“They who overcome their desires once can overcome them always.”
Experience has taught me that there are two main obstacles at play that serve to prevent the newly-initiated from reaching their Paleo/EvFit dietary goals. Actually, there is a subgroup and an obstacle associated with that subgroup that relates to the scaling-back of workouts that applies to only a small group of, (usually former) athletes or gym rats, who, for the life of them, cannot fathom the “less is more” doctrine. That, though, is a post for another time. My focus today will remain on overcoming the two main dietary obstacles standing between you and the Paleo/EvFit you that you aspire to be.
Most people would rather die that to feel as if they do not fit in. Standing alone for these folks is akin to sheer nonexistence — and probably something (I’m not qualified here to say, this is just my observation) much worse than that.
Again, I have no numbers to back this up, but I’ve been going about the Paleo/EvFit lifestyle for some time now, and I’ve come across (physically) exactly zero fellow practitioners. None. Nadda. Zilch. Now, I’m the type of person who feels fairly comfortable standing alone, doing my own thing — most of the time. I can empathize with those people who cannot, though, because I have been there a time or two myself. The crux of the matter is this: what to do in social situations, involving food, where (1) you don’t want to feel like some kind of freak and/or (2) you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings by not partaking of their slaved-over offerings.
Freakish is as Freakish Does…
Now, I’m fairly well-adapted to being the freak-of-nature in a group, and the only thing I can say to this is this: you eventually get used to it. Being the freak, that is. I suppose. And I only suppose, because I really don’t ever remember not being the freak-of-nature, the lone wolf, so to speak. We can talk rings around whether, or to what extent, this is a combination of nature or nurture, but the fact remains as it is.
I justify this adaptation — rightly or wrongly (and, again, I’m only speculating here) — by subscribing to the notion that the Paleo brain is in fact wired for tribal/group cohesiveness, common purpose, shared values, etc. However, for the species as a whole to survive, there had to be that one genetic mutation every so often that bucked the status quo, challenged the system, explored — essentially breaking from the group (either metaphorically or literally) to forge a new and possibly better way. No system, species, organization — universe, even — can survive in perpetual stagnation. Call it having drawn the genetic short straw. It’s a tough row to hoe at times, but it does come with its fair share of satisfaction. In a kind of Faustian Bargain, though, you just can’t share those satisfactions with very many. Thank God for the Internet.
This is the toughest one for me to navigate, and I’m quite sure that any psychologist/therapist worth their salt would completely dismiss my way of dealing with it. In a word, though, I practice avoidance. And when in a pinch, I’m not beyond pulling out the little white lie. “I’m so full already”, “I’ll have some in just a bit”, “just had some such-and-such, and don’t want to taint the — what I am quite sure will be a fabulous taste — with an off palate”, you get the idea. And where they’re available, employ props — a “nibble plate” of Paleo-friendly offerings for one hand, a nursed glass of wine for the other. Of course, if I feel like the person in question might be open to considering the real reason behind my avoidance/decline of the offering, I’ll delve into a thumbnail-sketch explanation.
Feel the Addiction
Simple carbohydrates are addicting. Sounds preposterous, right? Yeah, once upon a time I thought the same thing. Then I found and began to study the benefits surrounding the Paleo/EvFit/Ancestral dietary lifestyles and, after due consideration (because I’m like that — to a fault, probably) I made the shift. But what I found was this: once I cut out all the simple carbs in my diet (and I went cold-turkey — ’cause damnit, if you’re gonna do something, do it; right?), I immediately shifted to an all-out craving mode. I’d find myself, out of the blue, thinking of bread. Whoa, kinda odd, huh?
Now, even in my pre-Paleo life I wasn’t much of a simple carb freak. I never really over-indulged, but then again, I never shied away from the stuff, either. This I attributed to the old, “calories in, calories out” diet mind-set. Hey, my workouts (at that time) were long and pretty brutal, and I figured I couldn’t eat enough to gain any weight. The scales and the mirror proved provided constant proof that I was right. What I didn’t see, though, was what was going on inside my body. I just figured seasonal allergies and slightly elevated blood pressure was part and parcel with the genetic hand I was dealt. Hey, I was in good damn shape — what else could it be?
Well, take a wild guess as to what cleared up after a few faithful months of living the Paleo life. And those carb cravings? They pass. For me, the cravings weren’t all that bad, and lasted just a couple of days. I have heard of these cravings lasting for much longer (weeks) and of being compared to nicotine and/caffeine withdrawal.
Here’s two tricks that I found help calm the monkey:
When the craving hits, take a tablespoon full of olive oil, cod liver oil (do yourself a favor and get the lemon flavored!), almond oil or an equivalent.
Over-eat fat and protein at each meal. A strange bit of diet advice, you say? Nah, not really. This is a short-term fix to help quell the carb cravings. You’ll quite naturally cut back to normal amounts once the cravings subside. And remember the hormone responses to the various macro-nutrients. Your insulin response will still be (relatively) low and, therefore, your resultant weight gain during this transition period will be minimal (if any).
Take a look at the following links, as they are applicable to this discussion:
From Time Magazine —
And a short video, via Richard at Free the Animal —
In reference to the video, I think the results would have been so much better had the folks employed a Paleo-like diet in the study. The failure/drop-out rate, I believe, would have been much lower. It is an interesting video, though, nonetheless.