My "Eat More Fats!" Miracle Insight
I have been following the Paleo diet for a couple of years now. Let me be really clear about what that following has looked like for me. First, I went gluten-free and dairy-free. Then I went grain-free. Then I went refined-sugar free. But all of these -free episodes were heavily interspersed with me following the plan for a few weeks, going off the plan for at least a week (sometimes a month), then going back on the plan for another few weeks, then going off plan for another week or so. It has been a mercurial and frustrating cycle to say the least. All of this has been tied to my own female cycle with the week of carb craving and going off plan coinciding with my week of horrible PMS. The last year particularly, I felt my knowledge about nutrition and diet was very good but my behavioral compliance was very poor. What I have been trying to do is bridge that gap between what I have learned and what I have experienced.
A few months ago I joined a small gym with the express purpose of working out in a class setting on a regular basis. According to Dr. Mark Hyman in his book Blood Sugar Solution one of the greatest ways to ensure compliance in a long-term goal such as exercise is to do it in a group setting. My weight wasn't changing much but I was determined to increase my exercise so I could improve my horrific fatigue (which also coincided with that horrible week of PMS) and increase my insulin sensitivity.
The gym promoted a low carb/high fat diet and also purported to follow the principles of intuitive eating. Good. I did not need anyone trying to stuff their nutritional theories down my throat or trigger me into a diet mentality. Yet, I was very intrigued by this gym and its program. It meant that I started reading a lot more about low carb/high fat (if you want to know more, go check out DietDoctor.com) and experimenting with good fats.
Listen, I have known for a long time about good fats: coconut oil, grassfed butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil, and saturated fats from grassfed animals. And I cooked and ate all of these options. But one night last month when I was in the midst of my week of low energy and intense carb cravings, I had a breakthrough.
One of my tips for dealing with carb cravings and that week of super low-energy is to have food prepared beforehand or buy prepared Paleo meals, as well as trying to counteract the cravings with lots of probiotic and fermented foods. Well, one night, after eating dinner, I was on the prowl for SOMETHING. You know that something that is going to heal the annoying itch that just needs to be scratched in your blood? I couldn't find the thing to scratch it. And for me that night, I was out of goat milk kefir. For some reason, that is what I was wanted to try to counteract my carb cravings. So, at 9pm at night, I ran to the store looking for that magical kefir. I got there, went clear to the back of the store and they were all out! I didn't know what to do at the point. I was exhausted, brain fogged and feeling panicky. Every month, I went through this same week of terrible cravings and super low energy. I had vowed to do everything in my power this time to just hang on and see if I could get through that week rather than having it derail me for another week or so.
I didn't have kefir and I didn't have a back up plan of what to eat next. So, I dithered right there in the middle of the grocery store. Do I indulge in chocolate that I wanted so badly? Do I give into my cravings just one more time? Was there anything else I could eat at that moment that would help me through this? I wandered the aisles in a kind of stupor looking and wishing that the answer would appear right in front of me. All of a sudden, I realized I had an avocado at home and a can of coconut milk. They may not be probiotic foods but I could certainly use them to go home and make a smoothie.
And that is exactly what I did. A whole can of coconut milk and one large avocado mixed with some spinach, some raw cacoa powder and a little stevia. A fat bomb smoothie. I made that thing as fast as I could and drank it down in just a few minutes. And then my little miracle happened. All that mounting tension and concern about how I was going to survive this horrible week went away. My entire body relaxed and I suddenly felt profoundly and a completely full. No more cravings to make me crazy.
That event that night felt like a revelation. Despite the fact that I knew how to eat good fats and I knew what good fats were, I realized that I was simply not eating enough fat every day. I was skimping on fat when I should have been reveling in it. That week of PMS was one of the easiest and best weeks I have had in the past few years because I just kept consuming good fats in abundance at every meal. All the tension and the worry eased out of me that week and I felt like "is this the bridge to that gap I have been experiencing? Is this how I am supposed to get through this kind of week?"
I have certainly been enjoying this part of the journey! Does eating more fat help you combat cravings too?