I have a pretty high opinion of myself. I’m intelligent, charismatic, attractive. I’m a winner. People like me. And yet despite all my awesomeness, most of my life I was controlled by my desire for food. I knew I was fat. I was ridiculed and abused and bullied for it. I knew it was unhealthy. I knew it was holding me back. Socially, athletically, romantically. Being overweight was an unhealthy way to live. But seemingly no matter what I tried, I couldn’t fight it. I came to the conclusion that I must just be weak.
And that’s an unpleasant way to live. I tried and I tried, but I couldn’t get control of it. I would go out as a young person and try to work out. I lifted weights. I tried running. People kept telling me I just needed to eat less and be more active. Just eat less, and be more active. But I couldn’t seem to control my diet, and I wasn’t a very active kid. I felt really helpless, and was just sort of resigned to my fate.
As I got older, I would try to practice portion control, but it always seemed like torture. If I ordered a six inch sub I just desperately wanted the “other half” of the sandwich too, and regretted not getting it. I always wanted every dish on every menu. I actually got to a point where I asked my wife to point out to me when I was ordering two entrees in a restaurant. It didn’t seem like how much I ate, a large pizza, a super deluxe sandwich, two cheesesteaks, plate after plate at a buffet, it seemed like I was never full. I would stop eating when I was in pain, but I never felt a feeling of being full. If I wasn’t so fat, I might have thought I had a parasite. There were times I wished I had a parasite. I tried a lot of different approaches to this problem over the years, but without finding any solutions.
When we first started reading about how to get started on Paleo we saw several sources recommend that you just get all the bad stuff out of your pantry and throw it out. In Chapter 11 of The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf there is a section where he describes the powerful addictive qualities of grains and sugars, comparing the way the chemicals in them effect your brain to the effects of heroine, opium, and crack cocaine. The cards are stacked against you. You simply won’t be able to resist the junk food if it’s still in your pantry. His advice? “Clean Out Your House.”
So the first weekend that we started eating Paleo my wife went through all our cabinets. She took out the soda and the twizzlers and the ramen and the chicken and stars and the hamburger helper and the minute rice and the oatmeal and the flour and the granola bars and the cereal and the chips and the noodles and all the other stuff that we don’t eat anymore and we threw it all away. And then we didn’t have to worry about fighting the will power battle anymore, because the food simply wasn’t there anymore.
But that’s only the first part. The second is not replenishing your supplies. You can’t win the will power battle. If you have twizzlers in your pantry you WILL eat them. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. The High Fructose Corn Syrup will win. It’s stronger than you are. It’s a drug, and you’re addicted. The time to exercise will power isn’t at dinner time when you’re standing in front of an open fridge trying to decide between carrots and chocolate cake. It’s when you’re at the grocery store.
You are an adult. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head and forcing you to buy or eat the foods that you KNOW are killing you. You decide what goes in your body. You decide what goes in your fridge. And you make that decision when YOU DECIDE what goes in your CART.
Don’t pick up the Captain Crunch. Don’t go down the chip aisle. Don’t grab the box of cookies. Don’t put that stuff in your cart. Walk around the outside store, buying fruit and vegetables and meat and eggs and then hit the registers and LEAVE. Don’t subject yourself to a battle you will lose. Don’t bring temptation into your home. Falling prey to your drug addiction, and that’s what it is, doesn’t mean your weak. IT MEANS YOU HAVE A DRUG ADDICTION. Alcoholics don’t belong in bars, meth heads shouldn’t hang out under bridges, and you aren’t gonna do yourself any good standing around in the ice cream section thinking about the good old days. Don’t buy drugs! Buy medicine instead.
Fresh vegetables, organic meats, brightly colored fruits, those are your medicine. They will break the cycle of addiction, heal your body, and make you healthy and strong. You make a decision about the food you’re going to put in your body every time you put food in your cart. Drugs or medicine. One will take your eyes and your legs and your heart and rot your flesh and you will die. The other will heal your skin and your joints and your spirit and you will thrive and you will still die. Nothing you can do about that. But you don’t have to die so soon, or so terribly.
You can’t win the battle against those foods. If they are in your diet, even a tiny little bit, the addiction will continue to grow until it crowds out all the good foods. But once you give them up entirely you break that cycle and in a very short period of time you don’t crave those foods anymore. You see them for what they are. And you see the healthy foods for what they are too. And then you’re making conscious rational decisions and not just succumbing to a chemical addiction.
You aren’t weak, or stupid, or lazy. You are fat because for most of your life you have been given false information about nutrition and have succumbed to powerful cultural programming that is increasingly destructive. You have been fed lies and corn and wheat for years and that’s what’s killing you. Start feeding yourself some information and everything else will follow naturally from there. You may not have the will power to resist eating those foods, but you can resist buying them and then you don’t have to worry about it. And the more you learn the easier that becomes. Fight the right battles and winning the war becomes a breeze.
You can do this. It’s not hard, it’s not expensive. Just throw out the drugs, fill your fridge and your pantry with medicine, and start healing.
You can do this!