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Sugar Junkies - support needed

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  • #16
    ShannonCC - meeee toooo!! Right along with the messed up childhood.

    Yup - the long arm of childhood reaches clear through adulthood. Not that you cannot overcome a shitty one, but you and I have challenges that gratefully many others do not. I think that adults coming out of abusive childhoods do, in a very real sense, have a kind of brain damage, and the crutch / dependency / go-to feel-good things we do just depends on our particular individual biochemistry, with perhaps some inborn tendencies from familial genes.

    I have always told my children that whatever happens to the physical body affects the brain, whatever happens to the physical brain affects the body, and emotions affect both - this is a personal truth.

    I don't have one singular quick-and-easy answer. Going Primal and cutting out all grains has surpisingly really diminished my sugar hunger! My always-ready snack to beat the sugar attack is currently dark chocolate. Right now, I have a bar of Ritter Sport (German brand) dark with whole hazelnuts. Just having one bar ALWAYS available in the kitchen is psychologically good for me. I made sure I had a small stack before Day One, in preparation.

    I started the Primal six weeks ago (for fat loss) with the intention to make it to my high school reunion - next Saturday - and then reevaluate. This Primal thing has been so good for me on so many levels that yesterday I announced to the family that I would extend it through to Labor Day. Then I will reevaluate again. That way, I don't tell myself - NEVER AGAIN....YOU MAY NEVER AGAIN HAVE SUGAR...WON'T YOU MISS HAVING SUGAR EVER, EVER AGAIN... that kind of mental crap.

    Two days ago I made a huge Primal mistake for the first time since starting (my willpower has lasted amazingly long...) - I ate six huge-ass egg-shaped chocolate cream truffles the size of small chicken eggs over the course of a night. I got a nasty headache and then I literally broke out in a nauseaus, woozy sweat. I kind of liked that - not the suffering, but the suffering is a disincentive to do that again anytime soon... at least, with huge-ass chcolate cream truffles. Previously, sugar would have made me feel "better" (and then I would have needed more, but hey, I would take momentary "better") - two days ago, it made me feel worse. Which was positive because healthy bodies are supposed to feel like hell after non-foods... so I see the episode as evidence that I am getting healthier.

    TMI, but I have noticed that I always get a MONSTROUS combo of sugar, carb and fat cravings just before my monthly. It is so dependable that it has become a signal that it is about that time again. Have you noticed a sugar-dependent pattern to menstruation?? It might explain a few of the attacks.

    Next week I plan on making an "action plan". Like asthmatics (my daughter) have from their pulmonologists - she has several levels of "actions" that she is to follow - a set pattern - if the asthma flares. Step 1 is grab the inhaler, Step 2 is get the prednisone, Step 3 is get thee to the emergency room. I think I will make my own Sugar Bustin' Action Plan. First thing is grab the chocolate, second thing... I don't know yet. That way I won't have to stop and TRY to THINK through a sugar attack, because, you know, there is no thinking going on during one!! I may just put the thing in an old official first aid kit, complete with red cross on the front (I have no problem being a bit dramatic...).

    Between "attacks", when I am thinking and feeling "normal and balanced" I plan to continue my Primal journey by just puttin' one foot in front of the other food-wise and ever-improve the diet; start moving my buns more outside in the sunshine; perhaps get some supplementation in me (I am thinking fish oil for the o-3 and D); attack the hubby in bed more (feeling frisky because some inches came off and I feel more attractive...); make sure the sleep is there... you know, the whole PB lifestyle thing. It all is a piece of the puzzle.

    Just to let you know what I was up to before the Primal - I would grab some powdered sugar, any kind of solid fat, and a liquid like cream or milk, and flavoring like vanilla, and make.... icing. And then eat the whole flippin' one-cup-plus batch myself in a sitting. A big theater box of Junior Mints - all miiiiiine, thank you! Four maple cream filled eclairs - just for me, you all get your own! One container of Breyers vanilla bean per person, please. I used to crow that there was nothing literally too sweet or too rich for me. (I grew up SAD and half of it in the South, so sweet is my thing).

    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


    • #17
      Thanks I am feeling a lot better this afternoon. A lot of meat and a looooong walk with the dog and some podcasts and I'm good. I think I needed a temper tantrum.

      I have also found (as others said) that a high protein breakfast helps a lot. This time around I started the high protein breakfast a couple weeks before I gave up the sugar. Maybe that's why I lasted longer than 2 days this time.

      And yes, definitely a PMS part to it which also sucks. A monthly crisis to look forward for the next I don't know how many years. Lovely Well menopause has to hit someday. Please tell me it gets easier then, lol!

      It's definitely sugar/high carb for me, not food in general. I thought I used to have a lot of general food binges before I gave up grains. In hindsight, it was all bread product related. So now I'm off grains and the binges are pure sugar. Now that I know what I know about grains, I think it's basically a sugar problem I have. I've never binged on meat or eggs or anything like that. Unless the meat was wrapped in dough, or the eggs were mixed with sugar and baked into a cake, etc.

      Though to be fair, I've never binged on fruit. I've over eaten fruit, but binging is different. When I say binge I mean a real binge, where you are full and even nauseated or your stomach hurts, and you slow down but you don't stop eating. For me that has only happened with bread products or refined sugars.

      I think it's a mix of emotion and physical. I've had emotional binges but also many where things are fine and nothing is going wrong and it seems to come from nowhere. I think a childhood of stress just screws up the system physically.

      But yeah, nice to know I'm not alone.


      • #18
        Sorry to say that it isn't easier in menopause--at least it wasn't for me. I have discovered that anything with a sweet taste is a trigger for me to binge on anything and everything. So I avoid all sweet things--including fruit.

        I have an incredible 'sweet tooth' and would love to have desserts, candy, ice cream, etc., but all my siblings are Type 2 diabetics (but I am not), and my endo believes that my WOE (VLC) has 'protected' me.

        Is it fair that I can't enjoy sweets? Life isn't a matter of 'fair.' You play the hand you're dealt. I know that 1)I love all sweets; 2) Sweets are bad for me. So why would I abuse my body by indulging in a substance that does me no good?

        Someone mentioned alcoholics, and that's how I regard sweets--something that requires abstinence from me.

        I don't 'resent' this; I think that health is a matter of making good choices for ourselves, and I'm happy that I've learned enough to understand that sugar will always be a bad choice for me.


        • #19

          I could have written your post. Isn't it just the most frustrating thing ever? I had a binge just yesterday after eight days of doing well. What I have found is that emotions are definitely a HUGE trigger for me. If something upsets me enough to be thinking about it for a few hours, I can almost guarantee you that I will have a binge later that day or evening. And I know this about myself, and I STILL BINGE REGARDLESS!! Believe me, I know how maddening it is.

          The longest I have been able to go without a binge or sugar was when I very first started Primal a couple months ago. I went three weeks without giving in. Then it was my twins girls first birthday, had cake.....then my bachelorette party, drinking and a few days of non primal eating there......cleaned up my act, only to have another binge in a few days after that........I've been struggling on and off for the last month and a half.

          I don't know the answer. I wish there was some magical advice I could give you that would cure you. Some things I have found that have helped me: When shopping, don't even go near the processed food/candy isles. I swear to you, when i first went Primal and I would walk through the store, I couldn't even LOOK at the candy. Looking at it gave me huge anxiety. I would just look up toward the ceiling until I passed the isle with candy. That helped until I got over the initial hump of sugar detox. Do not buy anything that you shouldn't be eating. Don't even bring it into the house. Not for your children, husband, whatever, just don't bring it into the house. I made that mistake a few days ago, went to Costco and the kids wanted some bars so I bought Nature Valley dark chocolate peanut butter bars for them.......and that's exactly what I kicked my binge off with yesterday afternoon. I thought I would be strong enough and not eat them. I had no intention of eating them. But if I'm upset and the sweets are there, they are going in my mouth and I feel powerless to stop it.

          You might consider doing the 21 Day Sugar Detox......yes, it's going to be hard, probably one of the hardest things you will have to do. But you just have to make the committment and do it. Once you get past the first week, the cravings WILL GET BETTER! I promise. The longer you go without eating sugar, the better your cravings will get. You may be the kind of person that just can't have sweets and keep yourself in control. There's nothing wrong with that, it's an addiction. But just like an alcoholic knows they can't have another drink, you (and I for that matter) know that in order to keep control of the sugar binges, we have to have ZERO SUGAR. Not even one little bite or taste. Not even in the house. No, it's not fair, it sucks, it actually hurts sometimes to think about not having refined sugar ever again. But I try not to think in terms like that. One day at a time is the best way I have found. And I still mess up, but I'm a heck of a lot better than I used to be. I've gone from binging on sugar 4-5 nights a week, to having a binge every 8-10 days or so. That's progress. I might not ever fully have control over my sugar binges, but I hope to someday.

          I'm here if you ever want to talk or vent your frustrations. You can friend me on FB if you want and join the Whole 30 group we started in May. There are several great folks in the group, some of them just completed their first Whole 30's and they are so inspiring, and of course very supportive. And there are some folks in there that have the same struggle you and I have so it's good to vent and talk with them about it as well. Let me know if you are interested in the FB group.


          • #20
            Wow, so it seems it's not just a physical issue with so many of us. I relate to those putrid sugar binges and they really undo me. I totally view it as an addiction and have been attending meeting of Overeaters Anonymous. Very helpful and supportive...and gentle too. Give it a try, loads of meetings around all over the world. For any problems with food. I hope you find a solution soon. OA has been really working for me.


            • #21
              Some thoughts...

              No bad childhood here. I think stress can play a role in throwing things off, though it didn't seem to play a part for me. Round after round of antibiotics seem to have been my cue.

              PMS SHOULD NOT exist, and you should have plenty of reason to expect it to go away over time. Primal will be a huge help here, especially you get the wheat & sugar out, and what remains, I encourage you to look up Drs. Dzugan and/or Reiss and see what they have to say about balancing your hormones. Many, many women see it (and the attendant cravings) go away as they move further down the primal path to health.

              When I eat fruit instead of sweets, I crave more and more and more fruit, and have to beat back the cravings for sugar eventually, too. So I don't eat fruit except occasional in-season lower sugar ones, like berries. ***I know not everyone is like this***, but those who aren't should also know that not everyone is like them. Switching from sugar to fruit was a helpful first step to reducing sugar, but never ever eliminated the cravings. I never binge on whole fruit, but it leads to constant cravings for more, and I'd rather just live without the cravings, TYVM.

              I've only ever met one person who binged on foods that didn't involve sweets or grains. She admits she had a very unusual situation. Binges almost universally are about getting sugar (in some form, & grains transform quickly) into the body, even when the binger is unaware of this.

              After a year, I no longer have to avoid every tiny bite, but I do it anyway because sweets just don't taste good to me anymore. I do think that if I had "just one bite" say, once a week, that eventually the cravings would start up again, and it's just not worth it. I *can* do just one bite of a fruit now and then, just not sweets or grains. And ladies, really, believe me, the cravings CAN GO AWAY and the taste that you think is so fabulous CAN GO AWAY. You don't have to live like a junkie wishing for another fix, but steadfastly abstaining, for the rest of your life. There is so much more out there.
              5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
              Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
              Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
              Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
              ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***


              • #22
                MamaGrok, my PMS did go down a LOT when I cut the grains! But not gone. I do have a lot of other problems and they all seem to be the vague "hormonal" ones that are hard to pin down. I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism a few years back and the meds for that helped my energy levels a lot. But yeah, I'm sure there are still other things going on. I will check out those doctors.

                I have had problems with depression since I was a child, which makes sense from an emotional point of view, but at the same time, the depression is always in the winter. So I think there's a vitamin D part to it. This summer for the first time in my life I'm making an effort to get sun instead of avoid it. Lots of tank tops and no sunblock (unless I go to the beach). Maybe that will help sugar cravings too, we'll see.

                MarissaLinnea, I appreciate the invite to the Whole 30, but I don't feel up to a group right now. Not sure why . . . But thanks I'll look up the 21 day detox. Any particular link?


                • #23
                  I know sometimes it seems like it's so easy for everyone on here to eat exactly what they're supposed to, but that's not quite the reality of forums. I know I don't post every time I blow it.

                  The Boyfriend (who has way more willpower than I do) brought home a 12 pack of individually wrapped Reese's, intending to put one in his lunch every day. Some days he would forget, and it wasn't that big of a deal to him anyway. He got 2 out of the 12 and I ate the rest over the course of the week. The next week, he tried again. I don't think he got any of them at all. Fortunately, he's very supportive so he didn't say a word, just stopped buying them because he knows they're a problem for me. Yeah, I didn't exactly run to my laptop and start a thread about it. I wouldn't have even brought it up if it hadn't been for this thread and wanting you to know you're not alone.

                  Right now I'm about halfway through Dr Daniel Amen's Making A Good Brian Great :
         Making a Good Brain Great: The Amen Clinic Program for Achieving and Sustaining Optimal Mental Performance (9781400082094): Daniel G. Amen: Books.

                  I got it because I noticed my concussions had an effect on everything - mood, willpower and even my weight when I was eating exactly how I had before when I was 20 pounds lighter. I'm having a lot of trouble with cravings now, and I wasn't before.

                  In the book, he talks about how we can damage our brains enough to be seen on a scan, either through the wrong foods, head trauma or even things like an abusive childhood or combat. Like I said, I'm only halfway through the book, but it does talk about how to fix your brain so it works the way it's supposed to. It has been helpful in understanding why I can't just "man up" like everyone else seems to be doing (yet!), and it might be helpful to you as well.

                  ETA: Sometimes using a stalling techinique can be effective too. Last night, The Boyfriend has been working all day, literally from 9am to 9pm, and I was home alone. As the sun started to set, I started thinking about how I REALLY wanted to go get something, ANYTHING, and it wasn't good stuff on my mind. I hadn't quite settles on what I wanted, so I told myself I was not going to get in the car and cruise around, I had to absolutely know where I wanted to go and exactly what I was going to get. And then, before I left, I was going to have to actually use my Livestrong membership and log in everything I was going to eat.

                  By the time I had figured out where and what I was going to be eating, then finished up the movie I had started, it was something like an hour later and I had some leftover homemade meatloaf. I was still jonesing for something else, but nowhere near as badly as I was before.

                  Also, because of my specific damage issues, I've found that supplementing with a good B-complex and 5-HTP are helpful, but I would do some research on the 5-HTP before taking it. It's probably not for everyone, but those two supplements do seem to make it easier for me to resist problem foods.
                  Last edited by RitaRose; 06-10-2012, 07:26 AM. Reason: Because I ALWAYS have more to say...


                  • #24
                    I didn't think I had a sweet tooth, but it sneaks up in ways you don't realize, such as sweeteners, fake foods, etc.

                    So I second/third, etc. the cold turkey approach. Avoid anything sweet, even fake stuff, even fructose for a while. This includes soda and sweeteners of any type. If you drink coffee or tea, learn to drink them black. After a while, you'll notice your tastes will change and the flavors of foods will become more vivid when you no longer have sweet covering them up. Then gradually start testing foods that have a little sweet in them like berries. You'll be amazed how flavorful and sweet they are again. Coffee tastes pretty good black too if you get a good brand especially.

                    Doing this, I no longer crave anything sweet anymore. It holds no interest. I'd much rather have my fat/protein foods and veggies.

                    So you're not alone, all of us have food demons to wrestle, big and small, and the killer sweet-tooth is one of the big ones.


                    • #25
                      OP, you could have been sitting on the bus last night with me and my wife, you parroted our conversation perfectly. I am ok if I dont touch sweets, I am screwed if they pass my lips. I cant not eat everything to hand, it is like somewhere in my brain a voice is screaming, just screaming and I have to eat this to stop it. I was a messed up kid with messed up parents and cookies and cake and more cookies MORE COOKIES!!!!!! is the only thing that made me feel better.

                      I dont buy them, I dont touch them I dont think of them and if I eat them I get sooo sick, how sick is way tmi. So man up bub, ( I know the op is female, so what?) admit you got it bad and fight back. I dont have much advice but we are there with ya, comfort in numbers I suppose.
                      Primal since April 2012 Male 6' 3" SW 345lbs CW 240lbs GW 220lbs and when I get there I am getting a utlikilt. This one actually.

                      Join me at, where all the cavemen hang out.


                      • #26
                        Here is the link:

                        The 21-Day Sugar Detox | Bust sugar & carb cravings naturally.


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by MamaGrok View Post

                          PMS SHOULD NOT exist, and you should have plenty of reason to expect it to go away over time. Primal will be a huge help here, especially you get the wheat & sugar out, and what remains, I encourage you to look up Drs. Dzugan and/or Reiss and see what they have to say about balancing your hormones. Many, many women see it (and the attendant cravings) go away as they move further down the primal path to health.
                          This is me. 4 months in and this cycle is the first time I haven't tried to eat my way through the fridge (2 days b/f my period). It was great to see.

                          I don't have the issues many of you ladies (and gentlemen) have but, I just wanted to say my heart goes out to you. I can not even fathom binging nor the descriptions you've given. Big big HUGS to all of you.


                          • #28
                            I drink a lot of tea. This means that I used to drink a lot of sugar with a hint of tea, because I needed at least 3 teaspoons to sweeten my tea just the way I liked it. When I decided to start eating a more primal diet I had to force myself to cut out the white sugar and instead replace it with either stevia or honey.

                            It has been difficult, and there was a 4 month stretch after going primal where I would continuously eat sugary foods and candy. I got rid of the grains, but upped the amount of sugar I was eating. I remember buying two big bags of Reese's eggs from Sam's Club and eating both of them (with a bit of help) in less than a month.

                            What I have found is that eating sugar is a response to stress for me. If school, work, family, or my relationship was stressing me out I would find some excuse to buy a bit of chocolate or some other sweet. Since I live in NYC there are street vendors, food carts, etc. in your face all day that make it so easy to just fill up on a plethora of sweets.

                            The cold turkey approach did not work for me. It would work for a little while and then something would trigger a huge sugar craving and I would binge for a week. Every person works differently, so the best advice I have to give is that you should experiment a little to see what works for you. Take some time to really think about it. You know yourself better than anyone, so what can you stick to? Think short term and long term. Even if it is a series of small steps in the right direction you'll probably start to feel much better working toward a goal.

                            For me, I decided that the only sweets I am allowed to have are honey, fruits and dark chocolate. The honey is mainly for my tea or the very occasional Greek yogurt treat. I started out with a lighter dark chocolate and worked my way to higher percentages. I love to let chocolate melt in my mouth so I can savor it. I took time to understand why I liked the chocolate I was eating, and to appreciate the different flavors chocolate can have without a ton of sugar to cover it up.

                            At this point in time, I seem to have lost my sugar tooth. It happened very subtly. Recently I tried to have ice cream on three different occasions and it was just not as enjoyable as I remembered. Most candy or milk chocolate is just too sweet for me now and vegetables have even become sweeter to me. When I'm stressed I will still have moments of weakness but I don't really enjoy it anymore. It is almost mechanical. Nowadays I usually stick to drinking a ton of tea in response to stress or sweet cravings and that helps. I have been adding less and less sugar to my tea also.

                            Weaning myself off of sweets has been a very strange experience. I don't know if anything I've said made much sense. When your body loves something for so long and then slowly becomes apathetic to it, words kind of fail to describe the experience.

                            I truly understand and sympathize with those struggling with an addiction to sugar. My childhood was filled with abuse and neglect. For a long time sweets were what I turned to if I wanted to feel good feelings for just a little while. I suppose I have just found things that make me feel even better than a sugar rush ever could.


                            • #29
                              I have sugar problems too. I can't cold turkey it - ie go without any sugar or any fruit for more than 3 days without total withdrawal symptoms and terrible, terrible cravings followed by the inevitable binge. I have to slowly drop it down and then resist having too much fruit. If I can keep it down to two pieces of fruit a day for a while sometimes I can even go without any and then I can lose weight. Replacing sugar with fruit only increases my need for more and more and more.

                              Once I have been off sugar for a week then I find I don't need it in the same way as long as I don't have any sugar or grains, and a little dark chocolate that isn't very sweet fulfils my cravings.

                              If/when my cravings are extreme I will, if I remember before the binge, take a little l-glutamine under the tongue and then find something creative to do - and I find that about 80% of the cravings go within 5 minutes or so. 5-HTP (a serotonin precursor) deals with the other 20% or so of cravings. I find the book "the mood cure" to be very helpful here. Neither of these is perfect and I frequently forget to utilise them, but they do help a lot.


                              • #30
                                Big thank you to OP for starting this thread and for all the comments. I completely sympathize and am facing many of the same struggles. I rarely binge thousands of calories worth nowadays, certainly used to, but still lose control every now and then.

                                Techniques I've found helpful have been:
                                -Giving myself credit for slowly getting better rather than aiming for perfect straight away.
                                -Trying to break the binge-impulse with a moment of mindfulness and saying to myself "even though I've picked up the spoon, I don't need to dig into the jar of jam" (or whatever) "I can still choose to not eat this" or "Even though I've taken one bite I can still choose not to take another one" at each step. Sometimes this works, sometimes not, but I like to think it is reinforcing the ability to say no, little by little.
                                -Others have mentioned delay-tactics. I find this works especially with sweets and cakes at work. I'll tell myself I'll have a piece with my next cup of tea, then when I get my cup of tea I'll think let's see if I can wait until the next cup, and so on. Sooner or later they'll all be gone, or it'll be lunchtime and time to eat some proper food, or it'll be time to go home, or the cake has been sitting there all day looking less appealing by the minute.
                                -I've been trying to incorporate IF but while I'm fine fasting for up to 24 hours it's when I start eating again that the cravings kick in and I'm prone to eating everything in sight. So this is still difficult. Does anyone have experience of fasting helping or hindering with sugar addiction?
                                Well and happy - Journalling a primal life in London