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Why do I feel like I NEED foods that I KNOW are bad for me?

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I have completed two Whole30's. I didn't really understand the purpose of the program the first time I completed it, so although I gained benefits they did not stick. I did another one, and from Day 1 until now, today is Day #56. I completed the program, gained benefits, and they have stuck this time. I understand the goals and principles and have really really tried to apply them to my life to gain new healthy habits. Prior to the program I was a typical 'healthy' eater, having cereal (usually Cheerios), milk, and a piece of fruit for breakfast. Lunch would be a salad with soybeans or sliced meat and a light dressing. Afternoon snack would be either crackers and cheese or celery with peanut butter (1-2 servings). Dinner would typically be beef tips and rice with a glass of milk. I would eat dessert frequently though, having 1-2 pieces of chocolate after dinner most nights of the week, plus an additional dessert binge two nights a week. (By dessert binge I mean anywhere from 3-6 cookies a day. I know, yuck. I'm just being honest.) I was working out 5 cardio days a week with no strength training.

Fast-forward to now. I completed the second Whole30 and still needed to take a few days before reintroducing anything because I was still working on getting my sugar cravings under control. I was finally ready to reintroduce, so I started with a full day of dairy. After being bloated and feeling yucky for the next two days I decided to do the slow-roll reintro, only reintroducing foods one at a time when I was ready, so I could test their effects on me in isolation. I was able to reintroduce rice, corn, half and half, a little bit of butter and cheese in eggs, and even a piece of cheesecake. I felt like I was starting to look for opportunities to eat off-plan foods and that I was simply getting through the Whole30 in-between days to get to the off-plan days. I was thinking of off-plan foods and splurges, looking up restaurants or recipes I could try in order to eat off-plan. My sugar dragon came back and I resisted even though the cravings were Hardcore! I decided to stop eating nuts, nut butters, fruits, and not to even consider eating anything sweet until my cravings were under control. That helped. I still feel like I am looking for opportunities to splurge and that should not be my focus. I don't want to put emphasis on something that I know is not good for me and I don't want to put off-plan foods on a pedestal. I am satisfied with eating Whole30 foods and feel better physically and psychologically when I eat Whole30.

Yesterday after work I was hungry. I work at a hospital and was bombarded by baked goods, pizza, and cake last week. I did not indulge. Nothing seemed worth it. I also make some cookies for a friend who just had a baby and brought some with me to work to get rid of. More treat bombardment...self-inflicted, I know. I did have a few of the cookies the night I made them (Thursday), but did not go crazy with it and actually felt very in control. I decided beforehand that the cookies were worth it and stopped eating once I did not want more; this occurred after eating 3.5 cookies (much better than I used to do!) I made myself eat a Whole30 dinner before the cookies too, to make sure I was not eating them in an empty stomach.

So, the next day at work...there is a full-length mirror in the bathroom where I change into O.R. Scrubs--Even though I was feeling good about resisting most of these temptations (pizza, cake, pastries, more cookies, etc.) I looked into the mirror while I was changing and caught a glimpse of my unsightly upper thigh cellulite and immediately felt bad about myself. Yesterday after work I just gave in. I ate everything I could find and even stopped by the grocery store on my way home to buy a few of the things that I wanted to eat but knew were bad for me. I binged. Hard. Even as I was eating the bad foods, I thought--"This is hard and restrictive. What's the point of all of this?? I still have cellulite and even after 55 days into this, it hasn't changed at all!!" I got so discouraged and ate my feelings. I fully admit it. I'm not proud of it, but I've got to move on. I had a diet coke, chips, Reese's cups, chocolate chips, cookie dough (which I made yesterday), celery with peanut butter, crackers with more peanut butter and honey and some bacon. I think the feeling of discouragement and especially the feelings of "what's the point?" are the most detrimental to me.

Please help me. Seeing my cellulite and thinking that this isn't helping was the trigger. I am not hormonal, I am very intelligent and am usually in control. I was caught at a moment of weakness and temporarily just didn't care. Why do I feel like I NEED these bad foods occasionally? Why do I seek them out? Why can't I just eat the Whole30 foods that make me feel good, with occasional off-plan foods that don't mess me up (so far rice and corn don't mess me up, but dairy, gluten, and sweets do.)?

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One other thought...

My husband is not doing Whole30 and eats sugar and carbs for meals. Since he does not really care for the Whole30 foods I eat (even though they are delicious), I usually end up making something just for him. He doesn't make me feel bad at all, but I do feel guilty about cooking a complaint meal for myself and nothing for him, so I make him something. This week I made a lasagna and a pineapple casserole so he could have leftovers in the fridge while I eat my foods. Sometimes I think this makes me feel like I am being deprived, even though I am not! But making these foods just for him kind of puts them in the forbidden category in my mind. Even though I choose which foods to eat or not eat, this doesn't help. I am a good cook too, and have tried the foods in the past so I know what they taste like and I know what I am missing. Is this possibly sabotaging my efforts to get over my previously-eaten but now not-worth-it foods? What should I do?

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First take a deep breath.


Now another.


And a third.


Everyone is different and I'm not a counselor but what you are describing sounds a lot like what I've struggled with most of my adult life (right down to the husband that eats only junk). So I'm going to tell you what has worked for me.


1 - Reading everything I can get my internet hands on about why processed junk food is not good for me. It took a while, but eventually the crap foods totally lost their appeal to me. I can sit next to an open bag of Doritos with no desire to eat them where old me would have finished off the bag. The reason is that I know the chemicals and the crappy oils will make me feel sick and not because I have amazing willpower. And when I do have one of these things (like the M&Ms my mom put out for my sister's shower) I'm immediately reminded why I don't eat them in a physical reaction.


2 - This leaves the high quality non-Whole30 foods. With those things I had to completely eliminate all the self-condemning feelings that come from food. If I choose to eat a bagel it isn't bad and neither am I. Let me repeat that...what I put in my mouth has no impact on my self worth or my moral standing. None! This is about changing language when you make choices. This goes for the I deserve it thoughts as well. When I make an off plan choice I own it and I enjoy it and I move on. Outside of Whole30 there is no forbidden foods. You can choose to eat whatever you want. Change your language and self talk to give yourself the control. 


3 - You are so much more than cellulite! Love your body! Love everything about it! The appearance of your body has nothing to do with who you are. We ALL have cellulite. I teach group fitness and I have cellulite. But my body is strong and healthy. I sleep better and I have a better immune system. 


I hope these things help. So much of making this a lifestyle has more to do with how we talk to ourselves and others about food than what we actually put in our mouth.

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I'm sorry you are struggling Alison.  You are definitely not alone.  A few weeks ago I posted this in my WF30 log:


I really want to make this a lifestyle.  I go for months at a time right on point - "perfect Paleo" and then I eat sugar and it's all downhill from there.  Sugar sends me down that slippery slope where I binge on crap and stop eating to nourish my body and engage in eating as a competitive sport (as much as I can, as fast as I can)..  I think I'll eventually get it right.  The lapses are getting shorter and shorter.  And I think my family finally gets that I can't just have "a little bit" of whatever treat they are pushing.


Sometimes you just have to pick yourself up and keep plugging along.  Eventually, your brain will catch  up with what your body already knows - good food makes you feel better.  At least that's my hope.  I know all of the crap is bad for me and binging makes me feel like a real loser - because I have no self-control.  


After 55 days of clean eating, you must have seen several benefits.  Make list of the positive changes.  Put it on your refrigerator and read it several times a day.  And for the record, I think just about everyone has some cellulite :)  Don't let this binging episode throw you off track.  Make your next meal a "template"meal and take it one meal at a time from there.  Wishing you the best! 

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Hi There !!  I agree with both of the ladies above !!   BREATHE,  you are human - you may have days that are not the best (I know I have had them)  but you can do it.   Make that List    and READ it ... and Move forward  - you are doing the best for your body.


Good luck to you !!! 

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You can add me to the list of  folks who has poor judgement and control around certain foods. I started off great yesterday only to make those damn lemon bars and drink wine. Felt horrible today-doing better  now after 2 compliant meals. At times it seems we are determined not to be well, healthy, etc.. I sabotage myself all the time-have the "why bothers" etc. Like you, I feel better and sleep beter, less moody when I am eating this way. But then, I look in the mirror......For me though, I just had a hip replacement and one thigh is 2 inches bigger. How about that as a soul crusher! Two inch bigger cellulite ridden thigh with a giant scar. No more bathing suit modeling for me!!!!


Eat well, one meal at a time-because you deserve it.

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I'm so glad to read this. I love the list idea. And look, EVERYONE has cellulite!!! Seriously!! Even supermodels, when they're not airbrushed. Do not let cellulite define you! One of my short-term goals is to give my body a compliment every day. I started with things like, I like the shape of my eyes. I like my tiny wrists. Safe things. It really helped me to love and accept my body which just got me through an exercise class and into the kitchen to make a healthy meal. I'm sorry you are having a hard time - hopefully this forum shows you are not alone! Keep posting when you are struggling and we can support you. Good luck!

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Alison, I just want to reach out to you and say, as a fellow health professional, our jobs are HARD and everyday stresses can lead to feelings of helplessness that make it very easy to let our "food demons" get the best of us.


I like to say I am a "former fat lady"--highest weight 292 lbs.--but in the last year I regained 20 of the 162 pounds I lost 8 years ago, due to injury and slipping back into a Binge-Eating Mentality.


I am only just starting Whole30, but I think one of the big things that it helps us to do is be MINDFUL of what we are eating so that we can slow down, enjoy, and give our body the fuel we know will make us feel good.


However, I know from my weight loss journey that "All-or-Nothing" thinking and falling into a shame spiral about perceived "flaws" like cellulite, loose skin, body shape that doesn't match the highly Photoshopped pics we see in every magazine, etc. will only make the binge cycle WORSE. :(


Forgive yourself for the binge. You have not wrecked yourself forever. Start embracing "non-scale victories"--how your pants fit, how you look in your favorite dress, being able to exercise for 30 minutes instead of your usual 20, being able to do 10 squats instead of 5--and compliments you get from friends and family. Those things help so much! 


When I feel the urge to binge, these are my mantras:


    I can have that if I want to. 


    It will still be there later. 


    My hunger is not an emergency.


Reminding yourself of these things helps decrease the feeling of deprivation and urgency that it is natural to feel when you are changing your approach to food and eliminating things from your diet--so that we can work PAST the urge to binge.


And it also frees you from the All-or-Nothing, black and white thinking that creates a shame spiral if indeed you do end up on a binge. All foods are choices. Consistently calling them bad, sinful, or naughty, not allowed, or forbidden--makes a person feel bad in themselves for eating that thing. I am sure this is not what was intended in this plan--we are on the Whole30 because we want to make healthy choices that will sustain us and free us from the processed food hell of the American diet. :D


Forgive yourself immediately for your food choice, and START OVER IMMEDIATELY.  Don't say,"Well, heck, I just ruined my entire day by eating that donut. I hate myself. I'll start over on Monday." Instead, say,"Well, I had that donut. I was feeling stressed and tempted, and I ate it. I am not a bad person, and I am going to move on. I am doing the Whole30 because I want to change my relationship with food and reap the health benefits of a more natural diet. Okay, Alison--you can do this!" 


And finally, other folks have said it and it is TRUE--everyone has cellulite. In fact, cellulite is simply the formation that fat storage forms on human females, period. And as women, we need to have at least some fat or our bodies won't work! Hang in there, Alison!



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There is an awful lot of good stuff that has already been said here.  I won't repeat it, but will instead approach it from a slightly different angle.


From your description, I think the thought process was something like this:

- You'd lived through some very high stress times around food lately....

- You started off feeling good about yourself and your self-discipline....

- Noticed that you have cellulite....

- Reacted viscerally to that image because it does not fit your internal model of attractive...

- And connected all of these in a flash of "self-discipline absolutely sucks and is getting me NOWHERE" reaction


I bet it took all of a half-second to get there.  That's about how long it takes for me.


Your reactions after that took a little longer, but it's at the point after the half-second visceral reaction that I think there is the best chance to change directions.  So.  All that stress of resisting temptation wore down your self-discipline muscles.  And any other decision stress applies to the same muscles, so if you were bothered by deciding to get up in the morning, make a call on a patient, or whatever, by the time you got to changing your scrubs, you were probably flat exhausted in that area.  That's okay.  It just means you need to build stronger muscles and -- and reduce your stress levels by creating an environment with fewer such difficult decisions.  Anything you can do there?


You can also shift your thinking by practicing new thoughts, just like riding a bike.  One person suggested the compliments-to-the-body thing, and that's a good one.  You may not be able to change the split-second visceral reactions but you can surely change what you do about them by practicing other options.  So that next part.  Go back to a mirror and taking a real good look at that cellulite.  It hasn't disappeared since yesterday.  So now think.  Is is REALLY that ugly?  I'm not here to say yes or no -- my own belly body fat is second only to the really ugly veins in my legs for areas I think are unattractive.  If it's truly ugly, well, okay.  Better ugly on your thighs than in your soul, I say!  


In any case, allow that visceral reaction and accept it.  Look at it as objectively as you can.  Maybe it's tied to other things -- reactions from family and friends, commercial images, your own idea of who is attractive and lovable, whatever.  If you just sit with it, it can teach you one or two things about your internal landscape, and that's good!


It's important not to judge the thoughts that show up when you're doing something like this.  "OMG I'm a horrible person for thinking of so-and-so as fat and ugly!" is not helpful.  Instead, "Wow.  I just thought of so-and-so as fat and ugly."  You'll get to the changing just by noticing first...


--- And then by hearing your own self with compassion.  Caring about the reactions and sitting with them kindly.  "Wow, that was a little mean toward myself, wasn't it?" might be just the ticket to lead to a walk and a cup of tea, rather than the more "violent" outburst of eating you had this time around.


Gentleness is, for me, a hard-won habit.  I grew up in a sea of anger and anxiety (other people's, not mine) that I didn't understand until I was an adult.  So learning to react with gentleness rather than those more centrally wired options took some time.  Still, it has been a tremendous benefit to me.  I recommend it.


ThyPeace, still practicing as hard as I can.  This is really tough stuff, but so worth it!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Totally know how you feel....not posting to tell you how to deal with it... just that im feeling the same way :)

Im already dreading going out to tea at the inlaws tonight because they will be having dessert and Ill be all FOMO (fear of missing out) and get sad about it. And yeah yeah I know I can just say to myself all these lovely things about how I am treating my body like a temple and I wont want those things one day.. but sometimes you just want to vent and say its not fair!!!

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  • 1 month later...

I don't keep trigger foods around.  After 17 months of not eating them, they are losing their allure, which makes it easier to keep avoiding them.   I would say I'm  on my way to breaking the thrill eating habit.   I know I've majorly damaged it and scuffed it up real good since I've not had a single binge in 17 months.


It is such a relief now.  The freeing feeling is definitely worth all of this UP front effort.   Halloween...Ick or Treat, is all Ick. 

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