health affects of sugar

Give your sugar tantrums a time-out

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:

Susan says:

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.

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  1. J.Spice says

    Hi all!

    I’ve found through changing my eating habits that a lot of the time I’m really not hungry. I think I may be, but really I’m bored, tired, annoyed,and a boatload of other emotions. I’ve always self-medicated with food instead of tackling the problem head on. Once I realized this, I could change these habits. Dessert could be just a habit for you, Susan. The next time you are craving that ice cream ask yourself “why?”. If you’re humgry you should follow Melissa’s advice and eat some fat, but if your bored or tired, then go to bed or read a book. I’m just telling you out of experience.


  2. Kevin says

    Great post. I think that overcoming the habits of food intake is as important as the food itself. I am currently struggling with no dairy since the seminar in Austin. I didn’t realize how much of a crutch food it was to me. If I needed quick protein, milk was my friend. I didn’t “get” the whole30 thing before because I was 80% – 90% paleo anyway. Now it is becoming clear.


    P.S. Although I know dairy will never be my friend I hope it doesn’t become my enemy like it did to Melissa. I love cheese and it will be my first test case on June 25th.

  3. Karyn M. says

    The Whole 9 site is a new favorite of mine. My husband and I started CrossFitting in February and did the Paleo Challenge at our affiliate gym in April with good results. I lost 9 or 10 inches total, 8.8 pounds, and my body has totally transformed… but the real transformation has been my diet. As a former truly obese couch potato, I would rather eat sweets than anything else in the world. In the past 10 years, I have learned to control that to a degree, but eating Paleo has taken the psycho desire for sweets out of the equation. I still love chocolate, but I don’t crave it like I have my whole life. If I indulge, I get right back to my new lifestyle of eating Paleo. Thanks for your blog! Great information!

  4. says

    My food cravings have followed a similar pattern. I’ve been doing the whole paleo thing close to a year now, and after doing the original whole30, I had mostly broken the emtion=food complex, with one exception. Whenever I felt great about myself, I wanted to eat things that would make me healthy. The only times that I’ve fallen off the wagon were usually when life stress reared it’s head in some major way, and my body would start to revert to old habits. Heck, it got so predictable that I could judge how stressed out I was for a while based on how strong my desire was to grab something from wendy’s whenever I drove by(or eat dark chocolate whenever I walked past the pantry). Even though I was eating dark chocolate instead of M&Ms… I was feeding the habit. Don’t let your previous bad connections limit you. YOU are the arbiter of what goes into your body. You, your conscious mind makes all the decisions about what passes your lips. Anything else is justification (Which I’ve done more times than I can count).

    That being said, Happy Day 10+ to everyone! Hope your experiences are going well, and things have evened out for you. Stay strong!


  5. says

    Great post!

    Might be nice to link to PaNu’s post on why eating “Paleo X” (Paleo muffins! Paleo lasagna! Paleo cookies!) is not a good idea. I’m sure you’ve seen the post, but many of your readers surely have not. One of his milder observations is that “Paleo X” is really “A veiled excuse to make a sugar vehicle.” Well worth a read.

    There is one thing good about “Paleo ice cream”: it is free of dairy, gluten, excess omega-6 (well, unless you add certain nuts), and trans fats. I completely agree with you about missing the boat if you’re going to eat it regularly, but if you’re gonna indulge yourself once in a while, say, on your birthday, I would rather have pseudo-Paleo foods, rather than a store-bought concoction that will give you the sugar rush PLUS a bunch of gluten/lectins and trans fats and omega-6.

    I agree with the other commenters who said that their sugar cravings are way, way down after a few months on Paleo. I don’t really have the urge to “cheat” often, whereas a year ago, I looked forward to a weekly blow-out cheat day. Keep hanging in there, and before you know it, your tastes and cravings will change.

  6. susan says

    Ha! When you said you were taking my comment main page, I didn’t realize that it would be, well, so direct! But it’s great, and I assumed your response would be something like this. I know that ultimately I need to reroute my cravings, and part of doing so would be to jump on board with the Whole30 program. I’m psyched to join you, but sadly must wait until August because I’m about to embark on a 2 month trip to Latin America where I’ll be fed mainly beans and rice by my host family. I’m not about to demand something different in someone else’s culture or household.

    Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to some bigger issues when it comes to Paleo eating. I’ll try to keep it short.

    Paleo eating can only be adopted by a small group of people: very privileged folks who can afford lots of fresh veggies, fruit and meat, or the small groups of people on this planet who still hunt and gather their food. Speaking from a future nurse practitioner’s perspective, part of the struggle in helping people get healthy is that some things are simply not an option for folks, especially oppressed people. Eating well is probably your last concern If you’re poor and marginalized, and even if it is a concern, it just might not be viable. And even if you are not poor, eating high quality meat is very expensive.

    I love meat. As a ‘post- vegetarian’ I now feel worlds better than I did when my diet lacked animal protein, and I’m much easier satiated as well. However, my love for meat is also joined by an eye for injustice, whether social or environmental. Our agricultural system is a mess on every level, and it harms ecosystems, workers, and animals. A few years ago I decided (for many reasons) to join a friend of mine (more seasoned in farming) in starting and operating a small organic, pasture-raised meat and egg farm. It was a truly awesome experience and I’ve never worked harder in my life. Through it I’ve come to be even pickier about the meat I choose to consume. I could talk about it at length, but I’ve already taken up too much space…However, I will say that I generally won’t eat meat unless I feel pretty confident about it meeting a certain standard, a standard that even Whole Foods can’t live up too. In fact, I think Whole Foods has severely undermined the original intentions of the organic and local food movements. Think you’re doing good by shopping there? Think again. I’m not saying that they’re 100% bad, but ‘organic’ has been marketed to death now, and all it really means is that the food has been grown in accordance to certain standards, standards that, in the end, mostly model the conventional agricultural system that is problematic on so many levels.

    I’m sure that many of you know that the best option is to shop at your local farmer’s market and to eat grass-fed meat. But as I was saying earlier, those things can only sustain a relatively small group of people. Access to quality food, whether geographic, cultural, or economic is limited for most people. AND, even if everyone could afford high quality produce and meats (and if that’s what you all want, better start fighting for economic justice), our land simply couldn’t support everyone’s diet being meat-based.

    Basically what I struggle with most in adopting Paleo eating is- how do I really feel about eating a diet that only the elitist or the elite can afford (if i’m truly eating within my principles)? And how do I feel about eating a diet that is ultimately not ecologically sustainable for the population at large?

  7. susan says

    That second to last sentence was supposed to say ‘the elitist OF the elite’. Oops.

  8. Josh says

    I’m curious as to the responses Susans post will get. I’ve come to the same realization about the elitism inherent in eating this way. Ultimately the root of the problem is that this planet is overpopulated to a degree that is unsustainable without food production efforts being geared toward massive quantities of production rather than being geared toward quality.

  9. says

    Susan’s post offers a hypothesis that only the elite can afford to eat “healthy”. It ends with her expressing self doubt about pursuing a way of eating that may violate her principals. In between there are sweeping generalizations and opinions about a host of subjects that may or may not relate to the Whole30 and Paleo eating principals.

    My answer to Susan is simple. Look in the mirror and ask, “is embracing this (Paleo) right for me?”. Answer ONLY Yes or No. If you won’t answer Yes or No then THE ANSWER IS NO. Follow the answer.

    As far as everything in between, there are plenty of other blogs where one can discuss the finer points of the various social & economic issues mentioned. This site is grounded in providing a forum to share information and experiences in the practice of this lifestyle CHOICE. I’d like to see it stay closely on point.


  10. says

    Susan, I understand where you’re coming from but I respectfully disagree. Anyone who advocates a “Paleo” based style of eating is not advocating anything elitist. Yes, ideally we would all be raising our own grassfed cows and pastured chickens and eating organic vegetables from backyard gardens but I think we all understand that for varying reasons it’s not possible for all of us to get to that 100% “ideal”.

    Obviously I can’t keep a cow or grow a garden, because I live in the middle of a city. But I know lots of people that fit pretty high producing gardens in window boxes or on balconies. Cowsharing options are available. And if you can’t grow it yourself you can also find a local farmer that does. There are farmer’s markets EVERYWHERE in the city.

    On the flip side though, I know that I’m lucky. Philadelphia is a farmer’s market area. We’re surrounded by farms that aren’t huge agricultural monstrosities. I know a lot of places don’t have that luxury. But since it’s available to me and local, I am definitely going to take advantage of it.

    Above all though, I do the best I can. If I can’t afford grassfed meat, that doesn’t mean I’m going to start eating bread again. I just cut back on my meat consumption that week and eat more veggies. And there are lots of times that I can’t afford grassfed meat. I make $35,000 per year, which is nowhere near poverty level, but adjusted for living expenses in a city I absolutely don’t have a lot of discretionary income at the end of the month. But I do have the ability to prioritize and make choices. I choose to have a cheap cell phone and I choose to avoid cable tv. I buy fewer clothes because I’d prefer to spend the money on food. As MIchael Pollan points out in “In Defense of Food,” Americans spend less of their discretionary income on food than any other developed country. But somehow, in the last 20 years, we’ve found money to spend on giant flatscreen tvs, second cars, cable and internet packages, smartphones, etc etc.

    And yes, I know that I’m privileged compared to so many in our country and in the world so please don’t take this as some kind of pat on my own back here. But to say that a diet of fresh foods is unattainable for all but the wealthiest Americans concerns me. I see people in the grocery store bypassing the WIC approved broccoli (it’s WIC approved in the farmer’s market too) and head straight for the giant bag of Cheetos and the Pepsi. Broccoli is not expensive. And the health problems that come from a diet of “cheap” food is more expensive than broccoli any day.

    I agree that our agricultural system is messed up almost beyond repair, but I don’t think that the solution is to completely write off the small farmer and the local food movement. And to gently refocus the mindset of people like me is an encouraging start.

  11. Kim says

    Hi Melissa and Dallas,

    thank you for you this supportive blog! I am on day 26 of the challenge and have certainly experienced a relief from the sweet cravings!

    I would like to ask for a little more information on the coconut aminos mentioned yesterday. Is the added salt compatible with the Whole 30 challenge?

    Thank you! Thanks to my newfound energy, I was able motivated to do a kb swing reverse ladder today, starting at 20 swings.


  12. Natalie says

    I struggle with many of the same questions that Susan does however I find no solace in despair. I believe that there are multiple solutions to every problem. I wouldn’t expect that something that works for me or my community would also work for every other person or place in the world. I support my local farmers market and joined a CSA because it is what I want to see more of around me, and what makes me the healthiest. Imagine if everyone stopped supporting local options that work locally but could never work globally. The local options would disappear and we would all be left with fewer solutions to the world’s problems. I don’t know anyone who would stop drinking (relatively) safe, fresh water just because the whole world doesn’t have this option, so why should food be any different. Instead of feeling guilty for indulging in an elitist diet, I feel obligated to choose the best options for MY health and MY community.

    PS (Please consider reading “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith. The first three sections are spot on and very thought provoking.)

  13. susan says

    Ooh, looks like I opened a can of worms, and some folks have made some incorrect assumptions about my feelings, knowledge, and perspective on the subject. Rather than respond and continue what CaptainTom has identified as a digression of the intention of this blog, I’ll take a step back and also apologize for taking up the space with my sustainability and equality ruminations and the responses that have resulted. (However, I would like to say that I never meant to imply that if I chose not to eat Paleo it would be out of privilege guilt. I also wasn’t suggesting that we forgo the things that bring us and our communities health that others cannot afford.)

    Thanks to Melissa and Dallas for this blog and website, which offer great support in an accessible manner. I hope that I can make it to one of your workshops in the future. Come to Boston!

  14. LCB says

    Not to veer from the sustainability topic to far (as it is a very interesting topic and ever more prevalent concern in our society) I would just like to say that Day #1 began for me today and I am really counting on all you guys to help me stay near and dear to Whole30’s goal.

    I’ve been doing paleo (or trying) since January, and though I venture from the path here and there, I did see the results, until I ate them away again. Nevertheless, I understand the feelings you go through, the changes in habits, and the hard social situations that come with this eating lifestyle, but I want it for me. I want it because of what it does for my own body, I want it for what it does for those around me as the become interested in what/why I am eating this way, and I want it for the pure fact of sticking it to the man for brain washing our society into the most unhealthy lifestyles ever create.

    With that being said. Waaahoooooo day #1 check! :)

  15. Emily says

    I’m not sure if I’m missing the point here. Are all paleo-fied foods bad or only those that elicit an emotional response? I made this paleo “lasagna” recipe ( this week, not because I love lasagna and can’t live without, but because it was a different way of preparing meat and vegetables, it was an easy weeknight meal (if assembled over the weekend), and it looked tasty. Is that bad?

  16. says

    Emily, I think you’re fine. The point of avoiding “Paleo-fied” foods, from what I THINK Melissa and Dallas are saying, is to curb the emotional desire for something. So if you’re planning dinner and just thinking that a recipe looks good, go for it. But if you’re hitting the 3pm cupcake craving time (as I do every day) and thinking that you’re okay by eating a paleo cupcake rather than a regular cupcake, you’re feeding the monster.

  17. elle says

    I am going through this same exact thing. I’ve been about 80% Paleo for a month or so, but I still crave sweet things. And instead of grabbing a cupcake or ice cream, I now have dark chocolate (often too much), or even nut butters (also too much), I think b/c they have a sweetness to them, berries too. Now, while they are all paleo foods, or semi paleo, I’m still giving into my craving. I really want to work on this and find night time snacking is the worst. Do you have any recommendations for late night snacks that will satisfy? Should I stop using Stevia? My biggest question is, that if I stop eating these sweet snacks and replace them over time, will I eventually have a normal relationship with things like nut butters and dark chocolate? Or will they have to be banned pretty much completely? It’d be nice to have a chocolate bar in the house and not want it so often. I’m not even overweight, but I hate having what feels like an addiction to sweet things. Thanks in advance to those who respond!

  18. Lauren F says

    Hello everyone, I’ve been thinking about the sugar cravings people are describing… I’m going through that a bit, too. I kinda think it has something to do with not eating enough calories and fat in our regular meals, so we’re not as satisfied, leading to cravings. Does that sound logical?

    My only dilemma is that I’m feeling full when I eat my main meals, and I stop eating when I’m full, so later the snackies attack!

    I’m sure we’ll get through – I hope you’re all doing well and feeling good!

  19. says

    I used to be addicted to grapes as a throughout-the-day snack food. I imagine any sweet fruit would have done the trick, but grapes were cheap. I was still feeding my sweet tooth, just using an acceptable food to do it. Based on what I heard from M&D I switched out grapes for olives. It worked!

    A few (5 or 6) plain, unstuffed olives satisfied the immediate need. The interval between cravings got longer. A post a few back said that consuming some fat triggers the “I’m full” signal. It works for me.


  20. says

    Elle and Lauren (and anyone else in those shoes) – I had the same thing; sugar cravings like crazy. From my experience, here’s what I’ve found works:

    • sticking with the 100% – once you get the crack out of your system, it gets much easier.
    • upping the amount of fat in your diet, especially if you come from a “fat phobic” history… your head will tell you it’s too much, but your body knows, and fats will help you feel full.
    • learning to distinguish between a physical craving, and an emotional one.

    And while it may not feel that way at first, #1 is the easiest, followed by #2… whereas #3 is the trickiest. I haven’t craved sugar in weeks, but two days ago, in the middle of an afternoon plagued by an intense workload, I found myself wanting “a little something something“. I headed for the kitchen, thinking, “I probably just didn’t get enough fat with lunch…”, but as I walked downstairs, I realized I was still physically full, and didn’t want or need any food at all.

    Choosing to not steamroller that feeling and eat a couple macadamia nuts anyhow, I turned back around and headed back upstairs, and took a few minutes for a ‘mental siesta’ before jumping back into work. Crisis averted.

    This Whole30 thing is really a “whole life” practice, I feel… it’s more than just how you eat, it’s how you think, how you feel, and learning to recognize what’s really what.

  21. says

    @Susan: While it is an interesting topic, all we are doing is encouraging people to do the best they can, within their own individual guidelines and means. That’s going to look a bit differently for everyone, but in our Workshops, we stress making good food CHOICES and focusing on quality if and when you have mental and financial capacity. For me personally, I’m going to eat as healthily as I can, even if that means giving up other things to support my Good Food habit. (We also have no cable TV, don’t do much in terms of outside entertainment like movies or concerts, and happily curb material purchases to be able to eat the way we know is best for our health and fitness.)

    To everyone: We support your efforts to do the best YOU can, via whatever guidelines and moral/ethical codes you’ve chosen, and within whatever mental, financial and lifestyle constraints that you may be dealing with, whatever that may look like. If you’re choosing to do the best you can by participating our Whole30 program, we’re here to support and help you as much as we can along the way.

    @Emily: Meghan did a good job with her summary explanation! Here’s how I’d spin it. If you told me, “I LOVE my pasta. I’m a pasta addict – I eat it every day! So I’ll give up my pasta, but replace it with Paleo pasta instead!” I’d perhaps suggest you think long and hard about the choices you’re making, and what you are doing to curb your self-described unhealthy pasta addiction via your psuedo-pasta food choices. Since that’s NOT the case, I’m great with your Paleo-fied meal! We do a spaghetti squash/ground beef/tomato sauce version ourselves, and it’s super delicious and very filling.

    We’re just cautioning people to pay attention to the food choices they’re making, to ensure they’re not just using “Paleo” as a get out of jail free card with respect to changing patterns, habits and unhealthy behaviors. If you take a long, honest look at your food choices, you’ll be able to tell for yourself what’s behind those choices.

    @Elle: Here’s what we typically see. People coming off a traditional “American” diet for the first time tend to rely heavily on fruit, nuts and nut butters in their first attempt at the Whole30. While they are much better food choices than you old sweet treats, obviously we’d encourage you to work your way towards better food choices, the further along you are in the program. So as you notice that you’re hitting the nut butters too hard, for example, perhaps pull back and try to add fat in the form of other good sources (coconut milk, avocado, olive oil, etc.). You’ll naturally become more aware of your food choices, the further along you go, and naturally develop a healthier, happier relationship with ALL foods.

    Just know it’ll take longer than 30 days for that to happen! It’s really a life-long pursuit – breaking those old emotional ties to food and developing a new, healthier relationship. Just stick with it and continue to be honest with yourself about your food choices, cravings and habits, and the time WILL come when you can enjoy that chocolate bar and then jump right back on the Good Food Train.

    @Captain Tom and Adam: You’ve both hit the nail on the head. Adam’s got a lot of experience with this stuff, people. He says wise things. :)

    Thanks to all for contributing!



  22. says

    @Kim: Sorry I forgot about you! The coconut aminos get a thumbs-up, the added salt is negligible, when you consider the rest of your food choices are fresh and natural, without a lot of the added salts you’d find in processed foods. Go for it!

  23. Sally says

    wow, wow, wow! what a plethora of information. I began my whole 30-9 days ago….i feel fabulous, i am beginning to have first time abs (at the age of 42!?), and i feel like i could conquer the world (okay, except for that snake in the yard yesterday….).

    a big thanks to all, especially melissa and doug, for sharing your wisdom and experience.

    i want to throw out a topic….as i am realizing so much about my horrific and long standing toxic relationship with food…i am beginning to think that i am developing an addiction to the results. i suppose i have an addictive personality…whether it be food, fitness, results, etc, i tend to do things ALL IN.

    i don’t want to take away from the good whole30 has done….or make up stuff to fret about….just wondering: is this ‘just me’?

  24. says

    @Sally: No, I don’t think you’re alone in this. In fact, I wrote an entire CrossFit Journal article on the subject – when “healthy” pursuits like attending to your nutrition plan or fitness goals take a turn for the UNHEALTHY. Take a look at the article, called “Zone Gone Bad”, and let me know your thoughts.



  25. Sally says

    melissa, THANKS! THAT article was a bit freaky in that it expressed my sentiments EXACTLY….if i could’ve given voice to my concerns. i may not quite have been where you were, but i was fast tracking my way to turning this thing into an obsession.

    thanks for talking me off the ledge, i am putting some checkpoints in my path to ensure i don’t waver that way again….

    i’m a fan, girl!

  26. says

    @Sally: Glad to hear it. Keep posting to let us know how you’re doing, and share some of those checkpoints with others, because I guarantee you’re not the only one going through this sort of thing.



  27. marianne says

    day 3of 30. I see now why I liked my coffee creamer. I as giving in to the sugar tantrum. black coffee it is. This is why I wanted to do this challenge. I have been eating 85% paleo. And was ready to redefine my goals.

  28. says

    @Marianne: That was the discovery of the month for me as well. Black coffee is WAY less fun… and I realized I loved my cup (or three) in the AM less because of the caffeine pick-me-up, and more because of the sweet Soy creamer I was adding more and more frequently. I’m done my last W30, but not going back to sweetened coffee in any form. We’ll be doing a post on coffee soon, in fact… stay tuned for some tips and tricks to love your morning java again!



  29. redheadedstepchild says

    I don’t agree with the whole “sugar tantrum” thing. If you are an active endurance athlete, you already know that you have to manage your sugar intake during an event and workouts. Having “real food” choices that are high in sugar, fat, protein, or salt is a huge advantage. If you are running a 10k and are cramping real bad you need salt. If you are riding a century you will have to take in sugars as you ride. The products that have flooded the market are garbage. All in the name of “performance” garbage. Gator-aid, Hammer, Cliffbar, Vitamin water, Mussel milk, Gooh, ETC. It should be a “no-brainer” that it is bad for you to eat a bunch of fruit everyday. Having these Paleo recipes is a boon for getting what you need naturally and not off the shelf of a gas station. Is not the whole point a change in life style? I would hope that your lifespan is expected to be longer than 30days.

  30. Anu says

    So here’s another observation for y’all: In my case, it seems to work best, NOT straying at all. I finished 50 days yesterday and I had 2 slices of pizza and a slice of birthday cake (mine) and I wasn’t going to upset my kids by not eating a small piece of my cake. The pizza and cake did not upset my stomach at all. I felt great. Except that I only slept 6 hours (but woke up refreshed on my own). But this afternoon, I’m craving carbs. I have a headache and I’m not happy. I’m trying everything – eating some almonds, strawberries, 2 dates, a couple of dried apricots, pistachios – NADA. Still grumpy and grouchy. I’m going to give a nice cup of coffee with 1/2 and 1/2 a try. Maybe that will help.

    Any suggestions?

  31. says


    If you’re craving carbs (read: SUGAR!), eat fat and protein. Giving yourself sugar is NOT the route to go. But also, adding 1/2 & 1/2 to your coffee won’t make you feel better. We’ve observed in (literally) hundreds of people that “falling off the wagon” with things like pizza and cake only lead to more “falling off”. Get back on the Good Food Train.

  32. Christina says

    Hi all……so I have a history of starting things and not finishing. I find excuses and there are lot of them- single mom, work, school, and I will get frustrated with not seeing results ( I know I’m guilty of wanting instant gratification) and I give up. I have been doing Paleo and CF for a little over a year, but old habits die hard and I have been having a hard time going all the way. I want to prove to myself that I can stick with something and be successful especially something that really is important to me. I have many family members with type 2 diabetes, RA, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. I don’t want to fall into that trap.

    I want to commit to the Whole30 and give it everything I have- no excuses. So to do this, I know I must write here everyday and be held accountable. These next few weeks will be super stressful for me (I’m a first year teacher, my son and I just moved in to our new place, and I don’t get my first paycheck until the END of September!) and is the time I must implement this program. I am an emotional eater and these next few weeks could be fatal for me if I don’t do something to keep me inline!

    So just a quick question- Paleo doesn’t want you to eat potatoes/ sweet potatoes/ yams~ is that same with this? I must have read and re-read and didn’t see potatoes

    Thanks for the help and I look forward (and scared) to my Whole30!

  33. Sally says

    @ Christina-no need to wait but why not start the whole30 on the first day of school. i think/hope you might find the start of the year/paleo a fresh start to your school year.

    1) i’m a teacher

    2) i feel your pain….of beginning of year, paleo fears, etc.

    but 3) i started my whole 30 day ONE of summer and i PROMISE you….you will not be sorry. my sugar cravings went away, my emotional eating is gone, and i didn’t even really want it to end. i went in thinking that i was ‘just going to do it for 30 days’ but i feel so fantastical that i am about 95% paleo still. the beauty of it all is that i was really hoping to ‘lose some body fat’ with it, but that became such a non issue somewhere along the way. it became more about my performance at the box, the incredible sense of well being, clarity, and sleep. i DID notice’ however, that my clothes dang near fell off…..if i have issue with whole 30 it’s that i don’t fit my clothes anymore.

    YOU CAN DO THIS, girl! and you WILL NOT be sorry you did.


  34. says


    Good question on the sweet potato… We’re not coming from the “strict Paleo” perspective that derives its recommendations from what our prehistoric ancestors my (or may not!) have eaten. We believe that food should make you healthier, and sweet potatoes and yams, by virtue of their micronutrient density (particularly their carotenoid content), make you healthier. Use them carefully (they’re perfect as a post-workout carb source) since they are a dense source of carbohydrate, which does not, by definition, make them evil. It just means… proceed with caution. On your Whole30 anxiety: stay connected with the big (and growing!) community of support over at our Whole30 v2.0 post. Many others who have anxiety around food have succeeded with the Whole30. You can do it!

  35. says

    Oh goodness!

    I just started Whole30 tonight, and this post taught me something important. I went to the store and got two items that I thought would help me with the tough parts: raisins for the little sweet I have after dinner in place of the dark chocolate square I usually have and sunflower, flax, and pumpkin seeds that I’m roasting for the salty savory I sometimes need to satisfy snacking.

    I’m realizing from this post that the goal is to master the cravings not substitute them!

    Melissa, do I need to throw out the savory snack and raisins?

    I do feel good though that I want to do this for health and not weight loss. I just started CrossFit in May; I love it and now I want to also concentrate on my nutrition.

    Here’s to my first Whole30!


  36. says

    @Ann: You don’t have to throw out all the sweet or savory stuff, but I do think you’re smart to realize you’re giving into the sugar demons with your sunflower seeds and raisins. If you’re craving sugar, don’t give your body sugar! Eat a high fat snack instead, with a little bit of protein, and tough it out. Break those cravings once and for all and you can go back to enjoying the occasional dried fruit and nut snack without worrying that it’s going to send you running for the nearest Krispy Kreme.



  37. says


    All this material re: WHY we make choices about one food over another (“WANTING” sugar vs. not even having an interest in eating it) is SO SO important. I went back and read your article you referred to “Zone Gone Bad” – Awesome! I know all about the FitDay addiction, hours and hours of cardio at the gym, counting grams of this and measuring ounces of that. And then I realized how little fun I was having and how little my body was responding to all this craziness. Now I work with men and women every day who also feel frustrated with their body, frustrated with their weight and their health and are constantly looking for the right “plan” to solve the issue of why they keep overeating or “cheat”, or make crappy choices in the first place re: food. One thing I often tell my clients is not only to lose the diet mentality – the constant obsession with their weight and their body and with food – but to start with ending the fight with themselves. Get you and your body on the same flippin’ side. If there’s one person you’re going to have to live with the rest of your life – IT’S YOU! No escaping that, so you’d better stop beating yourself up, treating yourself (your body) poorly and with disrespect and start making friends, listening to what it wants and how it works so that it treats you well back. Our bodies want to function optimally. That’s how our bodies are designed. If we feed it FUEL, if we give it EXERCISE, and stop calling it FAT and LAZY, it knows what to do. It knows how to burn fat and how to adapt to training so it can “play” more at our sport or with our kids or whatever. When we view our goal as DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP with ourselves that’s built on respect, the body responds and it almost feels effortless. We treat our bodies well, we get an active, fun kick ass life in return. Thanks for all the inspiration! Hoping to meet you @CrossFit Genesis in October if I can make it!

  38. Schmira says

    I just wanted to say that this article was exactly what I wanted to read. As someone who has been emotionally eating for as long as I can remember, I appreciate it! This may be my opinion only but I do kind of feel though, that me slowly breaking those emotional eating attachments has made me have to re-evaluate the ways I cope with lifes stressors and changes. I think that is the hardest part because psychologically food has been my emotional cushion, or friend ever since I was a teenager. It takes time to try to replace it. I have been slowly implimenting paleo into my life for a year now and I still have a long way to go, but the longer and deeper into it I get the more confidence I have to make the changes permanent. It is incredible how much I used to take that word (change) for granted. It implies an easy switch, but what it really is is a head on battle with your demons. Anyway so thanks for this article because I had a Susan mentality too. It was about feeding the sweet tooth with better options instead of weening yourself from those cravings completely.

    Good stuff!

  39. says

    @Schmira: Thanks for the comment, and we certainly hope to see you posting on the Whole30 Version 3.0! There are a TON of people starting right now, and you’ll have lots of support and motivation from the group.



  40. says


    It may take a week or two… it may take a month or two. Depends on how bad your sugar demons are, and how you treat them during your Whole30. Dallas likes to say you can’t kill the sugar dragon with willpower, you have to STARVE it. So don’t give in to those cravings during your Whole30 by using fruit as a crutch… stick it out and it will get better.

    Best of luck to you!


  41. Aimee says

    Hi Melissa and Dallas

    This is my first Whole30 and I am on day 7, and it is also my first day back at work after the xmas break. Up until today I havent struggled with snack/sugar cravings… even though prior to Whole30 I was more of a ‘grazer’ snacking throughout the day (so its been a big adjustment to only have 3 meals), being in a desk job, I find myself craving snacks (mainly fruit) when I am bored.

    I so far have been trying to have a tea instead, or more water. I have had some nuts, but I have been finding that my stomach hasnt been liking the extra fat I have been consuming and if I have too much, my tummy is, um, more active than usual!!

    What do you suggest?


  42. says

    I. AM. DYING! I’m 13 days strong into whole 30….and haven’t really had any cravings at all. Mind you, I’ve been hardcore Paleo for 6 months now…but today someone brought in cookies. And of course, all of the goodies sit next to my desk in the main area. >:| I’m literally sitting at my desk reading this article. And my reaction? That of a lunatics! I’m crying AND laughing while reading. Over what? ‘Cause I CAN’T HAVE A COOKIE! Holy Moly. Please believe that you are NOT alone if you are having mood swings on this thing.