Post-Whole30 Reintroduction: Sweets (Anna)

If you’ve read It Starts With Food or my previous Reintroduction posts, you may have noticed a distinct lack of “sweets” as one of the things to reintroduce to one’s diet.  As I understand it, though, the controlled reintroduction of foods is intended to allow each individual to learn how non-Paleo food items make us feel.  I would like to be able to eat the occasional piece of dark chocolate or use a little stevia in a recipe. The only way to know whether this will exact a huge toll on my body is to experiment; therefore, I added sweets to my reintroduction protocol.

I began with making creamy coconut chocolate chip cookies, intended primarily for my stepson. (He’s convinced this diet will mean starvation for him, despite the fact that he eats really well when he comes over; the cookies were intended as a demonstration that we weren’t a site of utter deprivation.)  (Deprivation. With an “i.” Sheesh.)

I used the gluten-free Enjoy Life chocolate chips, along with some honey. I actually found the cookies both too sweet & too salty (??), but they were very creamy thanks to the coconut butter.  When the chocolate ships were warm & melty, I didn’t care what the rest of the cookie tasted like.  I did alright with the cookies, eating them right after dinner (which I’d planned so that the cookies would provide our simple carbs), although I did eat one extra.  The problem came the next day, with the leftovers.  I found myself snacking on them, despite not having needed to snack at any time in the preceding month, and despite not even liking them very much.  My husband also overate and snacked, and I found him prowling the (former) snack cupboard that night, which is something he hadn’t done over the prior month.

On my shopping trip last week, I decided to pick up a few bars of chocolate, on the premise that we would have high-cocoa, good-ingredient chocolate around for when we wanted a little treat.  I imagine I thought that we’d each have a little square after dinner?  Or something?  Well, it is less than a week later, and I have eaten my way through 3 bars of chocolate all by myself, mostly at odd times during the day.  And I’ve begun getting treats at the local coffeeshop.

Verdict?  Sweets are a slippery, slippery slope for me.  When I reintroduced sugar (via chocolate chips) at 2 weeks post-Whole30, dairy was an occasional indulgence, but I hadn’t had any more wheat. Over the past week I’ve begun eating bagels, croissants, and danishes (the coffeeshop is a dangerous place when I am standing on a slippery slope), along with bars of chocolate and sugar-laden lattes.

At a minimum, I think sweets really need to be put into my “eat only on special occasions” column.  I am going to experiment a bit more with non-sweetener treats like Paleo custard (bananas, coconut milk, eggs) and Paleo banana pudding.  If I can’t eat these in moderation and on a purely occasional basis, then I’ll put them on the “not good for me” list.


18 thoughts on “Post-Whole30 Reintroduction: Sweets (Anna)

  1. Same for me! Fall is hard for me – pumpkin treats galore! Specifically Pumpkin Spice lattes. And now Starbucks has the most amazing Salted Caramel Mocha cake pops. Basically, crack on a stick. I found myself “treating” myself a few weeks back. Then it was almost everyday that I “needed” a cake pop lol Sugar is very addicting. It had taken me almost 2 weeks to stop having sweets cravings. And I actually prefer chips to chocolate!

    • @Susan, I recently discovered the wonder of salt +caramel+chocolate (thanks for nothing, TJ’s), and it’s been one of the hardest things for me to give up. The only reason I haven’t treated myself to my favorite chocolate bar is that it has soy lecithin as an emulsifier, and apparently additives are a line in the sand for me. I think the fact that Ede & I are starting another Whole30 in the next week or two has given me “permission” to fall off the wagon without really working to reform myself. This won’t be a great long-term strategy, let me tell you!

  2. Hi Anna,
    I find sweets to be super slippery for me too. After many (5?) whole30s and reintroducing sweets each time, it quickly and repetitively led to treats everyday, obsessions about sweets etc… I’ve never gone back to grains as they make me so uncomfortable physically, but it’s easy to paleofy many delicious desserts. The hardest part for me is not baking because I love baking things. More and more “Paleo Desserts” is an oxymoron along with “Paleo Bread.” I’ve found that eating in accordance with the whole30 guidelines fits me pretty good the majority of the time.

    What I noticed when I ate sweets was achey legs and extreme irritability among other unpleasantries. It has to be a VERY special occasion and I recruit some outside support before eating something with sugar. I may have arrived at a place where it’s just not worth it anymore. I try to avoid coming at it from a place of rigidity and more from a place of wanting to feel good.

    Thank you for sharing your experience here, it’s very affirming.

    • @Sarah, I am a huge fan of sharing stories, so thank you for sharing yours. I am intrigued (in the best possible way) by the idea of recruiting outside support when you enter into a situation that you know will be fraught for you. Too often food & health are conceived of as solitary matters. This blog was one piece of the support Ede & I worked to set up, and we definitely have texted each other in emergency situations, but there’s no substitute for having the support and assistance of the people right in front of you.

      Hm. I bought some “Paleo bread” a couple of weeks ago, but ended up tossing most of it out. The only uses I could find for it were too much like what I used to eat — sandwiches & cheese toast. The Whole30 process had helped me replace these food choices with lots of other yummy options, so it seemed kind of ridiculous (and a bit backslide-y) to try to reintroduce them. Particularly when the bread cost $8 per loaf and required a 40-minute drive to procure (I am not a baker, and learning to bake bread just so I can make Paleo bread is alllll kinds of wrong, at least for me). What strikes me is that I don’t have the same “how silly!” reaction when it comes to creating Paleo desserts. I suppose a part of me really wants to think that I can have my chocolate chip cookies and other treats with minimal consequences, and I justify this by thinking “it’s for the kids,” and “I’ll work it in on an occasional basis,” and “this isn’t really that bad for me; I could have this a couple of times per month.”

      One last reply, before this comment becomes ridiculously long: The power of Paleo for me is that eating clean makes me feel good. And yet, I’m struggling with the relationship between food and “feeling good.” Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that my internal struggle is over my understanding of “feeling good,” since apparently when I feel bad, I want food to turn that around for me somehow. And this is when I lose sight of the fact that eating clean had me feeling my best, overall, and hop on the rollercoaster of “sweets pick me up, then drop me low.” This is the kernel of another post, so I’ll stop here. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Personally I go by the “Is there any love in there?” rule of thumb. A 65 pence pack of doughnuts is woefully devoid of love (and stuffed with preservatives for looooooong shelf life) and it shows in how it affects me. One time I went back and asked a girl at work about a cake she had brought in because I felt a bit wonky later in the day. Turned out I had been tricked by a cake mix 😉

  4. This is exactly what happens to me except I don’t eat things from the coffee shop , I am gluten intolerant (thank goodness!) or I’m quite sure I would…my problem is with the homemade “paleo” treats. I do fine until I make that first one…then every other day can become a special occasion, or I make them for my dad or…well you see how that can get out of hand! Sugar is truly my nemesis.

    • @SLH: Oh, yes! Those paleo treats! Making them for loved ones because we want them to have healthier options, but then triggering our own rapacious sugar monsters….good times! I think the nebulous nature of a “sometimes” treat might be my real downfall.

      • When you refer to paleo treats, obviously they would be grain free. I’ve made pale banana bread that uses coconut flour, and only bananas for sweetener. Are you referring to treats that have actual sugar in them, or do you mean any that have fruit or coconut sugar or stevia in them?

  5. I extended my Whole30 when I saw myself continuing to want a sweet treat near the end of the 30 days. My first actual sweet was banana chocolate chip cake (with healthier ingredients than usual) that a friend had made around my day 40, and one taste was enough. It was tasty, but it seemed very rich to me. This has been such a major learning experience! Thanks for sharing you story. We’re all in this together!

    • @ Healthy A-Z, thanks for visiting! It’s nice to feel the support of others who’re working to figure this stuff out. It was definitely eye-opening to me to discover just how overly sweet so many of my favorite foods are. At about Day 15 post-Whole 30 (with very occasional dairy and after a couple of shots at reintroducing wheat), I decided to treat myself to my old coffee treat. My cuban latte used a full pack of sugar, and I couldn’t bear to drink it. When they cut the sugar in half, it tasted the way I remembered. It’s a treat I should probably ban entirely from my diet, but that’s a post for another day.

  6. Great post…It’s easy to fall back in “old”eating patterns. Being aware is the key! Sounds like you were paying attention! “Nipped it in the bud” so to speak. Can you share the paleo banana custard recipe?

  7. I am so glad you posted this!! This could have been written by me!! I eat clean all day and then I have a paleo treat like a paleo cookie or muffin. If I have a really bad day, I may eat something from Hershey’s! UGH! My stomach is then off kilter for the rest of the night and my skin looks horrible. When I do the whole 30, my skin clears up and is actually pretty radiant. you would think that would be enough to get me to stop eating the sugar. But Alas… no. It is truly my nemesis. I am still fighting!

    • Melissa or Dallas recently posted a reminder on Facebook that this is a process, and I am trying to hold onto that thought. I am not where I would like to ideally be, but I am doing much better than before I began this journey in August. I am eating so much more Omega-3-rich foods, I have numerous go-to recipes which lead to tasty & healthy food, etc. I just have to make sure that I don’t throw my hands up and given in when the sugar demons have hold of me. Fight on, sister!

  8. Sugar is an issue for me as well. I have found a healthier replacement in Trader Joe’s Flattened Bananas and a handful of walnuts. Mimics banana bread fairly well and feels incredibly decadent. I do consume dairy so I often have a glass of milk with it and it puts me over the moon.

  9. WordPress won’t let me reply directly to Michelle, so I’ll leave this at the bottom. Michelle, when I say “Paleo treat,” I am referring to something which has substituted almond or coconut flour for grain flour, and/or “healthier” sugars (maple syrup, honey,. stevia, etc.) for cane sugar. In the context of this post, I’m saying that sweet Paleo-ed foods are a slippery slope for me because they feed my sugar demons. I suspect that even non-sweet bread-like items might have this effect, because they blur the bright line between types of foods. But I’m not entirely certain.

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