Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Feb

Eat. Rejoice. Repeat.

happyeatingAlthough I haven’t read the book (Eat. Repent. Repeat.), it’s a concept we’re all familiar with. People eat something they know they shouldn’t, self-flagellate and run themselves ragged on the treadmill in penance, only to find themselves in the same boat a few days (or hours) later. Not much of a surprise on that one, is it? I’ll admit I’ve never understood this game, but I see it for the self-perpetuating cycle that it is: an endless rotation of escapism, guilt and punishment. Why do so many people insist upon this transgressive model of eating? And, why, for Pete’s sake, do they think raining retribution on themselves is any way to get back in the saddle?

We all know the drill. The unassuming soul is lured, tempted, flagrantly ensnared into eating complete crap by the siren song of whatever commercial, billboard, lunch buffet, coworker birthday, happy hour, grocery store end cap he/she encounters that day. How can free will possibly defend against such forces? “It’s not my fault,” he/she might say. “No one was there to tie me to the mast.”

What’s disturbing about this narrative isn’t the object of consumption itself but the cascade of misguided attitudes emanating from it. Eating isn’t rooted anymore in common sense but in a dualistic dogma of good and evil – complete with displaced culpability instead of personal responsibility. Progress isn’t measured by steady development of perspective but by histrionic bouts of self-submission. Hit the gym the day after a holiday, and too often the whole place reeks of self-reproach.

How is it that people don’t see the inanity of trying to “run off” a donut or whatever junk food they’ve succumbed to? In a spectacle of twisted rationalization, they isolate the “indiscretion,” tabulate its caloric damage (as if it’s only the calories that matter) and then impose the appropriate punishment/correction for the lapse. First, was the “treat” worth that sweaty hour on the stair climber? Second, is this punitive, self-destructive behavior any way to address the tendency to stray from one’s eating goals?

Instead, imagine a cycle that encourages owning your choices and always enjoying the fruits of those decisions. You’re rewarded at every turn with physical benefits, personal authority and intact self-respect. Visualize a positive feedback loop: eat well, rejoice in the effects, and then do it again (and again and again because you love what it does for you). That’s the beauty of the living Primally.

People too often get caught up in a mentality of deprivation. They think the power of “dieting” is denying yourself. Funny how the self gets in the way. (And, seriously, who hasn’t felt deprived on one of those low fat, low calorie regimens?) Living Primally, on the other hand, means bringing thoughtful and healthful intention to each choice. It means choosing fulfillment in a more comprehensive, connected sense. What foods give you the life you want? What foods leave you feeling good, fulfilled, healthy? What effects leaves you rejoicing (losing the extra weight, gaining strength, finding new energy, simply enjoying the taste and richness of your food)? All the while, the Primal Blueprint‘s 80/20 principle underscores the seamless power of your Primal lens and common sense perspective. Your Primal eating practices construct a healthy life (inside and out), leaving destructive attitudes in the past. You make the choices you do because they enhance your life, and the rewards are nothing short of inspiring. Check any guilt at the door. No penitence required here.

What’s your take on the invitation to “eat, rejoice and repeat”? Thanks for reading.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I am a firm believer in this concept and appreciate the succinct title of “eat, rejoice and repeat”! It feels good to feel good!

    Bobby wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I started this regime two weeks ago and this week I noticed a boost in energy. My bike ride up a hill was not so tiring. You are right, it feels good to feel good.

      Cal Mukumoto wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • Well said, both Mark and Bobby! I’ve been taking baby steps in primal living for a whole week and a half now and also notice increased energy and a much more positive attitude. And not only does it feel good to me, but my kids and husband enjoy the improvements as well.

        anniegebel wrote on February 17th, 2010
  2. Empowerment is our primary purpose as health professionals.

    John Sifferman wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I absolutely agree. Health professionals tend to tell people what to do, rather than empowering with purpose. And sometimes they burry the facts under complicated explanations.

      Johnny wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • Very true – we’re responsible for not only telling our clients WHAT to do and HOW to do it, but also to teach them how to find out WHY they want to do it.

        John Sifferman wrote on February 17th, 2010
  3. I tend to follow your logic of “eat, rejoice and repeat”, even when my choices aren’t always optimal, I rejoice and enjoy my food choices and never “repent” about it… Living according to the PB allows for a great freedom that only a few on the CW life-style experience.

    Chunster495 wrote on February 17th, 2010
  4. If we remove the connection between eating and exercise, many people may change their eating behavior… for the better. Sometimes I think the opportunity to “work out” their gluttony on a treadmill perpetuates the cycle of pleasure and repent.

    Exercise thus becomes a sort of fail-safe system that makes it easier to wolf down the entire cake to begin with.

    Johnny

    Johnny wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I agree, but removing the shame/guilt from exercise is super important too–because while some people “run off” the sugary whatever, some people never exercise because they associate it with penance, punishment, and mandatory-ness, rather than fun. This is the main thing that the Primal approach has done for me–I’ve ditched the gym and I’m so much more likely to exercise!

      oyvey wrote on February 18th, 2010
  5. I have experienced a slightly different problem. While I have a pretty healthy diet, now and then I tend to eat something I probably shouldn’t. It’s not a big deal since I remain in the 80/20 rule, but because of the guilt I have after I have done something like that, I probably do more harm to myself than the muffin would do on its own.

    This is something I’m trying to work on, because I believe that if we punish ourselves for every little thing we shouldn’t do, we will lose all the positive effect from all the great and healthy things that we have been doing.

    TomGreenwald wrote on February 17th, 2010
  6. How appropriate this article on my 1st day of Primal Lifestyle eating. Thank you for your timely sharing. My thick organic bacon and 2 soft yoked eggs on a bed of spinach was to “LIVE” for thanks to you!

    Leanne wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • that sounds fantastic! I’m new to this as well…I’m sure we’ll be rejoicing together while we eat and repeat!

      anniegebel wrote on February 17th, 2010
  7. I love your wording: trying to “run off” a donut. Back in my dieting/cardio days, I frequently binged on junk and then went to the gym to “work it off.” Frankly, if you’re eating stuff your body can’t use to rebuild, then exercise is just exacerbating the problem because it’s using more of you up!

    Of course, since I started eating real food (and no longer count calories) I’m not tempted to eat a fraction of the junk I used to crave on a daily basis. But when I do want to indulge, I totally relish in it and don’t beat myself up about it. If the majority of my diet is healthy and my body is in balance, then I know I can handle a little “cheat” now and then.

    Elizabeth wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Hi Elizabeth, that book in your profile, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, is one of my absolute favorite cookbooks.

      It is probably one of the first books that started it all for me.

      Best,
      Johnny

      Johnny at The Lean Saloon wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • Me too, Johnny. I have been reading some awesome books lately, but I’ve got to say without Nourishing Traditions I never would have known where to start!

        Elizabeth wrote on February 17th, 2010
        • Love Nourishing Traditions! I found it after reading “Sleep, Sugar and Survival” a couple years ago. Both books were literally life-changing.

          Heidi wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Elizabeth,

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with that one. I’ve always been a fan of the idea that if you *completely* deprive yourself of your favorite snack at the start of a new eating method, then you are setting yourself up for the “OMG, I couldn’t help myself and ate the whole bag of Oreos! I’m a big fat slob and I’ll never lose weight!” syndrome.

      Instead, I encourage someone who craves Oreos all the time (for example) to go ahead and eat an Oreo or two every now and then and make sure you ENJOY THE HELL OUT OF IT!! If you are being “good” 80-90% of the time, then an Oreo won’t kill you. The problem for most people is stopping after that one Oreo….

      Mark wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • “The problem for most people is stopping after that one Oreo…”

        So true. :)

        Elizabeth wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • hehe lucky you can stop at 2 Oreos, i’ve always wondered how people can eat a piece of chocolate and save the rest for the next day, it seriously amazes me o_O

        Mary wrote on February 17th, 2010
        • I wasn’t able to eat only a piece of chocolate back when I was depriving myself of food. Nowadays I can. The secret:

          1 – Give in to your cravings with the smallest amount of the healthiest food that can satisfy them. No one but the strictest, most masochistic people can control their cravings. Your hypothalamus is stronger than your will power. Cravings are physiological, not psychological, and hunger doesn’t exist in your stomach, it exists in your brain.

          2 – You are never off plan. When you eat Oreos or chocolate, it’s because you have included them in your plan, occasionally.

          CFS wrote on February 18th, 2010
        • Well i guess everyone is different, after 10 years trying to get over my eating disorders, through all treatments available (including paleo, amino acids therapy, psychological, low carb, vlc, etc), i tried Zero carb and viola, overnight no more binges, not at all. Just one raspberry can easily send me to binge. I can’t say i haven’t try, because i have been trying hard for years and years; the taste of something sweet will sooner or later lead me to binge.

          Is not a secret that sugar acts trough the same pathways other drugs do, however some people can drink a cup of wine and keep going with their day without any problem, for others even having a bottle close to them will lead them to binge drink, I don’t think is any different with carbs.

          Bottom line, i do agree with you that people who has never had real issues with eating disorders can now and then allow themselves to have treats hearing what their bodies is asking for, however for people like me there is no point in keep hurting yourself just to prove you are “normal” and can eat X thing and forget about it.

          Example of what happens: “I really feel like a piece o fruit” “ok you can eat a couple if you want” “now I need more” “it’s ok, eat an steak” I eat the steak and ….I will still struggle the whole day with the need of more sweets, I wont even be able to sleep until I get more, If I use extreme willpower I wont eat more but the powerful need will stay for a couple of days where my life will be miserable. I truly believe is not worth it.

          Mary wrote on February 18th, 2010
  8. Hey mark,
    Just read the last 2 posts, and they are fantastic. You are unique – despite what you’ve discovered about health and nutrition and despite how good you look, you write with a humility and honesty that i appreciate. I seem to pick up arrogance and condescention from some other low-carb blogs, but I think i feel like you do about this way of living – a giddy delight that i get to enjoy foods that really satisfy, a profound relief that I don’t have to pound out miles and miles of running anymore,and a real sense of gratitude that this wisdom was given to me, of all people!!. I want to tell everyone I can where to find the knowledge i’ve found, but i have discovered that i need to keep quiet unless a person really wants to know and asks. Anyways mark,keep on writing, we love you and what you are doing (even if we don’t always agree with everything!)
    Dan

    Dan wrote on February 17th, 2010
  9. Great post – I just discovered your website, and I ordered The Primal Blueprint a few days ago. I’m looking forward to starting a new lifestyle.

    Jack R wrote on February 17th, 2010
  10. I have recently made the decision that I am going to begin living Primally. I ordered Mark’s book and I can’t wait for it to get here! I cannot count the many times when I have “punished” myself at the gym after eating unhealthy foods, come to find out, it doesn’t even make sense! Thank you so much for all your words of wisdom, I am inspired to respect my body and excited to enjoy eating!! Thank you, Mark!

    Tara wrote on February 17th, 2010
  11. This is a great point and too many people just don’t get it (which is why you wrote the post I presume!) People are never going to eat healthily until they have the intrinsic motivation to do so. That is, people need to realize that they will feel well while eating healthily. Eating healthily is its own success, not always a path to some distant goal.

    Also, your point of deprivation is spot-on. Any diet based on any sort of deprivation is doomed to fail.

    Hugh wrote on February 17th, 2010
  12. “Eat, rejoice, repeat.”

    Nice idea. What can you do to prevent yourself taking it too far? If you’re eating for fat loss, when are you allowed to rejoice? My mentality is more like..
    “Eat, you could have eaten less – try harder next time, repeat.”

    varek wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I don’t exercise
      I eat all I want
      hell, I still smoke!
      I do eat paleo, and in addition to normalizing my health, I lost 20 pounds in 3 months and my weight is steady at 14% bodyfat. And every time I pass a full-length mirror, I rejoice!
      First eat a paleo diet. Everything else follows – or not, as the case may be.

      djinn wrote on February 17th, 2010
  13. I too really appreciate the post. I am the perfect example of the guy who eats like a champ and then pushes my body to burn it off. I have been doing this for years. When I finally get into the zone on the PB I find myself feeling light, energetic, and with a different mindset about physical activity. I want to move because it feels good, not because I have to burn it off and suffer. I have always been an emotional eater. Like most emotional eaters, eating is my way of dealing with anxiety and comforting myself from my fears and confusions. I stuff myself to numb my mind and body from my thoughts. The feeling of intense fullness occupies my mind instead of the many complexities in life. When I do allow myself to have slice of pizza after two weeks of primal eating it sets off a fire in me and it takes me days or weeks to get back to primal. I am very sensitive to gluten and doughy foods. I eat the pizza, lose control, stuff myself with ice cream etc, workout extra hard the next day, and the cycle repeats. I have also always had an oral fixation. Constantly eating sunflower seeds, chewing gum, eating candy, etc. I believe the primal blueprint is the way to reduce anxiety by creating desirable brain chemistry, but life these days can sometimes be overwhelming to me. I have not found anything better and more reliable than putting things that taste good in my mouth. I am very hard on myself when I do this and I tell myself I am soft and I have no discipline. It does not seem to help. The book called Intuitive Eating says that when people eliminate food groups it is denial and they will eventually binge on them. It seems to be accurate for me. I am torn between that way of thinking and primal. I know primal is healthy and eating bread and candy is like taking drugs more than eating food, but I still feel like I am denying something I love. I guess I need more time to change my perspective that I am not denying myself when I do not eat bread etc. and that I am empowering myself and actually living. Does anyone have any advice for those moments that life feels overwhelming and all I want to do is eat comfort foods?

    Mat wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Hi Mat-

      I feel compelled to write you because I have gone through something similar to you with regards to a dysfunctional relationship with food. When you’re in the thick of it, it can feel like there’s no way out, a little hopeless. For me, it has taken a lot of practicing good behavior until it becomes second nature. Most of us were programmed during childhood to have detrimental eating habits. Initially it was important for me to be in an environment where tempting foods were not accessible. But finally, I feel I can walk past a pizza joint without looking back.

      Using food to deal with emotions, it’s all too common these days. Take some time for deep reflection. Understand how this cycle doesn’t help you. You already know it. It’s about reprogramming your mind. It’s not about discipline, more about good habits. In the end, the strength you feel from being in command of your appetite, of your choices, will be far more satisfying than the junk foods.

      I say, if you have a strong urge for a food, have some in moderation. The key is to come to a place where you don’t have a desire for the poor food choice. Until then, denying yourself won’t do any good.

      I know, easier said than done, but I hope this helped a little.

      Also, keep MDA as your homepage to keep you inspired.

      Natalie wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • If you are having problems cutting those foods out of your diet completely, then don’t. Start slow, follow the PB for two meals a day and have a LITTLE gluten or doughy foods with that third meal. Eventually you’ll be able to cut that out also. It’s hard for anyone to quit cold turkey.

      Doug wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Mat, I have struggled with the same thing for over ten years. There are two things that have worked really well for me. One was creating a list of other things that make me feel good and comforted (my list includes getting a great hug from my husband, writing, reading a magazine) that I turn to in those moments of feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

      The other thing is not considering any beloved foods off limits, but I make them as difficult to obtain as possible. For example, I love ice cream so if I really want some (far less frequently now that I am eating paleo), I can have it, but I have to ride my bike to the gelateria, which is several miles away. It makes me stop and think about how badly I want that ice cream. And that’s the ultimate goal, stopping to think about our choices rather than just mindlessly indulging simply because it feels good in the moment. Do whatever you can to delay the gratification and you will find that the persistent urge will diminish as time passes.

      Also, find something healthy that still feels like a treat. For me, it’s guacamole. Try to change your thinking from what you can’t have, to all the delicious wonderful foods you can have.

      Being hard on yourself definitely does not help. Forgive yourself and move on.

      Bueña suerte.

      julie wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Mat, you ARE clearly addicted to carbs, and ARE using them as drugs — i can sure sympathize! but if you cut them out, cold-turkey, for a week, i think you’ll find that you no longer crave them. isn’t there a low-carb food that you absolutely LOVE, that you can use instead, if you feel the need of a comfort-food? in my case, i can make myself a wonderfully rich custard, or devilled eggs, or guacamole with pecan crackers, which give me a self-indulgent treat without my ever coming near sugar, white flour, potatoes, corn, or any of the other things we used to love that do horrible things to our bodies…. you can even get really good sugar-free chocolates these days! ;-)

      tess wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Mat,
      You are already well on your way — stop beating yourself up and start celebrating the good things you’ve done for yourself so far. Even posting in these comments is a positive action for your health.
      Two books that helped me get out of the guilt-and-punishment mindset were The Beck Diet Solution (not really a diet book, more about cognitive behaviour and helping yourself change) and The Four-Day Win (for gaining perspective and not overwhelming yourself). You may find strategies in there to help deal with those moments where you would usually turn to comfort foods.
      And reread this paragraph Mark wrote:
      “Instead, imagine a cycle that encourages owning your choices and always enjoying the fruits of those decisions. You’re rewarded at every turn with physical benefits, personal authority and intact self-respect. Visualize a positive feedback loop: eat well, rejoice in the effects, and then do it again (and again and again because you love what it does for you). That’s the beauty of the living Primally.”
      Love it! Sums it right up.
      And then let yourself rejoice.

      Emseven wrote on February 18th, 2010
    • I’m going to give you different advice.

      I have always been an emotional eater. Like most emotional eaters, eating is my way of dealing with anxiety and comforting myself from my fears and confusions. I stuff myself to numb my mind and body from my thoughts. The feeling of intense fullness occupies my mind instead of the many complexities in life. When I do allow myself to have slice of pizza after two weeks of primal eating it sets off a fire in me and it takes me days or weeks to get back to primal.

      What if you aren’t an emotional eater? What if you crave pizza because your body is desperate for food? What if this “fire in you” is HUNGER?

      Don’t count calories. Eat enough, eat well, eat whenever you crave food. Eat the healthiest foods that can satisfy your cravings. If these foods aren’t Primal, never mind, eat them anyway. Learn to compromise. Don’t expect perfection, EVER. It’s not going to happen. As people say, “progress, not perfection”.

      When I felt like I was denying myself something I loved, I bought that food and ate a small amount of it, just to prove to myself that I could. If you don’t wait until your cravings become unbearable, if you satisfy them early, you’ll find that one cookie or one small piece of chocolate is enough and you don’t have to “run them off”.

      CFS wrote on February 18th, 2010
  14. Just want to point out that you can substitute any verb for “Eat,” though that’s certainly the reason we’re all reading these posts. Ideally you’ll pick rewarding ones, and hopefully you’re not some super villain. Be creative: “Learn. Rejoice. Repeat” “Smile. Rejoice. Repeat” “Take Public Transit. Rejoice. Repeat”

    Casey wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Fantastic world-view, Casey. Something I definitely need to incorporate more in my day-to-day life.

      Why not start now?

      Aaron Fraser wrote on February 17th, 2010
  15. I have been a frequent ice cream binger. Last night I found Coconut Bliss ice cream & Turtle Mountain-Purely Decadent ice cream at my local Fredy Meyer. Kind of expensive for the quart, but I splurged anyway. Both were awesome–even better than regular ice cream. With it being expensive I also had much smaller scoops than I usuaully do. I’ve made my own “Paleo ice cream” a few times, but it wasn’t even a comparison! Visit the websites & look at the ingredients.

    I think it fits in the Primal lifestyle?!?!

    Eric wrote on February 17th, 2010
  16. I actually started to eat grain free, dairy free (not 100% Paleo) in order to excercise better. I rejoice b/c I am NOW injury free and stronger than EVER! I don’t think about what I am missing at all. I’m so glad my family started to eat this way. Huge results!

    Christy wrote on February 17th, 2010
  17. I love posts that remind us that we are human.

    Daniel Merk wrote on February 17th, 2010
  18. Thanks Natalie. Have you found any benefit in substitute activities for eating such as yoga, breathing, going for a walk, etc.? I know how great it feels to be in control and feel lean and light. I am great at saying to myself- “this is my last garbage meal, Ill start eating well tomorrow”.

    I will give your advice a shot- if I really want a little of something i’ll have it guilt free. I just hope I can keep it to that, a little.

    Mat wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Mat-

      Things such as yoga, meditation, can be good things to relax you and keep you balanced, but I advise you to stay away from the mentality of “substituting” other things for the food. This makes it clear that an addiction is present and you should work through it. Nevertheless, as someone who liked to eat when she is bored, I find myself spending a lot of free time watching movies/tv or browsing the internet to keep my mind off food. Reading or walks are great, too. The goal being to be engaged enough in life that food is not a preoccupation.

      The primal way of eating has helped me— previously I had been on a vegan raw foods diet. Eating too many high sugar fruits.

      It has been almost three years of purposefully and thoughtfully working through my food issues. It can be a long process.

      The other thing that has helped me is intermittent fasting. Eating less frequently and varying the times that I eat (so I am never in the habit to always eat at a certain time if I am not hungry) has done wonders to break my addiction too food.

      Natalie wrote on February 17th, 2010
  19. Love this.

    For me, one of the most liberating things I ever realized was that “food is not a moral issue”. What I mean by this is… no matter what you choose to eat, it doesn’t make you “bad”. There are healthier and less healthy options, but choosing unhealthy foods (however you choose to define that) does not make you a “bad person”. It just doesn’t!!

    (Note: I’m not talking about the ethics of how food is made, here. Factory farming is hugely problematic from an ethical standpoint… but even then, I don’t believe it’s helpful for people to base their sense of personal self-worth on what they are eating.)

    Getting myself free of the moral self-flagellation that used to be so second nature was nothing short of a revolution, for me. It freed me up to make food choices without guilt, and that has led, over time, to making much better choices. The difference is that now, I choose not to eat certain things because I have experienced that they don’t make me feel good, which is an entirely different thing than calling certain foods “good” and certain foods “bad” and determining my own goodness or badness based on what I’ve eaten.

    If I ate a donut, I would feel shitty. But I wouldn’t be a bad person. Neither would you.

    Self-berating basically NEVER contributes to positive change, or to mental, physical, or spiritual improvement.

    (end rant) :)

    Sarah wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Note: I should have said “If I ate a donut, I would physically feel pretty shitty afterwards. But I wouldn’t be a bad person. Neither would you.”

      Sarah wrote on February 17th, 2010
  20. DaveFish wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Yes, that’s the one, DaveFish. I guess the “Eat. Repent. Repeat.” bit is in the sub-title…

      Mark Sisson wrote on February 17th, 2010
  21. Read any diet site, and all too often you see this duality between body and self. Body becomes the enemy (“my body hates me”), an evil entity out to “sabotage” the self unless it is adequately controlled.

    And, the standard diet advice encourages people to blame bad food choices on their bodies. This makes about as much sense as blaming the decision to drive over the speed limit on your body. “I swear, officer, I meant to follow the law, limit, but my body was craving speed so I gave it a treat.” Good luck with that.

    (Shameless plug for a related post: http://professingfitness.blogspot.com/2010/01/controlling-cravings-part-1.html.)

    b. strong wrote on February 17th, 2010
  22. My wife came in from work the other evening sick. She said that she had eaten part of a pretzel and it made her feel sick. So I guess that eating like that after getting used to the “good” stuff will be it’s own punishment.

    Leathermarshmallow wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Did she mean like one of those that comes in a bag or a soft one? It seems so small if the former.

      Kaley wrote on February 17th, 2010
  23. The great thing about Primal eating is that the urge to eat junk food just goes away. My New Year’s resolution was to give up grains and after the first couple of weeks my cravings disappeared. Those boxes of Girl Scout cookies on the counter don’t tempt me at all. In the past I wouldn’t have been able to resist them.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’m never ravenously hungry anymore. Yes I get hungry but it is never so bad that I’m tempted to eat some junk. Insane hunger happened way too often when I was addicted to carbs.

    DaveFish wrote on February 17th, 2010
  24. I wish I could say my cravings for bad food have gone away after a month of PB. They have dropped off a lot, and I don’t crave grains like I thought I would, but part of me still fights the sugar habit.

    My tactic, when confronted with tempting-yet-deadly food, is to fast-forward through the experience in my mind. How would I feel while eating this thing? And how would I feel one hour later? That mental process has spared me from the day-to-day temptations.

    Timothy wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Great way to put it Timothy! I try to do that as well. I know if I eat some sugar-loaded treat, I will crash within an hour, and feel like garbage the rest of the day. And that is not how I want to feel. Am I always successful? No, but those “treats” are getting further and further apart, and now when I feel I just have to have something, I make sure it is something unique, that I will truly enjoy, and not something that I can easily get everyday. Grok on!

      Krys wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Hang in there Timothy! You’re only a month into it….. little by little you’ll overcome your cravings for sweets. Imagine where you’ll be a year from now. You won’t even think twice about it.

      Jenni Whitley wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I still have the sugar cravings too Timothy, but I also have only been on PB for about a month. My cravings are becoming less like yours, so its only a matter of time. Hang in there. You can do it.

      Angelina wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I really thought I would get carb cravings when going primal but as it turned out I haven’t. I used to love a slab of sourdough bread smothered in butter, but now it’s like while intellectually I can still see it would taste great, I have zero desire to actually eat it. I guess I’ve been lucky, but I think two things helped: one, I didn’t set out with the big weighty thought in my head ‘I will never eat grains again’, it just kind of happened by itself as I cut down the carbs. And two, I found it helpful at first to keep track of what I was eating with fitday. Like someone says below, even if you feel like you’re eating a lot, when you first start it’s really easy to come up very short on calories when you cut out the carbs and haven’t yet got your head around filling up on fats.

      Lucy wrote on February 18th, 2010
    • Not to worry, Timothy. Once you’ve been primal for a while and you do give into temptation, the next few hours of, ahem, “gastric upset” will make you not want to do it ever again. I haven’t pizza in months for that reason. Even too much fruit will do me in.

      paleo_piper wrote on February 19th, 2010
  25. My brother and sister in-law eat a traditional American diet even though they make “healthy” choices of food like whole grain etc. Then they run to burn it off. They make comments about my leanness like, “we run more than you, why are you thinner, you must have better genetics”. My brother is especially bad, he runs about 30 miles a week and carries about 10 more pounds of fat, at least. I have tried to explain the “healthy” food they eat is making them carry more fat than me, but they will not listen! I don’t like or want to be overbearing about my lifestyle, but I know I’m right. It’s kind of frustrating in a way.

    Ajcurly wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I love the comparison.

      Cal wrote on February 17th, 2010
  26. Mark: Gold Star for the reference to THE ODYSSEY.

    emmcubed wrote on February 17th, 2010
  27. excellent post!

    jennifer wrote on February 17th, 2010
  28. I love the message of this post. It’s exactly what I needed to read today as Lent starts (and I’m trying to kick diet soda, breads, and refined foods completely to the curb). Thanks for this post today, Mark!

    shepherd wrote on February 17th, 2010
  29. I used to eat something bad, then emotionally beat the snot out of myself, then jump on the treadmill, and then beat the snot out of myself physically. No wonder I ended up as a snotty nosed fat guy…I don’t go down that road anymore. Thanks be to God and kleenex…

    Dusty wrote on February 17th, 2010
  30. Great post, once again!

    Organic Gabe wrote on February 17th, 2010
  31. Some of the posts came in delayed. Thanks to everyone, not just Natalie- I only saw her post first. This entire post and discussion has been very helpful.

    Mat wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Mat,

      Good luck. Let me repeat some advice that others have already offered because it worked for me too.

      Find foods that comfort you that are Paleo… it really should be doable because so many great tasting foods are.

      For me it was Bacon. So if my cravings were strong and I was losing control I would just cook up a bunch of Bacon. I ate maybe more of the stuff than is really ideal but it didn’t mess with my energy and hormones the way pizza (my #1 craving) would have and I never really felt guilty about it because I knew it wasn’t setting me back from achieving my goals.

      BillWallace wrote on February 17th, 2010
  32. Mark, just reading the daily breadcrumbs that you throw from your table of knowledge helps me daily to be aware of the vicious cycle of making poor choices, feeling guilty then over compensating at the gym. Thanks!

    Fit Mike wrote on February 17th, 2010
  33. I’ve been eating primal for the past 5-6 days and I find that I am always hungry and always thinking about food as a result. I was never a carb junky, but I did have a sandwich for lunch or a bagel for breakfast about half of the time. Wondering what I’m doing (or not doing) that is causing me to be perpetually hungry so I can correct it and stop thinking about food.

    chazzman wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • The biggest mistake I made the first two weeks of eating primal was not taking into account the change in calories I was eating. I replaced calorie rich rice and pasta with calorie poor veggies. I think several days in a row I only ate 1200 calories!

      If I were you I would jot down my food for the day and see how many calories I was actually taking in. You may be shocked.

      Kelly wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • probably it’s just part of the process, i mean, learning how to eat a whole new way requires so much focus. there’s so much to learn and so much planning and organization required at first. i went through a similar thing–albeit it was different because i was doing food elimination diets to solve some serious carb intolerance issues. even now, when I start having problems and I go back to tracking my food to get to the source of it, i just get obsessive and think about food all the time. there’s a serious connection between the brain and the gut. The enteric nervous system has as many neurons as our spinal cord. just thinking about food can certainly stimulate the release of substances in our bodies that stimulate hunger. and it’s hard not to think about food when you are revamping your diet! it’s probably nature’s way/the product of natural selection…the person who got hunger messages and then stayed really focused on getting food probably survived and procreated and had their genes carried on. what works best for me is distraction…keeping busy away from the house and fridge!

      dthalman wrote on February 17th, 2010
  34. I suppose I’m one of the lucky ones, as at 21 years of age I have not developed the habits that some people have accumulated over their lives. 100% of the time I eat healthily and it really didn’t take very long to get in the habit (the rewards are actually the best deterrent).

    Stabby wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I am as lucky as you then. I am also 21 years of age and it is very easy for me to quit eating something that I learn is not healthy for me. I used to drink 4-6 cups of milk a day. I used to have acne and found out that milk is a huge contributor to acne. The next day I was able to quit drinking milk. I only added it to my cereal (sigh). Today, I am 99% dairy free (my mom decides what I eat for dinner).

      I have also been able to cut out gluten pretty easily. The only difficult part is the fact that I live with my parents and so I don’t have 100% control over what I put in my body (technically I do but I won’t ever go there).

      I can’t wait to be on my own in a few months when I can finally go 100% primal!

      Todd wrote on February 17th, 2010
  35. I rejoice every time I eat, because food just tastes lip-smacking better with fat :D

    pat wrote on February 17th, 2010
  36. I’ve been following the Primal Blueprint since January 10, 2010 and it has absolutely changed my life. No grain at all since that day- cold turkey (ha ha ). At first, I was so hungry I felt like I wanted to rip seaweed off a rock with my bare teeth. Seriously, I was ravenous. But then slowly- a week or so, interesting things started to happen. I started tasting food. Really tasting food, like I hadn’t in years. And my creepy middle aged puffy body started to lean down, and I went to the gym, and started sprinting a little, and doing some simple, heavy-ish lifting. And I am getting stronger, and my energy is steady from when wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night. I feel better, I look better, I feel proud and strong, and I am loving to learn to cook and eat Primally. Basically, I feel like a human being again, like I haven’t felt since I was a kid. I even got some Vibram Five Fingers and am running in those a little. Thank you- I will continue to eat, rejoice, repeat.

    Samantha Moore wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • I just ordered some of those vibram fivefingers as well. I have started a few sprints since the story on sprinting and I am looking forward to trying it in my vibrams :)
      I am also middle aged and noticing a difference in less than a month on PB. Not quite as dramatic though. I am still suffering an immense lack of energy during the day but I am meant to have something wrong with my adrenals.

      Angelina wrote on February 17th, 2010
  37. These days being on a low carb diet when I want to eat something supposedly “bad” like cheesecake or chocolate I enjoy the hell out of it! Don’t feel bad at all because I know that most of time I eat low carb/primal.

    I wish more people had our secret to success.

    vargas wrote on February 17th, 2010
  38. Thanks Mark, great post and it came to me when I needed it badly. After eating low-carb and primal since last May,I had a terrible week of non primal, as I was too busy to cook and too hungry to eat mindfully,I must say I am physicaly and emotionaly disturb by it and not even having enery to workout! Uggh

    I used to be like what you explained but with primal eating it seemed to be history.

    To live primal is very important to do footwork and be organized and the cooking real food is the key to success for me.

    thania wrote on February 18th, 2010
  39. @ Mat, I am very familiar with Intuitive Eating, it is on my nightstand. I am recovering from an ED that lasted years. To say that it was a nightmare is an understatement. So I know where you are coming from.

    Keep reading Intuitive Eating. Stay with it. I promise you it gets better.

    PAUSE before eating. Are you really hungry? Or is it anxiety, loneliness, hurt feelings…whatever. Doesn’t matter. If you are eating intuitively, you should *only eat when you are hungry* (To others without emotional eating problems I know that must sound weird, such basic advice.)

    Next, eat what your body is telling you. Not what Mark, or anybody else is telling you. You have to convince your body that nothing is off limits. Nothing. You could have pizza every damn day, for every meal. I know that is a scary proposition, but when you TRULY allow yourself to eat what you are craving, and eat it SLOWLY only when you are hungry, stopping when you are full (tell yourself, if I’m still hungry in an hour, I’ll have some more) you will *not* binge. And the miracle is that after a while, you stop craving pizza, ice cream etc, because they are no longer forbidden! You will *want* primal food!

    I eat primally. I also eat 2 squares of 85% dark chocolate every night with some tea. This keeps me sane :) I have healed many issues and given up my ED thanks to Intuitive Eating and support from dear loved ones and friends. Please feel free to email me if you need reassurance about Intuitive Eating. It works. Be well.

    StrongLilPony wrote on February 18th, 2010
  40. One thing I haven’t seen among all the good ideas and advice here, which has helped me in a big way – take a few moments every day – maybe just before you get out of bed in the morning – to visualize your ideal self, in detail, feeling fantastic, wearing the size you want, eating the stuff you know is going to optimize your life. Got the picture? Now, before you get on with your day, lock onto that picture with a really big smile on your actual face, and know that you’re soon to be there.

    It is good to feel good!!! Keep that saying in your head all day too, it couldn’t hurt.

    Sue wrote on February 18th, 2010

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