|Photo by La Flaf|
I keep hearing from various paleo adherents that you can eat however much you want, as long as it’s paleo/primal, and you’ll lose (or maintain) your weight. I think that’s generally true, except it should come with an important caveat…
My weight has been stable for several months, after leaning out since stating paleo/primal. But in the past month or so, I actually gained about 5 unwanted pounds. During this time, what I ate hasn’t changed, but how much I ate has. Thinking back over the past month, it’s quite clear that I’ve been overeating, and I was also aware of it while doing so. What’s unusual is that typically, if I overeat for a meal, or even a few days, it generally tends to even out. This month was an exception. A few things happened to line up consecutively, resulting in some continuous overeating. And by overeating, I don’t mean eating more than some specific amount, or by somebody else’s rules. I mean eating past the point of satiety – continuing to eat after already feeling full.
- For breakfast, I often have two sausages from Whole Foods. I recently switched to sausages from Oyama, and I continued mindlessly eating two, even though they’re much larger. I did that every day for a week or so. The following week, I realized that one sausage was more than enough.
- I started having beef broth with dinner, along with some of the meat/bones from the broth. Yet I didn’t adjust the portion size of my dinner, and kept eating my typically fair sized meal in addition to the broth/meat (even though I was full).
- I began making after-work snacks (custards, fruity jelly, carrot halwa, etc.), in what I realize now were fairly large portions.
- I was going away on a trip, but I didn’t down-size my batch cooking enough, and made something not really suitable for freezing. My dinner and lunch were easily 1.5x the usual for a week straight.
None of the above alone would make a difference… but all those things put together resulted in my first weight gain since I started paleo/primal almost a year ago.
What’s my point? First of all, I’m not at all concerned about this weight gain… it’s quite clear to me why it happened, and I know that now that I’m eating “normally” / mindfully again, the pounds will fall off effortlessly.
The thing is, though, I was always aware that I was continuing to eat even though I was full. Various circumstances like my trip, incorporating broths into my diet, feeling inspired to try some new snack recipes, etc. all happened to occur around the same time.
What about people whose satiety meter is broken? People that have been overeating for years, who no longer get that fullness signal from their stomach? What if you’re so used to feeling full from eating tons of carbs that you overeat habitually, even with paleo/primal food?
My caveat to the oft-heard, “as long as you eat paleo/primal you can eat however much you want”, would be to reflect on “however much you want”, because there seems to be an underlying assumption there that you will stop eating once you’re full. And I think that a lot of people regularly eat beyond that point, either out of habit, mindlessness, or because they’ve simply lost the ability to pick up on those satiety signals.
If you’re happy with your weight loss progress or maintenance, great. But if you’re not, it may be worthwhile to be mindful of not just what you’re eating but how much.
What has your experience been with how much paleo/primal food you eat?