On Temptation and Deprivation

I had an experience yesterday that I thought might be something you guys could appreciate/understand.

Someone brought bagels into the office on Friday, and a few still remained yesterday morning. I was in the break room, refilling my water bottle, and one of my coworkers pointed to the bagels and said “I bet those are calling to you, huh?” I told him the truth, which is “Not in the least.”

And this got me thinking, of course. I mean, I’ve lost 40 pounds now, and have kept it off effortlessly. I’m not as lean as I could be, but I’m perfectly happy where I am, and could live like this for a very long time. When I say effortless, I mean effortless. My workouts are sporadic at best, and I eat as much as I want of all my approved foods, and probably more than I should of everything else. Even so, I feel great, and feel better about how I look than I ever have. But, and this is the key here, I’m not deprived. I eat bacon most every day, steak once or twice a week, loads of butter, lots of tasty veggies, etc. I don’t really miss anything that I’m not eating. I know that under most mainstream weight loss protocols, you’re supposed to be deprived. They tell you that you’re not, but you are. If you made a mistake and ate a little too much full-fat dressing on your salad, that means you’re over your calorie goal for the day and now you don’t get dessert with dinner. Or you get a boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of a steak (Ha! Like most of them would ever allow you to eat red meat, amirite?). Whatever it is, you’re being deprived. I’m not going to act like I can eat as much as I want of any food, because that’s obviously not the case. Grains, legumes and refined sugars are all on the no-fly list (the sugars and beans I will dabble in, but I do limit my intake just because of how they make me feel). Believe me, I could pound down a bag of Skittles faster than anyone you’ve ever seen, but I’d feel positively awful afterward. It wouldn’t be worth it. And because I know how it will make me feel, I don’t crave it. Same with the grains, and with the legumes, to a lesser extent. I never loved them, so they’re not all that hard to keep to a minimum.

I look at grains now much like I look at cigarettes and alcohol. I don’t drink or smoke, and I never have. When I see a glass of wine on the dinner table, I’m not making a choice not to drink it. That choice was made years ago, and it just stays made. When I see someone smoking a cigarette, I’m not tempted to light up. I’m not resisting anything, I just don’t see that as being an available choice. Does that make sense? I have a hard time expressing this stuff sometimes, so I hope I’m doing it right. Anyway, there are some foods that are like that, specifically anything that contains gluten. I don’t want to eat anything so badly that I’m willing to put up with two days of being gassy and crampy. I love food, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never encountered a food that provided a pleasure so intense that it outweighed feeling like 50 pounds of smashed ass for the next 48 hours. The foods that get me to involuntary moaning have always been things that are now staples of my diet. Quality steaks, bacon, cheese, butter. They don’t make me feel anything but awesome, and they are often just incredibly delicious. So much more satisfying than any of the grains ever were.

Also, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t think we generally love the bread or the pasta itself. I know only a few people who enjoy dry bread, and none who enjoy pasta without sauce or butter or something. Grain products, especially wheat products are usually delivery mechanisms for sauces, butter, cream cheese, meat, etc. Now I used to love sandwiches, don’t get me wrong. And I could go to town on some bread and butter. But what I really loved was the butter, or maybe the combination of the flavors and textures. I didn’t love the bread itself like I love steak itself. The best part is that I can put butter on steak. Or on veggies. Or on both. I can have a buttload of butter, and still feel awesome and stay lean. So I still get the things I used to love putting on grain products, now I just put them on meat, veggies, or (more often than I should) some organic corn chips. I know, I know. But hey, the fact that I can eat those chips without feeling gross, and without gaining weight is awesome, still. They’re not forming 60% of my daily calorie intake or anything, because I always smother them in enough cheese and meat to fill me up and keep me full of good protein and fat. Booyah.

Anyway, that’s just my take on all this jazz. I’m not feeling deprived because I’m eating all the stuff I always loved but was told would make me fat and sick. Now that I eat it all the time, I’m no longer fat and sick. And I’m not tempted to go back, because now that I know how those other foods make me feel it just isn’t worth it. I’m still tempted by the things that I shouldn’t be eating too much of that don’t make me feel sick in reasonable amounts, unfortunately (I’m looking at you, coconut milk ice cream and dark chocolate). I slurped down a pint of coconut milk ice cream Saturday, Sunday and Monday night, and felt pretty gnarly as a result each time. Will I never learn? It’s a relatively passing gnarl, though, especially as compared to gluten exposure. I’m not planning on doing it regularly, and I’m actually not buying any more of those foods that I shouldn’t be eating and have a tendency to overconsume. I’ve already gotten a lot of the snacky sweets out of my desk at work, and have plowed through (and not replenished) many of those we’d kept at home, too. So I’ll see how that pans out. In any case, those things are pretty well loaded with refined sugars, so they shouldn’t be part of my diet anyway. The fact that I can get away with eating as much of them as I have been and not gain weight is a testament to the resilience of my repaired metabolism. Go me.

Links? Maybe links.

Should you try the paleo diet? – Yes. Yes you should.

Why the FDA hasn’t banned BPA – This bugs me. I try to avoid BPA as much as possible, but it’s exceedingly hard to do anymore. I’m generally not a fan of gov’t regulators banning things, but if we’re going to keep paying the FDA to protect us, they should at least do the job they’re being paid to do, even if I’d rather we stopped paying them. So I do my research, look for labels on the packaged foods I eat, try to buy things in glass instead of cans or plastic, etc. But still. I’d like to see the FDA jump on this one.

The Final Nail in the Cardio Coffin – This is another interesting article about “cardio” as defined in the article. Essentially it’s that long duration, moderate pace exercise you see people doing on the machines in the gym. I’ve heard conflicting opinions on whether this is “Good” for you in general terms of health, but the increased rates of CVD in marathon runners seem to indicate that maybe this isn’t the case. In any event, it seems like cardio is not the best way to get lean. Whether long, moderate-pace cardio is a good way to get healthy remains to be seen. Maybe with long rests between workouts?

Bucky Balls Could Double Your Lifespan – This is just neat. Like they say, it’s just one study, and an animal study at that. But still. If you could supplement with pure carbon, that seems better than many of the complex compounds we’re currently using. Maybe? I don’t know. Mostly, it’s just neat science.

Grain-Free Petit Fours – These sound pretty tasty. I’m not big into cookies, myself, but they’d be great to serve at a party or something. Maybe with some homemade whipped cream?

That’s it from me, folks. Thanks for reading!


14 comments on “On Temptation and Deprivation

  1. Starlene says:

    I saw your trackback at Heba’s and followed over because your title intigued me. I’ve been doing GAPS since December 2009 and it is similar to paleo from what I understand. I think paleo doesn’t allow dairy but GAPS does, but I’ve been off dairy except for butter. Anyway, yes, I can relate to what you are saying about feeling temptation and deprivation. When I did the low fat diet years ago, my first and last diet until starting on GAPS, I learned the true meaning of deprivation and set myself up with some food issues. But with the good foods I’m eating now, no deprivation. Really and truly. I have a couple of coworkers who compliment me on my “willpower”. Hah! It’s not necessary when eating this way. I have lost quite a bit of weight and have kept it off. I guess the true test will be to keep the weight off for ten years. I don’t plan to go back to eating gluten or grains, or processed foods, so I guess time will tell. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I liked your post and can relate to what you said.

    • Septimus says:

      Thanks very much! I’ve been curious about GAPS because it does seem pretty similar to the paleo gig. I’m finally going to have to buckle down and go poking around the library and the internet, I think. I’m a big fan of dairy, especially grassfed butter and cream, so I probably lose paleo points for that. Really, I can get behind any program that calls for quality, unprocessed foods and includes some animal products. Just seems like a solid baseline.

      I tried a couple of diets (most recently the ‘Slow Carb’ from Tim Ferriss) that only lasted a few days because I felt so deprived I just couldn’t keep going with them. Unfortunately, I always did a big junk food blowout both before and after i tried a new diet protocol, so for a couple of those, I ended up spending more time actively trying to eat awful food than I did trying to eat the recommended foods. Whoops. Oh well. I’m glad I found something that just feels right and works well for me. Sounds like you’ve done the same, which is awesome. Thanks again!

  2. katina says:

    The way I look at it – it’s like me turning down chocolate. I’m not a super huge fan to begin with so it’s not a big deal for me to say “nah, I don’t want any.” Or maybe like it is for Shawn to turn down macaroni salad – he hates it, calls it “baby poop salad”, but I just think “Good – more for me.”

    Now then, I am one of those people who can sit down and eat plain bread no problem, I also like very little sauce on my noodles. I am a processed wheat addict. I know I am. But I figure I’ll try to cut back on all the sugar instead. As I posted last night, I was drinking an 8 oz glass of fruit juice in the morning followed by a coke at work plus whatever little candy snacks I could find. Now I’ve cut out the juice (I will still drink it, just not every day, and as a result, I’m much more into actual fruit), have quit the Coke, and oddly, I’m not craving the snacks every day…so, by my calculations, I can have like 4 Cadbury Creme Eggs a day. Score!

    Next up: Switching from diet soda to tea for my caffeine addiction. The problem is that the tea has more caffeine than the soda so my addiction will get worse instead of better…hmmm…

    • Septimus says:

      Yeah, it’s very much like that. I don’t care for milk chocolate, so turning it down was never a problem for me, even in my wild-eyed, candy consume-a-tron days.

      I think cutting sugar is also huge. Even the folks I read who don’t think wheat is a big deal tend to agree on just how bad sugar is, particularly in the amounts most Americans eat it. So yeah, if you can cut that out of your diet, I think you’ll be streets ahead of most everyone else. There does have to be a balance to how restrictive your diet is and the benefits you gain from increased restriction. My diet right now is far from optimal in any objective sense, but it’s satisfying, makes me happy and keeps me healthy and energized enough to do all the things i want to do. And that’s really what it’s about anyway.

  3. Heba says:

    First, thanks for the kind shout out – it was one of the first times for me to successfully bake a gluten-free cookie that was more delicious than any I’ve had with gluten, so I was pretty excited about sharing it! Best thing about these petit fours is that they’re super easy to make … If they turned out delicious when I made them, I can say that they’re likely pretty fool-proof, haha. I only bake a couple of times a year at most anyway, but next time I make them, I think I’ll make a homemade creme fraiche or coconut-butter-based cream to go along. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I can totally relate to the sentiment you express in this post; I don’t feel “deprived” after switching to real foods either. The only time I feel frustrated (not deprived) is when I have to eat out at a regular restaurant with friends, and notice that most things on the menu are things I wouldn’t like to eat (pasta with farmed fried shrimp, greasy fries, grain-fed antibiotic-filled burger meat on a “whole wheat” bun, etc etc) Of course, I end up customizing my order to avoid as much of the junk as possible, but it’s still a pretty frustrating experience — especially because I end up paying more than I would have had I picked up grass-fed liver and simple seasonal veggies from the local farmer or farmers’ market for a similar (or even lower) price. In terms of deprivation at home, I almost never feel it … especially because I do have raw dairy (which I personally can’t imagine living without — I eat yogurt raw yogurt every night) and sprouted brown rice and legumes very occasionally. The only things I don’t ever eat are gluten-rich grains, processed or packaged foods of any kind, candy, soda, etc — things I don’t find tasty to begin with, so it’s easy for me to avoid/shun them.

    Anyway, best of luck to you on your real food journey! Great to run into your blog and thanks again for the shout out.

    Be well,

    • Septimus says:

      Thanks so much! I’ve been following your blog and your FB page for a while now, and always love the things you post.

      I completely understand what you mean about the restaurant issue. We tend to eat out with friends pretty regularly, and it’s always a challenge to find places that are friendly to our food choices. We still struggle to find anywhere that close to us that has ethically-raised animal products, but we do our best. Every time I eat a subpar steak at a restaurant, I think longingly of all the grassfed beef I have in my freezer at home and how much more satisfying it would have been to grill one up myself.Oh well, the things we do for the sake of not being total hermits, right?

      I actually eat a fair amount of dairy myself, mostly in the form of cream, butter and cheese (grassfed, and raw as much as I can). Not paleo, I know, but super delicious. My dairy consumption is part of why I put myself more generally into the paleo/primal/ancestral/whole food spectrum rather than being strictly paleo. It’s been a journey for me to figure out where I want to be in that spectrum, but any journey that doesn’t involve butter is one I’m not going on.

      Thanks again!

      • Heba says:

        Oh thanks! Do you have a FB page for your blog(s) that I can follow as well?

        I don’t know where you are in the country, but the best restaurant I’ve ever been to (in terms of quality and even cost in terms of quality) is Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. I cannot say enough good things about that place! Everything is made in-house including salad dressings, breads, cured meats, ferments … everything. Mostly everything from local sustainable farms, and the menu changes seasonally. It’s one of the very few places that I feel is a ‘treat’ (instead of an inconvenience) when I go out to eat … which is really how restaurants should be (a respite from daily home cooking, hah). Anyway, there are other decent options, but nothing earth-shattering like WK that I’ve come across in the DC metro area (Chicago had a couple of decent locations too). No idea about the West coast but I imagine they’d have more sustainable stuff around there (?) Who knows …

        Yea, raw dairy is my weakness. So far no convincing research has shown me that it’s especially harmful (don’t even get me started on how inaccurate the studies are that show isolated ‘casein’ that is dried and given in large doses is harmful … how is casein in isolation a whole food?) Unless anything I come across shows me that dairy — eaten as a whole food from pasture-raised, well-cared-for cows/goats/sheep — is indeed harmful, I will continue to have it and in liberal amounts šŸ˜‰ I’m just happy that I’ve been fortunate enough to come across information to convince me that other man-made/processed/boxed foods are mostly junk … I feel that once these are discarded and switched out with real foods, that’s more than half the battle. The other half is getting the best quality of real foods that we can afford.

      • Septimus says:

        I do, actually. I put one up at Neanderthal, Dark and Handsome so I wouldn’t spam my non-paleo friends so much with all the articles I wanted to share.

        That sounds great! I’m actually near Denver, CO. We have some pretty great places downtown, but I don’t get there all that often. We do have a few quality fast casual sorts of restaurants here, though. Chipotle uses ethical pork and chicken, I believe, and locally sources many of their veggies. There’s also a place called ModMarket that does saladas, sandwiches and pizzas with local, fresh ingredients. The sandwiches and pizza are out obviously, but I’ve tried their goat cheese salad and it was really tasty. The thing we do really well out here are farmer’s markets. Seems like there’s half a dozen within 15-20 minutes of my house every weekend. We also have some great grocery stores that offer ethical meats, pastured eggs, grassfed and some raw dairy (unfortunately, we haven’t found a good local source for raw dairy yet, but we’re going to make it a priority this summer).

        That’s sort of the conclusion I came to on dairy, too. If I have conventional dairy, I’ll feel really sick, but I can eat almost unlimited grassfed and raw dairy without any negative effects at all. If it made me feel sick, or made me put on weight or something, I’d stop, but I tend to let my body be my guide with things. As long as I’m feeling good and looking good, I figure I’m on the right track. I also completely agree that getting to whole, real foods is just a huge step. After that, people can quibble about some grains or no grains, or whether grilled meat is good or bad, or how many carbs we need to eat, but at least we’d all be starting from a solid foundation.

      • Heba says:

        Awesome – I liked your FB page a couple of days ago. Just noticed you’re the same ‘Jared Reece’ who likes my FB posts from time to time … it’s cool to put a face to a name šŸ™‚

        Chipotle is actually the only fast food place where I eat from time to time. I usually get just carnitas (pork) with guacamole, mild salsa, lettuce, and (very rarely) beans. I avoid the beef because not 100% of it is grass-fed/sustainable, and both the beef and chicken (as well as veggies, I believe) are cooked in soy oil. The pork is not (at least it wasn’t last time I checked…) The soy oil is not a *huge* deal but if one eats there several times a week, it would add up and that wouldn’t be ideal.

        Colorado … I don’t know where Jenny from Nourished Kitchen lives exactly, but I know she’s in Colorado and drinks raw milk. Maybe you can contact her for more information? I can try to find other bloggers in your area and let you know.

      • Septimus says:

        Thanks! I’m trying to get the word out, as it were. Seems like FB is a pretty solid way to do it, especially if I can remember to comment on others’ posts when using FB as my page. Maybe? Heck if I know. I just work here.

        That’s great info on Chipotle! I tend to get their pork just because I like it the most, but it’s good to know that it’s the best choice for other reasons, too. I’ve sort of resigned myself to the sad fact that when I’m eating anywhere but my own home, any fats used during the cooking process will be chemically-deodorized rancid sludge. But then when I am home, everything is coconut oil and butter and a beam of sunlight shines down on me from above and there’s some singing. It might be me singing.

        My wife and I went to a raw milk meetup group a while back and got some great info from them. We’ve been interested in the idea for a long time, but were never big dairy people (both very lactose intolerant, but only with grainfed dairy) so now that we know how much we enjoy grassfed butter, cream and milk it’s probably time to make that happen. I’ve actually been thinking about trying to get connected to our local paleo/ancestral meetup groups, maybe pay a visit to a WAPF meeting or something. It would be so great to find a local group of like-minded folks! I’ll check out Jenny’s blog, for sure.

      • Heba says:

        Yes, commenting on others’ posts as your FB page is important, but it’s so hard to remember to do it! Another way to get the word out is to link up others’ posts (they get a notification if you tag them), and to feature others in interviews etc. Actually, I would love to ‘interview’ you for a post on My Life in a Pyramid, if you’re interested! That can help get the word out about your site, and can help generate new content for mine – let me know if you’d be down for something like that!

        Chipotle has info about all their ingredients/possible allergens on their site: http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/special_diet_information/special_diet_information.aspx It’s pretty useful if you have to eat out on a regular basis and want to find an acceptable meal šŸ™‚ Other than that, it’s safe to assume the worst with most conventional restaurants. Oh well, I think it’s healthy to have a somewhat relaxed attitude towards these things especially if you can’t help but eat out a couple of nights here and there, or do it as a social thing to connect with friends. Makes no sense fretting about every little bite (I’m learning to be a bit more open-minded about it, haha)…

        Re: raw milk, best way to find out about good/safe sources is word of mouth (or via blogs). There’s http://www.realmilk.com but it only lists a few sources. Hooking up with a meetup group or WAFP leader may help you find some better ones that may not want to be listed too publicly (not sure what CO’s stance is on raw milk sales, but in many states, it’s not technically legal). My husband is severely lactose intolerant too, and raw milk actually helped him digest other foods better – I wrote about the experience, and about raw milk in general in this blog post: http://mylifeinapyramid.com/2012/03/my-raw-milk-conversion-why-how-i-decided-to-embrace-fresh-local-milk/ Hope you find some of the info there useful.

      • Septimus says:

        I’d love to do an interview with you! Just let me know when and what to do, and I’ll make it happen.

        Chipotle is definitely my go-to if I need something quick. It’s pretty rare that we’ll be in a position where we can’t throw something together at home, but having the option is nice. I think you’re right about being a bit relaxed, too. I do my best with all of it, but I don’t beat myself up if I’m not perfect.

        I love your post on this! I’d heard Robb Wolf talking about the A1/A2 cattle thing in passing, but never with the detail you do. I also like your list of criteria for your farm. I think that will be my list as well when I get to looking. CO allows shares but not direct purchases, unless the product is aged a certain amount of time, I think. I can get some raw cheese from a grocery store here, but not milk or cream. We’ve also got some places that sell these products, which seem like the next best thing to raw: http://www.kalonasupernatural.com/ Anyway, now I’m all riled up about raw milk again. I’ll send an email to my local WAPF leader and see what I can find out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. […] also been talking with Heba of MyLifeinaPyramid in the comments of one of my other posts, and she’s gotten me all jazzed about raw milk again. She has a great post about her raw milk […]

  5. Awesome – glad you’re up for the interview. I didn’t realize you were expecting a little guy soon … definitely no pressure since it’s a busy time! Maybe I can email you some questions, and whenever you get to it, you can email me back (?) Btw – what is the email you’d like me to use?

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