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

How to Say “No” to Yourself

Yes, No, Try Again?It’s opening day at the ballpark. You’ve been waiting for this for many long, cold months. Some of your favorite people are with you. It’s a beautiful day. You’re off work. Life is good. You ate before you came because, having decided to go Primal, you know to prep yourself. That said, a few innings into the game the beer is looking good and your tap water – not so much. “Surely, one can’t do that much damage,” you think. “It’s the season opener, for Pete’s sake.” Two more innings later, you’re hungry. You’re caught up in the fanfare. You’re mildly jealous of the friends around you and their “devil-may-care” eating habits. You watch the vendors making their way around the sections. You conjure up the concession stand menu in your mind as you remember it from last year (or a few years before). The inner negotiation begins. Which is the least of all evils? (And what’s coming around the soonest?) You settle on a hot dog because you don’t feel like getting up and missing any of the game. Five bucks later you’re settling in with your snack, even pushing the envelope on how much of the bun you’re going to eat. A few minutes later it’s all gone except for the tell-tale smear of mustard on your lip. Though your team eventually won the day, you’re not faring as well. Your stomach turns funky that evening. You feel that old familiar bloating. Even the next day you admit you’re in recovery mode. You realize then, you’re going to need a better “no” plan next time.

Ah, the Nancy Reagan line made famous – just say no. It sounded so simple in the 80s, and even today we find ourselves wanting to believe in the easy button mantra for all our big, bad temptations. It should somehow be enough, we think – through sheer willpower or at least rational intellect – to deny ourselves what’s clearly not in our best interest. Too bad the human brain has such a capacity for irrationality, particularly when set in a modern environment rife with all manner of unhealthy lures – versions of what, in a twisted way, resembles what might have been adaptable long ago in prehistory.

Think about when you find yourself wanting or choosing to say no to something non-Primal – the foods and behaviors that seem fun and no-big-deal at the time but always come back to bite you in the you know what. Maybe it’s not the season opener but partying or work events that get you going down that road. Maybe it’s loading up on typical carb-based food when you take clients to lunch or eat at your Aunt Selma’s for dinner. Maybe it’s staying up late on the weekends or “indulging” in crappy roadside food when you’re traveling. Maybe it’s bowing to social pressure during the weekly card game or just bowing to old self-sabotage when you’re having a crappy day and want to remember your old “rewards.” And how many times have we all made the same mistake with the same consequences? How many bouts of bloating, itchiness or upset stomach will it take? How many hangovers (bread- or beer-induced)? How much grogginess, crankiness, and lethargy? How much weight gain (or regain) will we put ourselves through? Speaking of bad choices, it reminds me of that old Tootsie pop commercial – how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop? (You decide what’s at the metaphorical center here.) The point is, how long will it take before we stop catering to our present selves’ desires at the cost of our future selves’ health and well-being?

Whatever the case, at some point it comes down to the question of how. How do you identify and then catch yourself in the pattern? How do you gather the fortitude to make a different choice? Finally, how do you reinforce the behavior and make it solid habit?

Identifying the problem

You’ve undoubtedly seen photos of drunk or passed out (drunk) people whose “friends” captured the often unflattering moments for posterity. Sure, some are funny. Others could be cautionary tales in and of themselves. (Make sure there are no Sharpies in the house before passing out.) As ridiculous as these antics can be, there’s something undoubtedly clear about a lasting visual. One of the games we play with ourselves in these scenarios is telling ourselves in a weak moment that last time really wasn’t as bad as it was. We sugarcoat the past memory to serve our present hankering. Maybe some of us need an unbecoming image to remember genuine reality. Maybe it’s a selfie of yourself collapsed on the couch after some fast food. Maybe it’s a photo of the handwritten sign you put over your toilet, noting you really don’t enjoy spending the better part of an afternoon there and that cheese pizza wasn’t worth it. Maybe it’s what your stomach looks like after you eat wheat. Most of us know what does us in (and, if you don’t, some self-experimentation can easily get you there). The real problem is remembering it’s the problem. One strategically unsavory visual can be an exceedingly effective reminder.

Catching yourself in said problem pattern

Oh, more mental games… Here, I think, we tend to selectively simplify a problem and dismiss its varied permutations. If we’re a moth to dairy’s flame (those of us who just can’t go there without major physical malfunction), we need to get specific about what we need to say no to – ahead of time preferably. Sit down one afternoon (maybe this one), and write out all the ways and times dairy (or whatever yours is) has done you in. Yes, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter. But other stuff too. Not checking the label on protein shakes. Asking a host or server for the recipe when you’re in doubt. Forgetting to say no cream in your coffee. Eating anything your mother makes. If something particular registers as a problem in your intellect but tends to squeeze by the rationalization center of the brain, put it at the top of the list. Especially if you have strong sensitivities or really want to make a hard and fast commitment to Primal living for optimum success (highly recommended), make this script second nature. Mentally consult it before saying yes to anything.

Saying no in the moment

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. You can do all the mental and logistical prep in the world, but you’ll still have a million moments in which you can go either way. It doesn’t matter that you ate before. It doesn’t matter than you have two full baggies of your favorite jerky staying cool and fresh in your mini-fridge under your desk. It doesn’t matter that you got your work done by 5:00 for once to avoid staying up late again. You’ll still face the pattern head on – whether it looks like fancy leftovers from the Board meeting now sitting in the break room or the Breaking Bad final season that just arrived via Netflix that day and is wooing you to stay up into the wee hours.

When we’re feeling lured into decisions we know will have negative consequences, we tend to purposefully isolate ourselves in our own swirling head case. The tempted part doesn’t want outside input. That’s exactly the time, however, to rely on someone else’s good judgment. Maybe you have a good Primal friend – or someone who is close enough that you can text him/her, and it won’t seem bizarre. Maybe you employ a trainer or personal coach who takes these kinds of messages. Even if the person is unavailable to call/text back, getting your thinking out of your head and into the light of day alone can give perspective. Alternatively, you could log on and send a message on the forum. Too many think in those moments if they only read some information that it will do the trick in convincing them. My experience is those moments are too late for that brand of intellectualizing. Reach out instead.

Do you have those aforementioned unappealing photos on your phone? (This is a good idea btw – making them mobile.) Again, this is a tactic that doesn’t require mental gymnastics and will evoke a basic emotional response. (Remember, the more dramatic the picture, the better.)

While this might require a bit of patience, think of your choice in that moment as a game show. Maybe it’s the Price is Right. Put your current option in the context of that narrative. Do you really want to spin the wheel (insert offending food/beverage/behavior) again and go over rather than quit while you’re ahead of the game? You’re in the eternal conflict of the psyche weighing present versus future gains. Inject some humor into it and feel the cascade of perspective. Do we really get that hooked by something unhealthy for us? Yes. Visually imagine yourself taking your body or brain off that hook.

Finally, remember that you’re not really saying no. You’ve chosen to live this way in order to say yes to many incredible things – yes to good, genuine food. Yes to feeling vibrant, balanced and energetic. We’re masters at creating our own (or buying into others’) sense of scarcity and deprivation and imagining dramatic emotional and social fallout as a result. See all that for the b.s. it is. Saying no to the ballpark fare means saying yes to having the intestinal well-being to go out afterward for a real dinner – and feeling great the next day.

Reinforcing desired choices

This isn’t about rewarding good behavior (unless you want to see it that way). I always caution people to not get too caught up in the idea of good and bad. We’re not practicing for obedience school. We’re cultivating consciousness of our own behavioral and emotional patterns in order to better exercise free will. Remember those unflattering photos of what you don’t want to remember? Try the same thing of what you do want to repeat. This is you happy and fully sober after a sporting event. This is you looking relieved and proud having managed to avoid the party buffet (or giving it a subtly obscene gesture to indicate your victory). You get the idea. Make a collage of these moments. Log them on your computer or FB if you enjoy (and your friends enjoy) that kind of thing. Now hold in your mind what genuine Primal luxury you’re going to grant yourself. Sometimes reward has its place after all.

Thanks for reading, everyone. How do you catch yourself on unproductive paths and say no to what led you down them? Share your thoughts and stories.

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 have the same problem as Jane in that cheating causes no really bad effects (except a bit of carb fog if I have a lot of sugar). I’ve never really been overweight either (I’d consider myself as having been a few pounds too chubby but to a lot of others I’m really slim!) What I have gained with eating primally is more energy and clarity and knowing it’s better for my body.

    So, I do indulge, some wine, dark chocolate, strawberries and cream with a bit of stevis and every now and then I’ll have a muffin or a piece of toast if I really want one and just not worry about it ~(we’re talking once a month or something).

    Other than that if I really want something I’ll find a more primal way! The other day I was craving cheesy fries. I don’t have any physical problem with dairy (I’m 100% Irish so it would be almost strange for me to have a problem with potatoes or dairy!), so I made myself some celeriac fries (I do eat potatoes fairly regularly but not too much due to carb content) and melted some cheese on top and ate them with homemade primal garlic mayo. Delish and truly actually just as yummy!

    Vanessa wrote on March 6th, 2014
  2. Through so many trials and errors and numerous hours laying in bed awake instead of sleeping, thinking about different ways to resist in a moment when things are tempting beyond the power of rational thought – probably my best way to go about this is not think about it at all. We can *always* convince ourselves to get back to old patterns, and it’s incredibly easy to do so; so I just decide to avoid that entire void of thoughts by saying no and doing whatever I was going to without much thought.
    Sometimes I feel like I’ve betrayed myself, and it’s really dreadful when I think about those moments of ‘weakness’ – it’s almost like I’ve turned into another person that doesn’t have the best intentions for me…
    Thank you for sharing this!

    Lisa Whitlock wrote on March 6th, 2014
  3. Great article Mark, thank you!
    It is challenging for me to think of long term gratification (improved health, performance, appearance) when our culture daily presents me with multiple opportunities for short term gratification (junk food, late nights, etc.). My solution is to try to focus on what I regard as medium term gratification. That is, focusing on how good I feel about myself when I make the appropriate choices…..not as instantly gratifying as biting into chips/candy/whatever yet gratifying none the less.

    Kara wrote on March 6th, 2014
  4. This article kicked me right in the truthticles; my phone background is now the nastiest, fattest picture of me, ever. Thank you Mark, I needed this article.

    canSttent wrote on March 6th, 2014
  5. I say ‘no’ to myself 49 days out of 50 on average. But if I do a 5k, 5 mile or 10k run at a local brewhaus or brew pub you can bet that I’m going to enjoy one of their offerings afterwards. I went to a home game for my beloved Green Bay Packers this year and as soon as I bought the tickets I told myself, I’m going to sit in Curly’s Pub before the game and enjoy some beer and some deep fried cheese curds…and I did! Me and my g/f (also Primal) threw caution to the wind for that handful of hours, and we had a blast.

    Maybe those couple glasses of beer or in the case of the Packers game at Lambeau Field also serve as a bit of a reminder of how good we do feel staying primal.

    Bryan wrote on March 6th, 2014
    • Try gluten free beer! There are actually a few good ones out there!

      Corey wrote on March 6th, 2014
      • Nah. I was a beer drinker before going primal so when or if I do have a beer it’s a good, rich lager….and, I’m in Wisconsin, the ‘Graceland’ of beer!

        Last Saturday I had three glasses of beer at a 5 mile race. Prior to that it was early December at Lambeau Field. I don’t have any trouble saying ‘no’ in any situations.

        Bryan wrote on March 6th, 2014
  6. I like the way Mark stated it in the article. I feel more like I am saying yes to health instead of saying no to a “treat”. Once my diet was clean for a while and I tried old foods, they made me feel so bad, I just decided it wasn’t worth it! That’s not to say I never eat anything I shouldn’t, but it is not a daily struggle. Primal/Paleo makes me feel so good I don’t want to screw it up!

    Corey wrote on March 6th, 2014
  7. For me, the temptation to “cheat” has become completely negligible. I feel like absolute awful, for a week or more, if I so much as accidentally ingest gluten– and knowledge, for me, is power.

    My issue is how to turn down food offered to me with grace and brevity. I was raised to accept what you’re offered, and it is incredibly rude to question the contents. This has been hardest part for me. I detest sounding pretentious or picky. And though I don’t mind answering questions, I don’t like to feel preachy. Does anyone have any tips for gracefully declining what you’re offered?

    Pree wrote on March 6th, 2014
    • You have a legitimate gluten allergy/ intolerance. Try “That looks delicious but unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t agree with me”. If pressed, just say that you are allergic to gluten. With practice, it should become second nature.

      Most people will not pursue you beyond the second offer. If they do, you would have every right to drop the politeness. I once said “I Don’t Want That!” to my well-meaning but pushy aunt who was trying to physically deposit a piece of lasagna on my plate – after I had refused it multiple times already. She looked surprised and puzzled, but she backed off.

      I don’t have the reactions you do, but still choose not to eat non-primal foods. I am also not above taking something from a pushy person and promising to “save it for later”, then throwing the offending cookie (or whatever) in the garbage.

      Back to the *practice* though; the longer I am primal/Paleo (about a year now), the easier it is to “just say no” without resorting to underhanded strategies. You will find your voice as well, and it will get easier. Because it really is more about true confidence rather than “politeness”. You can (usually) do both, and with a smile, but the confidence needs to shine through above all. Good luck!

      Sialia wrote on March 6th, 2014
  8. Don’t know about you guys, but I’m using this comments section to boost my willpower in the future :)

    Elizabeth wrote on March 6th, 2014
  9. Although willpower can get depleted, it seems it can also be strengthened. Doing anything, no matter how trivial, that requires willpower seems to strengthen willpower in all areas. Get a hand gripper and see how long you can hold it, and then go a little longer longer. Trivial, but it tests and strengthens your willpower. Itching to check your e-mail? Wait a couple minutes before checking. Again, trivial but it works.

    The other day I absent-mindedly grabbed a handful of nuts in the car while driving. I made myself wait 10 miles bfore eating them. That simple exercise seemed to strengthen my willpower all day.

    Eric B wrote on March 6th, 2014
  10. “isolate ourselves in our own swirling head case” – Damn, you’re good Mark!

    I’ve been pretty good but I did have rough patches where I thought I could cheat more. My gurgling digestive system and itchy skin told me otherwise! So I got back on the program of treating my body like my temple.

    I was a foodie and pretty good cook prior to becoming Primal over three years ago. I got into the mode of thinking and feeling that more elaborate meals meant better. That food artistry was a goal unto itself. I watched so many episodes of Iron Chef etc. I had foodie-ism, and I had it bad.

    What I had to come around to was that it is entirely okay not to cook up a new concoction every dinner. I pared it down and pared it down, and the more I pared it down – the less time I spent cooking, shopping, thinking and over-thinking meals and food. And the less time I spent thinking about food and cooking, the more free I felt. (I’m compulsive, you see.) Anyway, with the yoke of food-as-art thrown off my shoulders, I embraced food as health instead. Now I cook as simply as I can – not over-processing the whole, natural ingredients anymore. Just enjoying them as they are, with simple cooking and accompaniments of butter and coconut oil and condiments of kimchi and natural pickles.

    How this relates to today’s post? In becoming less self-pressured to think about food and cooking all the time, I felt myself not thinking about snacks and cheats and eating in general. If I feel like I need some oral stimulation (minds out of the gutter people!) – I’ll have a coconut water or mineral water with lime that I sip.

    (Now, I do still use my food processor – to make fresh herb chimichurri sauce, salad dressings and homemade nut/seed butters.)

    This transition took some time mind you – I have an expensive collection of beautiful gourmet cookbooks that I have not used in a couple of years. Maybe I’ll auction them off or something.

    Pure Hapa wrote on March 6th, 2014
    • I still love cooking, sometimes complicated recipes and I spend FAR too much time thinking about food and what to cook etc, just that these days it doesn’t include grains (other than a little white rice with curry or chinese), bad oils or sugar!

      A lot of recipes can be primalised pretty easily and there are a few chefs out there who have done some great cookbooks. We have one here in the U.K., Nigel Slater, who does some brilliant ones. He also doesn’t do much pasta or rice etc. and uses a lot of root veg so most of his recipes are totally fine anyway. They’re often usually very simple too, with only a few natural ingredients.

      Get the cookbook “Eat” by Nigel Slater if you want one that’s actually useful, very simple but really delicious. And do try the “pig and fig” recipe, only 3 ingredients but really gorgeous.

      Vanessa wrote on March 7th, 2014
  11. I find that if I get enough salt and fat in my diet, I do not crave the cookies and junk that my family keeps around the house. Salt is a big deal. I have found that I get salt depleted and then start feeling like crap and/or craving carbs.

    Tainerman wrote on March 6th, 2014
  12. Good reminder, making a habit of making good decisions is key!

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on March 6th, 2014
  13. I’ve fallen off a lot of diets in the past, but when I switched to low-carb about half a year ago I realized that I couldn’t afford to fall of this one — when I eliminated grains from my diet, I saw a dramatic and immediate reversal of several health problems that had been plaguing me for the past couple of years. Very dramatic, so I was motivated.

    BUT — I know I have no will power. None. No advice has ever worked. Say, for example, I’m hungry and am driving by a fast food place. If I stop and think about the benefits of avoiding the junk food, I can go past it — so within a couple of days stopping and thinking becomes as difficult as ignoring the cravings!

    What I did instead — and this has worked for several months now, knock on wood, so it seems to be sticking — is to stock the car ahead of time with permitted snacks, and to stop and buy something if I think I’m going to get hungry before it gets too bad. For example (and obviously this list will be different for everyone, depending on your particular diet) I buy Atkins bars for emergencies, bags of nuts, jerky, and dried seaweed snacks. Some of these aren’t particularly great, but they’re a 100 percent better than McD’s or Taco Bell, and my body can tolerate them. (Again, this will vary for everyone!).

    Another point at which I crave high-carb snacks is when watching TV, or during sudden hunger pangs during the day when I don’t have time to cook. For this, I stock the fridge with hard-boiled eggs, pre-made Chia seed puddings, leftover casseroles, quiches, soups and home-baked low-carb breads and crackers, I can grab and eat without cheating.

    Finally, I’m in a store surrounded by high-carb snacks and suddenly realize that I’m just starving. Then I head straight for the jerky, nuts, and Diet Cokes. (By now, I know the carb counts of every jerky brand!) Some convenience stores have also begun carrying peeled hard-boiled eggs, and single-serving meat and cheese packages.

    By saying “yes” to one of these things first, and filling up, it takes away the necessity of having to say “no” to something tasty.

    I also have to say — it does become easier over time! I’ve actually gotten out of the habit of buying junk food while driving, which I never thought would happen.

    A couple of months ago, I miscalculated the carbs in butternut squash and had a an *extremely* high-carb bowl of soup for lunch. By mid afternoon, I was starving. By the evening, I was ready to go and eat a whole pizza, and throw the whole diet out the window. I didn’t care what I was going to look like, or what would happen to my health. I just wanted to eat. I ate my way through all healthy food in the fridge, including the pre-cooked meals for the next two days, and would have jumped in the car and gone out for pizza except for the fact that I was so tired that I fell asleep in the middle of the evening. The next day, I realized how easy I have it now — previously, my WHOLE LIFE had been like that. Always ravenously hungry, always tired. Any doubts I had about the value of staying on the low-carb diet were immediately resolved — I never want to feel that way again.

    So that’s my advice, To avoid situations where you can’t force yourself to say “no,” make sure you have plenty of stuff around that you can say “yes” to, instead.

    Maria wrote on March 6th, 2014
    • Thank you for this.

      Mark S wrote on March 10th, 2014
  14. The body is the boss. It pays the piper
    and it calls the tune. Saying “no” to
    the boss is counterproductive and just
    makes the boss more adamant that it is
    going to do what it is going to do. The
    solution is to resolutely cease from
    telling the boss what to do. Become a
    servant of the boss, not a censor.
    It takes time to reintegrate one’s self
    into one piece, so start now.

    Jim Jozwiak wrote on March 6th, 2014
  15. I just ate not-very-primal for about a month and lazed around in an institution. reading some Robinson Crusoe and an informative book about early 20th century esp-person Edgar Cayce. Light exercise feels right (walking around all day), and primal foods are hitting reward circuits (raw beef liver and home-made chocolate tasted awesome tonight).

    Animanarchy wrote on March 6th, 2014
    • Though besides the healthy stuff I’ve done since leaving said prison institution I went too far yesterday celebrating my ability to do whatever I please and consequently had trouble falling asleep, had a cruddy sleep, and woke up feeling sickly/very off and looking rough. My chemistry feels horribly wrong. I feel like I’m tense and can’t relax no matter slack I get and how tired I’ve felt all day. Walking around in the sun and cool fresh air helps but I need rest and relaxation after motoring about yesterday with uncoditioned muscle so I need to limit exercise and be lazy, more’s the pity. I already spent too much money having fun and now it appears it might be in my best interest to spend yet more on my recovery, on things like organic vegetable juice – I basically cured my last hangover with near a liter of carrot plus lemon juice. In my opinion, juicing works well, but I wouldn’t do it often because the carbs. Speaking of that I need to sneak in a little corny joke I came up with about how I need to catch up on my fish consumption since I’ve had barely any seafood over the past month, that being that I have been on a low-crab diet.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 7th, 2014
  16. Read this “The real problem is remembering it’s the problem.”
    Heard Captain Jack Sparrow’s voice in my head saying “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy”

    Stuart wrote on March 6th, 2014
  17. I don’t know if the mechanism is the same in men but I do know that many women discover just how adept our brain is at getting us to forget unpleasant/painful experiences … going into labour for the second time many suddenly ‘remember’!

    Kelda wrote on March 7th, 2014
  18. Hi,

    Say the word “NO” is very difficult, but for the sake of our health becomes mandatory. he excess sugar is very bad for our health we should replace healthier for something sweet, such as honey.

    Nice Article.

    Filipe Santos wrote on March 7th, 2014
  19. I’m still trying to find my feet with primal eating, but doing pretty good so far. In 2 months I’ve had 2 major bad decisions.
    1. Two weeks ago went to Ikea with mother in law, and thought having the meatballs and fries and gravy wouldn’t kill me “just this once”. I was sick for 2 days, couldn’t believe it.
    2. Went away for the weekend, cheated a bit but over all didn’t do too bad. Even had pita bread and while I bloated up, I wasn’t ill. Till sunday .. probably in the mindset of “we ate cheat food while we were away and it didn’t kill us”, we got a chinese take away for supper because of sheer laziness. Its now Friday and I’m still sick. Bloated, headaches, lethargic and tummy is all messd up.

    From a few experiments here and there, I think one of my big no-no’s is all those nasty veg oils. Anytime I eat anything with those in it, I get sick

    Shelley wrote on March 7th, 2014
  20. Great advice just when I needed it the most! I like the idea about focusing on what you are saying yes to during these times. I seem to be putting too much focus on the foods I am saying no to eating. I do well when I remind myself of all the benefits I get when I keep myself healthy. Something I have been forgetting to do lately.

    Jen wrote on March 7th, 2014
  21. Wow… Above the message itself, I find there is a finesse in the writing of this post even higher than the usual Mark. That is some excellent writing, down to each and every word. Inspiring and universal, this touches without a doubt anyone reading. It just flows from beginning to end, and hits all the right notes.

    I am in awe.

    Thanks for these wonderful 10 minutes of prose.

    Nico wrote on March 7th, 2014
  22. Good grief, so much stress. Enjoy the game/event, the food, your friends, the moment. Or say, “no” to going.

    Rick wrote on March 7th, 2014
  23. Hi, I’m Gabrielle and I really enjoyed reading this!.

    Gabrielle wrote on March 7th, 2014
  24. Developing willpower in specific situations is akin to training your dog to do certain tricks.

    Each situation requires repetition, persistence, and struggle each and every time you face whatever it is. But, I think there is definitely an inflection point where we develop into our psyche the ability to get over the mental hump and just say NO from there on out.

    Byron wrote on March 7th, 2014
  25. I am late to this party but have a success story to relate on the subject.

    Honestly I have not a problem eating primal and don’t have any cravings for some past favorite food. My problem was with candy kisses. Yes, I it is true, I had a problem with kisses.

    I clean my husband’s office every weekend and there are two bowls of kisses for patients (he is an optometrist) in the office. the bowls of kisses have been offered for at least ten years, started by one of his employees.

    While I am cleaning, the kisses would call me so I would eat one, then one would turn into more, sometimes as many as 20. Maybe…I loose track.

    I don’t mind cleaning the office but dreaded facing the aggressive kisses that could care less about my health. So to stop myself from eating them I tried these things.

    Get them out of the office. No go. Patients complained.
    Have husband hide them while I am there. I found them.
    Put a sign that said POISON! on them. Apparently I like poison.
    Bring something healthy to eat instead. Ate that, then the kisses.
    Bring dark chocolate to eat instead. Worked for a few weeks, then I ate the dark chocolate plus the kisses.
    Eat them until I feel sick. Didn’t get sick
    Portion out a few and only eat that many. Can you guess what happened?
    Guilt myself by confessing my kissing sins to anyone who would listen. No one really cares about my sins and obviously guilt did not stop me.

    Mind you, I have been fighting this for 10 years or so, probably longer, I have no idea actually. But now….now…I think I have this conquered. I decided to go on a 30 day elimination diet for a few reasons that are not pertinent to this story. No dairy, nightshades or sugar. I thought if nothing else, it might cure me of my weekend kiss addiction. And I am happy to report that the elimination diet is over and 4 more weeks have gone by and those little buggers don’t call me anymore. YAY!

    Sharon wrote on March 7th, 2014
    • I enjoyed this comment. It made me smile a few times. “the kisses would call me” lol
      I just ate a small handful of chocolate chips the other afternoon because I hadn’t had cacao in a while and the roughly 50/50 chips were what was immediately available.
      Though two nights later, as I mentioned above, I made some of my own thick liquid chocolate and that was good. I’d prefer to use organic cacao but for the moment I must budget frugally so I used some freely available Baker’s dark chocolate and fairly affordable coconut oil and organic blackstrap molasses. I put some of all three in a pot and heated on about 1/3 temperature until it was mostly liquid and drank/spooned it. I was kind of careless with the portions: about 3 parts of the Baker’s chocolate, 2 to 3 parts coconut oil, and 2 to 3 parts molasses.
      Oh and as for my recovery (referring to above comment again), since I don’t want to spend too much on juice for the extra influx of curative vitamins/phytochemicals/whatever, I first turned to plenty of Angostura bitters in coffee, which helped slightly (I only drank a bit of the volatile mix, catering mostly to current taste), and then after that only barely helped, just a short while ago I turned to cheap fortified red wine (sherry), which feels like it’s working wonders. Maybe so, maybe not; if I were to guess I would hazard one it’s doing both good and bad. I wouldn’t recommend the remedy to most but in my particular case I think it is at least somewhat wise to utilize alcohol from reasonably healthy sources for “loosening up”. I’m guessing my organs other than the brain are none too pleased since I had a number of drinks over the last couple days but my musculature feels much better as in relaxed, not tense from some recreational synthetic tweaking chemical. Alcohol literally loosens you up. It makes your cell membranes more permeable/fluid. I guess it’s a bit like insulin (as Mark says, a “master hormone”), though I don’t know enough to make an accurate comparison.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 7th, 2014
  26. This is my last week. So many work functions I’ve been expected to attend, with sandwiches, sausage rolls, little quiches, tarts, brownies. I’ve generally eaten my salad before hand, and just mingled instead.

    I’ve felt like I’ve been through a minefield and come out relatively unscathed. First world problems I suppose, but you are right on the mark with this column now.

    I can’t get over how they think these foods are treats. To me a treat now is a big salad with tuna or meat. Bacon and eggs, a rich casserole bursting with flavour…

    HB wrote on March 7th, 2014
  27. Yes HB! At my work, they serve cookies and/or donuts for breaks. Sometimes there are a few lousy looking apples and bananas. Catered lunch? Usually pizza, or sandwich boxes complete with processed meats and cheeses, a bag of chips, soda pop, another “healthy” apple the size of a softball, and another cookie. (Funny aside: one of my co- workers peeled back the sandwich bread to inspect the fake cheese. He said “what is this, reconstituted plastic?”, and ate said sandwich anyway.). Most recently, we’ve received several emails urging us to join a new wellness program! I eat my eggs for breakfast and bring my lunch to these events. Skipping the wellness program, too.

    Sialia wrote on March 7th, 2014
    • The other day, I was in the cancer ward at my local hospital. While walking down the hall I noticed a comfort room for family of cancer patients, nice. Next, a meditation room, also a lovely idea. Then a tiny food store selling giant cookies as big as dinner plates, sweet rolls and soft drinks. Really?

      Sharon wrote on March 8th, 2014
  28. There is an incredibly useful and interesting book by Dr. Kelly McGonegal called
    “The Willpower Instinct”. I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone who has ever wondered how they started out with good intentions and used “mental judo” on themselves to give in to temptation (food, procrastination, etc.)

    The research is fascinating and this book is full of very useful techniques to help you stay on track, whatever your goals are. I confidently say in advance, “you’re welcome”.

    Justin Case wrote on March 8th, 2014
  29. I lived with obesity for 40 years. I look back and it’s unfathomable how much I wasted feeling bad, bloated, with no energy, how much I was bullied and how I much I fooled myself into thinking “it’s my genes”.

    So no thanks. I had all the pizza that was reserved for me in this life.

    So far it’s been easy for me to say no to crap food.

    Lets hope I can hold on to that :)

    Morex wrote on March 9th, 2014
  30. Ohhh boy. This just happened to me.

    Pizza Friday night. It wasn’t even good pizza, since the chain changed their crust recipe and made it even MORE artificial and chemical-laden than it was. Then there was bread in conjunction with lentil soup. Lentil soup is a favorite recipe of mine pre-primal, so I make it every so often. One generous bowl is the limit. We ate it Saturday night with bread, and I would have been fine if I’d stopped there. A little gas maybe, but nothing serious. But Sunday instead of making a salad for lunch, I decided I wanted another bowl of soup. Talk about a one-way ticket on the Intestinal Express. Come about 9 pm I was in serious, serious pain, and my stomach was bloated out like I was about to birth an alien. By midnight, even the slightest pressure on my gut felt like something was trying to claw its way out of my large intestine, I was on my way home from the 24-hour Walgreens with a bottle of magnesium citrate and a pack of simethicone, and I was trying to establish which level on my personal pain scale would be enough to take myself to the ER.

    Its taken me some time to decide for myself when and how much nutritional off-roading is and is not worth it. Its like disciplining a toddler: you have to catch them at whatever they’re doing and put them in time out immediately so that the association gets made. That’s why it’s so hard to put the pieces together with food: it takes hours to empty the stomach into the small intestine, and then a day and a half to get through to the large intestine where all the fun happens. So really, the pizza was probably hitting the final stretch right as the second dose of legumes was making it onto the track. One of those things at a time might have been okay, but the combination was just too much. It took a vomit-inducing migraine to put me off chocolate at long last, I had to really meditate on associating sugar with my incredibly nasty mood swings this January, and I’m pretty sure I now have my bread/legume overdose associated firmly with the pending birth of the anti-Christ. Next month I think I’ll just stick to a pint of Haagen-Dazs and call it good.

    Kristina wrote on March 10th, 2014
  31. I am new to the Paleo diet. I have lost 19 pounds in 6 weeks. My husband is doing this me and has lost weight too. I love bread, cake, and donuts. The Paleo allows us 3 cheats a week. So far I have only cheated 4 times in the 6 weeks. Being able to cheat helps me to not feel like a failure. I get to taste what I think I have been missing and then realize it is just food. It helps me take my power over it back. I feel so much better eating primal and am down a pant size, so I am being very careful and sticking to Paleo eating. This is the only type of diet that has ever worked for me and I love it!

    Karla Abey wrote on March 13th, 2014
  32. Wow. What a GREAT article! Thank you!! I just shared it with my three best friends…

    Frankie wrote on April 9th, 2014

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