Cheating. So Not Worth It.

So after my experiences at a wedding this weekend, I think I can say without any hesitation that off-plan eating is for the dogs. Hell, it’s not even good enough for dogs.

I’m certain I don’t have celiac disease, but damn, gluten is evil. Headaches, brain fog, grumpiness, joint pain, bloating, gas, fatigue, a constant feeling of dehydration (mouth, throat, and eyes).

Then there’s the sugar. Getting hungry only 20 minutes after eating something sweet. Energy highs followed by energy lows.

Top all of that with alcohol, and I can’t believe I used to do this ALL THE TIME.

Even my skeptical, show-me-the-randomized-trial-study husband knows something’s up. Another friend of mine who’s been experimenting with grain-free told a story of a painful piece of pizza. Our bodies really know the score.

So what is a Paleo/Primal eater to do?

  1. Stop seeing that food as “normal”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—that shit ain’t right. We’re not the outliers, all those invented edible food-like substances are the aberration. We need to believe this deep down, and the only way to make that happen is to reinforce it. Everyday. As long as we fetishize that stuff as some sort of forbidden fruit, we will on some level desire it.
  2. Stop being a bad example. I’ve become acutely aware of this lately. I’ve answered questions about going grain-free at the same time I shove something sugar-glazed and glutenized in my hypocrite mouth. Then I have to launch into some sheepish apology or explanation. No more. If we stop treating that stuff as an option, maybe others will get the message. I realize it’s hard to do this without coming off as a complete food snob or arrogant jerk. But humor and honesty can diffuse almost anything. Or simply say, “That stuff just makes me feel like crap.”
  3. Remember how crappy you felt the last time. Simple, right? Then why do we keep doing it?
  4. Remind yourself that it never tastes as good as you remember. Trust me. I don’t know why it’s true, but it is. Everything is a shadow of it’s formerly-perceived self: bread, pizza, pasta, cake. If we can make that sink in, it will be much easier in the future to ignore it.
  5. "If you love me, you'll eat my macaroni salad."

    Realize that so much of a croissant’s power is psychological. Maybe we’re after comfort or a pick-me-up or something familiar. When you’re with your family, maybe Aunt Myrna’s potato salad is just so much a part of the landscape that it would be unthinkable to skip it. Whatever. These are just tricks our mind uses to make us eat things it thinks it wants, but it really wants nutrients. Try it. Next time you have an off-plan craving, give it something loaded with satisfying healthy fats and tasty goodness.

  6. Give in, but mitigate the damage. Bring Paleo-fied cupcakes to the party as insurance against the desserts you know will be there (See: That way you can partake but not need to wear a diaper the next day because you’re so exhausted, you can’t get off the couch to go to the bathroom.

I wish I could sweep my hand and make all that garbage disappear. Then we could fully appreciate all the amazing bounty we have as people on this planet fortunate enough to make the choice to eat it.

How do you handle all that gluteny, sugary, grain-filled gobbledygook?


11 Responses to “Cheating. So Not Worth It.”

  1. Great post ! i have been visited my in laws this week-end and have eaten one piece of stawberries cake , with a gluten crusty crust (my mother’s in law favorite dessert and mine’s). Just this one piece screw my ” diet” in a major way. I have now strong sugar/wheat cravings …today, i have eaten … (shame) 10 slices of white bread with butter and jam …sugar high, sugar down … i will use IF to come back on track … that piece of cake was not WORTH it !!
    Love number 2 too.
    I try to keep a % indulgence with my diet, but i have found that even little indulgences, like that piece of cake, have a great consequence…

  2. Like Adeline, I try to give myself what I call 80-20 tokens (in accordance with Mark Sisson’s 80%-20% rule). Certain indulgences weigh more heavily than others though – when I eat dark chocolate or drink red wine, I don’t feel the desire to binge on sugar later. But let’s say I eat a piece of cake or a brownie…well, that’s seems a lot harder to come back from. I’m guilty of the hypocrisy as well, and I’m really talented at bargaining with myself. I think the thing that makes me want to try harder is being an example to others. Yes, my clearer skin and happier demeanor are a testament to what primal/paleo nutrition can accomplish, but in a way, I’m cheapening that every single time I eat something in front of others which is not in accordance with primal/paleo eating. It’s tough, but we’ve just got to keep on keepin’ on. :)

  3. My words, exactly !
    I can’t believe it once was my daily life!
    And I liked it – I loved i!
    Live and learn!

  4. Tiffiny Villar Reply 10/04/2011 at 10:57 am

    I am feeling so in tune with this article. I have been attempting Paleo since Feb of this year and have not had much luck sticking with it for more than a month. I love how I feel while eating paleo and agree wholeheartedly with the movement. However I tend to have carb binges and gain weight immediately. I need to drop about 35 pounds and am having an extremely hard time accomplishing this. It is ironic because I am a personal train and love to exercise. After so many years of eating the SAD my metabolism is wrecked. I give tons of credit to the folks who stick it out and make the lifetime change. Reading this article puts it all in perspective and gives me hope that I can live the PALEO life.

    • Tiffiny, awareness is honestly the first step, and the hardest, so be sure to give yourself some credit. And then surrender to feeling good and making the choices for your body that it needs.

      We all ebb and flow with it, which is partly why I’m doing this Whole30 now. Since losing the weight, a certain laxity has crept back in to my daily food life, and I’m looking to tighten that up a bit. There are so many reasons beyond weight loss to eat this way!

      And don’t forget, the more you make choices for your well-being, the easier it gets to ignore all the bad stuff. And it’s not about beating yourself up about a binge, but realizing that Paleo life is always there, waiting for you to return when you’re ready.

  5. wouldn’t feed it to my dog either! actually have been making my sweet beagle’s food since August and really happy about it :)

  6. You’re speaking my language. I ordered pizza last night, against my boyfriend’s advice, and I’m definitely feeling it today.

  7. What’s the likelihood that when you live in a house consisting of Paleo convert husband-dad (me), with two children under 10 and a wife who are not Paleo converts of avoiding all wheat?

    I’m doing well with the meals I control – which means all of my lunches and breakfasts have banished grains. That in itself was a big step, but there’s still dinner to reckon with.

    For the most part, grain isn’t the center of dinner. But when food is cooked in a can of Campbell’s soup, or topped with the herb stuffing from a box – I just go along for the ride. I guess I’m not getting much wheat or gluten from it (if I avoid the stuffing) but there’s still some there.

    Domestic tranquility is important, right?

    • Ha ha! Yes, absolutely. Domestic tranquility is important. Gotta keep those cortisol levels down, ya know. ;)

      I would push for dinners where grains are optional, meaning a tomato-meat sauce for spaghetti for them and spaghetti squash or zucchini “noodles” for you. Stir fries on rice for them, no rice for you. Meat and veg for you, they can add bread to the side. If you’re not the one cooking, I can see where this gets tough. But to be honest, unless you have any reactions to gluten, it’s probably not the biggest problem in the world.

      Any chance you could sell the missus on getting your kids off to the healthiest start possible? I can’t imagine living in a Paleo-divided house. I feel so fortunate that my husband and kiddo are on board. Best of luck to you with that.

      • At this point, I’m really trying to keep it low key and not turn into a food dictator. I believe in the way I eat – it’s an extension of how I ate before, which for several years has been in the path of trying to minimize junk food, and maximize the real food share in my diet. This meant over a span of time eliminating crackers, chips, etc and converting snacks to mini-meals.

        I think over time the kids will see what I do and see the changes that happen in my physical capabilities – they already know I eat a lot of spinach.

        I’m hoping that leading by example will create followers at home. It’s a Libertarian approach to diet I guess – I’m not going to try to force it on everyone else.

        Generally, most of our meals are paleo friendly – meat/fish cooked in a non-grain using way, and grain items on the side. It’s just the occasional meal with breaded chicken (homemade) or sauce with wheat-using ingredient. I’ve come up with some good recipes from decidedly non-Paleo sources like Southern Living that are 100% paleo and my wife enjoys those.

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