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Culture Shock – Primal Living in the USA

Whole Foods MarketAfter a 3 year tour in Bavaria, Germany, we finally set foot on U.S. ground again.  Since then, my mind has officially been blown with the low-carb opportunities that are available to me here in the States.

During our move, I have been off my primal plan, not only because I wouldn’t be able to eat many of my favorite German foods for a long time, but also, because I knew it would be extremely difficult to stay on track while living in hotels for an extended time, with only microwaves to cook with.  It was a conscious decision, yet my body did not thank me.

As soon as I went off program, I immediately started to feel puffy, sluggish and irritable, although, the crankiness could be attributed to all the stress of getting the house ready for the movers to come, selling the cars, and working until the last minute.  We’ve been living in hotels for 3 weeks until we moved into an extended stay place, where we actually have a small kitchen to make our own meals.  I never thought that I would ever get tired of eating in restaurants, but over the last 2 weeks, my body was screaming for real food.  Yes, the fresh waffles and bagels in the mornings at the other hotel were nice, but come lunch-time, I was a shaky, wobbly wreck… I hate when my bloodsugar drops like that and my addiction runs rampant.

Today, I made an effort to stay off of sugar and flour.  I didn’t have much suitable food in the fridge, but I made it through the day.  Not surprisingly at all, I felt calm and my head seemed clearer for the first time in weeks.  Then, while we were in town in the evening, we ate at a restaurant.  I had no problems with staying on plan.  I wanted something light and stuck to a Cobb salad, which left me comfortably full and satisfied. In retrospect, I easily could have been back on plan as soon as we arrived here, because most restaurants will work with their customers, but it just seemed too tempting to try to eat all these foods I thought that I missed out on in the last 3 years.  Again, that’s the addiction talking.

Culture shock really hit me when we walked into the Whole Foods Market for the first time in 6 years.  The assortment of primal foods in the store were overwhelming, and I didn’t buy anything other than some coconut hand creme for my psoriasis on my hands.  I did try some yummy salmon samples and a small cup of sports tea, while cruising the isles, but my head is still spinning, when I think about the massive inventory of foods they carry.  I made a mental note to do my homework before I shop there again (some of the food, I saw at our Commissary for much cheaper.)

Finally, now that we’re in Colorado, I want to explore the nearby farms and farmers markets for free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and local produce.  I can’t wait to get started with that.  I’m ready to let go of the junk!

Until next time,

Nickie

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Binging, Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Weekend Binge Danger Zone Reframed

Calendar

Image by studiocurve via Flickr

Not staying low-carb on weekends has been my downfall in my weight-loss journey so far.  As soon as I ate something high-carb, my entire weekend turned into a food fest, which undid all of the body-healing progress I’ve made throughout the week.

My Binge Pattern:

As I mentioned in several of my posts, on workdays, I hardly have any cravings at all.  I can even walk by the sweets and cupcakes people leave by the coffee paraphernalia for others to enjoy.  Actually, all unwanted treats from coworkers land there.  “Someone will eat it.” is the common attitude.  And indeed, someone will eventually eat it … just not me.

The trouble starts Friday evening.  Here’s what usually goes through me head: “Weekend!!! It’s time to relax.  Let’s do something special as a family.  Let’s eat out!  I’m going to eat whatever, just for this meal and I’ll get back on track after we leave the restaurant.  Okay, I’ll have some sweets, that’s it for tonight.  I’ll reset over night, let’s go to the store and grab some stuff.”  Saturday goes sort of like this: “Hmmm, I didn’t eat those snack cakes last night.  Let me eat them and get them out of the way, then start over afterwards.  Heck I already started, might as well keep going…”  Once Monday comes around, I’m about 3-4 lbs heavier again, I feel puffy, swollen, and lethargic, combined with a mild, annoying headache and the question looming over my head: “Why the hell did I do this again?”

The bad thing is, there are many places where I could actually break the binge-cycle, but my mind is on overdrive and I go on autopilot.  I don’t seem to have control anymore of what goes into my mouth.  Sweet stuff is all I can think about and I am driven to fulfill that need. The sad thing is, it is never enough. So, my only solution is not to start at all.  But how can I do this?

Reframing:

Back in the old Weight Watchers days, I’ve learned about a tool called refraiming, where you replace a belief or thought with another, more positive one.  Here is how I want to change my thinking for now:

  • Weekends are danger zones – turns into – Weekends are opportunities to learn more about healing my body (more podcasts to listen to, reading, try new recipes that I don’t have time for during the week, etc.)
  • I can have just one of these – turns into – I rather stay on the straight path I’m on right now.  (I imagine the path of binging to be loopy with many d-tours).  If that doesn’t work, walk away and the cravings will diminish.
  • Whatever. I don’t care. I don’t want to do anything – turns into – What do I really feel?  Am I blocking something out?

So for this week, I’ll be practicing my reframing skills and post about my progress as I go along.

Next, I’d like to hear from you readers if reframing has worked for you.  What thoughts have you changed? Have you noticed any changes in your thinking, your mood, your behavior?  Just leave a comment below to share your experience.

Until next time,

Nickie

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Sunday – Day 7 Back on Low-Carb – Danger Zone

It’s not over yet – I’m still in the danger-zone for binging, since I have another day off tomorrow for Columbus day. But it’s not all doom and gloom.  My plan is to stay busy and productive and spend some time out of the house.  Usually, a change of scenery does wonders in lifting my spirits.

So far, this is day 7 back on low-carb after an all-weekend binge last week.  I’m not back to my pre-binge weight yet, but I can’t change that, so I’m not stressing over it.  Today I was 99% on track (other than drinking diet coke, but that’s something I don’t really want to give up just yet), and I’m happy with that.

Today’s project was to spend some time learning about blogging.  Wow, I still feel like a newby when it comes to writing a decent blog and getting people to read it. I’m going to cut today’s post short, so I can add some of my favorite low-carb blogs and podcast links to my blog page.  I meant to do this for a few months now, just didn’t get around to do it yet.  Feel free to click on a few of them.  Maybe there’s something you like.

What I’ve learned: 

Using better tags and categories, writing better headlines, searching and following other blogs & tags. Wohoo, watch out WordPress, ’cause here I come!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Saturday – Day 6 Back on Low-Carb – Danger Zone

My Monster Kitties

Yes, it’s Saturday and I’m off work for a 3-day weekend.  I did sleep in, about an hour past my usual wake-up time, and slowly made my way down-stairs to feed my little monster-kitties (see picture).

As I sat on the couch, trying to figure out what to do with my day, I remembered that I had some pictures that I needed to download from my cameras.  Organizing, cropping, tagging, and adding descriptions in Photoshop took a little while and I was thankful when my husband brought me a small plate with a sunny-side up egg and 2 1/2 breakfast sausages he had cooked up.  Once I had my photo project completed and my files backed up, I finally got in the shower and got myself ready for a trip to post and into town to get some shopping done with hubby.

While at the German grocery store, I picked up a nice, big celeriac (the root of a celery stalk) to make some low-carb french fries.  Don picked up a small bag of frozen curly fries for himself.  As we were nearing the registers, he stopped at the chips display to pick some snacks to munch on while doing some college work later on this evening.  I helped him look for some croissant sticks, but after a minute or two, I felt some cravings creeping up and I had no intentions to cave in.  So I told him that I needed to walk away, before the switch in my head flips and my all-or-nothing mentality takes over.  He understood and we paid for our groceries.  My cravings dissipated shortly after.

Currywurst

Image by Roel via Flickr

For dinner, we had rib-eyes and fries.  I topped my celeriac fries, which I had seasoned with season-all after I fried them in lard, with some mayonnaise and sprinkled a bit of curry powder on top.  Yummy!  In Germany, many people top their fries with mayo, and/or ketchup.  We also eat a lot of curry-wurst, a big hot-dog (about the diameter of a bratwurst), slice it, and top it with curry sauce (a hot ketchup sauce with a bit of curry in it) and sprinkle it with curry powder. Curry wursts usually are served with fries, which you also dip into the sauce (see picture on right).  It tastes like heaven!  But since commercial ketchup is out for me, mayo and curry powder work really well as condiments for fries.

When I was getting ready to go to bed, I noticed that I overdid it with the rib-eye steak and the fries and felt a bit nauseous.  I popped 2 tums, hoping it’ll take the yucky feeling away.  Eventually I felt better and drifted off to sleep while listening to some low-carb / paleo podcasts.

What I’ve learned:

Removing myself from a situation that causes cravings helps me to think clear again.  Then I can make a decision, if I really want to go down the path of binging or I can figure out what I really want, something crunchy, sweet, salty, if anything at all.  Maybe a low-carb version of the food will do the trick.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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Food Addiction – Making it Through the Weekend

Cake frostingIt’s the weekend again and I’m entering the danger zone.  During the week I enjoy a low-carb life-style that leaves me full and satisfied and without the urge to binge – even if there’s candy or other goodies nearby.  Because my workdays are fairly structured, it’s easy to stay on track and get on with my life.

The problem arises, when Friday evening rolls around – yes, Friday evening, when my family and I want to kick off the weekend and have some fun.  Hmmm, let’s start with dinner and a movie, perhaps? What about Pizza night?  How about saving some dishes, anyone feel like Chinese or Mexican food tonight?

Every week I still struggle with these old habits – all of them involve food, if you haven’t noticed – and to me are triggers that usually end in an all weekend binge.  The same thing happens during vacations.  So what’s the big deal?  Everybody eats more when they’re having fun or have some time off.  Sure, I agree that there’s nothing wrong with eating more during those times or at birthday parties, or what have you, except, something happens in my mind after I eat something sweet or bready, that makes me want to eat more and more.  During a full –blown binge, I check the fridge and cupboards for something to eat every 10 minutes, knowing damn well that nothing new magically appeared since the last time I checked.  I go to the store to buy sweets, chips, ice-cream, pizza, or whatever I feel like I want to binge on in the next 24-48 hours, and nothing can deter me from doing so.

The Problem:  On my off-days, I’m confronted with challenges that make it difficult to stick to my now normal way of eating (low-carb). When I cave in and eat some highly processed foods, I feel really good for about an hour, then I get terrible cravings for sweet stuff as my blood sugar drops. Soon after, I don’t feel so happy anymore and get shaky and irritated. To make me feel better quickly, I eat more sweet stuff and this nasty cycle continues until I go back to work on Monday and fall back into my normal rhythm. I believe that there are at least 3 forces at play that attribute to my weekend binges:

  • Environmental:  Tempting food and well meaning people make it tough to say no to foods that get me in trouble.
  • Biochemical:  Blood sugar levels drop when I do eat something that causes my insulin level to spike (I’m not diabetic) and causes major cravings.
  • Behavioral:  Being unprepared for situations that may trigger my binging, then acting on cravings / urges without thinking of the consequences (or pushing these thoughts away).

What I’ve learned:

  • A low-carb lifestyle lessens my urge to binge.  

The Challenge: To stay binge-free this weekend.

My Strategies:  Here’s what I’m focusing on this weekend to stay on track:

  • At home, eat plenty of low-carb foods, such as veggies, good fat and meat, to avoid insulin spikes and cravings
  • Eat a filling low-carb meal before we leave the house, so I will not be hungry.
  • Bring a snack – like pecans or beef jerky – just in case
  • When tempted, remind myself that going off plan is not worth the emotional roller-coaster and physical side-effects that accompany a binge.  Acknowledge that the food smells and looks good, but then tell myself that I really don’t want to start another binge cycle, then move on to something I can eat or want to do instead.

Post – Weekend Update:

Neumarkt Fest Food002YES!!! I MADE IT!!!  I stayed on track all weekend without any issues.  This is very unusual for me, as I seem to spin myself into this binge-cycle every weekend.  For those of you who are curious, here are some details on how I managed to survive the weekend danger zone:

On Friday, I was pretty wiped out after work, so instead of indulging in some off-plan treats, I simply went to bed early and listened to my favorite podcasts on my iPod to lull me to sleep.

I started my Saturday morning by making a batch of low-carb pancakes (see recipe below), along with regular pancakes for the rest of the family.  Those things almost taste like the real thing with a slight nutty hint.  But dang, they are so filling!!!  I didn’t want to eat for several hours after eating those puppies.  To keep me occupied until we were ready to leave the house, I decided to work on fine-tuning this new blog, which took quite a chunk of the day.  Amazingly, eating was quite low on my priority list.  Later in the evening, we went to a little fest (village celebration) in our neighboring town here in Germany.  I volunteered to be the DD (designated driver) and had a couple of small bottles of mineral water, instead of beer.  This fest is famous for its awesome grilled fish (Germans love that stuff) and one of those mackerels easily fill me up for the night.  When the man at the register asked me if I would like to order a roll with the fish, I declined.  He looked at me funny, but I told him that the fish itself was plenty to eat already.

Today (Sunday), we spent the morning being lazy.  After eating that big ol’ fish the night before, I just decided to snack a bit until I was really hungry.  Later in the afternoon, we went to a nearby volksfest (like a fair).  Before we decided what to eat for dinner, we scoped out all the booths, to see who offered the most appealing and low-carb friendly meals.  I decided to go with a plate of Greek gyros with tzatziki and krautsalad (see picture).  I’ve had better before and it definitely was lacking flavor, but it was primal, so no issues there.  After our meal, I got a whiff of freshly roasted nuts.  Those usually do me in.  Oh I was so tempted!  But instead of breaking down and buy a baggy, I took in the sweet, rich smell, stopped a second to enjoy the moment and then was ready to move on the next attraction without feeling deprived.  If you’d ask me, I’d call this weekend a success!

To my readers:  I’m curious if some of you are struggling with the same weekend / binge issues.  If so, I’d love to hear from you and see what works for you.  Please leave comment below.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

 

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