Paleo Plan

How Do I Start Paleo if I Binge On Sweets Every Day?

Here’s a question that you may be able to relate with…

I binge eat on sweets daily and really want to start the Paleo diet. I would really appreciate any tips or insights you have that could help me conquer the binge eating of sweets.

Thanks,
Deb


binge eatingHi Deb,

Bingeing is something I’ve definitely struggled with, too, so I understand how powerful the urge is. The good news is that I almost never binge anymore because after 4 years of being Paleo, my blood sugar and brain have become way more balanced. You will get there, too.

Others definitely have! Tons of people write in to us at Paleo Plan saying that their cravings “just sort of went away after starting Paleo.” That’s awesome, and it may be how it goes for you. However, it happens more quickly and easily for some than for others.

The Trick

My hope is that you’ll just naturally start to binge less after eating Paleo for a while, but in the meantime here’s a trick: Have Paleo sweets on hand while you’re transitioning. Fruit is, of course, the first place to start, but make some Paleo muffins, cookies, or whatever you like – there are a billion recipes all over the internet and in books for Paleo sweets, including on our own site here.

If you binge with Paleo foods, the “hangover” will likely be less severe because there’ll be no crazy-making gluten, grains, dairy, seed oils, or white sugar in those foods. You’ll still get that sweetness you want – it’ll just be less toxic. Over time, your brain and body will start to heal and the addictions will start to fade as you deny your body what it’s begging for. Eventually, you’ll need the sweets less and less as you start to feel better and more in control of your appetite.

Choose It

When you have a craving to binge, don’t beat yourself up for it; that usually just makes things worse. When you get the itch, try to make yourself take a few breaths – deep ones – and while you’re breathing, choose whether or not you’re going to binge. I know that sounds weird, but I found that when I’d actually say to myself (or out loud), “I’m going to binge now,” I felt like I had more control over it. I was choosing to do it – it wasn’t just taking control over me.

Make sure you have a clear goal in mind for your health.

Is it losing weight? If it’s losing weight, why do you want to lose weight? If it’s just for superficial reasons (I want to look better in jeans), then that may not hold up when you’re faced with a mind-altering bag of cookies. Who knows – maybe that goal is enough for you, but a more meaningful aspiration might help your resolve. Do you want to be healthier for your kids? Do you want to reach a certain athletic goal? Do you want to get off some medication(s) you’re on? Decide right now why you want to change your bingeing behavior, and make sure those reasons deeply resonate with you.

What to Do instead of Bingeing

If you decide not to binge and you walk away from the situation (kudos to you), you may soon find yourself obsessing over the food(s) you really want to be bingeing on. In that case, you can…

  • Distract yourself with drugs and alcohol (just kidding!)
  • Eat something else. No, your well-balanced lunch may not sound as appetizing as those donuts, but your body may actually be telling you that you’re hungry, so eat!
  • Exercise, even if it’s just a 3-minute vigorous session of squats in your office or living room. Or go for a short walk. Get yourself out of the situation and brain space you’re in by changing locations for a while.
  • Drink some water. Sometimes cravings are just veiled thirst.
  • Contact someone who will talk you down from the ledge, so to speak. Someone you trust and someone who knows your health goals and who can help remind you why you would not want to binge.

Just hang in there for the first couple weeks of going Paleo and it’ll get easier, especially if you have the Paleo treats on hand.

Good luck!

Neely

Anyone else have tips for overcoming binge eating behaviors?

 

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11 Comments

  1. Candy Michael

    I used to binge on sweets too! But I’ve been on paleo for 77 days, lost 36 pounds and I don’t want sweets anymore! I tried a bite of a chocolate peanut cluster and it tasted so sweet to me I had to spit it out! Before I would have eaten a whole bag! This diet or should I say lifestyle works! I cannot believe I have been doing this for 77 days! It’s just normal to me now. I feel a million times better then before I started! I love it!

  2. Michele Klepac

    Oh my old friend Binge!!!!! We were inseparable, for sure. But, thanks to Paleo, my brain and body are much healthier and the obsession is gone. In addition to a 100% Paleo commitment, I took the amino acid L-glutamine (L-Glutamine sends a message to your brain that a craving for sweets has been fulfilled. It can be helpful to stop cravings that are particularly strong. Dissolving the powder under your tongue can help stop cravings faster than taking a tablet.) I also take magnesium (Magnesium offers several benefits when it comes to the craving of sweets and chocolate. First, magnesium helps with the regulation of insulin and blood sugar. Secondly, magnesium helps to balance the emotional part of the brain, and a deficiency of magnesium can increase the craving of chocolate which stimulates that part of the brain. Finally, magnesium can aid with stress and insomnia which can contribute to unhealthy cravings.) I hope this helps. Best wishes!!!!!!

  3. What a thoughtfully written piece. I’ve read a lot of posts on ‘how to control binges / emotional eating’ and they all regurgitate the same stuff with no real paths to move forward.

    I really appreciated this post, though, as it offers hope (even if its 4 years in the making!!). And I really liked this line: ‘I’d actually say to myself (or out loud).’ By even having that meta view of the situation, its means some control is being gained rather than being controlled by the binge.

    To the previous commenter, Michele, that’s interesting about L-Glutamine. I didn’t know that. I just started taking a supplement with L-Glutamine, so maybe that’s why now I’m craving salt instead of sweet things.

    Good advice. Thanks.

  4. lerai@unr.edu

    I am new to this diet. I started it because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and wanted to see if eliminating dairy, gluten, soy, sugar and alcohol would have an effect on my inflammation. I thought the changes would be subtle and take a while to see. However after the 10th day, I have noticed that the jaw pain i have had is decreasing. My tongue is not swollen (I didn’t know that I had a swollen tongue.) and the skin on my thumbs and index finger are getting smoother. I also noticed that I am not fatigued as much and am not in as much pain. Going on this diet has been a life changer and I know there will be other changes as i keep on it. My question to you is, I lost quite a bit of weight with the RA (17 lbs) and am actually at my ideal weight – other then having some flab on my belly – and do not want to lose anymore weight. I do moderate exercise such as the treadmill and reformer pilates along with hiking. Can some one eat grains such as quinoa, brown rice and oats if they are not on the plan to lose weight. If not, what do you suggest.

    • Neely Quinn

      lerai@unr.edu – Since you have an autoimmune disorder, I wouldn’t suggest that you eat grains at all to be honest. They seem to be the number one offender in people with autoimmune issues. If you don’t want to lose weight, just eat plenty of carbohydrates from Paleo sources and plenty of calories in general. You’ll figure it out with some experimentation!

  5. Thanks so much for the tips! I’m trying to go paleo but I’ve been giving in to the old binge foods after a couple of days :( Maybe you’re right that I will need a transition period and have some paleo sweets while my body adjusts. I’m willing to try it for sure and hope to have the success that you guys have had!

  6. Anneabell

    hi i am looking at diets to help with my Inflamatory bowel disease food can be a challenge for me how would you recommend doing this diet and wondering if a transition into this diet will be the way to go you see some of the good stuff like salads and vegies can cause me grief if you can recommend any suggestions on what you recommend so I can attempt this diet I would greatly appreciate it

  7. Hey, I myself have problems bing eating during the day especially when im at work. Hopefully once i kick this type food it will be for the better.

    Ben

  8. Is a standing mixer useful on the Paleo diet? My husband has offered to buy me a kitchenaid mixer. I wanted to know if that would be worth the investment for paleo recipes, since this is new to me and I’m not familiar with paleo recipes and don’t know what kitchen equipment is most beneficial. Please list beneficial kitchen equipment while you are answering about a mixer. thanks,
    Pat

    • Neely Quinn

      pat – I don’t think it’s necessary really. I’ve used one for baking muffins and things, but it could’ve easily been done with a hand mixer or by hand really. I think most people would say the most useful kitchen appliances are a blender or a food processor (the latter is definitely more versatile), maybe a submergible blender, a really good knife, a large cutting board, a slow cooker, and I use a convection toaster oven a lot to reheat things instead of a microwave or the large oven.

  9. Nastassja

    I had a major sweet tooth too!! I have only been on the paleo lifestyle for 17 days, but I have already noticed a great difference. The first week was tough, I turned to fruit a lot to cure my cravings. I would also keep water with me at all time and drink some every time I felt a sweet craving. I found some great organic cocoa mint tea that helps me get the flavors I want without cheating! Good luck and hang in there! It’s so worth it!

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