2

votes

1 bowl of spaghetti and now I can't stop

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 12, 2011 at 9:25 AM

I've been following strict(ish) Paleo for a few weeks, and I feel fantastic. I'm satisfied, performing well, and have had no cravings for the usual carbs and sugar. I've had the occasional cheat, but even they tend to be home-cooked and non-processed (the way I've been eating for years). Tonight my husband served me a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise (meat and pasta, home cooked) and I was INSTANTLY insatiable. I finished my bowl, the kids leftovers, seconds and found myself searching the cupboards hoping for some chocolate or ice-cream. Luckily I keep a Paleo house so there's nothing more for me to gorge on. My question is why? Was it all mental (I've blown it now, may as well keep going)or is there something physical going on? Again, I wasn't craving carbs, just ate it to be polite, and the effect was instant.

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:53 AM

Great answer! All I can add is go with the zucchini over the spaghetti squash -- it's exponentially better. No comparison. Just be careful if you use a mandoline to slice it. Realllllly careful.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Amazing what you say about the next day. For the last few weeks I've been very happy eating eggs or dinner leftovers for breakfast. I mean REALLY happy, enjoy every bite and feel great all morning. Today I woke up and my first thought was "toast". I didn't of course. I had a last nights meat (it was perfectly paleo) with an egg. Back on the horse, don't look back.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:36 PM

Oooh, a tasty new dish and a new kitchen implement. Sold!

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:34 PM

That could be an interesting experiment. There's no way I'm going to risk it this week though.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:32 PM

Well sugar-coating isn't very Paleo I guess (little joke). One of the things that appeals to me most about this lifestyle and community is everyone's quest for truth, and the desire to be mentally strong. It seems like the long-term people all have great attitudes and body/mind awareness. That's what I'm aiming for, not an excuse to pig out on noodles. Again, thanks for your honesty, pretty lies don't help anyone.

B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:05 PM

Most of the brain runs fine of ketones. Most of our organs prefer to run on ketones. Not saying not to eat carbs but the body has no problem making the small amount of glucose that is 'essential' to it's operation.

B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on July 12, 2011
at 10:59 PM

Agreed. .

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on July 12, 2011
at 10:11 PM

I agree, this type of response is much more common when it is wheat. If you don't believe it, try the same meal with rice (even white) and see if it leaves you scouring the cupboards.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on July 12, 2011
at 09:24 PM

My pleasure :)

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:47 PM

Try spaghetti squash noodles.They still have some carbs but are a great option when you are craving spag.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:41 PM

also spagetti squash is suppose to be awesome for this, but I've never tried it, can't get it where I live.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:40 PM

I can do that! buy zuccini and get yourself a good hand mandoline with a different blades. Look for the one that looks like teeth, the thinner the teeth the thinner the zucchini will cut 'french fry' slices. Prepare your sauce and when its ready I put the noodles in just a second only to heat (not cook) and serve! Its awesome with thai nut sauces, haven't tried with spagetti due to tomatoe issues.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:32 PM

Thank you for your detailed answer and encouragement for how to move on. You explained the physical response perfectly, and it was exactly what I wanted to know. Yes, you guessed my diet correctly, sorry, I will be more detailed next time I ask a question. I love what you say about PAE. Sure, I could have used more self control, but what I wanted to know was WHY I found it so hard when self-control hasn't been an issue with my Paleo lifestyle until now. I understand much more now, thanks.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:26 PM

In my opinion it isn't all mental. Sure you chose to take that first bite. But my body reacts very badly sometimes in a way that is definitely physiological. It is some kind of insulin response I believe.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:22 PM

In the moment I was eating them it felt OK, but in a mindless sort of way. I'm sure that it wasn't my body craving carbs, and if I had just had a small amount I probably wouldn't have given it a second thought. I was just interested in the flow on effect of wanting more, more, MORE!! I felt overfull and uncomfortable afterwards, but that was due to the amount I'm sure.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:12 PM

was it helpful or hurtful to your health. did all the carbs feel good?

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:51 PM

The Würzburg trial was done on people with end stage cancer and although a small trial, showed the same effects - low carb diets help with cancer.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I agree with Ben - better to lay it out in cold hard truth. Humans in general find it very easy to lie to themselves, there is a saying 'man's capability for self-deception is limitless'. The truth can be hard to hear sometimes but it is what we need.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:18 PM

yeah, I mean I knew I might get a response like yours. But, the fact is the fact, yknow? It doesn't do us any good burying our heads in the sand. We all still choose the silly route occasionally, I don't think it's a very big deal tbh. The key, I would say, is simply understanding the choice you make/made and its effects. I believe that that, and that alone most likely, is what will develop the will to NOT choose that route in the future. It sounds a bit cold and clinical but it's something I've learned through my own experience with food, smokes, booze;)

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:07 PM

Now I need to know what zoodles are. Better still, teach my husband how to cook them.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:04 PM

Thanks for the insight. I've been including Paleo carbs and not being too drastic about reducing them, so I don't think I need more, I just think that when it comes to pasta I need to stop before I start.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:00 PM

Thank you for the encouragement. You hit it when you said "not to have cheat food inthe house", the only thing that saved me from an all-out bender was my policy of a "clean" kitchen. I was feeling great about my carb level (plenty of vegetables but no starchies) until I broke out. Just going to get back on the horse.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:56 PM

Thanks for sharing. I'm not a "little sneaker", so mine don't add up, but your story is helping me add to the overall picture.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:55 PM

Interesting, I'll investigate. Pasta isn't even my cheat if choice, so rather than rice noodles I'll just say no. Next time!

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:51 PM

You make me feel even more guilty, but I think you're telling the truth. Thanks for the much needed head-kick.

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:19 PM

Thank you Lisa, for sharing your misery. I wish you well in doing what makes you feel well. Your story admonishes me to Watch Out for the little sneaks like corn chips that call to me acting like the camel that sticks its nose in my tent. If I don't chase that camel away now. Soon I will have the whole camel in my tent and I'll be feeling sick too.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:51 AM

To actually answer your question... If you go very low carb, your body definitely freaks out when it gets a large sugar bolus and says "MUST HAVE MORE!" I think this is amplified when you train under lowish carb situations. It could also have been a bit of "well here I am so I might as well continue" Try not to fret about it and just get back on the real food wagon. Maybe a little less on the low-carb side.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:14 AM

Maybe if your a genetically modified mouse who eats a low fat, low carb high protien diet. The human brain uses 25% of resting energy, most of which is primarily glucose. Mice use like 8%. The study is also flawed because no one on this site follows a "western style diet" which probably means lots of sucrose, refined starch and soy oil.....

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:03 AM

There's no advantage except with cancer http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2011/06/10/0008-5472.CAN-10-3973.abstract

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9 Answers

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5
Medium avatar

(19469)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:21 PM

If you have been relatively strict Paleo (since the word "Paleo" really isn't very informative, I am assuming the standard wheat-free, legume free, dairy free routine with fruits and veg as the main source of carbs) eating an entire bowl of pasta probably created a higher glycemic load (overall metabolic effect) than anything you ate over the course of the past few weeks.

Additionally, there is information that suggests a reduced muscular uptake of glucose (insulin resistance) when you eat low/no carb, so you quite possibly experienced a particularly large spike of blood glucose and a similarly large release of insulin.

With the insulin spike, your blood sugar (glucose) levels began to drop. Your brain (hypothalamus) then perceives this as a "low-fuel" situation although it was actually a "low access to fuel" situation. The sensation of fullness (satiety) was also impaired by insulin's effect on free fatty acids (it prevents them from being released from fat cells).

The end result, you ate like you were starving because that's exactly what your body thought was happening.

In my opinion, the WORST thing that you can do in this situation is take it personally and fall victim to the "primary attribution error" (PAE). The PAE is what goes in effect when we take a highly specific, conditional, complex situation and reduce it down to a simple, easy to process, statement about your personality (i.e. you "lack self-control", "weren't committed", etc.) All of this is bogus and is simply a method of avoiding a deeper analysis of the situation.

OR, you could use this experience as a learning opportunity. All other conditions remaining equal, you know now how you respond to a bowl of pasta and you can use this information to navigate future meals for a different effect (such as following the advice provided in other answers such as using shredded zucchini, the aptly named spaghetti squash, or sauteed mixed vegetables instead of pasta.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on July 12, 2011
at 09:24 PM

My pleasure :)

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:32 PM

Thank you for your detailed answer and encouragement for how to move on. You explained the physical response perfectly, and it was exactly what I wanted to know. Yes, you guessed my diet correctly, sorry, I will be more detailed next time I ask a question. I love what you say about PAE. Sure, I could have used more self control, but what I wanted to know was WHY I found it so hard when self-control hasn't been an issue with my Paleo lifestyle until now. I understand much more now, thanks.

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:53 AM

Great answer! All I can add is go with the zucchini over the spaghetti squash -- it's exponentially better. No comparison. Just be careful if you use a mandoline to slice it. Realllllly careful.

5
Fa9f340eddbad9a544184c688fa4dcdd

(6433)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:57 AM

It might not be the carbs triggering your (attempted) binge.

Due to a phenomena known as the gut-brain axis, gluten consumption can produce psychological as well as physical effects in the sensitive, including the desire to binge eat.

Dr Emily Deans has covered this at her blog Evolutionary Psychiatry, as has Chris Kresser at the Healthy Skeptic.

While you try and work out if this might be you, in the meantime I suggest cheating with rice pasta.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:55 PM

Interesting, I'll investigate. Pasta isn't even my cheat if choice, so rather than rice noodles I'll just say no. Next time!

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:47 PM

Try spaghetti squash noodles.They still have some carbs but are a great option when you are craving spag.

4
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:40 PM

To answer your question directly:

Yes its all mental.

You tasted something you liked but don???t eat anymore and simply decided to eat more things you like but don???t eat anymore. You chose to.

Your body has no control over your hands and mouth.

This will always happen. Actually that sentence is too passive. You will always choose to do this when you choose to do this. Sounds silly I know. But that???s the reality.

I know this sounds harsh but it is the honest truth. All people know this. We still choose to do silly things but that choice is never anything but our choosing.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:51 PM

You make me feel even more guilty, but I think you're telling the truth. Thanks for the much needed head-kick.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:26 PM

In my opinion it isn't all mental. Sure you chose to take that first bite. But my body reacts very badly sometimes in a way that is definitely physiological. It is some kind of insulin response I believe.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I agree with Ben - better to lay it out in cold hard truth. Humans in general find it very easy to lie to themselves, there is a saying 'man's capability for self-deception is limitless'. The truth can be hard to hear sometimes but it is what we need.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:18 PM

yeah, I mean I knew I might get a response like yours. But, the fact is the fact, yknow? It doesn't do us any good burying our heads in the sand. We all still choose the silly route occasionally, I don't think it's a very big deal tbh. The key, I would say, is simply understanding the choice you make/made and its effects. I believe that that, and that alone most likely, is what will develop the will to NOT choose that route in the future. It sounds a bit cold and clinical but it's something I've learned through my own experience with food, smokes, booze;)

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:32 PM

Well sugar-coating isn't very Paleo I guess (little joke). One of the things that appeals to me most about this lifestyle and community is everyone's quest for truth, and the desire to be mentally strong. It seems like the long-term people all have great attitudes and body/mind awareness. That's what I'm aiming for, not an excuse to pig out on noodles. Again, thanks for your honesty, pretty lies don't help anyone.

4
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:32 AM

I have the same-ish thing happen to me if I eat ice cream or something. I can't stop and finish the whole carton. Here's my two ways to avoid the situation:

1: Buy a small portion so there is nothing left for you to eat. Go out for ice cream and get a small. Then there is nothin left for you to cheat on. Or in your case, go to an italian place.

2: Dont think of this as a "go big or go home" event. That is my classic fail when I cheat. Think of it as a singular event and pull yourself back under control afterwards. This is very difficult though.

The main thing is not to have cheat food in your house. If it's not available, even if you would eat a ton of it, you're probably not so addicted that you'd drive to the store to buy a bag of pasta, come home, cook it, and go crazy.

If you're having issues with carbs causing benders you probably cut carbs too fast in my opinion. Keep some bland carbs in your diet (plain potatoes) and that should help. It helps me.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:00 PM

Thank you for the encouragement. You hit it when you said "not to have cheat food inthe house", the only thing that saved me from an all-out bender was my policy of a "clean" kitchen. I was feeling great about my carb level (plenty of vegetables but no starchies) until I broke out. Just going to get back on the horse.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:51 AM

To actually answer your question... If you go very low carb, your body definitely freaks out when it gets a large sugar bolus and says "MUST HAVE MORE!" I think this is amplified when you train under lowish carb situations. It could also have been a bit of "well here I am so I might as well continue" Try not to fret about it and just get back on the real food wagon. Maybe a little less on the low-carb side.

3
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on July 12, 2011
at 07:32 PM

Well I started a whole controversy last time I said this (I can't find the post, so you can search for it yourself). But wheat hits the same opioid receptors that heroin does. The difference is degree (heroin lots, wheat little) and frequency (heroin low, wheat just about every meal plus snacks). So it's completely understandable that once you got a hit of spaghetti you were seeking more just like a recovering heroin addict being given a hit.

This is one case where you just need to define some foods (wheat, for example) as poisons and just NEVER have any.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on July 12, 2011
at 10:11 PM

I agree, this type of response is much more common when it is wheat. If you don't believe it, try the same meal with rice (even white) and see if it leaves you scouring the cupboards.

B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on July 12, 2011
at 10:59 PM

Agreed. .

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:34 PM

That could be an interesting experiment. There's no way I'm going to risk it this week though.

2
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 12, 2011
at 05:46 PM

In my experience, carbs beget carbs -- when I cheat with a lot of carbs, they actually make me hungrier, and I then crave more carbs. For example if I cheat and have bread or a starchy side (i.e. white potatoes or hominy) at dinner, I crave a starchy dessert.

This feeling often extends to the next day. After a dinner where I cheat, I will crave starches at breakfast, and have more of a sweet tooth during the day. This will go on for 1-2 days unless I go very low carb and absolutely no cheats for 2-3 days then I finally get back to "normal" (Paleo normal).

I have also had the "trigger" effect like what you say, especially at night after a couple of glasses of wine, I will have something starchy, and my body goes into some kind of overdrive, and I'll eat anything sugary or starchy, even if I know it's crap.

I suspect the explanation is something related to insulin, when I eat the carbs my insulin spikes, which in turn instructs my body to find something to counteract the insulin. At certain times (not sure why), the spike is very high and the craving is very intense. It could be a defense mechanism by the body, when it detects what could be a hazardous level of insulin, it tells you to get some carbs quick.

This seems very similar to a recovering alcoholic who has one drink and then goes on a 3 day bender.

This is basically the insulin death spiral that leads me (and I think a lot of other people) into a poor diet, energy peaks and valleys, insatiable snacking, overweight, and other issues.

As others have said, it just isn't worth it to have these kinds of cheats. The few moments of pleasure from the cheat isn't worth 2-3 days of recovery. If I'm going to cheat, it'd be something like a cocktail or ice cream rather than bread or pasta.

For me, a strict Paleo diet is the cure for this. I have learned that I just have to be very carful with the starches. I am better with sugar than starch, a small amount of sugar doesn't seem to have this effect, but anything like bread, pasta, cookies, etc. just has a very ill effect.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Amazing what you say about the next day. For the last few weeks I've been very happy eating eggs or dinner leftovers for breakfast. I mean REALLY happy, enjoy every bite and feel great all morning. Today I woke up and my first thought was "toast". I didn't of course. I had a last nights meat (it was perfectly paleo) with an egg. Back on the horse, don't look back.

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:46 PM

next time try 'zoodles' instead of pasta, same texture, concept....better for you and you can have that bowl!!

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:41 PM

also spagetti squash is suppose to be awesome for this, but I've never tried it, can't get it where I live.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:07 PM

Now I need to know what zoodles are. Better still, teach my husband how to cook them.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:40 PM

I can do that! buy zuccini and get yourself a good hand mandoline with a different blades. Look for the one that looks like teeth, the thinner the teeth the thinner the zucchini will cut 'french fry' slices. Prepare your sauce and when its ready I put the noodles in just a second only to heat (not cook) and serve! Its awesome with thai nut sauces, haven't tried with spagetti due to tomatoe issues.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:36 PM

Oooh, a tasty new dish and a new kitchen implement. Sold!

1
8515be19faab037d37a788633e32b9f1

(290)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:40 AM

As for me one little carb in my case a few chips and salsa have been adding up quickly. I spent the last two days nursing a upset stomach because I ate chips, pecan pie, flour tortilla with cucumber yogurt and breaded chicken wings. WTH! I couldn't get enough! Oh let me add Starbucks to that list. My thinking is when I did not eat any except a sweet potato after a wod, I felt great. Once it was in my system my body "needed" more. Currently I'm realizing I hate feeling sick and sitting on the toilet so that will keep me away from it for now!

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:19 PM

Thank you Lisa, for sharing your misery. I wish you well in doing what makes you feel well. Your story admonishes me to Watch Out for the little sneaks like corn chips that call to me acting like the camel that sticks its nose in my tent. If I don't chase that camel away now. Soon I will have the whole camel in my tent and I'll be feeling sick too.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:56 PM

Thanks for sharing. I'm not a "little sneaker", so mine don't add up, but your story is helping me add to the overall picture.

1
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 12, 2011
at 10:33 AM

Your body has a biological need for carbohydrates and it would rather not stress your organs to produce it from protien. You ate the spaghetti and your body decided it needed more carbs. So either stick to VLC or get enough carbs through paleo sources like tuber, fruit etc.

Personally I would include the carbs, theirs no advantage to making your body produce them from protien.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:04 PM

Thanks for the insight. I've been including Paleo carbs and not being too drastic about reducing them, so I don't think I need more, I just think that when it comes to pasta I need to stop before I start.

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:51 PM

The Würzburg trial was done on people with end stage cancer and although a small trial, showed the same effects - low carb diets help with cancer.

B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:05 PM

Most of the brain runs fine of ketones. Most of our organs prefer to run on ketones. Not saying not to eat carbs but the body has no problem making the small amount of glucose that is 'essential' to it's operation.

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:03 AM

There's no advantage except with cancer http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2011/06/10/0008-5472.CAN-10-3973.abstract

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:14 AM

Maybe if your a genetically modified mouse who eats a low fat, low carb high protien diet. The human brain uses 25% of resting energy, most of which is primarily glucose. Mice use like 8%. The study is also flawed because no one on this site follows a "western style diet" which probably means lots of sucrose, refined starch and soy oil.....

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