Hookers and Cocaine! The 5-Step Process for Overcoming Food Addictions and Easing Into Paleo.

Posted on 14. Dec, 2011 by in What to Eat

“Don’t drink soda unless it’s mixed with alcohol”

That’s the rule I created for myself back in high school.  I didn’t know a lot about health back then, but I knew soda was bad for me, and I thought it would be a great way to keep myself from mindlessly downing cans of soda like so many of my friends were doing.  (Luckily for me, I didn’t see the flip-side of that equation where I just start drinking more alcohol AND more soda.)

Little did I know that 10 years later I would be able to look back and realize that my stupid rule actually worked.  I can’t even remember the last time I drank a full soda that wasn’t mixed with Jack Daniels or Captain Morgan, and Im guessing I have probably drank less than 10 cans total(of straight soda) since I first committed to that rule.

Now I was never a HUGE soda drinker to begin with, but that doesn’t really change the impact of this decision.  I mean, I know plenty of cigarette smokers who never used to be big smokers, but now struggle to smoke less than 2 packs per day.   Im sure the same could be said for many people with hookers and cocaine(or maybe you prefer an example like Starbucks coffee).

We tend to forget how much our small decisions can become habits and begin to dramatically define who we really are.

You may even already feel that most of your bad habits have become full-blown addictions at this point.  If this is true, it’s going to be very difficult to change more than one at any given time.  Its like trying to stop biting your nails and quitting smoking at the same time, there’s a good chance you’re going to fail at both.

Going from a Standard American diet to a Paleo diet can sometimes feel the same way.  You’re not just addicted to food in general, you are addicted to sugar, coffee, bread, pasta, ice cream, convenience, and a whole list of things.  You’ve become the cigarette smoker, who bites his nails, spends too much time on Facebook(or internet porn), and is trying to lose weight, all at the same time.  While full-blown Paleo will definitely give you the greatest benefits, it may help to approach your new diet one step at a time.  One habit at a time.

Here are some Paleo baby steps for you to tackle your addictions one-by-one.

Step #1: Eliminate Liquid Calories

Liquid calories are the easiest to consume, and therefore, the easiest to forget you consumed.  The occasional(or not so occasional) glass of milk, orange juice, Gatorade, Coca Cola, Starbucks coffee, and ice cold Heineken begin to add up quickly and wreak havoc on your body.  Some of us will consume all of the above in a single day and not even think twice about the huge chunk of extra calories we just consumed (the answer is 780 calories by the way).

It’s amazing how many people hate themselves for eating a piece of chocolate (200 calories), but they don’t even think twice about their daily Starbucks Gingerbread Latte (390 calories).

Liquid calories are the low-hanging fruit of the Paleo world.  They are the calories that add up the fastest, but the ones that you will miss the least once their gone.  That is why we recommend tackling these first.


What About Coffee and Alcohol?

We obviously can’t have a discussion about liquid calories without addressing the two sacred ones: coffee and alcohol.  Talking about coffee or alcohol is like talking politics or religion with most people, you will likely get your face ripped off the second you bring it up.  That is why I am going to clearly state upfront that my goal is not to have you remove coffee or alcohol from your life, but just to have you make better decisions with both.

Let’s start with coffee.  The problem with coffee is not the coffee itself or even the caffeine.  It’s the SUGAR!  I have come to the conclusion that most coffee drinkers don’t even like the taste of coffee, they like the taste of sugar.  If you REALLY enjoy the taste of coffee then you should be able to drink it with a splash of heavy cream or a sprinkle of cinnamon (both acceptable flavorings).  If you can’t drink your coffee this way then coffee is no different from any other sugary beverage that you could be drinking.  You might as well just drink a milkshake (Okay, that’s an extreme example but I think you get the point).

Now let’s look at alcohol.  When we talk alcohol we are really just talking about one kind, red wine!  It’s the only form of alcohol that can be a consistent part of a healthy lifestyle.  A glass or two of red wine per day has been shown to benefit everything from cardiovascular function to extending life span.  Just don’t drink the whole bottle at once.  Beyond that, all other forms of alcohol need to be reserved for cheat meals once a week.


What about insert favorite drink?

What about smoothies?

What about coconut water?

What about artificial sweeteners?

The short answer is NO, NO, and NO.  Especially as you’re just starting out!  We could probably talk all day about the pros and cons of specific drinks but the bottom line is you’re likely better off without them.   Once you get in the habit of drinking water, you will start to crave it, and you will begin to forget that other options even exist.

To Sum things Up…

Drink lots of water, don’t worry about herbal teas or black coffee, and limit your consumption of alcohol to no more than 2 glasses of red wine per day.

Even without any changes to the rest of your diet, you should see noticeable results from simply removing the majority of liquid calories from your diet. Stay tuned for steps 2-5 in the upcoming days.

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