I have been off and on paleo for about 1 yr. The longest stretch I have done is 5 weeks and then I throw in the towel, eat everything in the pantry (literally), feel bad about it and a week later am back on paleo. The problem is this is doing nothing but causing weight gain instead of reducing. I only have about 8 lbs to lose anyway but this binging is making me spin my wheels for nothing! I usually get a huge intense craving for carbs about 2 weeks into paleo and eat all day and night. And it's not even good food! Like pieces of bread with honey!
Does anyone have this and how do you handle it? I was not a binge eater before this!
I would love to stick with paleo b/c it prevents me from sticking my hand in the cereal box all day. I do snack in the fridge but it's usually in some pulled pig and really how much of that can you eat? I guess it's the structure I need.
I have suffered from binge eating and bulimia for many years,and any time that I put myself on a very restrictive diet it makes it worse. The other thing that triggers me to binge eat is carbs. This is a bad cycle: you restrict yourself hugely, then you "cheat" with carbs, which triggers cravings for more carbs, which ends up with a massive binge.
The thing that I find most helpful is, although I follow a mostly paleo diet, I am not crazy strict. I love the idea of doing something like the Whole30, but I know that being so restricted like that is extremely triggering for me. I am better off following a mostly paleo diet, but eating a bit of dairy and dark chocolate, which is a way that I can eat forever, rather than being hugely strict with myself and ending up bingeing and purging.
I think that this whole thing is about finding out what works best for you, and if you are eating in a way which triggers bingeing for you, then maybe you need to tweak it a bit to make it something that you can live with forever.
First, please forgive if this gets 'ranty', or sounds too WooWoo...(and for it being WAY long). If you don't mind me saying so, it sounds like you've got a bit of deprivation anxiety going on there -- when we have an obsession, our minds (which are sometimes lying little buggers) figure out how to turn everything into an obsession. I have a history of binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. Damned near killed myself with anorexia in my teens trying to model (because momma gave up her career as a model to have kids and was SURE her daughter would be famous), and spent some time in a 'treatment facility' for anorexics -- came out, and became a binge eater/bulimic. Then I got diagnosed with MS and went straight to "binge eater" without the bulimia. It didn't do my body much good, but every "diet" I was ever on, whether they called it a 'food plan" "diet" etc. triggered that sense that I was being deprived of something I wanted very, very much -- to the point where, when I was diagnosed with celiac, I was SURE that if I didn't have some toast, I was gonna die -- and eating it very nearly did that up for me... a whole loaf of wheat bread and a celiac sufferer... SO not a good combination... so I feel where you're coming from.
I know this may sound hokey, but you can't "trick" your mind. If you genuinely want to be healthier, then you're going to have to do this for yourself, and know WHY you're doing it, really want to have that reason take shape, and it can't be about a few pounds... that's the only way that you're going to be able to get past that place in your mind and trust yourself that what you're doing isn't deprivation and isn't a diet, and you're going to have to forgive yourself and keep ON forgiving yourself when you make a choice that you pre-judge as "wrong"... It's ok... we're allowed--encouraged even -- to be human and to really ENJOY our lives -- Eating real, whole, pre-agriculture food isn't a punishment or a deprivation... it's a chance to be healthy. Let go of those 8 lbs. Make them irrelevant. Remind yourself, every single day, that your body DOES know where you belong in terms of health, and that you're giving it a chance to have its say. Get rid of the scale. If you're an obsessive, it just gives something else to obsess about. Trust how you feel... and don't replace the scale with obsessing about exercise, either -- just let it go and let your body find its path.
Find things about paleo that you really like, and focus on those. Clean out the pantry, so that when you DO get that call to eat, you'll increase the chances that you'll start making choices that support the healthy life you've chosen. Don't worry about restricting anything -- choose good foods instead. If you want carbohydrates, eat them -- choose sweet potatoes, taro root, yucca root, beets, carrots, onions, turnips... almost any "underground plant storage device" -- there are so many to choose from. Fry up some ripe plantain in coconut oil or butter. Bake an acorn or butternut squash (split, turn split side down in a baking dish, bake at 350 till soft) and mash it up with some butter.
Stop beating yourself up over a few pounds. Learn to express creativity. Draw, paint, dance, crochet, write, blog -- do SOMETHING so when you're feeling frustrated or just can't get past those voices in your head, you have an outlet.
When I first started paleo, I had real issues with emotional eating. Now I'm not an artist by ANY stretch of the imagination -- the written word is my 'art'... but I hung a piece of paper up on the cabinet doors and on the fridge, and before I'd get a piece of food, I'd grab a crayon (Yes, a crayon -- very satisfying, and humble) and just draw/scribble/picture-rant whatever I was feeling onto that piece of paper. Then, if I still wanted whatever I'd gone out there for, I had it. Most of the time... I could walk away, go do something else, and I was OK, at least for a little while.
For those of us who struggle with food at any point in their lives, IME 99% of the time, it has nothing to do with the food part -- it has to do with where our head is at in this space and this time -- and it's as important to figure out why we're making choices that WE don't like as it is to figure out the practical parts of the way we eat... the hardest part is getting away from the idea that somehow, if we can just figure this out, we'll be perfect. So let me tell you -- you already are. Namaste.
Can't really store meat in the pantry, so you must be eating a buncha crap from there. Just stop buying that stuff and keep your refrigerator stocked with a lot of meat. If you don't have access to a grill, buy one. Start grilling lots of meat and binge on that all you want. Eat starch if you want, but make your diet primarily meat/organ based.
I have had this issue and still do sometimes. I find that if I keep my carbs between 50-100g on rest days of mostly vegetables, and 100-150 on workout days of about 50% starches I do better.
Try restricting your calorie intake/carb intake less. Put a little less stress on your body and you should be able to reduce the cravings and binges.
I also agree with jessyannb in that being less strict can be a blessing. Try to not think of Paleo as black and white. Think about it like your parents would want: eat healthy as much as possible.
You are really depriving your body of nutrition with no breakfast and and an Atkins bar for lunch. You are starving yourself on 900 calories a day! Focus on getting a solid, high protein, high fat breakfast. If you can skip lunch, OK.
With 3 kids under 5 NOW is the time you need to get their eating in line or you are setting yourself up for a lifelong battle. Engage them every week in food planning and production and steer clear of the need for a snack. Make food fun:
I don't think paleo itself causes binging. Are you getting enough to eat when not binging? If you are drastically reducing your calories to lose weight, binging can occur because your body needs food. Also, are you getting enough fat? Fat is very satiating for many people and can reduce cravings for other foods. Are you eating healthy carbs? If you are VLC, you might feel better on a more moderate carb diet that includes things like sweet potatoes, winter squash, fruit, etc. Are you under a lot of stress? Stress can cause cravings for sweet, processed carb-y foods. Finally, is there any way you could get all the processed carb foods out of your house? You will probably be less likely to give into temptation if you have to drive somewhere to get some bread first, instead of just grabbing it out of the cupboard.
If you've been doing Paleo for about a year, why do you even have bread in your house? It sounds like you need to clean out your pantry of potential binge foods and not restrict yourself so much on your Paleo "diet". If you feel restricted on a daily basis then its only a matter of time before you binge and if those other foods are readily accessible to you then their only going to make it easier for you to gorge yourself.
If you've been trying paleo for a year, you must have deep and sincere interest in the lifestyle so place your trust in that and keep trying things. I hit some real bumps in August and I think most of us have or will, so you have lots of good company.
The only thing that has worked for me is to start my day with meat and fat. If I eat carbs, or if I try to restrict my portion size, it always leads to trouble later. Once I've eaten the meat, and it can even be at the end of the first meal, then it's safe for me to eat veggies and/or fruit.
Consider eating your favorite paleo meats and other foods for a few days to maximize satisfaction. If convenient, get away from your kitchen after you eat--take a walk, do an errand, etc., to give your body time to settle down after the meal. Consider varying your foods in a few days if the urges settle down, but still start with meat and fat.
Yes, I do have some processed food in the house because I have 3 kids under 5! I would love to convert them but none of the like meat and getting them to eat anything these days is a challenge!
Everyone has given me great suggestions. I am going to try and "eat all the meat" I want when I feel the urge coming on and see if that helps. I also LOVE sweet potatoes and will try to have some cooked ones in the fridge for emergencies or snacks. For some reason they are every filling to me.
Yes, I believe a lot of this has to do with calorie deprivation. I don't eat breakfast and eat an Atkins bar for lunch, and then a meat and veg for dinner. For the day, I average about 900 cals. I think if I focus more on nutrition and eat until full instead of calories and weight loss it might help. I am going to try this for the next few weeks and see how it goes! Thanks everyone!
Great response below Susan. You definitely need some change. Paleo is never the cause of a binge. Our personal bastardization of paleo may very well be. I think eating more and figuring out how best to deal with your urges are the way to go and it sounds like that's your plan. Good luck!