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Cold Turkey

One of the most common comments I hear from people when discussing dietary changes and lifestyle changes is, “I dont think I could ever give up or live without (insert addictive food here).” Some of the most common foods mentioned are sugar, bread, pasta, cheese, caffeine and alcohol. Those seem to be the big ones. 2 of these, caffeine and alcohol, are widely accepted as addictive substances, right? If you have ever tried to kick the caffeine habit, you may have experienced some pretty nasty withdrawal symptoms. Most reformed addicts will tell you, whether you are trying to quit drugs, alcohol or smoking, you just have to quit it cold turkey. It’s an all or nothing situation if you are truly addicted to something. If you just “cut down” or reduce your intake, it rarely ever lasts, because your taste for the addiction doesn’t go away, you are still feeding it. When life gets in the way and causes stress….bingo! You’re back at it.

This was my experience with both sugar and caffeine. In the sugar category I also lump in starchy carbs since metabolically the body processes starch as sugar anyway. Kicking the blood sugar and caffeine roller coasters had to be an all or nothing proposition for me. Here’s why. When I ate something sugary or starchy I would inevitably get the blood sugar surge, which felt great, until it wore off, then my blood sugar levels would drop and I’d get a headache. My body would want to eat again even though I wasn’t all that hungry, but my brain was saying, “I need more fuel!” I tried eating my starches or sugar with protein, because I read in multiple books that protein and fat slow the absorption of these carbs into the blood stream. Maybe it worked? Maybe I wasn’t as hungry as often, but I still got the foggy brain feeling. I still got the 3pm energy slump. I had a hard time focusing sometimes and I still had a sweet tooth. I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I REALLY didn’t. But I couldn’t deny the lower carb diets I had tried in the past really did make me feel better. It’s not that the lower carb diets didn’t work, or that I couldn’t sustain it, I just hadn’t been committed to it long term. I was doing it for weight loss reasons, not for health reasons. I had a short term mindset. So, the big hurdle for Laura was realizing I had to give this stuff up for good. Awww Man! So I did it. I quit cold turkey! I needed to really get this out of my system. I had the benefit of having been on lower carb diets in the past so I knew what to expect, but low carb doesn’t mean Paleo. Paleo isn’t fundamentally low carb for low carb sake. Some low carb diets still allow for processed foods, and we all know how I feel about that. It took about 2 weeks, but after 2 weeks I was over the hump. I think because I made the commitment to do this for broader health reasons and as a lifetime commitment, somehow mentally, it was easier to turn the corner.

During this time I also discovered dairy wasn’t doing me any favors either. Dairy was causing bloating, respiratory problems, and immune system problems. But I love cheese and I love yogurt and ice cream. Aw Man!!!! I tried goat cheese and raw dairy, etc. Anything to still be able to enjoy my beloved dairy, but you know what? At the end of the day I asked myself, “Are you in this to win this or not?” The coach Laura inside me won out, and out went the dairy. This time, kicking it wasn’t as hard. I had done this once with an even bigger demon, sugar, and beat it. Dairy was no big deal in the end.

The most recent demon I had to slay was caffeine. I thought 1 cup a day would be ok. It was certainly better than the 3 a day I was on, 2 in the morning and one in the afternoon to get through the late afternoon headache and withdrawal symptoms. I of course didn’t realize they were afternoon withdrawal symptoms, duh!! I was still having sleep problems and I knew in my heart of hearts caffeine had to be a part of the problem. Now here’s what’s interesting, since I had already kicked sugar and starch which had made my energy and fatigue problems more pronounced in the past, kicking caffeine turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. I had to suffer through a couple of sluggish mornings, but once I ate breakfast, I was fine. I did get the withdrawal headaches that lasted about 3-4 days but since I was off the blood sugar roller coaster, the afternoon slump was minor and gone pretty quickly. A handful of nuts or an apple with almond butter, and voila!

So, I found I was eating mostly animal foods, lots of veggies, some fruit (careful about the sugar), nuts and seeds. It wasn’t until I had made the starch and dairy changes on my own with the help of Dr Brian Boyd that I even discovered this thing called the Paleo Diet. I learned about this from a client of mine in my “real” job who belonged to a Crossfit gym. The Paleo or Primal Diet is the recommended diet in the Crossfit community. I immediately went home and googled “the Paleo Diet” and tons of books and websites popped up! Who knew??!! I read everything I could get my hands on. I got so many questions answered and experienced so many “ah ha!” moments. I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I was to have discovered this community of people committed to a natural healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, it isn’t really all that common here in the mid-west suburbs. Not to this level of commitment. When I tell people I don’t eat any grains or dairy, I often get this look like people are thinking, “wacky health nut!” Looking back now, I can’t even understand why I ever knowingly made an unhealthy decision, if a healthier option was available to me at the time. But I did. Most of us still do.

For me, going cold turkey was the only way to tackle my food demons and beat them. Since I wasn’t following a specific diet, (except for a 6 week period there when I was on a candida cleansing diet…..that’s a long ugly story best saved for another time), I was just trying to get healthy. I wanted to feel good. I wanted to feel happy. So I was able to tackle one demon at a time until I killed them all. (I have this image in my head now, Laura The Demon Slayer!! I know, dorky.) Now that the addiction is kicked, I can eat fruit. I can have small amounts of natural unprocessed sweeteners without driving myself crazy for more. This has been my journey and it is what got me here. I am off ALL of the 6 prescription drugs I was on, yes, 6! I am happier and healthier than I have ever been.

Is everything perfect? Hell no! I am still a single mom with 2 crazy busy kids, working 50 hours a week, going to nutrition school and writing this blog. What am I crazy? No, I am committed! (Sometimes I think I should be committed ! 🙂 ) Nothing is more important to me than this. Being a voice among this beautiful chorus of voices I found singing the same song. I know in my heart that this chorus will become a huge choir that will sing louder than the lollipop marketing songs of processed food pushers. I want my kids to know what real food tastes like and that it’s delicious! I want my kids to provide better choices for their kids, and so on and so on. That is how change really happens. It is just a couple of generations away.

So the question you need to ask yourself is, what is your demon or demons? Do you really want to beat them? What will beating these demons of yours do for you? Imagine how much better life will be without the demon on your back. Can you picture a life filled with plenty of energy, less anxiety, effortless weight control and an overall feeling that life is just better? Yes? Great! Let’s get started, I’ll help. No? Do you need help picturing it? I’ll help! Maybe you’re just already awesome! Good for you! Join the chorus with me! 😉

Until Next Time,

Laura, Mom Gone Paleo

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No Responses to “Cold Turkey: Slaying the Food Demons”

  1. Damary Cortes says:

    It was great to see you. Great post and conversation today. Thank you:)

    • momgonepaleo says:

      It was great to see you too! I’ll with toiuch base in a week or so, but feel free to call me or meail me with any questions. And just in case that chocolate demon rears it ugly head, check out chocoperfection.com or try the Fruitful Yield for the dark chocolate bars from The Stevia Chocolate Company. They come in plain dark cocoa, with almonds, with ginger and with nibs. 😉

  2. Holly says:

    Great post, Laura. So… you said you like feedback so here is a little… I would say I have been following Paleo to the best of my knowdledge and ability for about a month now? Whenever it is your first started the blog. I have read Sisson’s awesome book (so I would love your next rec on what to read.) And I have been following the “eating” portion of Paleo about 90% of the time… have had a couple “vacation” meals, sometimes resort to string cheese for a snack, sometimes a little more processed than not for a meal, completely ignored the salad dressing issue and haven’t eaten only “clean” meat and fish. All that said, I feel pretty great and have lost about 4 lbs! I truly don’t crave sweets or carbs. Still drinking a cup of coffee each morning though. My next goals–in addition to learning more… (1) Get organized with the recipes and shopping. There is so much I want to try and haven’t really fully converted my kitchen for this. (2) Figure out how to more incorporate for my 3 and 5 year olds. (3) Figure out how, when, what I will be exercising. Zero has been done other than about a once a week long walk. (4) Figure out more sources for the food other than Whole Foods. I’m lucky–there is one a mile away but, I would love to find others. Trader Joe’s is close too. So, in short, THANKS!!!! I would never have known about this if it weren’t for you. I agree–it really incorporates so much of what I hear about in a bunch of different concepts—and puts them all together in one way of living a lifestyle geared towards healthy living. Love it!

    • momgonepaleo says:

      Hi Holly!

      I’m so glad to hear you’ve been feeling great! Losing 4 lbs is awesome too! Making the transition really takes some effort and it sounds like you’re making those steps. On my blog are some other recommended reading. The Paleo solution is a good one. Some of the deeper books that get into the science can be pretty eye opening like Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas and Good Calories Bad Calories or Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes are all good. What is hard to find is logistical help. That is what I am trying to build. An online resource that provides a lot of practical info in one place. Some of the websites i frequent are in the links on the right side of the home page. these can be very helpful too. I am going to Mark Sissons seminar on Monday night hoping to get some ideas to share. Whole foods and Trader Joes are great. As far as meats there are local CSAs you can join to get grassfed and pastured meats. Check out http://www.eatwild.com for a list of local ones. US Wellness Meats is in MO and they ship to your home! Even Peapod now carries some grassfed meat and organic veggies.

      Thanks for the feedback. Feel free to write or call with any questions. 🙂

      Sent from my iPhone

      ~ Laura

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