Stop Your Self-Sabotage (and Start Seeing Results Again)

The secret to beating carb cravings

Temptation is a pain, but it doesn't have to win.

Are you as surprised as I am that we’re in the Fall already? Gone – or quickly departing – are the days of comfortable jogs in the neighborhood. We’re welcoming the seasons of leaf raking and snow shoveling.

You probably did pretty good at eating healthy when the weather was nice. It’s like warm weather almost encourages us to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water. Now that it’s cold, we start thinking about hot chocolate and cookies.

Most of us probably made it to Halloween feeling pretty good about ourselves. Many persevered well. Others made it past Halloween night unscathed, but the next day at work faced an abundance of unclaimed candy. Some remained victorious while others crumbled at the sheer volume of Reece’s cups (*guilty*).

Now the cookies, pies, and fudge are beginning to roll in. It’s getting harder and harder to behave! You might be inclined to tell yourself one small cheat once in a while won’t make a big difference. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to be right.

Or maybe you’re totally sabotaging any chances of success this season.

It happens to everyone

September was one of my fittest months in several years. As a treat, Kathy and I told ourselves we would relax the first week in October and probably get back on quickly. We knew how much better we felt while eating really clean.

We’re now in mid-November. We had spaghetti for dinner fairly recently (a fund-raiser at church, so it was a good cause, right?) and again for lunch the next day (leftovers at church). Shortly after that I had some leftover (free) lasagna at work because it was convenient.

I wish I could say that we ate great from October til now, but the truth is we never really completely jumped back on the wagon. We’re kinda walking beside it, every once in a while hopping up for a sit.

And it’s all because we keep feeding the fire. I’ve decided enough is enough. I know what will get us – and you – back on track, and we’re starting now.

Blame it on the carbs

The thing about using carbs for fuel is that your body really wants more carbs to burn. Protein and fat satisfy your hunger. Certain carbohydrates do not.

I’m speaking in pretty broad generalities because there are other places you can go to get real nerdy science. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re best off avoiding white carbs (grains, potatoes, etc) and limiting legumes and fruit.

The more you allow carbohydrates from things OTHER than vegetables into your diet, the harder it is to stop eating those things.

You literally can feel addicted to food, and those pesky carbs are the drug.

Quick nerdy science bit

Just a really quick explanation of why you may not be able to step down your cheating:

Processed carbs (pastries, pasta, cereal, candy) quickly raise your blood sugar. This rush actually stimulates your brain much the same way nicotine does (source). When you come off of it, you just want more.

You see, there’s this neurotransmitter in our bodies called serotonin. It’s what makes you feel happy. Ever go for a walk on a sunny day and you start to feel like you can conquer the world? That’s serotonin’s doing. Know what else releases serotonin? Carbs.

Ever wonder why you often crave carb-rich foods when you’re feeling down? Your body knows that it needs some help, and eating those things quite literally makes you feel happy. It’s not just in your head!

(Further reading: Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine? – Details.com)

Abstinence: the real way to curb cravings

Cold turkey isn’t just your lunch on the last Friday of November (US). For a lot of us, it’s necessary to be able to keep any kind of momentum or even to begin building momentum in the first place.

All it took to get you to have that first bit was a quick temptation and a moment of weakness. That probably turned into an avalanche and you found yourself on the bottom wondering what happened.

I know it’s hard to fight the temptations, especially during this time of year. There are ways to make it easier; in fact, I’m working on a recipe book right now that will help all of us have a great Thanksgiving. But there’s no need to throw in the towel now and decide in January you’ll get it together again.

I know this works. When I stopped eating what I shouldn’t cold-turkey, I was able to resist the temptation until the draw was gone. Both when I started slow-carb back in December 2010 and when we did Whole 30 in September.

We all slip up from time to time; that’s why I have to write this post. You can help me, and I can help you.

One final tip: if you’ve stopped eating the carbs you shouldn’t and you’re still struggling, check the artificial sweetener content of things you consume (yes, stevia counts as artificial sweetener in this case, even though it’s natural). Once I dropped Diet Coke, it became a lot easier to say no.

Tell us about your victories against temptation! We need some motivation heading into the holidays!

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