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.
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.
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.
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.
Anyone else have tips for overcoming binge eating behaviors?