Removing My Cravings for Carbs and Sugar – Part 2
In part one I described my problem in that I believe I have a real addiction to certain types of sugars, specifically refined carbs like bread. Today I’ll tell you what I’ve started doing to hopefully forever cure myself of this addiction.
Unlike with past diets and fitness plans, my objective here is not to avoid eating the wrong foods, nor control calories, nor be healthy (at least not yet), nor gain muscle. It’s to not want to eat the wrong foods in the first place. That’s it, no other objective. This means something radical is in order, even if it’s not healthy in the short-term. It means things like simply cutting back on the sugar/crappy carbs isn’t going to cut it. It also means, as many of you pointed out in the last post about this, that any diet plan that involves cheat days isn’t going to work either.
Instead, I’m going to have to cut it ALL off, cold turkey. Almost every expert source I consulted on this said pretty much the same thing: it will take anywhere from 30 to 90 days of eating ZERO sugar and ZERO shitty carbs before all the cravings for these things go away. After that point, if you’ve succeeded, you won’t need cheat days (as we typically think of them anyway) because you won’t be excited to eat those kinds of foods in the first place.
At a minimum, cheat days will hopefully become an event where you’re eating things like berries, granola, honey, or a little ice cream, instead of crap like doughnuts, pizza and burritos. I know pro athletes who do this. They have cheat days, but their cheat days look completely different than the cheat days you or I are accustomed to.
From all the sources I’ve looked at over the last few weeks, I’ve put together a 12 week plan to reboot my dietary needs and hopefully eliminate my need for sugar and crappy carbs. I don’t know if it will work, but I’m going to give it a shot. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, I will try something else, and I’ll be aware of at least one other technique that doesn’t work (for me at least).
Not wanting crappy carbs or sugar is a radical goal, so this temporary diet is going to be…extreme. I also don’t actually think it will be very healthy at certain points. That’s okay. For the next 12 weeks, health isn’t the goal; permanently removing the cravings is.
Here’s what I’m going to do.
Phase One: Two weeks, nothing but potatoes. That’s right. All I can eat are potatoes (not yams) for two weeks, with nothing on them. No butter, oil, salt, pepper, or anything else to flavor them. Just potatoes. You have to eat the entire potato, including all the skin. This is how Penn Jillette got started with his diet. He lost 100 pounds and kept it off, after being fat for his entire life. Potatoes have a very mild flavor, resetting your taste buds if that’s all you eat. Potatoes are also nutritious enough to be the sole source of calories as long as you don’t do it for too long (two weeks is okay), since they have plenty of carbohydrates and some complete protein (but no virtually no fat, which is a problem).
Again, the goal isn’t to be healthy. The goal is to reset my taste buds and remove the desire for sharp tasting foods. Eating nothing but potatoes for two weeks apparently does this. We’ll see. I started this on Monday. Ten days to go.
The good news is that you can eat all the potatoes you want. However, you won’t want very much. Plain baked potatoes are both boring and filling (which is part of the point). Since Monday I’ve only needed to eat 3.5 potatoes a day and feel more or less satiated.
Phase Two: 10 weeks, extreme vegan + intermittent fasting, slowly re-introducing flavors one at a time. Starting at week three, I’m going to very slowly start re-introducing my body to new flavors. During these 10 weeks, no meat, no dairy, no sugar, no salt, no oils, no nuts, and no simple carbs like bread or pasta are allowed. No flavorings of any kind are allowed unless they’re listed in the schedule below. Potatoes are still allowed but only a max of one per day and only if you feel you need it (i.e. if you get light headed or feel the need for protein before you can add beans to the diet).
Intermittent fasting is also a component. You can only eat during a six hour eating window, which is easy for me since I was already doing that with Carb Nite. My eating window is usually between noon and 6pm. I love intermittent fasting, since it makes me feel great and is fantastic for time management. Intermittent fasting is the only part of dieting that I enjoy.
For specific allowed foods, I’m going to use this schedule to re-introduce flavors slowly:
Week 1-2: Phase one – unlimited potatoes only
Week 3: Lettuce (and similar greens like spinach), broccoli, cauliflower, and corn
Week 4: Beans (in moderation), mushrooms, ground pepper
Week 5: Tabasco (and other hot sauces), carrots, Vinegar (including balsamic), onions
Week 6: Tomatoes, peppers.
Week 7: Berries (in moderation, frozen or fresh, not canned), all other vegetables
Week 8: No-salt seasonings, lemon juice, garlic
Week 9: All other fruit (in moderation, frozen or fresh, not canned, no juice)
Week 10-12: No change, but I might nuts in moderation if things are going well
Phase Three: Maintenance, forevermore. After the 12 weeks, hopefully my cravings for eating garbage will be gone. I’m not really sure how phase three will look, but it will be similar to what I do now, which is no sugar, no shitty carbs, no fruit, very low salt and oil, meat (mostly poultry and fish), dairy, and beans in moderation, protein shakes from plant protein (not whey), and a massive focus on vegetables. The closer I get to phase three, the more clearly I’ll define it.
If I still feel like I need some kind of cheat day at this point (and I’m hoping I won’t), only one cheat evening will be allowed once every 13 or 14 days. None of this cheat-once-a-week stuff. Hopefully, during these cheat meals I won’t even want crap like bread, pasta, noodles, crappy carbs, candy, chocolate, or anything too sugary, and focus instead on fruit, granola, no-sugar-added ice cream, candied nuts, and things like that. Again, we’ll see.
Other Things I’ll Be Doing
In addition to the above, I’ll also do the following to help me mentally reprogram:
1. Removing all pictures of food from my office, house, and computer.
2. Removing all food and food containers from the countertops and putting them away so I don’t see them.
3. Refusing to let any shitty food in the house unless it’s a cheat day. (I already do this.)
4. Completely unsubscribing from and avoiding all “food porn,” like those quick videos, so popular now, about how to quickly make tasty dishes.
5. Putting up pics of my ideal and achievable body, based on my body type, everywhere in my house. (I already do this.) It’s a picture of Vin Diesel in a T-shirt when he was not very lean but still looking healthy and reasonably buff, with his head cropped off.
6. Listening to self talk audio every morning. (I already do this.) I have a recording on my phone that spells out my fitness goals, all stated in the present tense and positive, and plays on auto repeat all morning as I get ready for the day. I may start doing this at night as well.
7. Stop talking about food (dispassionate analysis like this blog post doesn’t count).
8. Stop verbally reacting to when I see or smell food, even by joking around or saying “Mmmm” or “That smells so good!”
9. Staying completely away from places like bakeries and parts of the grocery store that have bread and crappy carbs, so I don’t see or smell it.
10. Avoiding restaurants as much as feasible. With my lifestyle, I can’t avoid restaurants completely, but I can (and will) cut back.
11. Recruit the two people I spend the most time with, my daughter and my girlfriend, to help me out, or at least not fight me on this, which will be hard for them. (Because A, they’re girls, and B, their American Societal Programming regarding food, eating out, cheat days, relaxing on weekends, eating during holidays and birthdays, etc.)
The biggest challenge I see is that I’ll be spending a few weeks in Europe right in the middle of phase two. Shit. A challenge to be sure, but not a huge problem, since I have past experience with controlling my eating when I travel. Plus, focusing on vegetables and fruit while in Europe will not be nearly as big a problem as it would in be places like Asia or Mexico. Also, I’ll be with my mom most of that time (I’m taking her to visit her distant relatives in Sicily) and she’s a tiny person who only eats vegetables anyway; I couldn’t have a better travel companion to help me with my oddball diet.
I’ll keep you updated on my progress. I’m moderately optimistic about this, and figure my odds of completely destroying my cravings in 12 weeks are around 50-60%, but I’ve committed to this 12 week program regardless. At a minimum, it will be a fantastic learning experience, and I’ll be that much closer to my fitness goals irrespective of the result.