What's wrong here?


citymom

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Hi all

I did my first Whole30 in January and it was very successful. I wanted to keep it going into February as I have some pretty bad eating habits I wanted to really break. However, stress has invaded our family since the beginning of the year including physical injury, our house flooding, and losing 2 close friends suddenly. After I lost my second friend, I couldn't take it and just decided to quit the program. I should have stayed on it because I know it would have helped me manage the stress...but oh well.

Fast forward a month or two, and after multiple attempts to get started again.....

So here is my question. I've eating very clean paleo for long periods of time and been fine sticking with it and not cheating. However, when I get off of it, I can't seem to find a new normal. It's like I go completely off the wagon. I wouldn't say I outright binge eat all the time, but it's almost as if I don't care. That's totally just being honest.

My husband the other day says, I don't get it. Can't you just eat mostly healthy like I do? Why do go crazy when you come off paleo?

He seems to have no problem with eating quite a healthy diet. He doesn't care for sugar, drinks his coffee black, never snacks much. It just seems so easy for him...just black and white.

For me, it's completely different. I go back to my old habits, drinking mochas, etc. And when I'm off, I'm WAAAAY off.

I first started paleo about 4 years ago. So I've done this cycle many times. What's your advice for coming off a Whole30 and maintaining my eating? I just feel like it controls me and I want to break that!!!

Thanks.

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Hi citymom -

Many of us struggle with this same thing, so you are definitely not alone. Sorry to hear about all the stressful situations, and those certainly would be extremely challenging to manage through. Going back to old 'bad' habits is the most difficult thing to conquer! Congratulations to you for even trying the cycle several times rather than give up all together, that is impressive! I honestly feel that Johnny M hit the nail on the head with his post below (from another topic titled 'I wanna ride a two wheeler'). Give it a read if you haven't already. We are here to support you!

The self-loathing has to stop. One of the biggest realizations I've had is that this is not about will-power. This is about addiction. Studies are proving that your brain reacts the same way to certain foods (like grains and sugars) as it does to things like narcotics. These foods effect opioids and dopamine in your brain so when you see that taco shell, it's not just a little devil on your shoulder saying "it's ok...have a little taste" it's a complicated chemical reaction in your brain saying "you're going to feel like shit until you eat a piece and if you don't you'll never feel good again". I'd even go as far as to say many foods are engineered (not maliciously to make you sick, but certainly so companies can sell more product) to elicit this reaction.

What I find really interesting about eating paleo or whole30 is when my diet has been clean, when I'm hungry, i crave food...usually not anything specific. Just something good and nourishing. When I'm not eating well, I crave specific things like ice cream, or candy, or potato chips.

Next time you're faced with the taco shell remember that it's not on your plate by accident...it's there because you will more likely eat it than not, and someone wants to get rich off of your addiction.

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That's interesting. I almost said something about addiction in my original post. It does truly feel addicting and overpowering. Then I feel bad and guilty that I cave every time, which I know is not good to do.

How long does it take to break the cycle of addiction?

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Hi, Citymom,

I sure wish there were easy answers to your questions. I applaud you for reaching out for support and for being honest about your struggles. Awareness is key in beginning to understand your habits.

Remember that stress is a huge factor and influence in our ability to stay on track. Grief in a particular can really wreak havoc on so many aspects of our life. The role of meditation, prayer, rest and self-care cannot be overemphasized after experiencing as many losses as you have. It may be that giving yourself permission to find ways to release some of your sadness and grief would be helpful.

One of my favorite books is You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. It's a series of positive affirmations designed for healing specific areas of our lives and our bodies. I find the book so healing that I keep it by my bed and refer to it over and over again. If you choose to purchase the book, I highly recommend finding the gift edition. The drawings are as healing as the words.

Best wishes for healing and answers. Please let us know how we can help.

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Hi, Citymom,

I sure wish there were easy answers to your questions. I applaud you for reaching out for support and for being honest about your struggles. Awareness is key in beginning to understand your habits.

Remember that stress is a huge factor and influence in our ability to stay on track. Grief in a particular can really wreak havoc on so many aspects of our life. The role of meditation, prayer, rest and self-care cannot be overemphasized after experiencing as many losses as you have. It may be that giving yourself permission to find ways to release some of your sadness and grief would be helpful.

One of my favorite books is You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. It's a series of positive affirmations designed for healing specific areas of our lives and our bodies. I find the book so healing that I keep it by my bed and refer to it over and over again. If you choose to purchase the book, I highly recommend finding the gift edition. The drawings are as healing as the words.

Best wishes for healing and answers. Please let us know how we can help.

Thanks for recommending that book, Jeanye. It sounds great! I'm going to buy it tomorrow.
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm obsessed with the show intervention. Something in me relates to the struggle people have in identifying their addictions and trying to overcome them. All of the people that actually go to rehabs and abstain from drugs for a period of time have remarkable progress. Sadly, many of them return to their drug use as soon as they come home from their rehab center. I don't really see food as very different here. There's something stronger than willpower controlling you. Food is engineered to make you want it. Food companies actually spend a ridiculous amount of money trying to figure out how to make you crave what they are selling. If you shift your perspective here a little it's kind of empowering. Someone wants you addicted and out of control. It's really not your fault and no surprise that life after is so hard. It ultimately leads a lot of us to stay mostly paleo for life.

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Johnny,

That's an awesome analogy for food addiction or even just struggling to maintain optimum health with a Standard American Diet. It is a system where the user is set up to fail. I just started my first Whole 30 last week and this realization that I can never go back to the way it was before is just beginning to settle in. Now I'm looking at this experience as a reset; what I do after that will determine how my health will flourish (or not).

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Johnny,

Thanks for that reference. I am trying to also really look at my internal dialogue to see what my self talk is. That has helped tremendously. I think what you said is so perfect too. Someone WANTS us addicted. Just like right now my husband and I are working out way out of the "debt cycle" and paying stuff off. We had to GET MAD at our debt and the credit card companies. Yes, we want to be out of debt for many reasons. But lately, I've gotten so mad at the companies that are always trying to sell us something else, sending us coupons, trying to get us back into more debt. It has really helped me to look at the bigger picture of the game that they play trying to entrap us into their net forever and ever.

Like you said, the food companies do this as well.

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I'm obsessed with the show intervention. Something in me relates to the struggle people have in identifying their addictions and trying to overcome them. All of the people that actually go to rehabs and abstain from drugs for a period of time have remarkable progress. Sadly, many of them return to their drug use as soon as they come home from their rehab center. I don't really see food as very different here. There's something stronger than willpower controlling you. Food is engineered to make you want it. Food companies actually spend a ridiculous amount of money trying to figure out how to make you crave what they are selling. If you shift your perspective here a little it's kind of empowering. Someone wants you addicted and out of control. It's really not your fault and no surprise that life after is so hard. It ultimately leads a lot of us to stay mostly paleo for life.

Johnny - I am "addicted" to Intervention too! I have watched every darn episode made. In fact, it is the only show I ever got into and watched. I started to wonder long ago WHY in the world did I keep going back to this show and wasting my life doing it. I have no idea what it is like to be addicted to those substances, but I think I figured out that their drug addiction is very understandable as I compare it to a food addiction. It is so nice to have broken those chains although it will always still be there for me, that I am not blind to. Thankfully the benefits of being OFF all that crap are far more beneficial and satisfying (as I sit here smelling donuts behind me...).

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Hi City Mom!

I could have written your whole testimonial! I did a beautiful Whole30 in January. Lost 17 lbs and felt like never before. Life was wonderful. Then stress. Add a cruise to the Greek Isles and my will power went south. Once I am out of the gate with sugar and carbs the race is on! It is an addiction. My hubby always wonders why I can't restrain myself like him. Oh if I could but I can't. And it's not a will power thing. I have run two marathons and had completely natural childbirths with no pain meds...I have an incredible pain tolerance and conviction in life. When it comes to carbs...I am reduced to rubble! The only solution is the Whole 30....Thank God for this program I started Day 1 yesterday....I can't stray because I am up 30 lbs and need this for my health and well being. Good luck to you and I completely understand and support your desire to do another Whole 30.....

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Ah, Intervention. Sad to say, I have yet to see an episode dealing with alcoholism that can shock me - my husband did it all. Fortunately, he's almost 5 years sober now. Through personal experiences with drug addiction and food addiction (sugar in both cases), I've learned a lot about addiction.

When you're reaching for your drug (in this case food) during a time of stress, it's a coping mechanism. My husband never learned good coping skills, and so he drank. Then, he started to drink to cope with the pain caused by drinking. It was a very vicious cycle. I think food addiction acts in the same way.

I think it is much more than just staying away from those foods that act like drugs in your system. It is important to learn better coping skills. That might mean some counseling. If you're reaching for food to handle deep sorrow, that's similar to someone drinking a bottle of vodka to handle their sorrow. The differences is, the consequences of drug addiction are a lot harder to ignore than food addiction. Especially for those who don't have serious health or weight issues. Sure, that brownie may have made your IBS act up, but if it's not bringing you to the verge of death (as something like drug overdose can) in that instance, it's easier to downplay the problem.

Healthy eaters (i.e. those who don't use food to cope) can more easily choose what they eat and opt out of foods that they know make them feel bad. I know there is science behind food having addictive qualities, so it's never so black and white, but I think this explains why some of my friends can love chocolate, but not eat it just because they've had a bad day. I have one friend I can think of in particular who has gone through some very bad stuff in the last year, but she just doesn't eat her stress away. Instead, she focuses on taking very good care of herself and is like a role model of how you're supposed to manage emotional pain. But, my publisher and my 16 yr old cat die in the same week, and I eat McDonald's for 5 days straight. And, at the end of all that, I don't feel any better about the emotional pain. That's not me coping, that's me avoiding by self medicating with food.

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