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

The Psychology of Giving Up Junk Food

It’s probably the biggest thing that makes some people hesitate in going Primal. Sure, they appreciate the logic and sensibility of the Blueprint lifestyle. They value the chance to improve their health and effectively lose weight. They love the idea of having more energy. They salivate over the prospect of bacon. But then comes the proverbial wrench in the plan. “What about bread?” they ask. (Sometimes it’s diet soda, pasta, pancakes, pizza, Skittles, etc.; I’ve heard it all.) Against all powers of wisdom, self-interest, and rationality, how is it these isolated, deeply entrenched cravings hold such sway over our lifestyles – and diet decisions? Is a baguette really so enticing that it determines a person’s willingness to live a healthier, more vigorous existence? Is the de-grained life really not worth living?

It’s a common refrain I hear: “Oh, I’d love to go Primal, but I just couldn’t give up my breakfast cereal.” Okay. It’s got me thinking lately: what is it about the psychological power of (non-Primal) favorite foods?

Ever watched “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (usually featuring the typical junk food categories)? Of course, the guests play it up for the camera, but the expression behind some of their descriptions parallel that famous When Harry Met Sally scene. Really? This level of enthusiasm for a hamburger? (I won’t say it.) Even a few of the most diehard PB converts I know still hold the torch for some pre-Primal item. Some people get attached, I guess.

Yes, there are the obvious factors that apply to most people’s favorites: the ubiquity of these foods, the subsequent convenience, the cheap price (e.g. Pizza Hut’s “Feast for Five” bucks – feast being their word). For some of us, these favorite foods (past or present) are part and parcel of our social landscape or our work environs. Then there are the more complex influences: ethnic, family or community traditions right down to low and lowly marketing forces. Finally, there’s taste. Although, as I’ve said before, most people find these foods all taste the same once they give their taste buds a chance to recover on a Primal diet of naturally-occurring foods.

So, why are some things easier to give up than others? If you told most people tomorrow that the key to good health involved forgoing asparagus, I can’t imagine most folks would consider it a major impediment to their success. Why isn’t giving up bread, diet soda or cereal the same? How does it involve more than a simple switch of intention? Why does giving up a single favorite food feel like serious deprivation for so many people?

It’s true that our tastes are established earlier than we ever thought. Experts have found that a mother’s diet during pregnancy already begin to habituate a baby’s taste. Researchers believe this happens because the habituation early on helps teach children which tastes are “safe.” If the mother has survived eating foods with these flavors, they will, too. If you come from a family in which people routinely ate a lot of pasta, you likely developed the taste for it earlier than you can remember.

We also develop deep-seated emotional associations with certain foods through early and/or recurring memories surrounding them. On a timely note, holiday traditions tend to play into these associations in a big way. Any meaningful experience can create these connections, however. Was there a special dish you always made with a parent or grandparent? Did your extended family all go to the same pizzeria at every visit? Do you and your spouse have a routine from early in your relationship that influences how you enjoy time together today?

These associations can play out in unconscious ways, eliciting cravings or overshadowing your efforts to develop a taste for healthier, Primal fare. If you’re still carrying the torch for old favorites, it can be harder to fully enjoy newer Primal tastes.

Then there are the temptations of the present. Experts say mental imagery – that which we conjure ourselves and that which we’re presented with (in ads, etc.) – plays a sizeable role in our cravings. Have you ever found yourself victim to an ad’s suggestion? Even if you normally wouldn’t touch a particular food, those marketing folks have a fantastic way of making it look good.

Our moods, of course, can influence our vulnerability to old favorites. Many of us have indulged in emotional eating, and carbohydrates figure into this equation all too strongly. There’s a legitimate serotonin boost from a carb binge, but then comes the inevitable crash and then the ongoing habit. Our desire for comfort foods, researchers have found, only increases with additional stress. (On a side note, experts have even found trends of favorite comfort foods (PDF) in men and women and in older and younger folks. Men as a whole tend to crave warm and hearty foods. Women for their part had more of a penchant for sweeter snack foods. Younger groups also tended to choose more snack rather than meal type foods.)

In terms of strategies to lessen the feeling of deprivation and associated cravings, researchers confirm the out of sight, out of mind approach. Proximity matters in a big way. The more of a hassle it is to get to that favorite temptation, the less likely you’ll bother with it. Their study includes the old candy dish at the secretary’s desk scenario. Yet, battling those mental images matters, too. If your favorite food is all over the TV commercials, find something else to do on the days or evenings when you’re more prone to suggestion because of stress or a down mood.

When you do become taken in by a sudden urge to indulge, some research suggests that taking a brief walk can help. If the cravings are more than an occasional inconvenience, you might want to ask whether there’s something hormonal going on or if you have a nutritional deficiency. Particularly if you have a history of disordered eating, you might choose to explore some professional counseling. Finally, some research shows that acupuncture can be an effective complementary measure for reducing ongoing cravings.

You might ask where the 80/20 Principle is in all this. Well, it depends. If your favorite food can be adapted to fit a Primal profile or if you can indulge moderately on an occasional basis, then you might not have to forgo that favorite altogether. If one taste of a non-Primal favorite food sends you on a downward spiral, however, it’s another story. As people get further along in their Primal journey, the slippery slope phenomenon isn’t as powerful, but for some it remains so. Know yourself, first and foremost.

There’s a potential bit of a catch here, however. Even if you know you can always go back and have it, a lot of folks – having been fully Primal for a while – find that the side effects are too great to bother with. They realize that it’s not worth trying anymore, even for special occasions. Nonetheless, some feel a bit of grief with the acknowledgment. In these cases, however, know that the food was destroying your body long before you ever gave it up. You simply know what it feels like to live without the low-grade symptoms now.

That’s the final message here, I think. A favorite food offers momentary pleasure and maybe a meaningful bit of nostalgia. But what is your life without that favorite food? More energetic? Less congested? More restful? More even-keeled? Less medicated? Just as happily reminiscent. Just as meaningful. Your taste buds are but one small part of you. If your whole body could vote on each food you put in it, what would it tell you? Learning to live Primally is about learning to listen to your body, recognizing its story, and valuing how our physical habits feed the spirit as well as the body – the vitality – we bring to each day.

Now it’s your turn. Readers, have you had struggles with old favorite foods? Do they still have a hold on you? Does the lingering preference ever trip you up, or have you found your peace with it – maybe by indulging once in a while with moderation? What do you see as the major challenges behind giving up a favorite food?

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’ve been enjoying a few items as bread/cracker substitutes. They also happen to be raw and vegan. They’re pricey but I use them sparingly. The Love Force products are probably the cheapest:

    Brad’s Raw Chips (about $8 a package): (I like the “Cheddar” and “Indian” flavors best)

    Rayo de Sol Gluten Free Essene Breads (about $10 a loaf):
    (I’ve enjoyed the “Havest” and “Rye” so far) They’re the size of cocktail loaves, more or less.

    Love Force Raw Organic Breads (about $5 a package):
    (I’ve had the “Sun-Flax Rye” and loved it. It’s somewhere between a bread and a cracker, hard but chewy).

    Wilma Flintstone wrote on December 10th, 2010
    • Thanks for the kudos, Ms. Flinstone! We love that you love our products!

      Kate wrote on December 13th, 2010
  2. I operate under the 100/10 rule.

    100% perfect and 10% cheating.

    Dan wrote on December 10th, 2010
  3. I finally have it under control. Before I found Final Blueprint, I had lost weight using South Beach Diet. I was good for a while, but then old habits began creeping back. Maybe I had way more rice than I knew I was supposed to have with dinner. Or, maybe I indulged in a brownie binge, telling myself I’d be back on the wagon the next day only to find it easier to have more goodies because I did the day before, and what’s one more day?

    I began struggling to keep off the weight loss, I saw a few pounds creeping back on after all the hard work I had done to get rid of it. I had begun at over 150lbs and 37% body fat, and got down to 125, about 23% body fat- but was then creeping up to 130 again. Doesn’t seem like a big deal but if you’re tall and thin (after losing your weight) and like when your jeans fit like a glove, 5lbs makes a big difference.

    It was very frustrating and I began yo-yo-ing badly. I could barely maintain 127- I was excercising every day for an hour- grueling workouts, to try to offset the desserts and extra carbs. But I could not out-excercise the food, even if I was fanatical.

    Near the end of last year, I googled something about food and Primal Blueprint popped up. I began reading, and I ordered the book. I read it, and decided that New Year, I was going Primal. I went 100% Primal and the extra pounds dropped right off. I got real lean and fit into a size 2! Not anorexic, and not starving, either. I allowed some very dark chocolate after dinner sometimes. I very rarely allowed it, but did occasionally have rice, corn, or beans, but very, very rarely. Once a month for rice, once every 2 months for corn. Beans here and there.

    6 months in, I was at a wedding and saw bananas foster. I felt I could trust myself with it- I knew this wasn’t the kind of thing where I’d go back again and again, like an addict. That’s when I realized there ARE certain foods I do that with. So right then, I realized it and I banned those things, forever. No cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, or ANY cake like thing or flour containing dessert. Things that I know I can have once and be satisfied, like a little ice cream or a piece of chocolate, or a pudding- fine. I know I won’t go back to have 5 more bowls of ice cream like I would cookies.

    I’ve done very well with this ban. I am going on one year since going primal and at all times I’m in the 85%-95% range. When I went primal, my weight settled around 123 and I have weighed this all year, fluctuating only mildly. I went from yo-yo and extreme frustration and struggle to maintaining a consistent weight so easily.

    So, I am almost reaching the anniversary of when I gave up those hostage holders- the cake, cookies, brownies. And I do not bake anymore, either. I bought a cake for my son’s B Day this year and did not have any. (I had some candy, though, which suprisingly made me SO sick.) I don’t bake because it’s not fair to expect that from me- I thought about it and I’m not going to feel obligated because of holidays.

    Anyway, I don’t miss them. They occasionally look good, but, I don’t actually want it.

    Sharon C. wrote on December 10th, 2010
  4. Yes, my sweet-spot is my mom’s homemade peanut butter cups.. I also love making them for special occasions, and I tell myself I won’t eat one, but then I do. And then I eat another. And another, and another until I feel sick and eventually get sick. And then I’ll have a downtime where I feel like I absolutely need another one. I swear, sugar is worse than crack. (Not that I would know). For me, personally, it’s better to stick to the course and never give in. I just don’t seem to have the ability to only try a little bit.

    Brian Kozmo wrote on December 10th, 2010
  5. I just wrote a two part series on how highly palatable foods affect our brains. It’s something that has become so much clearer to me through my own experiences with giving up all sweeteners for a month and then trying to add them back into my diet in moderation. I can’t do it. One day of sugar on Thanksgiving made me miserable for days, like I was starting over again. Not worth it.

    Jessica wrote on December 10th, 2010
  6. Barf. I don’t mean to sound snobby, but I feel like one would have to have an EXTREMELY messed-up relationship with food that they would actually prefer junk food over real, fresh, gourmet food.

    I like to think about junk food the same way as I think about condiments: they taste nice (or rather, they taste STRONG), but you’d be insane to try to make a meal out of them. Could you imagine a diet based on mayonnaise or pancake syrup? To me, that’s basically what a junk-food diet looks like: not real food.

    The real issue here, I think, is that there are plenty of people telling the American population WHAT to eat, but nobody telling them HOW to eat!

    I think about a study they conducted in two different inner-city elementary schools, where the kids, who were all on subsidized school lunches, had terrible eating habits and claimed to prefer junk food to healthy food. In both school cafeterias, they introduced a salad bar, complete with healthy dressings and local, seasonal produce. In one school, they just left the kids to their own devices, and the salad bar went unused; in the other school, they had a registered dietitian come in give the kids a lesson in how to make a salad. And what do you know! The kids who got instruction in how to make salads preferred the salad bar option at an astronomically higher percentage than those who didn’t receive instruction in how to use it.

    Gee, Mark – you ever think about a school tour? If only you didn’t have to worry about CW-saturated parents mauling you alive…

    Alhaddadin wrote on December 10th, 2010
  7. I’m 5.5 months pregnant with our first child, and I’m eating more unhealthy than ever!

    My husband and I were really great about eating Primal/Paleo before I got pregnant, and now we’re both off the wagon because of it.

    And it’s not just the cravings (which are stronger than ever). I find that so many healthy foods turn me off! I used to eat one avocado every day for lunch, with grilled chicken. Now the thought of avocados make me gag. Same with broccoli and a few other veggies. Same with healthy nuts.

    Or, I make a healthy dish, and I’m so proud of myself, but if I make again and again, I get sick of it real quick.

    I know I should be eating healthier than ever for our unborn child, but it’s just. So. Hard!!!

    Maybe if I had been paleo/primal for longer BEFORE I got pregnant, it would be easier to eat paleo/primal DURING pregnancy?

    Jenene wrote on December 10th, 2010
    • Pregnancy cravings are weird, for sure! With my first child, I went from eating a junk food diet to clean eating because healthy foods were what I craved. But with my second child, that healthy diet went out the door and I began craving foods I never normally would have even when I ate junk.

      Best wishes with the pregnancy! :)

      Kayla wrote on December 11th, 2010
    • I doubt that a longer primal diet would help your cravings. When I was pregnant, I craved tater tots and McChicken sandwiches. I ate them, relished them, and didn’t crave them again. (In fact, after the initial tater tot craving, they seemed gross to me. I only eat them once in my first trimester- both times) Especially the first trimester, eat what you crave, what you can keep down. (FTR, in the second trimester, I was all about beef- HUGE roast beef sandwiches- I’m telling you that Jimmy Johns unwiches with extra meat were the BEST! (I’d get two at a time- this baby grew like crazy in the second trimester) In the third, I couldn’t eat much- I had no appetite- I ate fried potatoes topped with cheese and sour cream. And it was really to carby for me, but it was one of the few things I had an appetite for. Pregnancy is weird, but I advocate following your body’s signals, and using common sense (and don’t restrict anything!)

      Herbwifemama wrote on December 11th, 2010
  8. I have a question related to this topic…

    …as a devotee to the 80/20 principle (though in practice, I would say I’m more like 90/10), I can and do indulge in occasional paleo no-no’s.

    For instance, I reserve Thanksgiving for a carb splurge. I know it’s going to make me sluggish, tired and not feeling optimal, but what the hell, it’s once a year, and it’s a family bonding experience.

    I think there is something to be said in OCCASIONAL indulgences in non-primal foods. It breaks up what can turn into a monotonous routine (as much as I love bacon every day, I do have to take a break every now and then…I find a little abstinence makes it taste better when I resume eating it again)If you really do keep it occasional, you can enjoy the taste bud effects and mild reactions to the neo-lithic junk food.

    That being said, there are somethings I absolutely do not include in the 80/20 principle.

    Partially and fully hydrogenated oils.
    Monosodium Glutamate.
    High Fructose Corn Syrup
    Soybean Oil and Hydrolized soy proteins.

    i.e. – additives and frankenfoods of he food processing industry.

    So if I occasionally want to make a loaf of bread for sandwiches, I’ll dig out the bread machine and make my own bread. Yes it has grains in it…but I also make it with wholesome oils (butter and macadamia nut oil) and none of the garbage that is found in 99% of all commercially baked bread like High Fructose Corn Syrup, margarine and Omega-6 imbalanced vegetable oils that is found in almost all breads in most grocery stores.

    But my question for Mark is this: if I’m going to occasionally eat a grain based food as my “20%” what do you think is the lesser of two evils – refined carbs that spike your blood sugar, or un-sprouted/non-fermented whole grains that are full of anti-nutrients, phytates, lectins etc.?

    Since my weight has not been an issue for over 3 years now of 80/20 primal eating and regular exercise, I say if your gonna occasionally indulge in some grain products, go for the better tasting product – like IMO, white pasta simply tastes better than whole grain pasta. Conversely, whole grain breads taste better than refined white bread.

    Dave from Hawaii wrote on December 10th, 2010
    • +1

      …although, my 10% would be chocolate and wine, never pasta.

      slacker wrote on December 11th, 2010
  9. I started eating more primal months ago, but junk food still tempts me (especially with family telling me to “go ahead. a little won’t hurt”). Like last night, my family wanted to pick up some snacks while we watched a movie later. My husband saw my old favorite holiday candy (those mint m&ms) and encouraged me to get a bag (a big bag, unfortunately because that’s all the store carried). I had some and felt like crap afterward. But then I felt compelled to have some more this morning.

    Why would I do that to my body??? And I can’t just throw the m&ms out because my husband hates wasting food. So I threw some mustard and dish soap into the bag to prevent further senseless eating. I feel ashamed to have to go so extreme. I wonder if my primal instincts will ever be able to overtake my old junk food habits. Can anyone relate? Does the junk food habit fade over time? :(

    Kayla wrote on December 11th, 2010
  10. Its a good question, and the answer is simple: PLEASURE!

    The pleasure people get in the “moment” of eating these tasty junk foods the first reason its so hard to give up.

    And its due to this ‘pleasure’ that people then become ADDICTED to such foods. Thats the second reason people find it so hard to give up.

    Also a good angle on it can be found through a concept called Supernormal Stimuli:

    Oliver wrote on December 11th, 2010
  11. Researchers believe this happens because the habituation early on helps teach children which tastes are “safe.” If the mother has survived eating foods with these flavors, they will, too.

    Seems to me this is yet another reason that low carb is impractical for most. People are epigenetically already adapted to eat carbs to some extent. Is it not more practical then (for that reason among others) to shift to a healthier carb based diet rather than try to change your metabolism and tastes to function more on fat??

    In wrote on December 11th, 2010
    • Also carb based “cheats” are less damaging when your body is adapted to handle carbs.

      In wrote on December 11th, 2010
  12. I am lactose intolerant, and I shouldn’t probably eat dairy products so much but I just can’t give up greek yogurt..I tried for a week and made me miserable! For years, I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner..I wonder if a nutritional deficiency or the fact that my entire culture depends heavily on yogurt is the reason for such an attachment.. After all we drink yogurt, make kebap with it, use it as sauce for meals, we even have a yogurt soup!

    lale wrote on December 11th, 2010
  13. I found that TV commercials would really make me start craving “bad” foods. We cancelled our dish and just watch Netflix now (no commercials!) and believe it or not my evening snacking has cut way back. There are also several foods that I thought I could never give up that I have lost a taste for. For example, I had a Christmas cookie yesterday and could only eat half of it. WAYYYY too sweet- like unbearably, need a glass of water, sweet.

    Sonia wrote on December 12th, 2010
  14. I found it was more convenience for me. A few years ago, I didn’t lead a healthy lifestyle at all, so I’d go out on the night out and eat a really bad pizza at 3a.m! I stuggled to start my health hourney because I was too impatient at the time and I couldn’t imagine me in 8 months time so I didn’t start. Finally, I pushed myself through it and I don’t regret it!

    I think it’s convenience that leads people to keep eating poor quality foods. It’s quite sad that a takeaway is considered a ‘treat’ in most households

    Carl wrote on December 12th, 2010
  15. I have removed almost all my lousy choices. I am a diagnosed Celiac so much of my choice was made for me. I hate rice and all the gluten free garbage so the no grains is A-OK with me. I don’t even miss my Pizza binges anymore as I really just like the toppings. I have removed nightshades, beans and just about anything that can’t be identified when you hold it in your hand.

    I am GUILTY as CHARGED though when it comes to Skittles (funny you should mention them). I don’t do it often but once in a while (6-8 weeks) I just grab a bag and eat them.

    I often ask myself if this is a rebellion against my willpower or just the kid in me wanting some fun, colorful, processed crap.

    Likely the latter as I am a VERY immature 48 year old. I have cut down but can’t honestly say I will NEVER eat skittles again.

    I anyone knows a SKIT-chiatrist, let me know :)

    Mike Cheliak wrote on December 12th, 2010
  16. Skittles!

    Everyone seems to have one downside though. Mine is dark chocolate (not as bad as some, but still!)

    Carl wrote on December 13th, 2010
  17. “Experts have found that a mother’s diet during pregnancy already begin to habituate a baby’s taste. Researchers believe this happens because the habituation early on helps teach children which tastes are “safe.” If the mother has survived eating foods with these flavors, they will, too.”
    I have often wondered about this since I have 3 boys and ate differently at each pregnancy. I ate a ton of broccoli during the first and he cannot get enough of it. I ate a ton of high fat, sugary foods with the second and he is a sweet tooth junkie. The 3rd go around, I craved nothing but salads. To this day he will eat an apple over apple cake. Thank you for the confirmation

    Ellen Dougherty wrote on December 13th, 2010
  18. I am 2 weeks new into eating Primal, and I have gone pretty much 100%. The reason for this is that I have such a horrible sugar/carb addiction, that to eat such things is like poisen to my body. I could literally sit down and eat a whole box of granola by myself in one sitting. I would feel sick as a dog, be so mad at myself, but 2 days later, I’d be at it again. I have always eaten healthy, low-fat, exercised. I look every bit the fit female athlete. But my dark, dirty little secret was my carb addiction. I couldn’t figuer out what was wrong with me. Since being carb, sugar, grain, bean free, I feel so much better. I don’t crave carbs as bad as I use to, I can pass by cookies without thinking about them all day. My problem is when I do start craving things, I have had to resort to eating nuts, and spoonfuls of nut butter, and cheese to satiate me. Sometimes I think I am out of control. Sometimes I will eat veggies dipped in guacamole, but I can eat a whole container of guacamole. I can’t think that this is healthy either. Can anyone relate to this? Or could it be that on some days, I don’t get to eat very much because I am busy and there is nothing around to eat, so the next day I am making up for the lost calories? What is the dealio, Emelio?

    Michelle wrote on December 13th, 2010
    • I think you have to accept that eating your face off every now and then is not only okay, but a good thing.

      The idea isn’t to starve yourself, it is to eat different stuff.

      Imo while you are getting off the carbs/sugar, don’t try to calorie restrict yourself, it just makes things harder than they have to be.

      rob wrote on December 13th, 2010
      • That makes me feel better. I feel like a freak, because I am not sure if I am really hungry or not. I think I am, but I think my body is craving carbs, and I don’t want to give in to the craving to eat a box of cereal. So, I eat a ton of almonds, or walnuts. Or guacamole with brocclie and cauliflower. I am also trying to adjust my cardio/strength training so that I am not so hungry for carbs all the time. It is hard changing one’s life when this is the way I have lived for so many years. But I am tired of the treadmill, of always feeling hungry, never feeling satisfied because I have always deprived myself, and then of course binging because I was starving my cells. I have felt sooooo much better, and when I am satisfied after eating A LOT of nuts, than I am satisfied, and I don’t think about it anymore. Thanks for the input. I will stop stressing about it.

        Michelle wrote on December 13th, 2010
        • Michelle:
          I feel exactly the same way. Everyone always commenting on how “healthy” I was, how “healthily” I ate. I cut out grains about a month ago and am feeling so much better about not having the weekly urge to lay flat on my back and never getting up again after eating box after box after box of cereal. I’m still having trouble with chocolate, and nuts, (yes LOTS of nuts) but I do think the nuts are better than the chocolate, no matter how dark it is. Actually just came to this post because I have a tummy-ache from chocolate.
          Rob, I really REALLY appreciate your comment regarding the eating a ton. I’m less interested and consumed by eating overall, but there are still times (like the one just past) where I mess up. Sadly, these always seem to coincide with thoughts about exercise :( I guess the trick is to go out and play first, then to eat later when I’m actually hungry! (easier said than done, but I’m beginning to think anything’s possible when living primal!)

          Kristina wrote on March 17th, 2011
  19. Chocolate is my downfall so I was very interested to read about the Lindt 85% chocolate. I live in New Zealand but a little research shows that it can be bought at our CountDown Supermarkets so I shall definitely try some.

    Thanks to the earlier commenters who mentioned it.

    Dawn wrote on December 13th, 2010
  20. wow, judging from the response, Mark hit a chord. i think junk appeals because it’s carby and carbs appeal because we evolved that way…it was all about survival for primitive man: eg., not starving. carbs weren’t all that available but when they were, they provided a ready source of calories and “locked up” ones fat/triglycerides for later use (think: eat those berries, long winter ahead). Those who took advantage of carbs (craved them/pigged out on them) were less likely to starve…they survived, bred, had their DNA spread down to us…where the inclination now kills us

    DThalman wrote on December 13th, 2010
  21. I’m not grokin’ it yet. As for Mark’s comment on the out of site out of mind theory… That works pretty well for me, but I will march into any store to get more Diet Coke. However, I wanted to mention the fact that non-primal folks (like me) feel that primal eats are primarily out of site (and therefor out of mind) most of the time. I’m just not presented with enough opportunities to eat even partially primally.

    Wish I Were Riding wrote on December 15th, 2010
  22. Eating primal is definitely a lot more work than not eating primal. You can’t just buy processed primal…..that’s the point. It’s not processed, hence it is much better for you. If you want to keep on keeping on with the processed junk that fills the grocery store, than go ahead if that is what makes you happy. As for me, I want to feel good, and maintain my health for as long as I am able. For me, that means eat healthy, and stay away from processed garbage that feeds my muffin top and starves my cells. BTW, I am a nurse, and you do NOT want to be requiring serious health care into the near future. Just a thought.

    Michelle wrote on December 15th, 2010
  23. I’ve found that I tend to romanticize certain foods (and drinks) along a tradition narrative. It’s part of having a good time, being with friends, celebrating holidays and other occasions. Then comes the hangover. Time reveals the folly of such thought patterns and justifications. As much as possible, I try to think farther into the future, just at the point where I’m going to regret what I’m about to eat. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

    freddy wrote on December 23rd, 2010
  24. I think that I am actually pretty lucky. I am not one that craves sweets. However, I do like breads. I am not sure of the psychological motivations…I’ll have to go inside and explore a little more, but I like my soups in a bread bowl. This is more of a more recent trend (in the last 5-6 years), so it’s not some nostalgic thing. But, it’s definitely something emotional…

    Bryan wrote on February 19th, 2011
  25. My experience has been:

    Step one – go low carb ‘cold turkey’, using a lot of will power to actively decide what I put in my mouth.

    Step two – the old habits fell away, new habits took their place, will power was no longer required, except when my food choices were challenged by other people
    > Don’t you want some fries with that ?
    – No I don’t.
    > Why not, they’re great.
    – They make me fat
    > You’re not fat
    -That’s right. I intend to stay this way
    > You’re weird, man

    Step three – Every now and then I will have something from the dark side. My new habits are so entrenched a slice of birthday cake won’t overturn them. Most times I don’t even enjoy it, my body expects me to provide it real food these days.

    Robbo wrote on February 25th, 2011
    • Robbo, how long does this process take for you? I was Primal for about a month, fell off the wagon (“Eat some cake, it won’t hurt you!”) and have struggled ever since to stay Primal without falling off the wagon. I think if I got it in my head to stay Primal for a set amount of days, to know if I can will my way through this, the cravings will go away. The cravings may always be there for me, because I am a sugar junkie, but maybe I can get to the point where I don’t want it anymore. I was to that point and then I ate the cake, “cuz it wouldn’t hurt me.”

      Michelle wrote on February 26th, 2011
  26. I’m normally really good, but if something sweet catches my eye when I’m hungry, its real difficult to avoid it. I’m rarely in that position, but I’ve been known to scarf down some ginger snaps when it hits me.

    Derek Henry wrote on February 26th, 2011
  27. I’ve been primal for well over a year.
    I used to indulge here and there (in the beginning) in ice-cream or some other past-life treat/craving.
    Now I don’t bother except on the absolute rarest of occasions. One of the amazing reasons is that I’ve been absolutely disease free for over a year. Even when friends around me are sick as dogs….I haven’t had a cold, flu, sniffle, not a thing. And I’m curious to how long this will last.
    I feel great, and have boundless energy. What’s not to like?

    flek wrote on February 27th, 2011
  28. As long as I’m getting the results I’m after (which I am) I just think “once the junk food gets past my taste buds my body has to deal with it” and I don’t even consider eating crap!

    Guy wrote on July 6th, 2011
  29. To stop eating junk food is about ones discipline in fighting the habit. Junk food is too tempting but if one is determined to fight the habit and he/she is disciplined then the habit can be brought to a halt.

    Nikenya wrote on August 2nd, 2011
  30. Reading this post and everyone’s responses reminds me of my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower last weekend. We had to get up and out of the house to make a ferry over there, so I didn’t get a chance to eat a healty breakfast. On the way over, I listened as my aunts gushed about the “cake tasting” for the wedding, and as one of them practically swiped a bag of cookies from a passenger on the ferry (she’s a sugar-addicted vegetarian). I was trying to stay neutral despite my opinions. Anyway, arriving at the bridal shower, what was on the menu? 3 different types of scones, white bread tea sandwiches, chocolate truffles, and sugar cookies. I had no choice, I was starving, but it made me feel like 1000% crap! I thought I would miss these types of foods when I starting eating paleo/primal style, but this honestly shocked my system. At the end of the day, the foods aren’t as hard to give up… for me it’s been more difficult to explain my changes to family and friends without making a big deal about it…

    Erin wrote on August 12th, 2011
  31. My only weakness is sugar and sushi; if I could find a good substitute for candy and salmon rolls and seaweed salad, I’d be so happy.

    Taylor wrote on September 25th, 2011
  32. Baked (white) potatoes are difficult for me to give up. They’re so filling and good (ugh). But surely having them once/week would fall under the 80/20 rule. They’re definitely a ‘treat’. :)

    And yes, occasionally I will do sweet potato fries, which are yummy, but not the same.

    Jen wrote on September 29th, 2011
  33. woot, thankyou! I finally came to a site where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so annoying having to go from page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of people just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thankyou very much for the info anyway, much appreciated.

    模具 wrote on March 15th, 2012

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