How would you handle this eating issue?

Yes, an eating issue thread. Fasten your seatbelts (if you can get them all the way around). If you don’t want to read the story, go down to the **.

Once upon a time, I got fat. I was self-indulgent, and ignorant, and also getting middle-aged and suffering from reduced metabolism. No excuses, just the facts. I spent about 15 years in varying stages of fatness.

Then I went on a very strict and well-supervised diet* and lost 150 pounds in 8.5 months.

Over the next six years I yo-yoed up and down the last 50 of those 150 pounds 3 or 4 times. I am now in the process of losing about 40 of those pounds again.

When I am in the process of losing, I am mostly ok. I don’t get hungry, my cravings are minimal, and I can lose a steady 2 pounds a week without too much struggle and without putting my health at risk. I believe that I know what I’m doing.

**This last time losing weight, I have come to the conclusion that I am addicted to starchy foods. Bread, crackers, pastries, and stuff like that; and to a lesser extent, pasta. They do a number on my body and make me hungry for more of the same. And the weight piles on.

So, at last, my question: can I live for the rest of my life eating normal food but completely avoiding these kinds of starchy foods?

And if I do that, will I be like a dry drunk, just white-knuckling it until I give in and think it’s ok to eat them again? Is there a way around that?

On an intellectual level I don’t mind giving up those particular foods. My problem is I don’t really believe I can do it long-term.

*Doctor-supervised high-protein liquid diet, 600-800 calories per day, plus increasing amounts of cardio exercise.

The best diet is the one that works for you

As long as your getting your minimum amount of protein, you’re pretty much assured of getting enough carbs and fats.

If you go lower than 1,200 calories a day, it’s very difficult to get all your vitamins and minerals, so take a good supplement. Nothing fancy, just get One A Day or another good multivitamin.

I have a similar problem though not as extreme, I love nuts. I totally lose all control. No matter what kind, I’ll eat them till I get sick.

Obviously it’s easier to limit nuts, rather than starches, but as long as you’re getting your minimum amounts of protein, fats, carbs and vitamins, the diet pretty much is not gonna matter.

A good fiber drink, may also help to take the edge of your hunger by filling you up.

You don’t need starchy carbs at all, with enough protein and fat you can survive on zero carbs, but having carbs through vegetables helps with micronutrients.

You can either cut them out completely, go paleo, and see if the cravings go away, or you can set yourself a daily limit. One slice of bread with breakfast, a measured serving of pasta at dinner time etc. Pastries and stuff you could treat yourself to once a week.

It may help to be completely anal about counting calories and grams of carbs, this could help you stop yo-yoing those 50lbs.

Carbs set me on an eating rampage. If I can just not eat them, I can control my diet. What I’ve learned is to eat my carbs at lunch, when I’m at work. I’ve got no access to any starches I don’t bring myself, so I may want carbs, but I can’t cave in, and work distracts me as well. By the time I’m home, the cravings have subsided. If not, a lean protein snack will keep me from scarfing chips, etc.

Rules, schedules, distraction, and pre-planning are what do the trick for me. YMMV.

One day at a time. If you can abstain for one, two, or three days without any problem, then you can hold out indefinitely. Don’t focus on the long haul.

I try to take this attitude for anything that seems doable in the short-term but impossible in the long-term.

The first time I heard about low-carb diets, I thought the notion was absolutely ridiculous. But it has become apparent to me throughout the years that, when it comes to any one person, there are precious few blanket statements you can make about the body, other than you’re generally healthier if you aren’t morbidly obese. So if you’re able to comfortably sustain a low-carb/no-carb diet without any problems, I’d say do it if it helps you maintain a healthy body weight and gives you energy.

Personally, I turn into a raving bitch without 2-3 servings of whole wheat bread or pasta in my diet. I get headaches, too. So going completely starch-free doesn’t work for me. I have the most energy and find eating healthy easiest when I get enough bread/pasta/rice/<insert other starch here> to stave off the headaches and cravings, but the biggest portion on my plate has to be veggies.

If you’re really concerned about your health, though, run your preferred diet by a nutritionist. I’m fairly certain he or she would back you up, but it might ease your mind.

This book, (77 positive reviews!) and the internet communitybased around it, was very helpful to me.

I don’t think your question is a dietary nutrition question, but more of a psychological will-power question.

Can you do it long term? Yes, of course you can. You got this far. As stated, you’re going to get carbohydrates that occur naturally in other foods. But avoiding the foods that you crave (bread, pastas, snacks, etc.) is something that you have to say are no longer part of your daily diet. Or limit yourself to one breadstick per meal…and that’s it.


Yes, you can.

I gave up pasta (my former favorite food in the whole world), bread, potatoes, and sweets over a year ago. I do eat them on occasion now, but I don’t crave them anymore. The trick for me was learning about their effect on my blood sugar and insulin levels (I have an endocrine disorder that involves insulin resistance), and what those elevated insulin levels do to my body in the short- and long-term. I don’t want to get diabetes, I don’t want to get cancer, I don’t want to get heart disease in the long term; I don’t want to feel bloated and groggy in the short term.

Truly believing that these foods are actively harmful to my body has kept me from craving them. I haven’t banned them entirely – I had a small piece of apple pie at Thanksgiving, for example – but I look at them as controlled substances.

Also, people will debate the effect of food on your complexion, but since I cut out sugar, my skin has been clear for the first time in my life. On the rare occasions that I do eat sugar, I break out a few days later. Being vain about my skin is a good motivator.

I’ve never had extra body fat and I probably never will; I still chose to change my diet to exclude grain products, and I eat fairly low in carbs (those I do eat are mostly from ‘whole’ foods; tubers, roots, fruit, unsweetened yogurt).

I feel better than I ever have in my life. Managing my carb intake (no grains being the most important factor, but also not too much and not too little daily carbohydrate) is the key to controlling my IBS, blood sugar, energy levels, and migraines.

A lot of people follow diets like these and are both healthy and happy. Even if you have an addiction to carbs (which most people who have been very fat do, IMO), for most people who fully commit to a lifestlye change such as this and are eating a nutritious diet, they stop having cravings after a few months. It will probably be easier for you to ‘fall off the wagon’ and binge on starchy junk than it would be for someone like me, but that’s a mental struggle mostly, once you’ve physically adjusted to a lower-carb/junk-free diet.

According to the care and feeding of humans, our diet should be 40% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein. We need carbs in our diet; what we don’t need at all is sugar. I’m not sure how this translates into getting rid of carbs if you’re addicted to them, but not all carbs are created equal - having an orange is not the same as having a glass of Coke.

I’ve lost about 15 pounds since the beginning of summer and I’ve always loved carbs and still do. Since I can’t cut them completely out or I’d be miserable I have changed the type of carbs I choose.
Sugars and refined white carbs are the type I have avoided.
-I switched my morning vanilla latte to sugar-free which took some getting used to but I’m fine with it now.
-I only drink diet sodas.
-I looove ice cream but have swithed to no-sugar added types.
-No more white rice. Brown whole grain only.
-Either whole grain pasta or Dreamfields* brand (debatable if this stuff really works but it seems to for me).
-No sugar candy. If my sweet-tooth acts up I have a sugar free starlight mint or dove sugar free chocolate.

Not to say I "never’ eat refined white carbs, but I’m much more conscientious when eating them and practice portion control around them wheras I used to eat massive helpings of mashed potatoes, bags of pretzels, heaps of spaghetti, bags of licorice thinking “hey, it’s all fat-free right?”

Have you ever had a thorough food-allergy test? Sometimes allergies can actually cause cravings - I don’t understand the mechanism.

My first concern would be to make sure that the building blocks of serotonin are somewhere in your diet. Tryptophan especially can be hard to get enough of if you give up bread. (It exists in meats but the absorption is blocked by high-protein foods.)

My Mother lost over 60 pounds by “never eating anything white.” Of course, that may be because she was previously going through 3 quarts of vanilla ice cream per week. . .

According to Wikipedia and my nutrition professors, most of the foods that are high in tryptophan are animal products (eggs, meat, poultry, dairy). Nobody mentions bread as a leading source of tryptophan. Why do you say that absorption of tryptophan is blocked by high-protein foods? Cite please!


Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. Here are some of my reactions:

Food allergies - I had a ton of food allergies as a child, some mild, some severe. One of these was wheat. But most of those went away when I hit puberty, and now there is no allergy to grains. I wish there were, I am used to mentally ruling out things that I am still allergic to.

Vegetables - I normally eat a ton of vegetables, and those (even tubers) are not the things that give me cravings. As rhubarbarin said, no grains seems to be where I need to be (I am curious why you came to that conclusion for yourself). I include corn among those things I should avoid, although I’m not sure if it counts as a grain or not.

Will power, one day at a time - yes, I suppose I already knew that. Maybe I just needed some encouragement!

Counting calories - I do this obsessively for a few months, then it feels like being in prison and I break out and eat stuff and gain weight again. I need to find a way to manage my weight without feeling like I’m in prison, so I don’t feel like I need to break out.

Portion control - this seems to be my great personal weakness. Like counting calories, I can do this for a while, but eventually larger or more servings start creeping in and I’m back to being overweight. That’s why I think I need to cut them out completely. No grain, no cravings, no breaking out of prison and falling off the wagon. And no mixed metaphors!

Hi Roderick Femm!

I realized I made a post in your thread without being even remotely helpful to your OP. While I can’t say anything relevant to a life without carbs, I can say, for counting calories, have you tried My Fitness Pal? They are an app/website ( where you can put in weight loss goals and it tells you how many calories to eat - you can enter your meals and snacks either from their huge database of foods, or you can build your own recipes and it tells you how many calories are in your home-cooked meals. I myself have never been a calorie counter, until I discovered this website, and now I am morphing into one of those weirdos who actually measures out her breakfast cereal with a measuring cup, to make sure my entries are accurate. It keeps track of your carbs and fat and protein, and you can even track things like vitamins and minerals and, my personal favorites, calcium and fiber, and there are charts and graphs and stuff.
I think it is fun, anyway, and easy, which might make the calorie counting seem less prison-like (or it could make it worse, but it is a cool app that is there if you need it).

Good luck!

I did calorie counting for about a year, and got a good feel for how many calories are in things and what size portions I should be eating - I’m maintaining my 30 pound weight loss without counting calories now. What has been a key component for me, though, is exercise - I don’t feel like I’m allowed enough calories, so I exercise more so I can eat more. I don’t blame you at all for falling off the wagon if you feel like you’re depriving yourself; I think we’ve pretty firmly established that that doesn’t tend to work long-term for people. Do you have any thoughts on how to make calorie intake and portion control work more naturally for you?

I love yams too!!

Oh, sorry, I misunderstood.

Actually, My Fitness Pal is the app I was using before I broke out of jail this last time. It’s fine, but I just don’t want to do it any more. Thanks for the suggestion though.

You’ve kind of answered your own question.

I’ve been eating a very carb-restricted diet since March 1. I’ve given myself a few “splurge” days and two weeks ago I gave myself a splurge week.

Observing my response to food when I am extremely carb-restricted, then during my splurges was fascinating. I could splurge all I wanted for up to 2 days and bounce right back to my restricted carbs without missing a beat. But cutting loose for longer than that triggered a much bigger appetite and “recovery” to my healthy, normal, not-obsessed-with-food low carb plan was harder. Not impossible at all, but it took more restraint for a longer period.

I know that I want to eat a very restricted carb diet for the rest of my life and my plan, once I reach the weight I want, is to take one to two days off per week, no more. I figure that will stop me from losing more weight without triggering excessive eating.

It is the carb restriction itself which allows you keep restricting carbs because it prevents your insulin levels from spiking and driving your blood sugar crazy. Without that, your appetite should be normal.

And if I understand you correctly, you are doing this via liquid protein? Blech. Try eating high-fat, high-protein instead, see how that works for you. Very livable. (I’ve lost 50 pounds)

The original long-term weight loss was with liquid protein, and when I need to lose steadily, like now, I go back to that, supplemented with nutrition bars, low-sodium V8, and some fruit. There is some fat in the bars and shakes, but I don’t think I would lose as much or as steadily on a diet with a lot of animal fat in it.

And yes, I have answered my own question, I guess I’m looking for other people’s perspectives and experience. And I’m trying to persuade myself that I can happily do without the carbs over the long term.