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Carb Addiction: Cake Is The New Crack

103 Comments

Written by: Kevin Cann

            Ever found it hard to cut those sweets out of your diet?  In my practice this typically tends to be one of the biggest hurdles in achieving optimal wellness.  We have all seen our population’s obesity rate rise continuously as well as the prevalence of disease.  Eating healthier is not always as easy as having willpower and studies have shown this.

One such study was conducted at the Scripps Research Institute in March of 2010.  This study ultimately proved that the same mechanisms that are responsible for drug addiction are also responsible for us craving certain types of foods.  A group of rats were fed a high calorie, high-fat diet that would mimic our meals available at fast-food restaurants.  These rats would go through electric shock treatment to their feet as well as extreme cold temperatures just to get the high calorie, high-fat foods (Kenny and Johnson, 2010).  This is a typical sign of addictive behavior.  What causes this to happen?

We are wired to eat foods that taste good and also make us feel good.  The two systems responsible for that in our bodies are the homeostatic system and the hedonic system.  Our homeostatic system is the system that uses leptin as a major player in weight control.  Leptin signals the brain on how much body fat to store.  This is a survival mechanism in our bodies.  The problem with this mechanism is it can be changed.  This is where leptin resistance comes into play.

The more adipose tissue we have the more leptin gets released.  This leads to our leptin receptors becoming desensitized and more leptin being needed for the same response.  The need for the increased amount of leptin changes our homeostatic system to carry more excess adipose tissue.  This is classic leptin resistance.  If this problem is not addressed we will continue to get more and more obese.  This is one reason why losing weight can be extremely difficult for some and yo-yo diets are ineffective.

The hedonic system is the system in our body that allows us to enjoy certain things.  One of these things that can actually elicit a response in our hedonic system are certain foods, especially ones that are sweet and/or salty.  Major companies understand this and hire scientists to develop foods that will elicit a response from our rewards system.  The hedonic and homeostatic systems can work together against us in the attempt to lose weight.  The homeostatic system wants to maintain a higher body fat and the hedonic system are constantly craving foods that are bad for us.  This is why taking out foods completely and being strict for a time frame is extremely important.  If these foods with high rewards are added back in before we have reset our homeostatic system then it can derail the progress we have made up to that point.

It doesn’t stop there.  When we eat certain foods there is a release of dopamine.  Dopamine is also released when we do certain drugs and drink alcohol.  It is a big player in addictive behavior.  When released, dopamine makes us feel good.  However, there lies a problem.  The more dopamine that gets released the more the receptors will desensitize, much like in the situation with leptin.  This causes a need for more dopamine to be released to get the same good feeling as before.  This ultimately leads to increased overeating.

Another chemical that is released when we eat certain foods are opioids.  The opioid agonists are responsible for making us want more of the foods that taste good to us.  Opioid antagonists are what are given to help curb addiction in drug addicts.  The problem with that medication is it takes the “good” feeling out of everything.

Certain foods will also elicit a response from cannabinoid receptors.  This is the same response that occurs when someone smokes pot and gets the “munchies.”  It stimulates our response for cravings.  The combination of these three leads to severe addiction to food.  One study actually showed that oral administration of an antagonist opioid and a cannabinoid receptor inverse agent led to decreased eating in obese mice (Chen, 2003).  This proves that there is some response in these neurotransmitters.

Understanding that you may have a carb addiction is the first step in the direction of remedying the problem.  If you are just starting out on the paleo diet and are thinking that one cookie will not hurt you, it definitely can.  Would you give a recovering alcoholic “just one” drink?  I would hope not.  Changing this addiction can be different for everyone.  One thing I like to recommend is to create a list of why you’re doing the paleo diet.  It may read like this:

  1.  Help with symptoms
  2. Lose weight
  3. Feel better
  4. Set an example for my kids

Every time the cravings come up, take a breath and recite your list out loud.  It tends to help people stay focused on their long term goals.  It also helps to switch negative thinking to positive thinking and it is great because you can take this practice everywhere with you and use it without anyone noticing.

Deep breathing exercises may be another means of suppressing the addiction.  Studies have linked chronic opioid use with sleep apnea.  A study done in 2006 tested two groups of 60 patients on breathing patterns during sleep.  One group was given opioids and the other was not.  The opioid group had a 50% larger apnea-hypopnea index (Walker, 2006).  More research would be needed to draw a definite conclusion from this study, but it does raise a few ideas.  For one, taking “bad” foods out of our diets will decrease the chance of us getting sleep apnea.  The other is much more theoretical.

Breathing has been used as a means of stress management for thousands of years.  Studies have shown it to be effective in lowering tension by decreasing heart rate as well as reducing arousal (Lee, 1999).  Practicing breathing techniques used during meditation and other relaxation practices, yoga breathing, and chest breathing which is most commonly used in the reduction of stress, can all help relax our minds of the arousal that comes when we think of certain foods.  It may also be able to help alleviate some threat of developing sleep apnea.  The previous study mentioned showed a correlation between respiration and opioid use, so maybe breathing exercises can help alleviate some of the addiction.

Meditation is another means that has been successful in treating addiction.  In a study performed on recovering alcoholics, meditation was used in an 8 week program that used class study days and at home meditation.  On class days 94.5% of participants remained alcohol free.  47% remained abstinent through the whole program and 47% reported one heavy drinking day or more.  In a survey the anxiety, depression, and stress of the participants decreased as well (Zgierska, 2008).  47% is a pretty strong success rate and this could be worth a serious try if you are suffering from carb addiction.

The first step of this whole process is understanding that you are addicted to foods.  Foods have a strong neurological tie to us and food companies understand this.  They hire scientists to make recipes that elicit the greatest response from our neurotransmitters.  This along with the easy access to these foods makes addiction a real problem.  Once that problem is identified and the foods are removed it will be a tough journey.  Finding a method whether it is making lists, breathing techniques, or meditation is important.  Also, having the support of family and friends can be key to one’s success.

 

 

Kevin is owner of Genetic Potential Nutrition. He is a holistic nutritionist, wellness coach, and strength coach. He works with people fighting illness, to competitive athletes. Check out his site at www.geneticpotentialnutrition.com.

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  1. Grossartiger Blog.

  2. Burton
    February 15, 2012 at 7:30 am

    My eyes teared up because there is so much win in this article. When I first was getting into Paleo, I gave it a go for 2 weeks of strict, 100% Paleo. By all means, I am a disciplined person–I get up at 5 am to go punish myself in the gym, don’t smoke or drink, etc… But my goodness, those were the worst two weeks of my life. It didn’t matter how much I ate because I still wasn’t getting that high from the opioid receptors.

    I was getting depressed, hungry all the time, and very tired. After about a week of that (and me pressing on because of Robb’s warnings of “carb-flu” in Paleo Solution), I started to come out of it after about a week, and after the second week I felt amazing….

    ….then I went on about a month long binge of pizza and burritos. It was like putting a buffet of coke in front of an addict; I simply couldn’t get enough. Of course, I began to feel horrible, low energy, and gaining weight just like I had before I went on Paleo.

    Either way, a year and a half of Paleo, and I’ve never felt more alive. To anyone who’s sat through my boring diatribe, understand there are other people who have pushed thru, and the grass is absolutely greener on the other side (especially when the animals are fed that grass!).

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 4:08 am

      Burton,

      Great story! Sometimes a relapse is necessary in order to fully recover. Either way you strived through adversity and are rewarding a higher quality of life, nice job!

    • Cindy
      February 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Mahalo Burton,

      I’m glad to hear your story and the blog post. Helps me understand why I’ve made homemade caramel corn twice in the past week and a half and eaten it all!

      I’ve dropped 40 pounds, just trying to maintain, and it is hard to be good. I love the paleo food, just miss some things.

  3. Amy
    February 15, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Glad to see the addiction angle being tackled here. I wrote about it in a comment on another article from last week that was more in favor of the “moderation approach” – which simply won’t work for people who are truly addicted to certain foods.

    As far as treatment (to aid with staying abstinent from your trigger foods) 12-Step programs and other similar recovery models are also very helpful for people.

  4. Jeremy
    February 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

    This is one of those things that I have definitely seen in action. All it takes is one mistep and I become barraged with cravings. I have been understanding this more and more. Hopefully once I finish breaking out of my most recent round of cheat induced cravings I will get it through my thick skull that one treat isn’t worth all the trouble that follows it.

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 4:10 am

      Jeremy,

      Try a simple meditation for 5 minutes every time you get the urge to go after some bad foods, seems to be pretty successful for most. Also, having raw veggies around for some snacking helps some people. I have one client who keeps an endless supply of carrot sticks and celery to snack on when she gets the urge. Mess with some stuff and see what works.

      • Jeremy
        February 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm

        I’ve been pretty lame lately about justifying myself because of some big stress. I’m not really one for snacking on raw veggies. They hold absolutely no appeal to me and so they don’t actually help. I’ve had good luck previously by strictly removing all snacks or going for some jerky or macadamia nuts. I think we can all agree that most of us don’t need snacks and it is really just a symptom of our addictions. Time to cut them out and get back to what’s optimal!

  5. Kelsey
    February 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Hey Kevin-

    Thanks for the great article! I have known for quite some time that I’m addicted to crack, oops, I mean sugar. I assume I’m like many people who cannot kick the habit- I am really good for a set period of time, but then have “just one piece of chocolate” and then I fall off the wagon in a big way.

    So I guess my question is you is in regards to the statement “This is why taking out foods completely and being strict for a time frame is extremely important.” How long is a good time frame? If my body really is addicted to sugar, is it something that I’ll have to be careful of forever? Is a food with “hidden sugar” such as ketchup just keeping my addictions going? Should I hire a sniper to take out my co-workers that keep a bowl of M-n-Ms on their desk? And since I read this article, my body keeps telling me I need to go hit the vending machine for a Crunch bar. Ahhhhh!!!

    Thanks again!

    P.S. So do you think the “everything in moderation” line touted by the weight loss industry is just a ploy to keep places such as Weight Watchers in business?

    • Robb Wolf
      February 15, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Kelsey-
      The “moderation” schtick is the biggest bunch of bull-shit. there ARE right and wrong answers in life. There are foods that are really not all that good for us. Even in “moderation.” It is absolutely a ploy to ensure failure.

      • Bill Strahan
        February 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm

        Oh come on! Certainly rape, murder, and pillaging are fine in moderation! Ditto for moderate consumption of rat poison, hemlock, battery acid, and anti-freeze!

        In every case I’ve heard “everything in moderation” I can replace it with one of two phrases and the meaning is unchanged. It’s either:

        “That’s too tough for me, and I have a cute saying that excuses me from trying and/or acknowledging my awareness.”

        -or-

        “I will benefit in some way if you don’t totally eliminate whatever you’re talking about eliminating.”

        That’s it.

        • Amy Kubal
          February 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

          Nice Bill!! Great Summary!! I’m so using that! :)

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 4:18 am

      Everything in moderation makes absolutely no sense when it comes to obtaining optimal health. What even is moderation? It is such a vague term and open for individual classification. It is people’s way of telling themselves it is ok to eat food that are less then optimal for us. If you have such strong reactions to sweet foods even a little bit can derail you. There is a previous comment on this thread that explains one person’s struggle after eating just one “cheat” food. One cheat seems like moderation to me. This happens frequently with clients as well. All it takes is one cheat for a lot of people. With that being said it is completely individualized in what people can “get away with.” Understanding yourself and knowing where that line is drawn for you is huge in overcoming this stuff.

    • musajen
      February 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      If I’m recalling correctly, in an interview with Dr. Robert Lustig on Livin’ La Vida Low Carb a couple years ago (could have also been Underground Wellness), he was asked about sugar cravings and how long it can take the body to essentially forget sugar. His response was 5 years.

      This likely varies by person but confirms for me that sugar isn’t something to mess around with, even in moderation. A lesson I’m still trying to embrace. Sugar unhinges me (and my jaw) and it’s not pretty.

  6. Topline Foods
    February 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

    A fantastic article, and a strong recommendation I’ll be sure to pass on to my followers. Thanks for all the scientific and practical suggestions on how to improve your health!

  7. Martin
    February 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    For me cutting off sweets/carbs was never a problem. Maybe because I had progressively removed sugar from my food and drinks over year and getting rid of grains and starches was the last step.

    The real problem I had and in fact still have is with nuts and cheese. I like both a lot and I find it difficult to eat them in moderation. Let’s take tonight, for example: I had eggs with coconut oil for breakfast, chicken for lunch and a steak for supper. I don’t feel like eating any more, but my son is having some pistachios. I know that if took just a few, which nutrient-wise would not be an issue, I would have a real problem not eating the whole pack, even though I am not hungry.

    In what way is this similar to carbs addiction?

    • Martin
      February 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      OK, it’s obviously the hedonic system.

      • kevin cann
        February 16, 2012 at 4:40 am

        Martin,

        Yes it is the same. I actually am the same way with salty foods. I can resist them, but when I have one it is hard to stop from crushing the entire bag. Pistachios are a popular one with my clients too, more then any of the other nuts with cashews a close second. I am not sure why, but I bet there is a particular reason.

    • jan
      February 16, 2012 at 3:38 am

      Martin, have you thought about nuts/cheese in terms of a food allergen? The neuropeptides from gluten and casein (caseomorphin) are important because they react with opiate receptors in the brain, thus mimicking the effects of opiate drugs like heroin and morphine.

      Years before going Paleo I knew that I could not handle dairy but whaled on nuts every single day. One day I decided to stop all nuts just to see what happened. My gut literally went down overnight. That’s all I needed to get off of them for good.

      So when you can’t control a food, try elimination.

  8. Dr. Mike Tremba
    February 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for talking about this, Kevin. As heavily addicting sugar can be, it’s amazing there’s not more people talking about this (especially with our current obesity epidemic).
    When participants go through A.A., one of the things they approach is the need to find new activities to do where they used to drink. I really don’t think sugar is any different-the evening movie night, the end of the day ‘treat’, and there’s your behavioral addiction.
    Thanks for discussing the help in repeating goals out loud, as well as deep breathing exercises. I’ve noticed they’ve helped me in the past, and it’s nice to be reminded of them once again.

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 4:42 am

      Mike,

      Definitely focusing the mind on something else seems to be beneficial. I would imagine a lot of what is discussed in drug and alcohol addiction groups may be beneficial to try with eating addictions.

  9. Donna
    February 15, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks for this timely post! I’ve been on paleo for going on 8 months. I’ve found that my addiction to sugar allows me pretty much zero latitude (ie just one cookie leads to binge either immediately or the next day). I’ve tripped up quite a bit by telling myself that homemade gluten free desserts are “ok”. They are not ok and sugar needs to be avoided at all cost for optimum health!!

  10. Alison Golden
    February 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    This is so right on the money. It is *totally* an addiction and needs to be treated like one. The problem is that sugar is so prevalent in our society we can’t keep away from it so it makes breaking the addiction very difficult. We need tools and strategies to help us do that. It starts with recognizing it as an addiction, identifying those foods we simply can’t control and planning and preparing ourselves and our food options so that we are protected and defended when faced with an attack by the sugar zombies.

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 4:44 am

      Right on Alison. A lot of people are not educated in identifying sugar on food labels and it sneaks into their diets without them knowing.

  11. Christopher
    February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

    I used to be hypoglycemic, and eating sugar would throw me out of whack (blood sugar swings, worsen my OCD and Tourette’s and all that stuff I had trouble with at the time). After I first found out I was hypoglycemic I tried for a while to just eat a little bit of something, a piece of candy, a bite of cake, etc. It just didn’t work, I just ended up wanting more. I found if I didn’t eat it all and stayed strict with that, that the cravings lessened and I eventually got to where I didn’t even really care about not eating them much. I just told myself, I’m not eating any kind of sweets at all, and just made it a solid rule. Now that I’m healthy, not hypoglycemic, and don’t have issues with the other problems either, I eat the occasional piece of very dark chocolate or have an occasional paleo dessert type treat, but not often at all, and I usually don’t like things to be all that sweet.

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 4:47 am

      Chris,

      Great point man about not being able to stop eating those foods. I see this occassionally with diabetics and the blood sugar swings they get are super dangerous. Typically with OCD and Tourette’s type illnesses I like to see people on more of a ketogenic approach and binging on sweets would definitely throw that off. It is nice to hear too that once you got it all figured out you can still have the very occassional cheat without symptoms. That is encouraging, good stuff dude.

  12. Andrea
    February 16, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I’m just coming off a 30 day challenge, 2 day Cheat weekend and am happy to back to be on another 30 day :D

    My body HATED the ice cream and bread I gave it. Never.Doing.That.Again. Next cheat weekend I’m getting out the Vitamix for a frozen dessert with pineapple, bananas, strawberries and macadamia nuts. Didn’t like even dark chocolate any more (still love my nibs, unsweetened baking chocolate and “fudge” made of cocoa, coconut cream, cinnamon, anise seeds, and orange zest) So it seems like I’m no longer addicted to grains or refined sugar. Spending all day on the couch wheezing and unable to catch my breath is too much like the scary future I used to face at 297 pounds.

  13. Steve
    February 16, 2012 at 4:34 am

    This sugar craving–are we just talking about refined sugars? Or does this craving include fruit and honey? I guess my real question is can someone satisfy their sugar cravings with fruit and honey and still be healthy.

    • Brian s
      February 19, 2012 at 1:09 am

      I have the same question???????

    • Dan Meyer
      October 30, 2013 at 1:19 am

      I think it’s perfectly fine to respond to sugar cravings by eating sugar. That doesn’t mean eat cookies and cakes, because they have lots of other things in them besides sugar. Instead, how about a teaspoon or two of straight white sugar, or a glass of OJ, or some watermelon?

      Full disclosure: I’m a Peatarian

  14. Sabrina
    February 16, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Just ordered Rob Wolf’s book, wish me luck!

    • Amy Kubal
      February 16, 2012 at 5:59 am

      You can do it!! Good Luck!!

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

      I make all my clients readi it. It is funny and I personally think the best one out there at making it easy to understand for everyone!

  15. Allison
    February 16, 2012 at 6:49 am

    My husband and I have been slowing converting to paleo for about a year and in mid January went completely paleo.

    While everything was going really well, I’ve realized I have an addiction to ice cream. Like full on can’t stop thinking about it have to have it type of addiction. I went four weeks with no sweets except a once a week homemade GF brownie. And then I bought a 1/2 gallon of Blue Bell Pistachio Almond (justifying it by telling myself I was eating a good portion of nuts!).

    This post came at a good time. I just have to keep my head in the game.

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

      There is some good stuff that Paul Jaminet has put out regarding evolutionary cravings. He suggests that the craving for sweet foods is actually due to a deficiency in amino acids (some amino acids are actually sweet). I am going to dive into this as well as some other potential factors this weekend to get a better understanding and I will share that information here with everyone. Check your protein intake and make sure you are getting around 1g of protein/pound of bodyweight.

  16. Tracy Seman
    February 16, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Been Paleo for over a year and I still battle with sugar. In the form of dark chocolate and candy. I seem to be getting better so far this year (eating less), but I have learned there is no moderation in my life. It’s all or nothing. I cannot have even one bite. I’ve done a few 21 and 30 day strict challenges and I stay away from sugar. However, as soon as the “challenge” part is over I go ahead and try “moderation”. Days/weeks later I am still eating chocolate and it is even harder to get it back out again unless I start another challenge. I hope this is the year I finally kick it for good!

    • kevin cann
      February 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Keep trying Tracy! If you find something that works really well for you in kicking cravings please share!!! Good luck.

  17. Connie
    February 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Great information. I do believe many foods are addictive, especially sugar and grains. I am on an eating plan that is working great for me – no sugar of any kind, except stevia, no grains of any kind, no caffeine, no alcohol, no dairy, except low fat yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, eggs. I have been doing this for five weeks and have lost almost 15 lbs. I feel so much better. Still tired alot but I don’t sleep well and never have. Still need to work on that issue. But I know if I give in and have one slice of toast or one piece of candy, it is all over. I am hoping I can keep this going as I am a true sugar addict. I have been eating sugar and junk food most of my life and I am in my 50’s. Being over 200 lbs has been difficult to function in many ways. I am going to keep going on this and try my best to not fall. Thanks again for the info.

  18. Matthew Jarosz
    February 16, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Wow. After adding carbs back in in the form of tubers, potatoes, and white rice, barring sweets. It’s kind of sad to see this hive mind that I was once bought into. I was strict paleo for about two years in an attempt to recover from bulimia.I reset my appetite to some degree through this, but my energy shot down and I nearly lost my appetite for women. I’ve since started adding back carbs, and on occasion sweets in the form of ice cream and other non-gluten containing items.
    Coming from a binge and purge state of mind it was very difficult but amazing to find that I could eat all these foods-in moderation- or in a binge(pints of ice cream on workout days) and still not notice too negative of side effects or cravings when combined with other healthy foods(the abs were still there!). I think it’s time some people over analyze things again and step off the high horse regarding superiority through discipline and relax and enjoy life. I’m running up the mountain near my house with my father again and it feels amazing, I could never do that without carbs. Hell, I couldn’t enjoy life because of the stress low carb brought me while attempting to half as physically active as I was my whole life. You people sound pretty lazy.

    • Christopher
      February 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Different people and circumstances call for different strategies. Nobody is saying eating carbs is necessarily bad or evil, but many people genuinely need a low carb approach, at least for a period of time. Some longer than others. I don’t see anyone here on a “high horse”. I eat sweet potatoes and root veggies fairly regularly now, especially on days I’m doing more physical labor and working out, and it works pretty well for me.

      • kevin cann
        February 17, 2012 at 4:17 am

        Well said Chris. People with metabolic problems, auto-immunity, and even mental illness and cancer definitely benefit from a low-carb approach. Just to add to what Chris said you need to eat to sustain activity. This is where individualized approaches to the paleo diet come into play. People all respond differently to different foods. The 30 day strict paleo approach followed by individual tinkering of adding back in certain foods allows us to find the best possable approach to nutrition for each individual person. I have clients that do some dairy and others that don’t or can’t touch it. I also have clients that, just like you Matt, take in sweet potatoes, yams, and in some cases white rice. No one is preaching this as a one way to eat religion, but a great starting point for everyone. From there individual tinkering can always be done.

    • Sam
      February 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

      “You people sound pretty lazy” ……What kind of response are you hoping for?

    • Andrea
      February 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      I’m still on the fence about potatoes and sweet potatoes. I’m leaving them out this month because Cordain wrote they contain toxins, especially the skin (my favorite part!)On the other hand , I was freezing all the time and couldn’t emerge from the electric blanket and go on with my day without one. It’s all a work in progress. At least I can have my tea again!

      • Amy Kubal
        February 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

        Andrea, yes the skin of the potatoes is the most ‘toxic’ part – especially in the white potatoes. If you do, at some point, choose to add them to your diet definitely remove the skin.

        • Andrea
          February 18, 2012 at 1:11 am

          At this point I think I’ll just eat

          • Andrea
            February 18, 2012 at 1:15 am

            Ahen as I was saying…. at this point I think I’ll just eat a lot more carrots and beets for starch when I need it . Beets have the funniest side effect! (your waste turns magenta 0_O) And I definitely plan to use that as a selling point if I ever want to encourage a kid to eat beets.

  19. Michael
    February 18, 2012 at 12:32 am

    I remember the sugar detox… I was a miserable butt-head for the greater part of a few weeks. Even still, I don’t crave sweets anymore, but when I do have them I can easily see how I used to slide down that path from 1 cookie to 12. Thank God I’m over that and can enjoy my food again!!

  20. Beth
    February 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Robb, the paleo diet controls my sweet tooth pretty well, which in turn controls my weight..but, my problem is, since I’ve been paleo, I don’t need as much sleep. I get to bed on time and just lay there for hours. Now my ab definition is not showing as much thanks to layer of belly fat. Food and exercise the same. Help! Thanks!

    • kevin cann
      February 19, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Beth,

      Sounds like some cortisol issues going on. You can try a melatonin supplement for sleep, but try to handle the stress that may be effecting you on a daily basis whether it be overtraining, work, relationships, etc. Try taking 5-10 minutes every two hours to meditate and see how that works.

      • Beth
        February 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        Stress good. Sleep not. Will check on the melatonin. Was wondering about cortisol. Thank you! :)

  21. Brian s
    February 19, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Doesn’t table sugar just convert to blood sugar….the same way fruit, or honey, or potatoes do? If so, then wouldn’t these things be just as addictive and unhealthy as table sugar?

  22. Ben
    February 19, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Im currently going through my own little 30 day peleo challenge. I havnt found it too difficult thus far as like someone else said, I had already progressively removed a lot of baddies and really my morning oats was the last thing to go…
    Cravings havnt been too bad, however in the past I had fallen in the the trap of planned “cheat” episodes when being strict with myself. Ive had the idea in the back of my head that at the end of my 30 days i might have a cheat day, even though im not really badly craving anything specific. after reading this im certain it would be a bad idea. but i surprised myself by feeling massively dissapointed at the prospect of not getting that “treat” session. maybe my cravings were bigger than i thought…

  23. kevin cann
    February 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

    All the studies were done on refined sugars. It is the enhanced sweetness of these foods that elicit this response. Some anecdotal data I have seen in my practice is fruit does not help the sweet cravings in most people addicted to sweets because it is not sweet enough. This leads me to believe that the increased sweetness of certain foods is the problem.

    • Brian S
      February 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Ok, so then it’s the actual sweet taste in the mouth that is causing the problems of addiction, and not the blood sugar being high? Would that mean that pineapple is more addictive than a less sweet fruit?

  24. terrence
    February 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I do not have a problem with sugar – I love sweet stuff like cookies, cake, pies, tarts, fudge, certain candies, dark chocolate. But it is EASY for me to stop eating these things, and I do NOT feel at all tempted to try “juts” a little, or lot. (I can eat a whole bag of selected cookies in one sitting).

    HOWEVER – grains are another thing all together – a meal is NOT a meal without at least FOUR slices of bread. I can eat less, but still feel unsatisfied. Grains other than wheat are not as satisfying. Some gluten free snacks come close – but again, I can eat the whole bag in one sitting.

    I am trying to go Paleo/Low Carb, again – but it has been TOUGH. I first tried the 30 day Paleo challenge about two years ago. I have since gone off the wagon numerous times. So, I am trying it yet again. Hopefully, I can make it past three weeks!!! I will let you all know how it goes.

  25. Maryann
    February 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Great information on food addictions! I have not eaten a cookie since January 18, 2011. Yet I still have an occasional nightmare where I wake up in a cold sweat, having dreamed I ate a whole bag of Pecan Sandies. WTF

  26. Martin Matej
    February 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Yeah cake is bad. But what about fruit? Anthropologist Alan Walker proved that we were thriving on fruit untill homo erectus. And I have seen loads of people thrive on fruit based diets untill now. I personally have healed from cystic acne, low blood pressure, itchy skin and other nasty conditions. I just think there is something better then paleo.

    • Kevin Cann
      February 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Hey Martin,

      Fruit is much different today then it used to be with the genetic modification that has happened. It is also picked before it is ripened and the wax added to it can be harmful. Also, fruit was only available seasonally to our ancestors and we have access to it year round.

  27. shaddix
    February 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Since when does simply being fat cause leptin resistance? If this was the case then ppaleo eating wouldnt cause a reduction in body fat at all.

  28. Diana
    May 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Amazing! I have been telling my husband for weeks now that I believe that I have been seriously addicted to food/sugars. This article proves that I’m not crazy! My husband, my daughter, and I have been eating Paleo for 6 weeks now; I’ve already lost 24 pounds and my husband’s lost 20 pounds. We don’t’ feel deprived or hungry! WE FEEL GREAT! We’ve been exercising daily and have only struggled a few times in the beginning with sugar cravings. I personally have battled weight loss before and was successful, however, I gave in to my “addiction” and before long I gained back every pound plus more. With the Paleo way of eating, I’ll never look back. When I go to the grocery store now, I can’t believe how much garbage they sell to unsuspecting consumers. It doesn’t seem fair. I’ve learned my lesson and I strangely feel like a recovering addict. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge. It has truly changed our lives.

  29. ChrisD
    May 17, 2012 at 9:13 am

    This posting makes me wonder about people who tend to gravitate toward sweets and those who claim to have never had a sweet tooth. I work with a great number of people from overseas, particularly from Asia, and I would often encounter people who said they found American sweets much too sweet. I have also run into people (mostly male) who often claim that they aren’t attracted to sweets at all, while a large number of women claim to love cake, ice cream, etc. I wonder how much of this is cultural bias and how much is a genetic predisposition? Could it be that males generally have more dopamine receptors/producers and so need less of a kick from sweets? Could it be that some people actually have dopamine blockers and so they don’t get a kick from sweets? Is there a direct correlation between dopamine receptors and addictive behavior?

  30. Suresh
    June 12, 2012 at 7:50 am

    This is one of the most difficult things to control. Lot of people give in saying that things are okay if done in moderation, and those are the ones who fail to get the best results. It can also be difficult if you are located in certain part of the world where spicy food and dessert are part of meals.

  31. Savanna
    September 10, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I am almost done with my first Paleo Challenge. (on day 28 now) I have no intention of “going back” to the old way of eating, which was already pretty close to Paleo due to allergies. (I had to cut out sugar, dairy, legumes & my only two grains–Quinoa & Oats in order to flip all the way over.) I have no idea how much weight or inches I’ve lost, and after about my first 2 days, I did fairly well. My sugar cravings vanished, I felt better, slept better, (also had gotten off of caffeine), and all the other usual stuff people report.

    My performance at the gym (at least for example my measurable performance in my swimming times), however, decreased, and I was ok with that, because I felt maintaining/adjusting to this way of eating was more important than alleviating any temporary setback at the gym.

    However, now, this late in the game, all of a sudden I don’t feel as if I have made much progress. I am “thinking about sugar” more than I ever did before, I have not felt like I’m still dropping weight (though that could be because it’s harder to notice after such a huge difference in the first 12 days in the size of my stomach), and I’m kind of scared that the sugar addiction rearing it’s ugly head is only the beginning.

    My question is: how long after you “completely eliminate” sugar should it take for you to be “over it” (and I know you can’t give me an exact time frame, but a range would be nice…) I have kept my carb intake below 150g/day always and usually below 100g/day (over 3/4 of the time), mainly sourced from veggies and berries, but sometimes an apple or pear, and in the beginning I had some watermelon which I know is sweet, but was hoping to use it as a bridge to help me “stay with it” through the initial withdrawals.

    And if I find out my weight loss is not dropping significantly, what else can I tweak? I am not eating tons of calaories–average about 1600-1700/day so far. I walk every day, swim once every 5 days, and do weight/resistance training 2-3 times a week. Also (tho not as much as before) I do Elliptical trainer–I’m working overseas and the outside air is not great, so I do a lot in the gym.

    I’m very tall, large frame, started at 187# and goal weight is 165-170 (or less) eventually. I maintained around 170# for years pre-paleo, but after a knee injury, heavy metals poisoning and other issues, my weight crept up to 200, and weight loss attempts seemed to get stuck around the 180# mark for about a year or two, then all of a sudden 185 was my sticking point–could not seem to go lower. That’s when Paleo started.

    Any assistance/comments would be appreciated!

    • Amy Kubal
      September 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Sugar addictions are tough and they are ‘addictions’ – you will never be completely ‘rid’ of it. The key is learning to control it and if that’s not feasible then avoidance is likely going to be the best route. Giving a recovered alcoholic a drink is not a good idea – the same is true with a sugar addicted individual. As far as weight loss – there are quite a few factors that play into that – sometimes a few diet, exercise, sleep and lifestyle tweaks are all it takes to get things moving the right direction. I would love to help you get it all figured it – just let me know what I can do! http://robbwolf.com/about/team/amy-kubal/

  32. Savanna
    September 12, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Thanks, Amy! I am going to wait until “the unveiling” when I can see my weight loss & measurements, (which for me is day 35, not day 30–I opted for a full 5 week challenge), then see if I feel it’s working well, or whether I could benefit from some tweaking.
    Cheers,

    Savanna

    • Amy Kubal
      September 12, 2012 at 4:53 am

      Sounds like a plan! I’m here if you need me! :)

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