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Help! I can't stop...

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  • Help! I can't stop...

    I'm in college and I've been "primal" for a while. Since January or so. And a month and a half ago I cut out all dairy except for butter. I don't keep track of calories/protein/carbs or anything. For a month or so I was really low carb and was feeling pretty good. I was loosing fat around my stomach and building muscle. It was great. My allergies went away and so did my adhd symptoms.

    Then two things happened. My stress level went through the roof when dead week and finals week came around. The other thing that happened was somebody started buying me meals at one of the dining centers here on campus. This dining center usually serves a few meet choices, but they also always serve pizza. And I just love pizza. They also always have this amazing ice cream. And also for every meal they put out these amazing deserts. Full of awesome tasty delicious sugar. Things like cheesecake, cookies, apple pie, and any other completely un primal thing there is. Also during this time I starting eating m&m's all the time. Peanut butter, peanut, strawberry peanut, dark chocolate, regular. I was eating them all the time.

    So for basically two weeks I completely stopped following primal. I didn't add the milk back in b/c when i tried it it made my stomach hurt. I had to start taking ritalyn again to make it through finals; I couldn't focus. I couldn't fall asleep. I was drinking coffee b/c i was getting tired during the day. It was not fun. I was having some serious trouble eating correctly because I was always eating at the dining center with all the sugar foods. And I was having serious carb cravings b/c I was eating so many carbs. I couldn't stop.

    Then finals were over and I was ok for the last week or so. I've been eating pretty much primally. I decided to try adding more vegetables and fruit in to try to take care of the carb cravings that I'm still having. I feel like crap when I don't eat a lot of carbs; I think its the low carb flu. Well this evening (after about 5 days straight primal eating) i stopped at wallmart and bought 3 more bags of m&m's. Thats right. 3! And they are the huge bags. 2600 calories per pack. I've eaten one already this evening. I still have two more bags.

    I don't know how to stop. When i stop eating all the sugar I have intense carb cravings and I can't get satisfied. I keep craving food. So i eat some high fat food. Yesterday I had bacon and eggs. Today I had chicken fried in bacon fat. lots of veggies. I had some serious carb cravings earlier today (before I bought the m&m's) and ate two bananas and an apple, but it didn't do anything. It's not like I'm sitting around all day; I have plenty of errands that I'm running.

    I'm not sure what to do. Are there so foods that I can eat that will take care of these cravings. I've considered adding milk back in, except I don't really want to b/c it makes my stomach feel bloated. I'm debating abandoning this whole primal living idea. I can't figure it out. When I'm lower carb I have the low-carb flu, but when I cave I get intense headaches.

    Oh yeah, and I can't fall asleep anymore (thats why I'm up still...)

    Any help is much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Oh and I forgot one more thing. Next fall I will be eating at that same dining center every day. I'm going to keep the meals to once a day because its cheapest. How in the world am i going to manage to stay primal (if i ever get back on track) next semester when I'm eating at the dining center ever day? Just thinking about the temptation of all those sweets and that pizza is making my mouth water...


    • #3
      I'm glad I'm not the only one up at 1 a.m. due, food issues I guess. It really sucks. I do great eating primally for good stretches at a time and I feel better for a while and then... I totally sabotage myself! And once I've crossed over to the dark side of eating it is sooo hard to stop. it's that cycle of eating carbs and sugar that is just like you described. It's totally an addiction. And, yes, for me anyway stress is the major thing that seems to get me wanting to eat carbs. It's that comfort food effect they have, especially wheat products. I read somewhere that they actually have a drug like effect when you eat them and it puts you at ease, atleast until it wears off and you want MORE.

      Oh yeah, you want advice? I got nothing, sorry. I will say that the low carb flu thing seems to go away more and more every time I bounce back and forth between low carb and high carb but it took a while...maybe two months of trying to keep my carbs low before I started to notice that it gets better.
      Good luck!


      • #4
        I know it's difficult, but if your dining halls are like Tech's, there's some excuse of a salad bar, some sort of steamed veggie, and some form of plain meat (baked chicken, baked fish, etc.) everyday. It'll be hard as hell to bypass all the crack sugar, but remind yourself then of how you feel now.
        As for the fallback, I did the exact same think over the past week. I know the flu is nasty, but go VLC or ZC (if you medically can) and supposedly it'll be over that much quicker. My technique will be to eat A berry or A thin slice of butter whenever I crave carbs. And to remind myself ofthe hell I've suffered this week.
        Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, steak in one hand, chocolate in the other, yelling "Holy F***, What a Ride!"
        My Latest Journal


        • #5
          I'm trapped in off-the-wagon hell, too, so don't feel bad. In between teaching high school and directing the school play, those 16-hour days really did me in. The play has been over for a MONTH and I'm still trying to get my crud together. For me, the best thing is to go slowly -- cut out all artificial sweeteners first, then either wheat or sugar (or both, if you feel brave!), then the rest of the grains. When I jump with both feet, I tend to metaphorically break my ankles :P

          I remember what it felt like to want to JUMP out of bed and practically dance through my day. Now I'm dragging.


          • #6
            Most of what it seems like you're fighting against is yourself. Or at least, in the beginning it was. There's a big reason why the SAD diet became so popular in the first place. Convenience. When people began working outside the home, convenience foods became all the rage. When you're stressed, tired, or busy, those are going to be your weakest moments and the only way to not cave is to be prepared for them.

            Please take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, because while I'm moving towards being 100% primal, I'm not quite there yet. I'm not eating refined carbs and sugar, but I don't think I've reached my optimal intake for fats and protein yet. I have attempted to change my way of eating several times before though and this is the same problem that I've run into.

            It's incredibly difficult to mesh a busy lifestyle with this way of eating, or any other that requires you to fix your own food, but it can be done.

            Assuming that you get back on track:
            -There are many primal snacks that you can have on hand already prepared.
            -You can bring your own lunch to school so that you don't even have to get into line in the cafeteria and pass the pizza. Does your campus have a microwave that it makes available to its students? Regardless of whether someone else is buying your have two choices - compromise your health and what you believe in to save a few bucks...or make healthier choices. This is where the will power comes in. It doesn't work for everyone, but you may be surprised to find the foods that you are craving will become less and less appealing to you. Pizza is one of my all time favorite foods...I barely ever crave it anymore. Sugary things just taste waaay too sweet for me now. Coke is losing it's appeal.

            The thing that I've noticed that is really helping me stay away from these things is, ironically, the times when I cheat. It's pretty amazing how disconnected we become from our bodies, especially when we are stressed. Those times when I break down and eat something I shouldn't, I've started to really tune in to my body. Noticing how crappy it makes me feel really turns me off to whatever it is. There's a psychological term for it, but I can't remember. It's the same conditioning that happens when someone eats something that gives them food poisoning. Forever after that food will be associated with sickness. Ever drink too much Tequila? Yeah, one bad night with Tequila is all most people ever need.

            Not much advice to help you get through the cravings other than just hang in there. The carb flu will pass. You put a lot of crap into your body that needs to work it's way out. If you can, maybe give yourself a little mini vacation while you're on break. A long weekend where you do some fasting (and major water drinking) and lots of rest.

            Good luck! I hope you don't give up. Just from reading what you wrote, it seems pretty self evident that the primal way of living was working for you. It might be tough getting back on the wagon, but it's totally doable and beyond the fact that you'll feel better physically, you'll also be proud of yourself for your choices!


            • #7
              Mate, life is full of stressors. You have to learn to not fall to pieces every time the going gets tough. Life always throws you curveballs just when you're least able to handle them.

              It's always such a cliche when it happens in the movies, someone hits the booze cos it all gets a bit much. Here in the army we say "get a can of harden up". This is the same deal. You're comfort eating.

              Go and research stress coping techniques and APPLY them. Man up and get your junk habit under control. It's one thing to cut yourself a break and include some non-primal foods to make life a bit easier, but pigging out on bags on candy is just stupid.


              • #8
                Consider the "low carb flu" as a side effect of detoxification. Carbs aren't toxins, but still there are withdrawal symptoms, and your task is to endure them for a week or two. They will go away eventually. Of course if you always destroy your efforts by little cheats here and there, you won't get anywhere. Those little cheats cause and prolong your carb cravings.

                BTW: If you're so addicted to carbs, it might be a bad idea to try to wean yourself off of them during a particularly stressful time of your life.
                MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)


                • #9
                  1) take care of your probably vitamin D deficiency:

                  2) eat a least a palm sized portion of protein four time per day (for may be less later on)

                  3)with a boatload of produce:

                  4)add dairy back in.....the additional yummy sat fat you'll be able to eat will help with the cravings.
                  Digestive enzymes will help with, or completely eliminate, the bloating/discomfort. Avoid milk and other
                  high carb dairy - stick with plain Fage or Chobani yogurt (greek yogurt is super high in protein and fat).
                  Check cheese for carb content and don't binge on it.
                  These are my favorite enzymes: Garden of Life, Ω-Zyme, Digestive Enzyme Blend, 180 Caplets
                  iherb:$42.81 msrp:$67.95

                  5) consider a multi. For about $5 a month, this is a high quality, high potency, broad spectrum, low cost one that i love:
                  Natrol, My Favorite Multiple, Take One Multivitamin, Iron Free, 60 Tablets
         $9.51 msrp:$18.49

                  Throw away the other two bags of m&ms. Seriously. Toss them.

                  "I'm debating abandoning this whole primal living idea."
                  I'm not sure your previous plan was working so well. When you were initially primal, you were feeling great and will again. You're just trying to get past the hump as your body has to relearn how to manage insulin and blood glucose levels.

                  I can't overstate the importance of
                  Vitamin D sufficiency (see above links)
                  Zinc sufficiency (take the iron free multi)
                  Magnesium sufficiency -
                  Produce in very significant amounts (3 servings per meal)

                  iherb referral code CIL457- $5 off first order


                  • #10
                    What always works for me is supplemental chromium nicotinate (200 - 400 mg) and magnesium (250 mg). I've read that Gynmena sylvestre stops sugar cravings by making the tongue unable to detect sweet, and, hence no satisfaction from whatever treat goes in the mouth.

                    And don't give up on being primal. Who wants to be a slave to sugar and carbs forever? I'm sure you didn't realize how much of a slave you were to these things before going primal. I know I didn't. Being free from thta is a fantastic thing. You'll get there again and certainly turning to the forum here tells me that is what you really want, too. Good luck & remember, we're here for ya!!


                    • #11
                      I'm working on getting back on the wagon after falling off, and I sympathize with how hard it can be. But at some point you will find your breaking point - the point where feeling like crap from eating crap is worse than having a bit of carb flu. You can do it! You did it before and you liked the way you felt. Do not forget that.

                      I've gone at least 80% primal this week in an attempt to get back on track, but I've been eating too much fruit. It's probably a bit of a crutch for me, that little bit of sugar to get me through the day. But the honest truth is that I don't need this much sugar, it's keeping me on the edge of falling off the wagon again, and it's kicking up my candida more and more every day. So I have to go cold turkey and kick out all sugar for a while. This week will suck, but I know from past experience that after 7-10 days I'll be fine. That's really not that long a time.

                      So figure out what you want, and then go for it. If you have to get yourself through finals first, do it, but then figure out what you want and commit. You want health or you wouldn't be here. Toss the M&M's and tune in to what your body really wants. If it needs comfort, give it comfort not through food but through taking REAL care of it. You can do this!

                      Stats as of 3/1/12:
                      5'10" female, 38 y/o
                      Currently 140 lbs., approx 25% body fat
                      WEIGHT GOAL: lose a bit more body fat and tighten up the rear end...basically, I want to look great naked. Everywhere else is looking great, but my ass/hips/thighs are being a bit stubborn. TMI?
                      DAILY MACRO TARGETS: Cal: 1,857. Protein: 100g (400cal). Carb: 75g (300cal). Fat: 128g (1156cal).
                      EXERCISE GOAL: incorporate 2-3 strength training sessions and 1 sprint session per week.


                      • #12
                        you can do it!!! maybe you should look into moving OFF campus to an apt or rentalhouse...thats what i did in college

                        - btw, this post and your problems with the dining hall food...MY GOODNESS i get lividly PISSED about the crap they serve in them and go on to say how obese our nation dscription of the food there is a prime example
                        Get on my Level


                        • #13
                          Hey all who posted. I just wanted to first say thanks a bunch for all the suggestions and support.

                          @ all of you who are struggling with me. Hopefully we can all get it figured out!

                          I totally hear ya. I think its all beginning to take effect. I'm starting to realize how unfun this is.

                          @Helen in Oz
                          Thanks for the kick in the pants. Often times thats just what i need

                          I like the idea of considering the low-carb flu as a "detox." I'm going to keep that in mind. That should really help me get through it and get my mindset towards sugar set right.

                          I don't know much about vitamin deficiencies. I'll make a point to get more time outside in shorts with my shirt off. Hopefully that will take care of the Vit D. How does eating more meals of protein help with carb cravings? I will increase my veggies too. Most of the dairy that I was eating/drinking before was whole milk. Next fall the only dairy available will most likely be sugary cheap cheeses, sugar loaded yogurt, and 2% milk. I currently take a multivitamin. It's the cheap wallmart kind, but thats really all I can afford. I have a calcium/magnesium supplement that I used to take fairly regularly, I'll start taking that agian. And I did throw the bags of m&m's away; it was hard b/c I paid for them. I told myself that they didn't contain anything useful to my body. That made it easier...

                          You're very right about not wanting to be a slave. Thats exactly how I felt when I first posted. I can't really afford any more supplements right now, but I will start taking magnesium again. Also, thanks for the support. It's great to have others that help out when things get tough.

                          You're advice about needing to know what I want was very helpful. I realized that I don't have any true motivation for being primal and that is why I was slipping so much. I sat down and really thought why I want to do this. I've got my head set on something now, and I'm confident that it will help me stay on track.

                          You're very right about the living off campus thing. That's how I've been living for the past year and it has made it "easy" to live primally. Next semester I will be moving back to campus though and will have to eat at the dining centers because of time constraints and lack of food storage space. The last two weeks of this semester (when someone was paying for my food at a dining center) was a preview of what next semester is going to be like. I completely fell apart with the temptation of the sweets and sugar foods.

                          Overall. I'm going to have to reframe my perspective of sugars and sweets. I have a huge sweet tooth and that is going to be very difficult. I need to start seeing sugar as something that my body does not need; as a useless food filler. I can not and will not allow a ring of carbon molecules control my life. I am better than this and I will not cave in next semester. This summer (I'm taking classes) my plan is to eat a few meals at the dining centers every week and get into the habit of passing by the sugar and pizza. I'm going to use positive reinforcement (bacon snack in the afternoon) after my successful trips to the dining center this summer. I will also continue this into next fall. If I slip up next fall I will use negative punishment (taking away the bacon snack every few times during the week). I'm hoping that the combined effects of reframing my perspective on sugar, the rekindling of my motivation, my practice this summer, and the reinforcement and punishment with bacon (I really love bacon) will be enough to keep me on track this summer and next semester.

                          Again thanks for all your help and grok on!


                          • #14

                            As a recent college grad and a current grad student, I can tell you first hand that all the stress around final exams is not necessary. In fact, I believe that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, where you become stressed simply because you believe you HAVE to be stressed.

                            I'm currently a grad student doing social psychology, and i taught an undergraduate statistics course, which is the epitome of unnecessary stress among psychology undergrads. I can tell you firsthand that the best thing for you to do is to eliminate your stress through simple rational thinking. Remember that everything you do to pass your final exams are behaviors which would in turn jeopardize your success in school the most.

                            For example, you stay up late, lack sleep, overdose on caffeine, and overdose on sugar, which all stimulate your body to an excessive proportion, leaving your cognitive abilities in the dust. I've studied a little bit of cognitive psychology in the past, and I can tell you that a full night of sleep will be a better strategy than cramming all night any day.

                            This also leads to the next issue: sugar addiction. It is obvious that sugar may be as addicting as cocaine. It stimulates your body (the sugar rush), but in the process also affects cognitive skills. It literally stresses your body out.

                            Now this is where evolution comes in. What is stress? Stress is a fight or flight situation where your body stops everything and focuses solely on surviving a dangerous situation. Given that the modern world is very different from the world in which Grok lived, many of our life events are misattributed by our perceptive system as stressors. In a way, our modern lifestyle is really good at 'bastardizing' our ability to perceive predators, and enter a flight/fight situation. Long story short, fight/flight, or stress, will literally shut down your metabolism and put a lot of pressure on your brain. Too much of it will lead to many chronic problems, including gaining fat (from the obvious metabolic shutdown).

                            Now what can you do? Simply think about what you are doing. It is amazing how a little bit of metaperception could solve many of today's problems. Is all the stress necessary? Is all the coffee necessary? Is the sugar REALLY necessary? I would say no. In fact, research has shown that the best way to study is in small blocks with frequent breaks. Furthermore, EXERCISE: the ultimate stress killer. Get moving. Walk, bike, lift something heavy.

                            As far as living off cafeteria food, if your school is anything like mine was when I lived in the dorms, then there will be plenty of crap served. But there will also be some decent food as well. Salads, non-breaded meats, etc. Be aware, and 'hunt' for the best 'kill.' You may also want to buy some food to keep in your room, like nuts or jerky to have in case there is really nothing to eat.

                            Lastly, self-control is important, and again being the psychology nerd that I am, I will tell you that self-control is like a muscle (according to numerous research). Brief intense training is the best way to make it stronger. I find that after sticking with a primal mindset for a bit, those sweets not only appear unappealing, but disgusting. My dad loves to eat bread and cakes, but when I look at the food he eats, I literally have a chill down my spine. The last adjective I could describe that 'food' would be appealing.

                            So Paul, relax, take a breath, drink some water, go for a walk, and toss out all of the sugar. If you really crave something sweet, eat some unsweetened shredded coconut or a handful of other nuts such as almonds. Slowly but surely you will assuage your stress and get back on the wagon.
                            Here it is, your moment of zen.

                            It's a no brainer: The journal of the cerebelum


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cerebelumsdayoff View Post

                              As a recent college grad and a current grad student, I can tell you first hand that all the stress around final exams is not necessary. In fact, I believe that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, where you become stressed simply because you believe you HAVE to be stressed.
                              As I was reading through this thread, I was wondering how to say what you just said here so perfectly. A slight addition is that while being a student is certainly stressful, it is NOTHING like being out in the corporate world, where failing a project is a much larger problem than failing an exam. If what you describe is your current skill level for stress coping, you'll experience even worse in later years. Try to spend your time while a student learning how to cope with stress, so that when you finish school and begin your career, you have skills that will put you way ahead of the pack.