that aspect of adopting paleo hasn't been much of a hardship.
To be honest, I don't understand why a paleo diet would cure the taste for sugar. Seeking out sweet things is a very natural and understandable instinct for a world where sweet things are rare. If we move to a diet that harks back to that world, I'd think it was more likely that the desire would be stronger, not weaker. I find I am more sensitive to sweet flavours now. On the other hand, mainlining sugar has a really marked effect on me as it's such a contrast to my normal diet, and the unpleasant crash afterwards is like a kind of aversion therapy.
Although it wasn't really my habit anyway, a couple of years ago I made a deliberate decision not to buy, cook or eat sweetened things any more. But my workplace revolves around cake. Perhaps once a month, something is celebrated with a whole lot of cake. Maybe every second or third month, I find that I feel like cake, I eat rather more than is wise, then I feel sick within half an hour or so, and I lose all desire to repeat the cake experience for a while. I imagine if there was no social pressure to participate I'd never eat it at all.
The longer you go without, in my experience, the more absolutely you will stop wanting sweet tastes.
I just don't eat deserts now at all (I still make them for guests), the one exception being dark chocolate mousse which I make and which is only eggs and dark 80% chocolate.
Even long fermented water kefir tastes sweet now!
I think it really depends on the individual and how much they craved sugar to begin with. However, one thing you can do to encourage your body to lose the taste for sugar is to stay away from some of the sweeter paleo foods like honey, dried fruits, fresh fruits that are very sweet, etc. for a while until your cravings have subsided.
I have experienced the same sugar craving and binges as you, and have held it at bay by upping my total carb level. If I stay low carb for a long time I will have a sugar binge about every two weeks without fail (though unplanned.)
I do crossfit 3-4x a week so that may affect it. If you are super low carb and you're very active you may want to increase the carbs. Carbs are not the enemy!
I guess I am different than most. When I was VLC, I would inevitably end up bingeing just about every other weekend. It would start with just a "taste" or "bite" of something and all hell would break loose. It would lead to a cycle of being extra strict during the week only to have the same thing happen again and again. I finally increased to a more "moderate" carb level and guess what!?!!? No more cravings or binges. Apparently, my body NEEDED the sugar I was withholding. That's been my experience anyway....
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