Monday, May 14, 2012

Food is so Stupid Sometimes

I keep stalling out on weight loss. It's really starting to annoy me. I haven't written out my story yet (it would take forever at this point!) but I still think something is not quite right with my metabolism. 

I think food is too much of a bother when you're a mom... I think the main problem is eating too little. It's difficult (though not impossible) to be Primal when you are constantly on the go. Lately I haven't had time to premake any meals or snacks, which means I don't eat. 

What happens when you don't eat?  Your body craves fuel. What does your brain immediately think of as fuel?  Sugar. (I wonder if the brain is ever retrained or if it will always rely on sugar as a quick energy source?) So I go throughout my day thinking "I'll eat as soon as I get time to make something" but I never do have/make the time for it, so I end up wanting to devour sugar. Any kind of sugar. So I had to put the chocolate chips on the high self (at 5'1 I'm short) so I could resist the "Hey, it's dark chocolate, it's good for me--it's filled with antioxidants!" type rationale. Now I was not eating handfuls of chocolate a day, but even if I were, it seems to me that I would have to consume a massive amount of chocolate in order to take in more sugar/calories than my body could use and store as fat. 

I've also really tried to focus on smothering anything I eat with grassed butter. I've added heavy cream to foods in the hopes that the high fat content would help eat away the stored fat. I know some people say that dairy hinders weight loss, but I dairy out for a while and saw no results in additional weight loss, so I'm skeptical this is the case with me. 

So I'm in a little bit of a slump, I'm afraid.  I don't want to go back to the way we were eating before, GP has way too many great benefits, but sometimes I wish I didn't have to think about food so much. 

And then there's the idea of "you could be 115 pounds if you just stuck to eating meats and vegetables all the time. For some people even eating a dairy serving or having some sugar stalls weight loss, so it's best to stay away from these things."

Let's say this would be true of my situation. Do I want to live like that? Do I want to say *all of the time* "no thanks, I'm only eating my chicken and green beans today."  Sometimes I do want a cupcake. And sometimes I do want to go out for frozen yogurt with my girls. (After all, It's a Summer tradition!) And every once in awhile I want to eat the things I loved when I was a kid. So if indulging in these things every once in a while is going to mean I'll be fat forever... maybe I just have to accept that. 

I really think a properly working body should be able to tolerate eating a few sweets or grains without it going completely haywire and completely halt weight loss. Right?  

Sorry, don't mean to be a downer, but this blog was started to be an accurate depiction of a family's ups and downs of going Primal, so I figured I'd better keep with that theme.

In the meantime, if anybody has some good high-fat menu ideas, please share!


  1. I totally agree..I've stalled out too. I still feel great but I still would like to lose 10 pounds.

    Well anyway. I just read an inspiring book called Mindless Eating. It's not Primal or anything but it's interesting and I think it might encourage you.
    xo jana

  2. Heather, me too! I've been fairly faithfully primal for about six months, and I've lost weight, but oh so slowly, about a pound a week or less. I'm really disappointed in my progress. My niece has followed a diet that sounds primal, and she said giving up cream in her coffee (and giving up something else that I've forgotten) made a big difference. I think that like her I've been enjoying too much fat. This diet isn't quite as indulgent as I'd hoped. I find I crave fats like butter or bacon or nuts rather than sweets when really hungry for a snack so I guess I'm lucky there.

    Meanwhile, have you read about the advantages of fasting on the Mark's Daily Apple site? It'll put you at ease about missing meals.

    Oh, he also has gobs of recipes on his site.

    Thanks for your blog! It's much more inspiring to me to read about real people trying to be primal than the comments from some of the gym rats on Mark's site trying to achieve absolute control of their bodies.

  3. I don't know. I just wanted to say that I'm right there with ya, sister! Ugh.

  4. Leptin plays a crucial role in body weight regulation via the circadian cycle. Check out Dr. Jack Kruse.

  5. If you're not eating enough, surely packing a whole bunch of snacks in boxes / cooler bag to keep in the car might be a good idea? Perhaps some sliced ham / chicken / some boiled eggs and some nice nuts? Plus some chopped veggies and dips?

  6. I think you are doing fine. On any diet people hit plateaus. Now and then I have a week or two where I don't lose anything, but then I go back to dropping a couple pounds a week. I've done very calorie restrictive diets in the past where I lost a half pound or more per day but they were tedious and boring and for short term results only.

    Going off the wagon with a meal or two shouldn't totally derail you and I wouldn't be too worried about an occasional treat. I do find it odd though that you still crave sweets. Usually once you get away from the sugar and grains that goes away. Like you, I eat my share of dairy. It doesn't seem to be an issue for me. I like Greek yoghurt. Often I eat it plain, sometimes in a smoothie and sometimes with berries. We make custard with coconut milk and love that as a treat. I make veggies dips with cream cheese or sour cream as a base Lately we have had strawberries with whipped cream a few times. I eat fresh mozzarella cheese or Gouda etc as a snack with no I'll effects. Maybe if I have a few too many treat type foods I don't lose weight that week, but I don't gain any either, so I can live with that. Sometimes we buy a fresh coconut. I like small chunks of the coconut meat with bites of dark chocolate. It's my own primal "mounds" candy.

    I am not sure what else to suggest for your quick snack or meal. Fry up a bit of extra bacon or sausage to keep for snacks. I'm not a fan of canned foods but I keep a couple canned hams around that can be opened at a moments notice. Fish can be thawed and prepared in a few minutes by running under warm water. Ditto for shrimp. While not something I'd eat every day, Steak-ins are fast and the ingredients on the box just say Steak!

    I wish my weight loss was faster, too. I started within a few days of you and am down about 24 pounds with about 35 to go. But I know it will go and in the meantime I am becoming healthier and I am enjoying the foods we eat. You will look back a year from now when you are skinny and healthy and all you're going through now will be so worth it!

  7. I just wanted to say that I am with you, too. Husband and I went Primal about 10 weeks ago, and while I have lost nearly 20 lbs, that happened around week 6 with very little progress since then. My first 3 weeks, our trial period, I had zero processed sugars or grains - I didn't even cheat. I didn't have any carb flu or withdrawal symptoms, which surprised the heck out of me because I am a baker (making the family's breads, tortillas, biscuits, etc myself) and pasta lover. After about 4 weeks, I cheated with a big pasta meal - part test, part because I REALLY wanted it. You know what? No side effects worst than a slight headache and gained 3 lbs, which came back off in a day or two. And it was DELICIOUS.

    We were visiting my parents this last week and we agreed to have a week of less vigilance and to just accept it. After a week of eating occasional grains and sugars - I have some annoying leg cramps (might also be from sitting in the car 2 days each way) and I gained... 2 lbs. And everything I had was delicious. I admit that some things taste terrible now - I never liked milk chocolate, but I had to literally spit out a Kiss because it was so gross. All the hype over "you won't even want sugars or grains - they will taste terrible to you and make you sick and the cravings will be gone" just has not worked out for me. At all.

    Like you, we are sticking to the fight. We have done research and reading and are pretty convinced that primal is SO much better for us than the Standard American Diet that we can't really go back at this point, but we also have no major medical issues, or even minor ones, that have cleared up or been mysteriously made better (in fact, I've started breaking out on my face and back occasionally with this lifestyle - craptacular), but I wish we had better weight loss or something to hold up and show for it all the time.

    As for meal ideas - I have had awesome experiences with homemade Hollandaise on everything (roasted veggies, eggs, ham/bacon, etc), and I make my own simple Alfredo sauces - cream, butter, parm, cream cheese - to go with chicken, broccoli, tomatoes, bacon, ham, squash and most other veggs (in combinations, not necessarily all that at once).

    Fight the good fight -

  8. Have you looked into doing a cleanse? Maybe that would help?

    Also, check out this link :

    They are sooo yummy and pretty darn healthy. Would satisfy that sweet tooth and would be easy to mix up and have as snacks throughout the week.

    You're doing great! Keep fighting!

  9. I feel similarly, Heather. My husband and I have been primal since August, and I've lost 20lbs, but none for months. I'm not SUPER strict (sometimes eat bad oils etc) and I eat ice cream every couple of weeks or tortilla chips or french fries as a cheat, but otherwise, totally primal. Haven't had any wheat or gluten since we started. All our meat is grass fed, all food organic, yada yada.
    I have a diagnosed thyroid condition, but am not on meds. I believe it has something to do with my slower weight loss, and also the fact that I do not feel at all different as a result of eating like this. My husband has an increase in energy, says he feels great and sleeps better etc. All the stories I read on MDA say the same. Me? I feel exactly the same. Still tired. Still just how I always felt.
    Pretty discouraging.
    I will say, though, that I don't ever want to go back to eating the other way and gaining back that weight. yuck! I am happier, mentally, eating and living this way.

    1. Regarding thyroid issues, check out

      I lost 40lbs in a year. 30 lbs in the first three months via food and walks. I wouldn't use weight as a metric for progress. I eat clean 90% of the time. I started exercising and weight training about 2 months ago. Since then I have dropped another pant size but my weight has been the same. Good health is a lifestyle, not a temporary solution. Keep it up!

    2. My hashimoto's is one of the reasons I started eating Primal/Paleo in the first place. I think I've read chriskresser before, but am reading again. Thanks for the tip.

  10. I read somewhere (MDA perhaps) that you have not truly hit a plateau unless you go at least a couple of months with no weight loss.


    I just did this for 30 days and loved it!!! I have no desire for sweet things anymore and I was a total sugar/carb/wheat junkie just a month ago. I didn't have that much to lose but still dropped 8.4lbs and 12.75 inches total.

    I think there are a bunch of people on MDA who have done the Whole 30 challenge as well.


  12. Heather,

    First off, thanks for sharing such intimate details about your and your family's lives! I thought about going Primal for probably 5ish weeks before actually taking the plunge, and only after following along with your account first.

    Regarding your weight loss, have you ever had your thyroid function checked? I know from previous entries that you've had pretty negative experiences with Western medicine/MDs, but this is something that you may consider looking into. You may be able to have a chiropractor run the tests for you (sometimes scopes of practice vary by state).

    Alternatively, I would ask if you're getting enough Iodine in your diet. You may already know this, but iodine is vital to proper thyroid hormone synthesis by your thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland could be functioning properly, but without optimum levels of iodine you'll still have symptoms of hypothyroidism. Most salt is iodized these days, though not necessarily.

    Just thought I'd throw that out there. Hang in there!

  13. Hi Heather--I know you're busy but do consider keeping up your gym membership. Light cardio during the week coupled with the diet you're maintaining could help you over that plateau. I'd also recommend swimming. That worked wonders for me--good luck!

  14. Heather, I totally agree, food is stupid. If only we didn't have to eat; I've tortured myself with dieting and hating being fat all my life and I'm not even that heavy. But I am short like you which makes things even worse, ugh. The primal diet is so good but it is really difficult to follow and gets so discouraging sometimes. I have a good friend who has a 80/20 theory. Tries to do about 80 percent right then gives herself some room to be human. Plus she exercises like a fiend but her kids are older than yours so she has a lot more time. You are doing the best you can but I think we all need to find some method of eating that is healthy and keeps us as fit (read thin) as possible without driving us crazy!! For me, exercise is KEY!! My kids are older too so it's easier for me but try some classes that are fun, Zumba, kickboxing, those kinds of classes are so much fun and so energizing and you're really doing something fun and healthy for yourself! Keep up the good work Heather!

  15. *Pork, Butternut Squash and Apples (meat and veg at the same time!)

    Vegetable foil packet:
    1 butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
    1 Roma apple (peeled and cut into 12 pieces)
    1/2 red onion (cut into 12-inch pieces)
    1/4 of the spice/herb mixture

    Spice/herb mixture (use 1/4 in vegetable packet, 3/4 rubbed on loin)
    1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (freshly)
    3/4 tsps minced garlic (1 large clove)
    1 1/2 teaspoon sage (chopped fresh)
    kosher salt
    freshly ground pepper (easy on the pepper!)
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 sprig rosemary

    1 lbs pork tenderloins (trimmed)
    rubbed with 3/4 of the spice mixture
    browned in 2 tbsps unsalted butter

    1 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Make the spice/herb mixture.

    2 Toss the vegetable mixture with 1/4 of the spice/herb mixture in a bowl with
    2 T. butter and melt. Spread out on a long sheet of foil.
    Add the rosemary and the butter/spice mixture. Bring the ends
    of the foil together and crimp to seal into a packet. Poke holes in the packet to release steam.
    Place the packet on a baking sheet and roast on the upper rack until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

    3 Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
    Add 2 tablespoons butter, then brown the pork on all sides,
    about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and scrape up any browned bits from the pan,
    then transfer the skillet to the lower oven rack and roast
    until a thermometer registers 160, about 15 minutes.
    Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.
    4 Serve with the squash and apples.

    5 Serves 2: Per serving: Calories 487; Fat 22 g (Saturated 12 g); Cholesterol 164 mg;
    Sodium 367 mg; Carbohydrate 24 g; Fiber 5 g; Protein 47 g