We like to take some comments on the site “Main Page”, if we feel there’s a good question, commentary or lesson to be learned. And yesterday, we received a comment from Susan that hit home – and spoke to one of the most important reasons why we created and continue to promote the Whole30 program as a way to “change your life in 30 days”. The comment is as follows:
24 May, 2010 at 10:35 pm
I can handle cutting out a lot of not so healthy foods, but I’ll admit that i have a serious sweet tooth (and I’m great at making gourmet sweets. Salted caramels? Chocolate truffles? gelato to die for? You name it.) I love ice cream, and summer is around the corner, meaning I could easily find an excuse to eat ice cream everyday.
I recently came across the following recipe (for “Paleo” ice cream) and thought it was genius. It’s surprisingly creamy and delicious, and I’m assuming you can actually eat it every day on the Whole30 plan. It only has one ingredient- frozen bananas, but you can also add almond or sun-nut butter or cinnamon to mix it up a bit. Seriously, this kicks the sweet treat cravings in a pretty awesome way.
Susan wasn’t the first to wonder about “Paleo” substitutions. We’ve received questions about Fudge Babies, Paleo Pancakes and other typically sub-optimal food choices which have been re-tooled with Whole3o-approved ingredients. But bless your heart, Susan… you are missing the bus entirely with this “Paleo” ice cream.
For those of you new to the Whole30, please don’t skip over the foundations of the program and proceed straight to the “approved” food list. One of the most important and life-changing goals of the Whole30 is to change your tastes, change your habits, and break your emotional and habitual connections with craving sugar and giving your body sugar. Trying to satisfy your old sweet tooth habit with shiny new “Paleo” treats isn’t going to do you any good whatsoever in the long term. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between Breyer’s Mint Chip and Paleo banana ice cream. All your brain knows is that it threw a sugar tantrum, and you gave it sugar. So what do you think is going to happen an hour from now, a day from now, a week from now, a year from now? More cravings and uglier tantrums, as frustratingly impossible to ignore as a two year old at Disney, because you keep giving it what it wants.
And that is not what we want for you.
We want you to break that connection once and for all. We want you to learn that you don’t need sugar as a pick-me-up, an emotional comfort, a reward for good behavior. And to learn that, you need to break that pattern of crave sugar, get sugar. So, Susan, while your frozen banana treats are Whole30 ingredient approved, the dessert itself is OUT. Skip the Paleo sweet substitutes and focus on breaking that connection your brain has to sugar. Craving sweets? Eat a small amount of fat instead. Fat is satiating – it tells your brain that it’s full and happy. A few almonds or a quarter of an avocado goes a long way in satisfying hunger cravings without giving your brain the sugar it’s telling you it needs. Tough it out, because changing this pattern and breaking this pattern will prove to be one of the healthiest, most rewarding, most freeing experience of your life.
From a science-y perspective, a bowl full of frozen bananas every day, while a better food choice, is just as counteractive to restoring insulin sensitivity and breaking those sugar connections as any other form of sugar out there. In fact, while we’ll never tell you bananas are “bad”, they are one of the least desirable fruits from our perspective – a ton of starch (sugars), and little nutrition compared to, say, richly colored cherries or berries. When including fruit in your Whole30 plan, we’d want you to maximize nutrient density, and choose fruits that allow you to have more of them in a single serving! You can have an entire cup of blueberries for the same sugar content as a small banana. And that cup of blueberries goes a long way towards both giving you lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, and making you feel satisfied with the amount of food on your plate.
Susan – please don’t let this scare you off. We’re tough loving you because if you’re going to make the effort of giving up foods you enjoy, we want it to COUNT. Think about what we’re asking you to do, and why, and how you can best accomplish the goals of both changing the way you eat and changing the way you think about the foods you eat. Start today, post often, and let us know how things are going. And thanks for your contributions, because we’re betting you’re not the only one who is struggling with sugar cravings and how to break those connections.
Got any words of inspiration for Susan? Post. Share. Motivate. Inspire. And then go buy some cherries at your local grocery store or farmer’s market, because they’re in season right now, and they’re delicious.