Q&A: I don’t have the willpower to eat Paleo…


Here’s a common concern for people: They hear about the Paleo diet from people who it’s worked near miracles for, but they don’t think they could possibly do it themselves. Sound familiar? One reader wrote in with this the other day:


My problem with diving into this lifestyle is just the excuses I am sure you hear often.  My only real obstacle is my obsession with orally fixating myself with food.  I love good, healthy food and know how good I feel when eating just as described the Paleo way… it’s just my willpower.  Any suggestions? 



Alright, there are many levels to this answer. I could be mean and just say, “Have a little self control!” Or I could be really nice and say, “I know what you mean and you just have to take it one day at a time and do your best. Just remember that your health and happiness are worth more than those cookies and cakes.” And all of that is true to some extent. But that kind of advice is aimed at people on American fad diets that fail all the time. As long as people continue to eat the crappy, addictive foods (sweets, sodas, refined grains, etc.) that made them fat in the first place, they will continue to want to “orally fixate” themselves with food.

When you eat a pretty strict Paleo diet, those addictive behaviors start to go away. By the way, I’m using the term “addictive” loosely right now, as there’s quite a bit of debate about the actual addictiveness of foods, so just go with it for now. What I’m talking about is the way many of you feel when you have a box of cookies, a tray of doughnuts, an entire pie, or a delicious deep dish pizza in front of you. In a word, ravenous. You don’t really get that way with sautéed asparagus and steak, bananas, or even eggs and homemade sausage…

So in the beginning of going Paleo, yes, you will probably feel ravenous and crave those foods you’ve been orally fixated with for oh so many years. But your tastes will change and those cravings will fade. It’s like this: I have had many clients over the years who are addicted to diet sodas. They “don’t like just plain water”. But when they finally quit their nasty Coke 1 habit, it only takes a few days for water to taste good to them again. After all, it’s water and we’re genetically inclined to like it. It’s just that the poisonous, addictive crap in Coke 1 has temporarily muddled their brains. Same with refined grains and sugar other processed, Neolithic foods. They taste really good, but they only leave you wanting more.

So my advice is this.

Just TRY IT. Have some self control and try Paleo for a good, solid two weeks where you don’t let yourself cave to your cravings. You can do it. See what happens when you have satisfying foods that keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day. See what happens when you have enough respect for yourself and your health to NOT eat shit instead of healthy foods. Get over that first two- to three-week hump and then decide if you have the willpower to do this. And remember, I’m a fan of “cheating” sometimes. If you have days down the road when all you want are Cheez-its and doughnuts just for old time’s sake, by all means go ahead and eat them. Then get back to your normal Paleo diet so you can feel good again after your binge, and be thankful you don’t feel compelled to eat like that all the time anymore.