One year of complete paleo and have just had a cheat day. History of Disordered Eating...really need some advice:

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 21, 2013 at 7:14 PM

hi there,

so i have been paleo for a little over a year now, it has been a strict year of meat fish veg and occasional fruit and nuts with no paleo baked goods or dairy.

i've been going through a really stressful time over the past few weeks with little time to prepare meals due to finals...today i just cracked, and have eaten around 1500 calories worth of gluten and dairy products.

i feel okay at the moment, a little bloated/uncomfortable, a little sick and my heart is racing a little... nothing too extreme though (ive had paleo days of feeling like this too).

i have a history of disordered eating and i felt completely out of control whilst eating these SAD foods. I am starting to think to myself 'tomorrow i'll grab a sandwich or some pizza or eat whatever I want'. i have never missed these foods, but today made me realise that i've been restricting my diet so much , and actually i could eat whatever i like and live a little more freely.

i don't want to give up paleo because it is 99% right for me, but at the same time i don't know how to recover from these realisations. 1500 calories worth of non-paleo may not sound much, but after a year of restraint it is a pretty big deal to me, especially with a history of binging/borderline anorexia.

i was thinking about a 24 hour fast and plenty of water, but i dont think that will address the underlying issues this binge has raised. appreciate any advice - please go kindly! also, for your information i am 163cm , 110 pounds.



on May 23, 2013
at 02:17 PM

Orthorexia is a real risk for some people.

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7 Answers



on May 21, 2013
at 07:55 PM

i was thinking about a 24 hour fast and plenty of water, but i dont think that will address the underlying issues this binge has raised.

I'm not a mental health professional, but in my humble opinion castigating yourself by swinging in the opposite direction of how your binge manifested is pretty much the perfect recipe for developing disordered eating habits again.

You ate some shitty food - don't swing the opposite way, just start eating not shitty food again. If you did it for a year, you clearly know how to do so. :-)

If you feel yourself getting caught up in bad thoughts and disordered eating again, I strongly encourage you to talk to a friend or loved one, and even a practicing mental health professional that specializes in disordered eating.


on May 21, 2013
at 08:30 PM

I don't know you or what you've been through, but please consider why you're thinking about a fast. Is it based on solid paleo eating principles? Or is that the old voice of anorexia, telling you that you were bad and now you have to starve yourself to make up for it?

My inexpert advice would be to stick with the version of paleo that's worked for you up to now, until you've gotten past the acute urge to drop it and binge on foods that will make you sick. Eat well. Take care of yourself and don't overcompensate.

Once that's done, then it might be a very good idea to consider broadening your diet a little bit. There are plenty of discussions on this site about ways people have extended the paleo diet while still maintaining its health benefits. I know from personal experience how slippery eating disorders can be -- you don't want an overly strict version of paleo to become another way of restricting.



on May 23, 2013
at 02:17 PM

Orthorexia is a real risk for some people.


on May 22, 2013
at 05:22 AM

Did eating those foods take away your stress or make things better..? Not really right. Maybe for a fleeting moment.

Its your mind-set that is wrong. You look at it like your giving something up by giving up SAD..but really youre gaining something by eating a paleo/clean diet. Its similar to the mentality that deters a smoker from quitting smoking. They start thinking theyre missing out on something and depriving themselves. When i was trying to quit smoking i feared giving it up..like it was a friend, like i was "losing" something. After i read this article here it really put a fresh perspective on the fact that i wasnt "losing" something afterall. Your depriving yourself with a SAD diet as it is ultimately a diet that deprives you of nutrients.

Granted its a bit of a stretch but it kinda still resonates to a certain degree if you replace smoking with SAD here...


i agree with some of the other posters. Its not all or nothing black or white. Give yourself a break and some leeway too. Noones perfect - dont fast no need.. youre fine! youre more than fine!!(if i did anything at all that consistently for an entire year it would be a miracle!!! :) Youre not derailed... Youre right on track..just a little bump that swayed ya for a second..:)



on May 21, 2013
at 07:46 PM

like you said, maybe you should loosen the reigns on what you are eating. some people on this site do include dairy and are fine with it, too. i regularly eat cheese and drink kefir.

i think if paleo feels like you are on a diet, then you will always feel restricted. nobody wants to feel deprived all the time.

Medium avatar

on May 21, 2013
at 11:12 PM

Firstly, thank you for posting this. I've also been eating at maintenance, over eating carbs, and sneaking in a lot of non-paleo foods the past three days. Today has been the worst- lots of processed crap, lots of sugar crap. Bleh. Like you, I don't feel that bad... the past couple days I've actually felt better for the calorie intake since I've been at a pretty hard deficit for almost a year now... but I need to get back to eating healthy.

I'm not going to fast to try and achieve that. Get up tomorrow morning, make your favorite paleo breakfast. Get some carbs in there to help even yourself out, like a sweet potato or banana. And then do the same for lunch. And dinner. And the day after, do it again. Drink water, ignore crap food. And consider Efah's suggestion of 85/15. I think it's fair.


on May 21, 2013
at 08:31 PM

Consider this: all the anxiety you have about not following your paleo diet perfectly comes from your underlying eating disorder. Relax a little bit, loosen up the diet a touch. I don't think the health benefits of paleo are worth the trade-off of constant anxiety about what you are eating.



on May 21, 2013
at 08:15 PM

A fast sounds like a very bad idea.

You binged, it's okay, accept it and move on. Tomorrow just act like it didn't happen and continue to eat as you normally would.

If you feel like you're missing particular foods from your old diet and feel restricted then maybe you could incorporate them into your paleo diet - try 85% paleo, 15% not so paleo. Introducing dairy such as full fat greek yogurt could be a possibility, or maybe you could have a look at paleo baked goods - have a look at http://www.elanaspantry.com/ There's also plenty of paleo alternatives to SAD foods. Restricting foods that you really love isn't a good idea - it's better to have them once in a while and really enjoy them.

All the best!

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