Living With Temptation

May 17, 2012 in Categories: , , by

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If you live with anyone, work with anyone, or occasionally venture out into public, then you are living with temptation.  I don’t like to think of a paleo diet in terms of restrictions, even as someone who has to follow the autoimmune protocol (which further eliminates eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshades).  I like to focus more on all the amazingly delicious healthy foods that I do get to eat!  But, when my kids are eating a slice of yeast-based paleo bread slathered in grass-fed butter fresh out of the bread machine, or my husband is enjoying scrambled eggs or a bowl of trail mix, or I walk past the bakery counter in Whole Foods, or go to a birthday party with my kids, or sit at a table at the zoo with a packed picnic lunch instead of a purchased one, or walk past the ice cream parlor on my way into the pet store, or go to a potluck and only eat what I brought and the green salad that someone else brought, or find myself in any situation where someone around me is eating something that I used to enjoy but now refuse to eat due to grain, legume and/or dairy content, I can feel deprived, restricted, and frustrated.  It would just be easier if the world wasn’t so full of yummy foods that make me sick.

Living with temptation obviously applies to people trying to follow a paleo diet in a household where the other members aren’t convinced yet.  It also applies to people who live in a household that is 100% paleo but who have allergies, food sensitivities, or carbohydrate restrictions that don’t apply to the whole family.  This constant exposure to temptation requires anticipation, preparation, and a large amount of discipline to overcome.  Being able to predict which foods will be tempting when you are in which moods and at what time of day (and for women, at what time of month) is very useful in avoiding those foods.  I make sure to keep indulgences just for me in the house so that if the rest of the family is enjoying a paleo treat, I can have one too (just one that is low sugar and doesn’t include nuts or eggs, like some extra dark chocolate, coconut chips, macadamia nuts, or fresh berries).  As the sole cook in my house, I also mitigate these temptations by making less of them and making more things that I can participate in.  Instead of making cookies, I make fruit sorbet.  Instead of making granola bars with mini chocolate chips (which I find hard to resist), I make them with raisins and dried cranberries (which my husband still likes, but I find much less tempting).  If I make sweet potatoes for the family, I also make beets (which are probably my all-time favorite vegetable, tied with artichoke and kale; yeah, I’m weird).  If I make sweetened coconut cream for the kids to enjoy on some fruit, I reserve some unsweetened for myself.  And the other, big big big trick I have, is to make sure I get enough sleep!  If I am tired, I am way more likely to give in.

 But what about temptations out of the home?.  Food is pervasive in our society.  Perhaps it’s a meeting at work catered with coffee and Danishes.  Perhaps it’s a holiday potluck or a Superbowl party.  Perhaps it’s a wedding, a special dinner to celebrate an anniversary, a family member’s birthday party, or even a funeral.  Perhaps it’s simply wandering past the hot deli at your local grocery store when you’re tired and hungry. Perhaps you are traveling and paleo options take much more effort to find.  The best protection you have against these types of temptations is planning ahead and trying to anticipate them as much as possible.  This is when keeping a bag of nuts or a bar of dark chocolate in your purse or your car is a good idea.  This is also when reminding yourself about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting is useful (I will talk about this in a future post). 

I’m not sure which is harder, the predictable but constant daily temptation in my home or the less frequent temptation that completely blindsides me.  I wish I could claim to be impervious to the temptation of foods I know I shouldn’t eat.  But I am not.  I wish I could even claim to successful avoid them most of the time.  I can’t.  Gluten is easy for me to avoid because I know it will make me violently ill for weeks, so I am 100% there.  But other nefarious substances are harder for me to avoid.  I only have a 30% success rate in avoiding popcorn at the movie theater (fortunately for me, I only go to about 4 movies a year).  I probably have a 75% success rate with paleo foods that I don’t tolerate, like eggs, nuts, and paleo baking, but given that these foods are a constant temptation in my home and there is an actual need for me to taste things before posting the recipes on the blog, this means that I am giving in at least once or twice per week (although I am successful in keeping the amount to a minimum when I do give in).  But, I have to tell you something very important:  I am improving.  I am much better at abstaining from foods now than I used to be (not that long ago, I was eating much larger quantities of nuts and eggs much more frequently, all the while knowing I shouldn’t).  It helps that as I feel better and better, I feel worse and worse when I do give in, which helps me remember for the next time.  

So what can you do?  Avoid circumstances where you will experience temptation if you can.  And when you can’t avoid temptation, acknowledge it.  Be honest with yourself.  But also remind yourself of what you already know:  your life is better and healthier without that food.  You are strong enough not to eat it.  You can do it.  And if you do give in, forgive yourself.  Move on.  Don’t let it derail your overall efforts.  Fight to make sure it’s an isolated occurrence.  Figure out how to prevent yourself from giving in next time.  We are all works in progress and living with temptation is no mean feat.


Hi Paleo Mom,

You are an inspiration to me and I have been following your posts since Feb. of this year. I also went paleo. The first month was strictly off dairy. Then I used raw cream, cheese or butter until I read your article on autoimmune protocol just over a week ago. So for just over a week I have been alcohol,NSAID,egg and dairy free in addition to being legume and grain free(since Feb.)I have not eliminated nightshades or nuts/seeds. The reason I am interested in the autoimmune protocol is b/c I have alopecia areata/totalis. I have very sparse patchy hair on my whole body not just my head.I wear a wig. Have you heard of a diet protocol specifically for A.A.? My hardest issue is that I have digestive tract made of steel and hardly ever have ANY digestive complaints. Gas if I have too much starch but never any heartburn, constipation etc…So it makes it hard to avoid foods if I don’t have compelling enough symptoms to avoid them, ya know?My motivation to go paleo originally was to loose 70 extra pounds I am carrying around. I lost 20+ pounds in Feb/Mar and have completely plateaued for the better part of the last 2 months.As a side note a chiro. friend did kinesiology allergy/intolerance testing on me and I failed eggs and dairy but chocolate, coconut and nuts/seeds seemed to be fine(did not test for nightshades). So now I am confused.Any thoughts? I am a busy mama as you are and feel like I am cutting out a lot of my quick food staples.I am just feeling a wee bit sorry for myself, I guess.HAHA! I’ll get over it but was wondering if you could point me in the direction of information that would help me settle into the best plan for me. Thanks for the wealth of info you have been so far. I feel like I have found a friend in you, someone who understands what I am doing and why!

Hi Dara,

The full autoimmune protocol is the best choice for alopecia. The rationale behind omitting these foods from your diet is a separate issue than an intolerance. So, even if you are technically tolerant of those foods, they can still contribute to a leaky gut and inflammation. You may very well have a very leaky gut even though you don’t have any digestive symptoms (I also sometimes think a violent reaction to these foods would make it much easier!). Also, definitely avoid any foods you have an intolerance for, since eating these slows down healing. Don’t worry too much about the weight plateau. It’s really hard on your body to heal and resolve inflammation at the same time as losing weight. But, you should find that once the inflammation does start to decrease (hormones will also normalize as a result), the weight should start coming off again. It’s pretty normal to have plateaus that last 2-6 months while your body heals and adjusts. I know it’s hard to be patient, especially when you feel like you’re missing out on so many great foods. Other than saying that I’m in the same boat and it sucks, I don’t really have a fix for that part. Keep me posted on how you’re doing!

I was thinking about this the other day. I feel like an alcholic! When it comes to sugar! It truly is an addiction and we have to treat it as such. Alcoholics don’t go to bars. We shouldn’t go through the candy isle. When faced with the dessert table at a potluck steer clear. And if your like me no you can’t have “just” one. One always turns into more. Its pretty empowering to walk out if a party having not indulged!

I just found your website. It is inspiring me to make the leap to paleo. I wanted to make a suggestion about avoiding popcorn when you go to a movie. I take a baggie filled with crunchy carrots, celery and cucumber slices. Sometimes I just grab the salad in the frig. All these things are crunchy and take a long time to eat so it feels similar to eat to popcorn.

Such a lovely post! I’m so hard on myself when I slip up. I don’t have horrible reactions to foods, it’s more of a gradual thing I notice with my digestion and pain in my body. I started this lifestyle almost 4 years ago, and have kept off about 25 lbs and thankfully I don’t get hives like I used to. It was all from the gluten, I believe. I have worked at a bakery for over 20 years, and let me say it is still challenging to be around all the frosting and chocolate chips and custard. I bring lots of choices with me every day, hard boiled eggs, nuts, coconut butter, good dark chocolate, anything to snack on that might deter me from what we have at work. It’s not even good quality stuff. It’s filled with preservatives and chemicals, but I still make bad choices sometimes.

Knowing you struggle with temptations too is sooooo helpful and encouraging. I thought I was just a hopeless, undisciplined mess. I am having a really hard time going from Paleo to AIP. I feel so deprived/and tempted, and get into a cheating/failure cycle so much of the time just doing Paleo…although I’m generally about 80-90% there. It’s a daily battle, though. Nuts and seeds are my go-to replacement foods. I’m off gluten, legumes, dairy, eggs and soy very consistently now-which is a challenge, but I’m doing it. I’m trying to now get off coffee, alcohol (red wine) and sugar (my only sugar right now is fruit and honey). I do keep struggling with these 3. And then next up is popcorn, and all other grains (Quinoa and rice are the only two I eat, but I eat these daily). Then I’ll have to subtract out nuts/seeds and nightshades.
I still have many symptoms: hashimotos/hypothyroid, joint pain all over, fibromyalgia-everywhere, inability to lose weight, fatigue, adrenal issues, and lots of neuro issues, like ADD, brain fog, depression, anxiety, memory issues, dizziness. Bursitis in both hips, neuropathy in both feet. And insulin resistance. I’m only 51, but feel 85. 185 lbs, size 16.

I truly FEAR that I will never be able to be disciplined enough to do the AIP program….and that I’m not structured enough to add things in one at a time. But I know I either HAVE to do it, or stay sick. Of course I do not know that doing this will make me well…..but I have the HOPE that maybe just maybe, it will work, and I will get well one day.

This is so very challenging. I’m praying for the right mindset to JUST DO IT. Somehow…someway, by God’s grace, and strength. Some additional challenges are that I hate cooking, am always busy and rushing. And hubby, does not want to eat this way.

But here’s the truth: Traditional medicine offers NO solutions for these sorts of issues. So in reality it’s to do AIP and heal my leaky gut…. or stay sick and lead a sucky life. And life is too precious and short for it to suck.

All that being said, please just know that YOU are a TRUE GODSEND. I absolutely could not do this without your blog, book, recipes, and consistent encouragement. You are giving me and lots of other people HOPE for HEALTH and healing, and the practical strategies to accomplish it. BLESS YOU!!!

Have you investigated or considered Masters Disease (Lyme Spectrum)? Your symptoms are very similar to what I am dealing with and I am getting help through a Tick-borne illness specialist. I’m eating the AIP diet at the current time to control the symptoms, but I have finally found hope. From my experience, I’d prioritize cutting out the nightshades. They made the biggest difference for me, though they can be quite hard to avoid.
Good luck!

Great post. I think we all struggle with this.
I am also getting better at it, especially when I have just ate something I shouldn’t have and feel all the consequences of it (week feeling miserable at least). But as time goes on I ‘forget’ how bad I feel when I eat dairy or wheat. And I will just have that little bit as there is only so little milk in it that it would not harm.. How tricky is my mind..

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