Dealing with Cravings, Sweet Tooth, and Other Unhealthy Eating Habits
There’s not a one-size-fits all approach to eating.
Believe me, I would absolutely love it if everyone understood how bountiful and delicious long term Paleo living can be when implemented properly. With a focus on local, fresh, in-season produce, any and all herbs and spices your heart desires, satiating, rich fats like avocado and olive oil, and hearty proteins like grass-fed meats and wild fish, eating in this manner is hardly what comes to mind when most people think of the word ‘diet’.
But the reality is that there are many misconceptions about what the Paleo diet is and as the Paleo movement grows, so do the various interpretations of what it’s all about.
What it is about: eating in a way that we allow our bodies to function optimally and as a result, we thrive!
What it isn’t about: lining up all the ingredients of the typical, highly processed Standard American special and poking holes in it to see where we can weave in almond milk, coconut flour and honey and dates to create high-glycemic, highly-processed concoctions that are perhaps slightly less offensive that their original counterparts.
In my experience with clients, it’s the latter approach that tends to occur more often than the former and the work is begun from a standpoint of feeling restricted and skeptical about the fact that ‘I can’t have this and that” and “what will I use to sweeten/thicken things” and “how long do I have to do this?”
While I recognize that there is no ‘right’ approach to getting started in terms of diving in 100% versus easing your way into it (so long as you arrive there and give it a fair try for at least one month) the chances of long-term success decrease if we don’t change the behaviors about food right along with the very foods we are eating.
The body needs time to adjust to anything new and an eating regime is no exception.
There is without a doubt a transitional phase during which it’s totally normal to feel a little ‘off’, but to not see it through can be a huge setback in and of itself.
Let’s use the ‘sweet tooth’ example, as it’s likely one of the most common.
“What can I put in my tea if I am not supposed to use honey/sugar/splenda/aspartame anymore” and “what can I eat after dinner since I need something sweet” are two questions I’ve probably been asked hundreds of times.
Here’s the deal: how about weaning yourself off of the idea that you ‘need to sweeten’ in the first place?
Now, hear me out; this is not to say that you can never again enjoy some frozen grapes on a hot afternoon or devour a decadent piece of raw, dark chocolate after dinner… it’s the feeling that you need to have the sugar that needs to be addressed.
When I hear the word ‘cravings’, I suspect a blood sugar crash, first and foremost. Many people don’t eat enough in the earlier part of the day, and the calories they do tend to eat often come from refined carbohydrates. How about if, instead of wondering what you can find to get sugar into your mouth, you address why you’re experiencing cravings for that taste in the first place?
If you revamp your breakfast of low-fat cereal and skim milk and, instead, eat a rich meal with a nice whollop of fat from avocado and coconut oil and, what the heck, some pastured, uncured bacon now and then (now and then being the operative words, people… not every day!) along with your veggies and farm fresh eggs, you’ll fill your boots to keep you going strong well into the afternoon with no blood sugar issues to speak of.
And then, when it’s time to eat, it’s a gentle feeling of a rumbling tummy that provides the reminder that it’s time for another meal. Perhaps this one might be a wild greens salad with some wild, local pan-seared fish, more avocado, olive oil and steamed veggies instead of what might’ve occurred if you’d been on that darn old insulin roller coaster.
When your body is nourished with this lovely, balanced energy, your mind is sharp and the idea of sugar becomes less and less appealing until it’s ultimately a non-issue.
I’ve personally changed my own diet over the years – even within the parameters of a Paleo diet – simply by experimenting more with macronutrient ratios and specifically including more fat and less fruit.
Even as endurance athletes, we can train our bodies over time to become less reliant on the carbs we’re led to believe we must rely so heavily upon.
And for anyone who doesn’t happen to fall into that category, healthy Paleo living with an emphasis on upping the fat a bit can help expedite weight loss and promote greater energy levels all day long.
So if you’re feeling the urge to sweeten, or any other food cravings that simply feels less-than-healthy, take a look and make sure you’re following a sound Paleo diet approach, based on the principles of true Paleo living.