Binging, Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

Culture Shock – Primal Living in the USA

Whole Foods MarketAfter a 3 year tour in Bavaria, Germany, we finally set foot on U.S. ground again.  Since then, my mind has officially been blown with the low-carb opportunities that are available to me here in the States.

During our move, I have been off my primal plan, not only because I wouldn’t be able to eat many of my favorite German foods for a long time, but also, because I knew it would be extremely difficult to stay on track while living in hotels for an extended time, with only microwaves to cook with.  It was a conscious decision, yet my body did not thank me.

As soon as I went off program, I immediately started to feel puffy, sluggish and irritable, although, the crankiness could be attributed to all the stress of getting the house ready for the movers to come, selling the cars, and working until the last minute.  We’ve been living in hotels for 3 weeks until we moved into an extended stay place, where we actually have a small kitchen to make our own meals.  I never thought that I would ever get tired of eating in restaurants, but over the last 2 weeks, my body was screaming for real food.  Yes, the fresh waffles and bagels in the mornings at the other hotel were nice, but come lunch-time, I was a shaky, wobbly wreck… I hate when my bloodsugar drops like that and my addiction runs rampant.

Today, I made an effort to stay off of sugar and flour.  I didn’t have much suitable food in the fridge, but I made it through the day.  Not surprisingly at all, I felt calm and my head seemed clearer for the first time in weeks.  Then, while we were in town in the evening, we ate at a restaurant.  I had no problems with staying on plan.  I wanted something light and stuck to a Cobb salad, which left me comfortably full and satisfied. In retrospect, I easily could have been back on plan as soon as we arrived here, because most restaurants will work with their customers, but it just seemed too tempting to try to eat all these foods I thought that I missed out on in the last 3 years.  Again, that’s the addiction talking.

Culture shock really hit me when we walked into the Whole Foods Market for the first time in 6 years.  The assortment of primal foods in the store were overwhelming, and I didn’t buy anything other than some coconut hand creme for my psoriasis on my hands.  I did try some yummy salmon samples and a small cup of sports tea, while cruising the isles, but my head is still spinning, when I think about the massive inventory of foods they carry.  I made a mental note to do my homework before I shop there again (some of the food, I saw at our Commissary for much cheaper.)

Finally, now that we’re in Colorado, I want to explore the nearby farms and farmers markets for free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and local produce.  I can’t wait to get started with that.  I’m ready to let go of the junk!

Until next time,


Binging, Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

This Can’t Go On!

Starting fresh from yet another weekend of bad choices.  Once I got started on this vicious carb-cycle again, I was done.  All good intentions for the weekend were out of the window and I stuffed myself with bready stuff, chocolate, chips, and carby side-dishes with meals.  Then I split a medium bag of popcorn with my son at the movies and kept on binging until last night, when we had BBQ ribs, with real BBQ Sauce (at least I picked the type without high-fructose corn syrup) and had rice on the side.  What a mess!

But as almost every week, come Monday morning, and I’m back on track.  This weekend’s damage amounted to a 3 lb gain, which will probably be gone again by the end of the week (when the cycle usually starts over again).
I’m hoping that by blogging my progress on a daily basis for a while, I can learn a little more about myself and find a way to get off this terrible roller-coaster ride and start living a normal life again.

Binging, Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

To Binge or Not to Binge

Decisions, decisions. The road on the left is ...It’s the weekend again and I got sucked into yet another binge-cycle.  I’ve been drinking a lot of diet coke lately and I did not want to drive all the way to our military post on a Saturday to get a bottle (I can’t stand the German version of diet coke, so I have to get it on post).  As my day progressed, I started getting the usual withdrawal symptoms – light headache, cravings for something sweet, etc.  I had visions of this wonderful slice of layered cake that I couldn’t get out of my head.  Eventually, I decided to act on the craving and went with my son to the Eiscafe for some ice-cream and then to the grocery store, where we bought dinner and a bunch of junk….  So you know how the rest of my day went.

It is now Sunday. So, again, I was at a junction:  continue low-carb or continue binge.  Hmmmm… I still  had some rolls for breakfast and left-over junk food that I didn’t eat yet.  The decision should’ve been quite easy:  get back to low-carb, of course. That’s when my cravings are at bay.  But then I looked at the other stuff and decided that I don’t want to miss out on the other goodies that I still had on the counter.  So the binge continued.

Update:  Monday, I was back on track.  Of course I was.  I’ve been playing this game for a long time now.  Eat on plan without trouble while I have a structured day at work, then binge on the weekend, because I always find an excuse to eat my beloved junk.  It doesn’t make sense to negate all the progress I’ve made during the week, but the lure is still too strong.

Binging, Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

Food Addiction – Making it Through the Weekend

Cake frostingIt’s the weekend again and I’m entering the danger zone.  During the week I enjoy a low-carb life-style that leaves me full and satisfied and without the urge to binge – even if there’s candy or other goodies nearby.  Because my workdays are fairly structured, it’s easy to stay on track and get on with my life.

The problem arises, when Friday evening rolls around – yes, Friday evening, when my family and I want to kick off the weekend and have some fun.  Hmmm, let’s start with dinner and a movie, perhaps? What about Pizza night?  How about saving some dishes, anyone feel like Chinese or Mexican food tonight?

Every week I still struggle with these old habits – all of them involve food, if you haven’t noticed – and to me are triggers that usually end in an all weekend binge.  The same thing happens during vacations.  So what’s the big deal?  Everybody eats more when they’re having fun or have some time off.  Sure, I agree that there’s nothing wrong with eating more during those times or at birthday parties, or what have you, except, something happens in my mind after I eat something sweet or bready, that makes me want to eat more and more.  During a full –blown binge, I check the fridge and cupboards for something to eat every 10 minutes, knowing damn well that nothing new magically appeared since the last time I checked.  I go to the store to buy sweets, chips, ice-cream, pizza, or whatever I feel like I want to binge on in the next 24-48 hours, and nothing can deter me from doing so.

The Problem:  On my off-days, I’m confronted with challenges that make it difficult to stick to my now normal way of eating (low-carb). When I cave in and eat some highly processed foods, I feel really good for about an hour, then I get terrible cravings for sweet stuff as my blood sugar drops. Soon after, I don’t feel so happy anymore and get shaky and irritated. To make me feel better quickly, I eat more sweet stuff and this nasty cycle continues until I go back to work on Monday and fall back into my normal rhythm. I believe that there are at least 3 forces at play that attribute to my weekend binges:

  • Environmental:  Tempting food and well meaning people make it tough to say no to foods that get me in trouble.
  • Biochemical:  Blood sugar levels drop when I do eat something that causes my insulin level to spike (I’m not diabetic) and causes major cravings.
  • Behavioral:  Being unprepared for situations that may trigger my binging, then acting on cravings / urges without thinking of the consequences (or pushing these thoughts away).

What I’ve learned:

  • A low-carb lifestyle lessens my urge to binge.  

The Challenge: To stay binge-free this weekend.

My Strategies:  Here’s what I’m focusing on this weekend to stay on track:

  • At home, eat plenty of low-carb foods, such as veggies, good fat and meat, to avoid insulin spikes and cravings
  • Eat a filling low-carb meal before we leave the house, so I will not be hungry.
  • Bring a snack – like pecans or beef jerky – just in case
  • When tempted, remind myself that going off plan is not worth the emotional roller-coaster and physical side-effects that accompany a binge.  Acknowledge that the food smells and looks good, but then tell myself that I really don’t want to start another binge cycle, then move on to something I can eat or want to do instead.

Post – Weekend Update:

Neumarkt Fest Food002YES!!! I MADE IT!!!  I stayed on track all weekend without any issues.  This is very unusual for me, as I seem to spin myself into this binge-cycle every weekend.  For those of you who are curious, here are some details on how I managed to survive the weekend danger zone:

On Friday, I was pretty wiped out after work, so instead of indulging in some off-plan treats, I simply went to bed early and listened to my favorite podcasts on my iPod to lull me to sleep.

I started my Saturday morning by making a batch of low-carb pancakes (see recipe below), along with regular pancakes for the rest of the family.  Those things almost taste like the real thing with a slight nutty hint.  But dang, they are so filling!!!  I didn’t want to eat for several hours after eating those puppies.  To keep me occupied until we were ready to leave the house, I decided to work on fine-tuning this new blog, which took quite a chunk of the day.  Amazingly, eating was quite low on my priority list.  Later in the evening, we went to a little fest (village celebration) in our neighboring town here in Germany.  I volunteered to be the DD (designated driver) and had a couple of small bottles of mineral water, instead of beer.  This fest is famous for its awesome grilled fish (Germans love that stuff) and one of those mackerels easily fill me up for the night.  When the man at the register asked me if I would like to order a roll with the fish, I declined.  He looked at me funny, but I told him that the fish itself was plenty to eat already.

Today (Sunday), we spent the morning being lazy.  After eating that big ol’ fish the night before, I just decided to snack a bit until I was really hungry.  Later in the afternoon, we went to a nearby volksfest (like a fair).  Before we decided what to eat for dinner, we scoped out all the booths, to see who offered the most appealing and low-carb friendly meals.  I decided to go with a plate of Greek gyros with tzatziki and krautsalad (see picture).  I’ve had better before and it definitely was lacking flavor, but it was primal, so no issues there.  After our meal, I got a whiff of freshly roasted nuts.  Those usually do me in.  Oh I was so tempted!  But instead of breaking down and buy a baggy, I took in the sweet, rich smell, stopped a second to enjoy the moment and then was ready to move on the next attraction without feeling deprived.  If you’d ask me, I’d call this weekend a success!

To my readers:  I’m curious if some of you are struggling with the same weekend / binge issues.  If so, I’d love to hear from you and see what works for you.  Please leave comment below.