I’m officially halfway done with the Great Primal Experiment. Actually halfway plus ONE. Which is important because I am counting every day on this sucker. I still don’t like eating meat. I still miss my morning oatmeal and dark chocolate. But hey, I’m loving all the veggies and I’m not at all constipated. (What? You don’t care about my bowels?)
Living Like Grok
Week two was bad. Way bad, kids. I did all right eating like Caveman Grok until I decided to live like Grok. We took the kidlets (like Chiclets, but for bears) camping this past weekend. I thought it would be the perfect occassion to go full-bore Primal. Apparently the Minnesota State Parks & Rec folk agreed with me by giving us the campsite farthest from the biffies. I tell ya, it doesn’t get more neanderthal than pooping on a big pile of other people’s poop. Which, having 3 preschoolers, we made that long trek to the “stinky place” at least 2 million times a day and night.
The campground also had a lovely river, picnic tables, and a playground – all at least a half a mile away. I ate it up. I walked everywhere, toting a kid on each hip National Geographic style (but with my shirt on thank you very much). I even got a nice long hike with one of my best girl friends in the whole wide world where we talked in the way that only people who are already deeply in tune with the other’s brand of crazy can do. The coup d’etat was carrying a 30-pound bundle of firewood (on my head!!!) from the ranger station to the site.
Eating Like Chris Farley
The result of all this fabulous exercise and fresh air? An appetite like a freakin’ raptor. Two clean weeks of no carbs combined with hunger like I haven’t experienced in ages made for a 3-day long binge. And I mean binge. I was so starved for carbs that I ate things I would never imagine eating before. I had Raisin Bran (I hate raisins!!), white pancakes with fake syrup, Little Debbie snack cakes, gummy bears, dutch oven cobbler, chips, soda and pretty much anything else that couldn’t run away from me. Thankfully the children are fast.
It was ugly. I’ve never in my life binged like that before. Even now I shudder remembering it. But I thought I was alone in my despair. Until I got home and checked my e-mail to find this missive from Reader (and fellow Primal Experimenter) Cara. Our conversation went back and forth over several e-mail threads but I think she said it best and quite eloquently so I share this with you with her permission:
I don’t think I can handle weeks of lethargy and fatigue, because the way I have trained myself to handle those feelings is by binging on sugar! Also, between you and me, after 5 days into the PB I ate ice cream and subsequently purged. So there is way too much control in the PB – for me. It’s triggers my eating dis…..disordered eating.
I have been eating all sorts of crap I never eat either! I loathe McDonalds and all fast food, but today I found myself in the drive-thru in my UN-air conditioned car, 120 degrees, buying a medium fry and a double cheeseburger for the whopping total of $2.38. (No wonder why people are addicted to this stuff, it’s cheaper than crack!) Anyway, I ate that and had a regular Dr. Pepper and had a piece of cake, or two. Didn’t puke, just allowed nature to run it’s course, let myself feel the extreme exhaustion as my body put all its energy into digestion.
I am not happy eating all this meat either. I was talking to my co-worker today, he weighs about 130 and is about 6ft. Not exactly a healthy weight, but obviously his body is doing the proper thing and eating its excess fat. His diet consists of a large portion of meat every once in awhile (he said the protein from one steak lasts him about 3 days), no dairy, no soy, no gluten, no peanuts, no bananas. So his diet is basically meat, vegetables, and Fritos. I want to try something like this…. actually, I want to try something different – I want to eat and only listen to my body.
My room is filled with books like Diet No More, Body For Life, The China Study, Eat For Life, Nourishing Traditions, Back To Eden, Eat Right For Your Type… and for once, I need to just listen to what my own body wants. It sounds simple enough, but I’m sure you can understand, there is fear there. There is fear of a lack of control – what if what my body wants is not “the right thing.” My body is a hungry animal, but I am cognizant – I can control it. No, I can’t. It’s this type of need for control that gets me down on my hands and knees in front of the toilet, trying to correct an “error” when really, I am just eating. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Once I release that fear, that need for control, that hold on my body and weight, I can be back in the flow. In that rhythm, I eat when I am hungry, I stop when I am full, I enoy the preparation of healthy meals, I do not resent others for their food choices, I do not hold onto food rituals, I do not base my mood off of the numbers that appear of the scale. Part me says – YOU CAN’T DO THIS, YOU DON’T KNOW “NORMAL,” – and part of me laughs at this aspect of myself. I have to lovingly hush that voice, and whisper calm, patient, nuturing words.
We’re not crazy. If anything, we are blessed with complexity. Why do the PB if it’s making us unhappy? To force our bodies into something it isn’t comfortable doing? I mean – come on – monitor your fruit so you don’t get too crazy on the carbs?? Wtf? Obviously we’re going to go crazy on carbs sooner or later, and I’d much rather it be when I desire a juicy plum and not when I go on autopilot with a bowl full of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
So I think the best idea for me is to splurge on all the yummy veggies this experiment prompted me to buy (F choking down the oil olive/balsamic gag mix on my salad – I’m gonna juice ’em!), eat oatmeal in the morning if I feel like it, quit excessing on the dairy/flesh products if I don’t want them, stop focusing my protein to be at a certain level, give myself the freedom to eat carbs if I want them, and just be real with myself. No more good food, bad food. It’s time to just give my body the attention it’s crying out for.
Do Cavewomen Cry?
I’ll admit I cried reading Cara’s e-mail. I feel like my carb binge this weekend was a personal failure. But maybe it’s not me that’s broken, maybe it’s the diet. Or maybe it IS me. I don’t know. She said everything I’ve been thinking, except she said it better. I want to add that I also received another e-mail from a reader (which I do not have permission to share) basically saying this experiment led her to binge and purge as well as take up the chew-n-spit method, despite never having been bulimic previously. This was all concluded by Leslie and my sister, good friends that they are, e-mailing me to say that my primal posts are beginning to sound “disordered” and they’re worried about me. (Leslie: “You’re freaking out about a plain non-fat yogurt?!?!”) And the depressing post-script to all this is MDA informing me that even one “bad carb day” will set you back to the very beginning, as far as switching to fat-burning for fuel and achieving ketosis. Just lovely.
So now to you guys – all of you doing this primal experiment with me and those of you just watching from the sidelines – what do I do? Do I stick with it and hope that this awful stage passes? I do hate to quit things. And it’s only two more weeks. And I really want this to work! Or do I realize that I’m doing a diet that’s causing some of us (me?) to revert to old eating disorders. Any of the rest of you experience the carb binge phenomenon when you try and do a low-carb diet? I’m wondering if this might be another way the genders differ in their response to the paleo plan. I e-mailed Aaron over at Mark’s Daily Apple about this but he hasn’t got back to me yet. If/when he does I’ll update this post with his response. In the meantime… help?