Here’s an update on my progress to remove my cravings for crappy carbs and sugar. I’m now starting my fourth week in this 12 week process.
As I talked about last time, my plan was to eat nothing but potatoes for two weeks, then slowly add in more flavors each week. The goal of this plan was not to lose weight, nor was it to be healthy. It was to reboot my brain and taste buds and kick them out of their need for crappy foods.
A while back I had to modify the plan, in some aspects making it less stringent, and in other aspects making it more stringent. I lay out my specific new plan below.
How did eating potatoes for two weeks go? The first few days were fine. It was actually pretty easy to just eat nothing but potatoes, and nothing will take you out of the American diet like doing something that drastic.
By the sixth day, I could feel some ill effects. It screwed up my sleeping schedule. I started getting sleepy at odd hours, yet couldn’t go asleep when I went to bed, and for some weird reason I would wake up an hour early every morning. Weird as hell. By the seventh day, I started getting mild headaches, and I never get headaches.
These things were tolerable, but the hardest part was how my body reacted to the hunger. Normally when you’re hungry, you’re just hungry, then you eat, and then you’re fine. When you’re on the two week potato diet, when you’re hungry, it actually hurts. Your stomach burns. It’s really weird. Then when you eat your potato, it satisfies the hunger, but the damn thing sits in your stomach like a rock, and it’s somewhat uncomfortable.
At the outset of this process, I promised myself that if the potato diet was too painful, I would force myself to stick it out for a minimum of nine days (instead of the recommended 14), since I know from my research that the body needs at least nine days for a full cleansing of toxins. I wanted to go to the 14 day mark, but at day nine I just couldn’t stand it anymore and clicked over into the next phase of the eating plan.
The goal was to reboot my diet, and it definitely worked. On day nine I didn’t crave doughnuts or pizza; I craved real food, like salad and chicken. Not bad.
Instead of adding flavors once a week over the next 10.5 weeks, I instead revamped the eating plan to accomplish the same thing with less complication and confusion. Here’s what I ended up doing.
Here’s a list of foods that are completely off limits for me during the next 10.5 week phase of the plan:
- No meat, no dairy. My research shows that a vegan diet is not healthy for a human being long-term, but for a 12 week reset like this, avoiding all animal products seems to be a really good idea. Once the 12 weeks are over I will resume eating things like egg whites, chicken and fish.
- No grains. That obviously includes no refined carbs of any kind (bread, pasta, etc) as well as no complex grain carbs like rolled oats.
- No rice of any kind. Not only is it too starchy, but it’s too easy to eat too much.
- No sugar.
- No oil. Way too caloric. (100 calories for a teaspoon? Screw that.) This is lifted right from Penn Jillette’s diet. When I first heard “no oil” I thought it was stupid, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. Oil is highly caloric and makes food taste too good.
- No salt. Again, I’m training my body to avoid sharp flavors which means no salt. Salt that naturally occurs in unprocessed foods like vegetables is okay.
- No fruit. That also means no berries, which is a change from my original plan. Too sweet. I’m trying to retrain my body to not desire sweet flavors.
- No natural or artificial sweeteners that taste like sugar. Again, too sweet. And not good for you.
- No corn and no carrots. Too sweet.
- No liquids other than water or protein shakes. (Those are the only two things I drink anyway.)
- No nuts. Nuts are healthy but way too caloric. It’s way too easy to go over your calories for the day when eating nuts, even “good” nuts like almonds. I’m trying to train myself to not want to eat piles of nuts, which if I’m not careful I can easily do. (I like peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and LOVE cashews!) One exception to this I allow: my little “cheat” if I’m really hungry is that I can have a teaspoon or two of 100% peanut butter or almond butter. That’s the peanut butter where the only ingredient is organic peanuts. So far that’s worked well.
Well damn, if I can’t eat all that stuff, what the hell can I eat? This:
- All vegetables in unlimited quantities (other than those listed above).
- Avocado in moderation, usually one or two a day. That’s where I get most of my fat (outside of peanut/almond butter).
- Beans in moderation. Pinto beans are my favorite but black beans are better for you, so I eat both. I buy them organic and raw and cook them with lots of yummy spices.
- Potatoes are technically allowed, but only infrequently and in moderation. Since my nine day potato diet I’m not exactly excited to eat those, especially considering I can’t put any butter or salt on them. I’ve only had one potato since my nine day potato diet.
- Protein shakes made from plant based protein powder, water, and possibly low sodium almond milk. I can use this for protein if beans aren’t available or too caloric based on what I’ve already eaten that day. The problem is most plant protein powder is flavored. My favorite is flavored with just a hint of Stevia, which breaks my no sweeteners rule. To work around this as best I can, when I feel like I need the protein, I’ll make a “shot” of protein drink, with a scoop of powder in a bit of water or almond milk, shake it up, gulp the entire thing down as fast as I can with just a few swallows, and immediately wash the flavor out of my mouth with water. So far this has worked okay.
- Any spices I want, as much as I want, as long as there’s no salt, no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and no oil. So I can have natural stuff like pepper, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, etc. I can also have store-bought spices like Ms. Dash no-salt seasonings and various other no-salt options. I have to be very careful to read the ingredients on these though, since many no-salt seasonings often contain sugar and/or artificial crap.
- Other no salt, no sugar seasoning or garnishment options such as lemon juice, nutritional yeast, no-salt mustard, no or low sodium hot sauce, homemade vegetable broth, and things like that. This is lifted from Scott Adams’ diet. He’s an old man with six pack abs. His entire thing is to flavor bland-but-healthy foods as best you can without using sugar.
A typical meal for me is a giant bowl full of lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado, sometimes adding a cup of beans. I also eat assloads of broccoli and cauliflower, sometimes with nothing on it, sometimes with a bunch of seasonings. It’s not bad, and much better than when I was covering my broccoli with cheese like I was under the ketogenic diets I was following. (Which did work in that I lost body fat, but they didn’t eliminate my cravings at all.)
I love avocado, beans, onions, garlic, and tomatoes, so just about every day I’m eating something from that list. Again, I have to be very careful with the avocado (300 calories!) and beans (260 calories per cup!) but so far that hasn’t been a problem. I use the Lose It! app on my phone to track calories when I need to, but most days I don’t since I tend to eat variations of the same stuff every day. The good news is that when your diet is mostly vegetables, you can eat a hell of a lot of food.
Intermittent fasting is still a part of the program, and the only thing about dieting I actually enjoy. I only eat within a six hour window every day, usually between noon and 6pm. My typical day is a lunch around noon, dinner around 5pm-6pm, and maybe a small snack at around 3pm.
I do get a little hungry at night sometimes. It’s irritating, but not horrible. A teaspoon of 100% pure peanut/almond butter helps. Anyone who says “With my diet, you can lose all the weight you want and NEVER be hungry!” is either lying or has great ectomorphic / fast metabolism genetics. Normal human beings who are cutting calories to lose more than 20 pounds are going to be at least a little hungry occasionally. It’s unavoidable.
Lastly, there are absolutely no cheat days or cheat meals allowed until the 12 weeks are over. I’m starting to think that allowing cheat meals was the number one reason my cravings never went away, thus the cause of most of my weight loss problems over the last few years.
So far, this cold turkey thing appears to be working. The first two weeks were hard, but now in my fourth week I haven’t had any strong desire to cheat. I’ve gone three weeks without eating one bite of any crappy carb or sugary food, which is something I have never accomplished in 44 years of life. Pretty decent accomplishment, but I’ve got eight weeks to go. We’ll see. I have not cheated on any of my above rules except for twice where I somewhat violated the no oil and no salt rule because of eating vegetables at a restaurant while with my girlfriend, but that’s it.
Moreover, keeping away from the bad food hasn’t been very hard. I get hungry sometimes, but I don’t quite crave Taco Bell or macaroni and cheese like I used to. Again though, I’ve got eight more weeks of this, so the jury isn’t out yet. In the next post on this, I’ll describe the different types of food cravings I think people experience; it’s a key factor in all of this.
My 12 weeks officially ends November 28th, however November 24th is Thanksgiving here in the US, so I think I’ll just cut the 12 weeks short by four days and celebrate by indulging in a Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t think four days at that point will make any major difference. Hopefully by then I won’t even want shitty food. Again, we’ll see.