I, like many of you I assume, feel that a paleo lifestyle just makes sense. But I'm having a hard time. Let me give you the facts first, then the struggles.
I'm a small, lean girl. About 5'4 and 108-110 #, weight loss isn't something I'm remotely interested in. I do want to become more lean and defined. I'm an endurance athlete, I enjoy lonnngggg bike rides and runs & I do a lot of strength training as well. My interest in paleo sparked with my passion for overall well being and healthiness. I mean we are all going to die but I'd like to live my years here well and strong, not sick and sad. I eat (ate) the SAD- healthipy version, but felt crappy after milk consumption and lethargic after eating bread, high carb foods. I KNOW paleo is the right thing for me.
So the hard part... I think I'm truly addicted to sugar and refined carbs. (is that a real addiction). How long until this goes away? Is there anything I can do to help? Should I go cold turkey with everything whole30 style? Or should I just slowly come off of it? I'll go a few days without any grain/gluten then I'll have an intense craving for something I wouldn't eat, even if I weren't eating paleo (I.e. cookies). Also, my fruit consumption is very high now since I started
Is this transition period normal? When I gave up caffeine I had a week long period of headaches and mild agitation, should I expect the same thing? Lastly, HOW DO I CURB THE CRAVINGS?? (I feel so silly, like my willpower is lacking)
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You will need carbs if you are doing endurance exercise. Swap grains for potato, sweet potato and starchy vegies. Eat more fat.
How long are your long rides?
Make a list of food you want to eat (The good Paleo stuff) and a list of foods you want to move away from.
Improve the list of Paleo foods including eating a large Paleo Breakfast Lunch and Dinner.
Then on the food you want to move away from pick a few that are the least damaging like Vanilla Ice Cream. Allow your self the ice cream but not the other stuff. Eventually your good food your eating will push out the bad and the ice cream will improve in quality and reduce in qty / frequency overtime.
There's definitely a series of "phases" for acclimating to this lifestyle.
Regardless of the technical standing, the processed/refined/sweetened/grain foods function like an addiction when you're trying not to eat them.
Frankly, all you can do is make sure you feed the nutritional needs of your lean body mass. It won't stop the cravings right away but they may be more resistible if they aren't compounded by true physical hunger.
A good pre-emptive strike is to eat a large "breakfast"--whenever you choose, I just mean your first meal of the day--of protein with animal fat. Add any other healthy foods you wish, but the protein and fat will avoid physical hunger so you know your cravings are for the "bad" foods.
If you like kombucha or know anyone who makes water kefir, those probiotic beverages seem to help some people ease or stop their cravings because they discourage unhealthy gut microflora and encourage the ones that want the healthy foods.
Otherwise, since you're very active all you can do is eat your planned healthy foods and then get away from junk food and do something physically or mentally active to "distract" your cravings.
I am the exact same way as you with the cravings!!! I'm also an endurance athlete. What I would do is trash all the grains in my pantry so I have no way of eating grains. At parties or get togethers, I break some rules with the gluten and sugar, but I don't beat myself up after it. The reason I say I WOULD do this is because I am in high school and I live with an extremely unhealthy mom that buys junk food and bagels. :(
BTW when you can't resist your temptations to eat bad foods, don't go too crazy and binge on the food, like I do. Hope this helps.