A few weeks ago I asked my Facebook friends to chime in and list topics they’d like me to write about. I got some really great ideas and I plan to cover all of them at some point. One that seemed relevant for this time of year was the concept that “Paleo treats are still treats and should not be consumed every day”. As a Paleo-lifestlye advocate, I remind people of this all the time, especially if they have goals to lose weight/bodyfat. I also know from personal experience that if Paleo goodies are around, I will eat them. For me, it’s better to have them as a once-in-a-while treat than an every day staple. Although there are some people who have the self-discipline to ration their treats over the course of days or weeks, I still do not believe that these things should be included in the daily diet. Here’s why:
1. Even if they do not have any added sugar or sweetener, they simulate items that usually have sugar, like cookies and muffins. They are usually high-carb and high-fat and they can stall body composition changes. Your body reacts in a similar fashion, regardless of whether the treat is Paleo or not.
2. They reinforce behavior that we’re trying to get away from. If you’ve adopted the Paleo lifestyle you know to avoid traditional gluten and sugar-laden baked goods. Creating Paleo goodies is a more nutritious alternative, but it’s really just subbing one treat for another. Better to stay away from any kind of treat if we’re trying to get away from eating them altogether, am I wrong?
3. Paleo treats keep us dependent on sweets and don’t allow us to see what our bodies can do when we eliminate them. This became evident to me during the 9-week Paleo Challenge I recently completed. Before the challenge I was baking some type of muffin or cookie or bread every two or three weeks. I was craving the sugar and feeding the addiction. But I wasn’t eating a ton of this stuff, so I didn’t really think there would be so much change when I eliminated it. During the challenge, when I was forced to alter this behavior, I stopped wanting the treats and I saw unbelievable changes in my body composition. Not only did my body change, but I actually felt better; more energy, better performance in WODs, and felt less foggy in the brain.
Quitting this stuff is a really hard thing to do. It takes a few days or weeks to rid yourself of the cravings for these kinds of treats, especially if you’re a sweet-tooth kind of person (like me). I am always jealous of people who don’t really care about sweets. Since Thanksgiving I have eaten my fair share of Paleo goodies and I am paying for it. I’ve been having cravings for sugar, I don’t feel as clear-minded, and my belly has not been happy. I’m working on telling myself “no” when I consider making Paleo goodies. For the most part it works. I also avoid wanting to eat these things by filling up on meat and vegetables. Eating a lot of protein keeps me really full and carbs tend to satisfy the need for treats, particularly dense carbs like sweet potatoes, squash, or yucca. Another strategy is to drink a lot of water throughout the day which keeps your hydrated and full and can help dissipate cravings.
There are thousands of recipes floating around out there for Paleo goodies. Anything can be Paleo-fied. Don’t let these recipes and blogs trick you into thinking that this stuff is good for you. Avoid looking at it all together if you have to. It’s easy to fall prey to the mouth-watering photos and descriptions of melt-in-your-mouth brownies and chewy gooey cookies. Those cookies are good for making you gooey, that’s for sure.
Believe me, I am a realist. I am fully supportive of enjoying your favorite indulgences a few times a year – not every day, not every week. My prescription for treat-eating is once a month maximum! Less than that if you have weight/fat-loss goals. Save them for special occasions, like the Holiday Party at The Fort :-). For now, for me, the answer is NO when it comes to eating Paleo treats. When Christmas arrives I will choose wisely…
Please post comments here or on Facebook. I’m looking forward to hearing some more strategies about how to avoid eating too many treats.