If you’re anything like me, you know what it’s like to have a raging, full-fledged, unmitigated addiction to carbohydrates. It’s not for lack of understanding of the harmful side effects of over indulging in carbohydrates, believe me, I have heard it all before. I know I should go bunless, order the chicken with steamed vegetables instead of the pasta bolognese and yet time after time it seems virtually impossible to make the “right” decision. Sound familiar? I am well aware that carbohydrates are quite possibly the single most contributing factor to all of my weight gains over the years and yet when anyone suggests I should cut them out of my diet, I have a full fledged internal panic attack. Like a child forced to give-up their pacifier, I am having a serious tantrum over giving up my morning bagel and favorite chicken panini, (shout out to il trem.) On my quest to conquer this weakness I have done countless hours of research on the effects of insulin on the body and have discovered, by being my own guinea pig, that if I can simply give up carbohydrates for 3-4 days, I will no longer crave them. Now, building the courage, will-power and stamina to resist carbs for 3-4 days, well therein lies the ultimate challenge. I have carried this knowledge around with me for months without mustering the strength to act upon it. Two weeks ago however, I found the strength to take on the 4 day no carb challenge and I write to you today 15 days sober from carbohydrates. I am happy to report that my cravings are completely gone and while I cannot believe what I am about to say, I actually do not miss the bagels, pastas, and other glutenous foods that had become my closest companions.
If you are looking to rid yourself of your carb addition, here is my 12 step plan for you:
1. Breathe. This addiction is not your fault. It is biological and the first step will certainly be the most courageous and difficult of them all. You can do this.
2. Find a plan. You don’t want to just throw away your food, sit in an empty kitchen and think…now what? Set-up a plan that you can do, even just for four days before you re-evaluate and check-in with how you are feeling. For me, this plan was Isagenix. It is easy, 2 shakes and a meal. It is affordable, I spend less money on food then I had been previously, and I get to work with a licensed nutritionist who is part of my isagenix team. For me, this was the best plan. For you, it could be a low glycemic plan you find online or Paleo, the world is your oyster, find what works for you and make a solid plan.
3. Cleanse your house of all carbohydrates and high glycemic (sugar) foods. Bread, Rice, Pasta, Cereal, Candy….get rid of it. Give it to a homeless shelter, throw it away, just get it out! This is very hard. You are going to try to hold on to some things, hide them in the back of your cabinet, put them in the back of the fridge…don’t do it! Let it go, rip the band-aid, you can do this!
4. Plan out your meals. You need a plan when you go to the grocery store so that you can keep your eye on the prize and only buy the foods that your new plan allows. Now, this is the most important part for me. As someone that has been dieting since the age of 7, went to fat camp, the biggest loser resort, etc. I have decades of experience wrapped inside of me and I think I have finally discovered why diets don’t work and how to increase your chances for success. Whatever you are eating, even if it is carb-less, and low glycemic, it must taste good. If you insists on only eating grilled chicken and steamed veggies, you will not last long. I am going to do my best to share as many of my recipes with you as I can type but if you like to cook and you like to eat food that tastes good, you can do this. All you have to do is be a little creative. Think about your favorite foods and find ways to adjust the recipes to meet your new dietary needs. Don’t think of it as restriction, think of it as a chance to exercise your divine creativity. This can be fun!
5. Grocery Shopping. Thall shall not shop hungry. This is very important. Before you go to the grocery store make sure that you have eaten. If you show up to the store ravenous because you have thrown away all of your food, you will be much more likely to over-buy and run the risk of buying items that are not a part of your plan.
6. Support. Align yourself with family, friends, co-workers, pets, etc. who provide you with the support you need to take on this challenge. This might not be the best time to go out with your binge partner in crime or to spend excessive time talking to your “diets don’t work” cynical friends and/or family. We are not cutting anyone out, we are just choosing to surrounding ourselves with the people who will support us on this journey. Have a friend who wants to join you on the challenge? Even better! Having someone experience a new eating plan with you is always helpful. However, you can certainly do it alone. In fact, I took on this challenge alone and have found my support system along the way!
7. Sleep/Schedule. If you work a regular 9-5 job, your schedule is probably fairly dictated, which can be a good thing. If you have a more nebulous schedule, it may be helpful to add a little bit of structure to your days. Schedule meal times, time for work, time to take a walk or meditate, and make sure to get adequate sleep. This will all be very helpful with keeping you on track.
8. Distractions. How many times have you opened and closed the fridge? Some of this behavior is habitual and will not stop even when your “old friends” are no longer in the fridge. Most of the time, at least for me, this is happening out of boredom. Find a hobby, take up writing, knitting, walking, meditating, painting, watching house of cards (away from the kitchen.) If you are keeping yourself busy you won’t be tempted to eat out of boredom.
9. Avoid Restaurants. Obviously, you may find yourself eating out a few times here and there but try to keep this to a minimum. It will be much harder to stay on track and you can’t control what you are eating as much when you are not the one doing the cooking. If you work and cooking during the week is hard, try preparing your meals ahead of time on a sunday. You can even involve your family in the process or if you live alone turn up the music and throw yourself a weekly cooking party. Go ahead, sing along, dance to the music, no one is watching!
10. Be prepared. When possible, prepare for the unexpected. Ever gone to the movies on a diet? The smell of popcorn swimming through the air can be lethal to anyone trying to go carb-less. I call my solution: battle of the senses. When I go to the movies, I bring an orange or clementine. The scent of the citrus will overpower the popcorn smell and the sweetness of the fruit will be just enough to give you a little spike without causing too much damage. It is important to think ahead in situations like this.
11. Evaluate. You have made it over the 4 day hump. How do you feel? Is it getting easier? Do a check-in with yourself and decide how you would like to move forward.
12. Celebrate! You did it, you have mastered the impossible! Be proud of yourself. If you can conquer your addiction to carbs, imagine what other impossible feats you can overcome!
You…..You’re good you….You’re very very good!