From the standpoint of dopamine and reward and such is it not easier to add a pleasurable activity or item before or even as you take one away? When you make choices as to reducing certain toxic stresses for the long term how much of your focus needs to be on replacing the surge of pleasure you use to receive from that product/addiction by another source.
Is this what paleo promotes in replacing sugar and bad grains with health fats and oils? Is it inherently built into the program (program being kind of comprehensive all in)? Just some thoughts as I have continued to wonder if piece mealing this plan (like just cutting sugar this week then flour next week then grains next month) may actually make it harder for people to begin. Thoughts?
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From my observations the main reasons why people restrain from just beginning is the reward factor of modern foods. This is especially true for older people with an unsatisfactory life and no pleasure besides eating. Thus eating becomes the most important thing in ones life. Given the fact how sad, empty and stressful modern life is, it is clear why people eat to forget.
It's one of the things I can't get over since I switched from a highly rewarding diet to one which is almost non-rewarding. For the first few weeks and still now I feel the major factor in my life which makes life worth to live is gone. It is really depressive and difficult to overcome. Sounds ridiculous but it's true. The positive aspect is that I am forced to focus on meaningful activities which make me happy and endure the upcoming emotions which were buried by a higly rewarding diet.
A common answer when talking to people and recommend paleo (And I still recommend fruits, nuts, dried fruits, vegetables, starches besides meat and fish, so it is relative rewarding) is they can't do it because a peace of cake feels just so good.
It is important to understand the underlying mechanism here, which is unbelievably sad.
People are that addicted to neolithic foods, they virtually can't live without if they want to endure their state of existence.
They even admit it, but of course, they don't realize it's implications. Which is, life itself is that depressing that we need stimulating from processed sugary, fatty foods and opiates from milk and gluten, and coffee.
What surprises me is that even switching to whole foods is too much for a lot of people.
When going paleo, many people still use one or two things which are rewarding for them. Be it coffee, dairy (for some), really sweet fruits as a treat, chocolate and imitations of modern foods made of whole foods.
So it seems even going paleo doesn't automatically mean low reward, but for many it is apparently lower then before.
From my own experience I can only say, yes it is hard to switch at once. It feels like withdrawal.
Often I needed to treat me with a whole chocolate bar to endure everything.
When changing I think for most people it is helpful and possible to use rewarding food on a whole foods paleo diet. You can easily mix some fruits, nuts, dairy, sweetener, chocolate or other things together if you just need pleasure and still enjoy whole foods.
Another thing is that I am sure it can be really therapeutic to reduce reward, especially from food, to reeveluate your meaning of a great life and discover buried emotions you hide from yourself by eating a high rewarding diet or use other distracting modern things like tv, porn or too much internet consumption.
I can say for sure since I went lc paleo I feel like heaven if I eat fruit which I use as a treat like other people indulge in cakes, cookies or candies. One example how reduced reward increases sensitivity.
You make it sound like there can't be any pleasure in eating if you cut out sucrose and wheat, which just isn't true. No, your brain won't light up like an addict taking a hit of heroin, but eating doesn't have to become drudgery. If you aren't enjoying your food then learn to cook and start experimenting with recipes. Find new ways to make old favorites. Eating should always bring you pleasure. Life is too short to live any other way.
I fell into Paleo very slowly.
For me it started in the mind and thinking about how unhealthy/gross/unreal a lot of the stuff was that I was eating. While I was still eating the SAD, I was having these thoughts and the "rewarding" foods were becoming less and less appetizing. Once this mindset took over, it was easy to cut out these foods.
I think for me it was more of a change in perspective of what I consider rewarding. Knowing that I'm eating healthy foods gives me a feeling of reward and when I see great results from this way of eating I find myself even more capable of avoiding any fake foods. 8)
Hmmm, I think there's an important mental aspect to phasing foods out gradually instead of doing it all at once for some people. Making major changes gradually, in steps, is less daunting than doing it all at once and freaking out that you've failed completely if you eat a slice of toast or something. For some people, soy, sugar, grains, seed oils and dairy might make up almost all their food intake. It would be hard to imagine cutting out like 85% of your diet overnight, I would think. Then there's the fact that a lot of people don't know how to cook much, even simple meat dishes, and so there's a learning curve there too if you're giving up convenience foods and cooking all your food for the first time. Trying to do all of this at once might be pretty overwhelming. I agree for others, the cold turkey approach works well. But not for everyone.
I always thought the idea behind replacing sugar, grains, and vegetable oils with saturated and other "good" fats is that saturated fats have been unfairly demonized and they are in fact necessary for good health. Yes they're pleasurable to eat but that's not the main reason why we should eat them.
Edit: I'm sorry I don't know enough about the brain's reward system to answer your question fully! It's really interesting so I hope someone else does.
I think its easier do make a radical swift if I go all in from the beginning. Otherwise cheating feels a bit okay and the transformation into new routines wont work very well. But then again i've always been an all or nothing person. Very high energy level, impulsive and driven. Cannot do things moderate, if I do it i do it all in and what ever pain och sacrifice involved turns into challenge.
It's not either or. The idea is to stop eating crap that is not good for you, and start eating real food that is! You can't just do one and not the other. You're not eating more healthy fats because you don't eat sugar any more - you're eating them because they are good for you!