15

votes

Dealing with sugar addiction/detox

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

So I like pretty much everything so far about being primal/paleo. I love eating more meat and fat, I had no problem eliminating grains. The problem I'm having is sugar, and it's derailing everything. Sugar (especially chocolate) is my cryptonite. I've tried most of the hacks -- better quality/lower sugar chocolate, other replacements, simply trying to wait it out. I go about a week eating some plain yogurt with chocolate chips (or something similar) and will then binge horribly one night on Reeses or M&Ms.

It no longer feels like an issue of mere willpower. I can eat at Panera and resist bread, where I once used to eat it as a snack and loved nothing better than peanut butter and butter toast. I've given up rice and 95% of processed foods. But when I try to go a night without sugar, I get antsy and shaky and wind up prowling my house like a caged animal. I'm starting to doubt that I can ever conquer this, and it's VERY important that I do, because I'm also a type 1 diabetic and this behavior is going to slowly kill me :( Every single reason, from my blood sugars to my freakin' siuze 16 jeans never seem important when it really comes to crunch time.

Have any of you dealt with a carb/sugar addiction this bad? If so, what can I do about it?

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on May 26, 2013
at 05:44 PM

Yes des maisons in the Potatoes book gets it right.

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on May 26, 2013
at 05:17 PM

I've tried it too and had it yesterday and today. Worth a try. Perhaps also chromium picolinate tablets as well.

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on May 26, 2013
at 05:15 PM

Definitely. You don't give cocaine addicts or alcoholics a little bit of their addictive substance. You cut it out entirely. You have do this with sugar. I managed without it for years and did not even want it.

064a52daff76c953108be99d5b40acc8

on April 03, 2012
at 05:59 AM

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2009/feb2009_Jacob-Marshak_01.htm?source=search&key=Marshak 'Sorry no one chimed in earlier. I'm having some real problems right now myself. I hope things are going better for you and your daughter. Dr. Marshak has some great ideas re: addiction. Also, Nora Gedgaudas is very Paleo/Primal and suggests supplements as well. Good luck; I hope things get better.

A5a835105e726e61d61077e84522a045

(130)

on March 31, 2012
at 12:42 AM

It is an addiction, not insulin resistance. Read "Potatoes Not Prozac" for more information on sugar addiction. I don't follow her advice, but her description of the problem is spot on.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on March 18, 2012
at 04:14 PM

has she tried counseling/anti-depressants? i know this is an old thread but my heart breaks for this girl :(

Dbb6872f139877fe1a94aeb471baa7d1

on August 19, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Only problem with this is that I'm a type 1 diabetic -- I'm producing NO insulin, and having NO sugar crashes. I know, because I monitor my blood 5-10 times per day :) Trust me, it's a detox. I described my symptoms to a friend with a heroin addiction, and she said it was exactly what she went through.

B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

(3909)

on August 19, 2011
at 06:46 PM

If your analogy is true then shouldn't a taste of it cause a binge? That doesn't happen though. As long as you don't have enough to kick you out of ketosis you can have it without triggering a binge. I'm one of those people who used to think it was addictive. It's not the same process at all. It's your body dying for some quick energy. Yes, it does set up some powerful cravings. I'm not denying that. As far as your body knows, it's in danger of starving. When you are hungry that gives you some powerful cravings too, but you wouldn't use that as proof that you are addicted to food.

76c885d7d27e6c83542ea493ca866dcd

(2178)

on August 19, 2011
at 12:14 PM

attraction to sugar isn't all about insulin resistance. when sugar is consumed, it effects the opiate and dopamine receptors in the brain the same way that drugs - like nicotine and cocaine - do. there is some connection to the typical addictions people think of.

967229edcc94a66580110324524feb49

(688)

on August 18, 2011
at 03:12 AM

I agree. The first week and a half was the hardest but the weeks after that were much easier. Now recently I tried adding a little back in and started eating to much. Now I crave it all the time so I will be cutting out once again - if your addicted it's the only way.

D0501f0cc09c961a06c3d188361e7b07

on August 18, 2011
at 01:48 AM

http://balancedbites.com/category/21-day-sugar-detox

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on August 18, 2011
at 01:07 AM

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is very effective for cravings. Check out this video:http://www.thetappingexperience.com/EFT/?page_id=2

Fa361df4b3f2d5aa13aa6a73dbf8d88b

(152)

on March 19, 2011
at 03:29 AM

Sounds great, thanks for sharing!

Dbb6872f139877fe1a94aeb471baa7d1

on March 14, 2011
at 07:29 PM

Looks like I can get a small amount from VitaminShoppe pretty cheap -- definately worth a shot, thanks! :)

Dbb6872f139877fe1a94aeb471baa7d1

on March 14, 2011
at 07:26 PM

I'm a type 1 diabetic -- hypoglycemia isn't much of a problem, and when it is, I have my trusty sugar tester to find out :) But thanks :)

33ca64a09412bed1b47b85a4f1ac6a27

(150)

on March 12, 2011
at 02:11 PM

I'm the same. The sugar cravings went away when I cut way back on the carbs and added more coconut oil & other fats to my diet. I was still eating a few squares of chocolate a day, and I didn't mind that, but later, after I started taking more mineral supplements and drinking mineral water, I found I would forget to eat chocolate. I've heard it's mostly the magnesium that relates to chocolate.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on March 11, 2011
at 11:59 PM

Totally agree on this. Cold turkey is the only way to go.

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on March 11, 2011
at 10:32 PM

Also recommend this book Primal Body, Primal Mind, by Nora Gedgaudas

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

13 Answers

21
6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on March 11, 2011
at 06:03 PM

The only way to kick the sugar habit is to completely eliminate it. Sugar is like a drug, having just a little leaves you craving more. You can't do better quality and lower sugar chocolate or replacements and expect success. You must completely eliminate it to get over your cravings.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on March 11, 2011
at 11:59 PM

Totally agree on this. Cold turkey is the only way to go.

967229edcc94a66580110324524feb49

(688)

on August 18, 2011
at 03:12 AM

I agree. The first week and a half was the hardest but the weeks after that were much easier. Now recently I tried adding a little back in and started eating to much. Now I crave it all the time so I will be cutting out once again - if your addicted it's the only way.

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on May 26, 2013
at 05:15 PM

Definitely. You don't give cocaine addicts or alcoholics a little bit of their addictive substance. You cut it out entirely. You have do this with sugar. I managed without it for years and did not even want it.

6
C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on March 12, 2011
at 09:26 PM

I had terrible sugar addiction. I kept making excuses like "Just this one more time." One day I had to say to myself "ok, no excuses today". You have to realise the cravings are coming from a very primitive emotional part of the brain and your rational thinking brain is no match for it. I then got through the sugar withdrawal with lots and lots coffee and diet cola. Not ideal, but it's what I needed. Two weeks later I could deal with the caffeine withdrawal.

6
Medium avatar

(3259)

on March 11, 2011
at 06:57 PM

I found supplementing with L-Glutamine helped put the nail in the sugar coffin for me. I used a high-quality powder and even took it by the spoonful under my tongue when a serious craving came up. Nora Gedgaudas (Primal Body, Primal Mind) talks about it's use in breaking addiction.

I found it somewhere in here.

04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

(2261)

on March 11, 2011
at 10:32 PM

Also recommend this book Primal Body, Primal Mind, by Nora Gedgaudas

Dbb6872f139877fe1a94aeb471baa7d1

on March 14, 2011
at 07:29 PM

Looks like I can get a small amount from VitaminShoppe pretty cheap -- definately worth a shot, thanks! :)

Fa361df4b3f2d5aa13aa6a73dbf8d88b

(152)

on March 19, 2011
at 03:29 AM

Sounds great, thanks for sharing!

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on May 26, 2013
at 05:17 PM

I've tried it too and had it yesterday and today. Worth a try. Perhaps also chromium picolinate tablets as well.

6
47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on March 11, 2011
at 06:21 PM

Are you still eating a fair amount of carbohydrate/glucose from other sources? Do potato and other "paleo" starches and carb sources make up a large amount of your diet? If so that could be a problem: you might not be able to ditch the sugar until you ditch those.

This was certainly the case with me. Whenever I tried to cut out soda and sweets but continued eating medium to high carb I would always start eating soda and sweets again, slowly but surely.

My thought is that it goes something like this: your body needs to switch over its metabolism; you need to get it used to burning more fats and less glucose. Otherwise you're going to continue to want the most extreme, easy-to-deliver form of your preferred fuel source. Your body senses a deficit of its primary fuel and wants to make up the deficit as quickly as possible.

It's not this way for everyone but it definitely was for me, and I've heard anecdotal evidence from others along the same lines.

If this applies to you, then try going low carb for a while, eating lots of fat. Your body will change and your mind will change along with it. After a couple of weeks of this, if you cheat and have a significant amount of sugar, you'll pay the price because it will make you feel miserable. You may not even want the sugar in the first place because it will probably taste overwhelmingly sweet, maybe even nauseatingly sweet.

And then presumably you'd be able to go back to eating carbohydrate after you kicked your sugar habit. (Or you could just never go back, like me!)

33ca64a09412bed1b47b85a4f1ac6a27

(150)

on March 12, 2011
at 02:11 PM

I'm the same. The sugar cravings went away when I cut way back on the carbs and added more coconut oil & other fats to my diet. I was still eating a few squares of chocolate a day, and I didn't mind that, but later, after I started taking more mineral supplements and drinking mineral water, I found I would forget to eat chocolate. I've heard it's mostly the magnesium that relates to chocolate.

2
461281c9092d3cb306b46831064e2fc4

on March 11, 2011
at 07:29 PM

Do you know someone who can handcuff you to a chair when your cravings kick in?

1
39a1a0bc7855c084ac59df60fdf9c0dd

(1505)

on March 14, 2011
at 06:22 PM

The only way I know is to just quit cold turkey. Some folks use Stevia - though it's not Paleo I believe it is safe, and has been used for centuries. But I'm of the school of thought that it's just "candy cigarettes," and only keeps your sweet tooth alive. Best course of action is to just let your taste buds adjust to a non-sweetened world.

1
A6cffe7397214f338ae098613eea6737

(50)

on March 12, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Google how to manage hypoglycemia. Withdrawal symptoms are expected during the first several months. Then sugar, etc. won't even bother you like it never existed.

Dbb6872f139877fe1a94aeb471baa7d1

on March 14, 2011
at 07:26 PM

I'm a type 1 diabetic -- hypoglycemia isn't much of a problem, and when it is, I have my trusty sugar tester to find out :) But thanks :)

1
2b8c327d1296a96ad64cdadc7dffa72d

on March 11, 2011
at 07:04 PM

Geisha Girl - when you have those cravings at night, try Yogi Peach Detox tea. The wonderful flavors of cinnamon, cardamom and others have a really soothing effect. Also try adding cinnamon to your food, or take a cinnamon supplement. It doesn't CURE your cravings overnight, but does help soothe the sugar monster.

L-Glutamine can help as Riveted suggested, but also consider BCAA's (branched chain amino acids) in general before and after a workout.

Try these things for a minimum of 3 weeks, but do take it one day at a time.

0
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 18, 2011
at 07:08 AM

First, you have to realize it's not an addiction at all. It's due to insulin resistance. When your cells become insulin resistant you make more and more insulin to overcome it. Your body is producing so much insulin that it's sending all the sugar you consume straight to be stored as fat so now there's not enough sugar left in your bloodstream to provide you with energy. So, your blood sugar keeps crashing and your body keeps screaming for more sugar in the hopes of getting enough energy. The key is to eat a low carb diet and get yourself switched over to burning fat for energy. For me it takes about three days to shut off the cravings. For those three days though you will have to resist the urge for sugar and make sure you eat something else anytime hunger strikes.

76c885d7d27e6c83542ea493ca866dcd

(2178)

on August 19, 2011
at 12:14 PM

attraction to sugar isn't all about insulin resistance. when sugar is consumed, it effects the opiate and dopamine receptors in the brain the same way that drugs - like nicotine and cocaine - do. there is some connection to the typical addictions people think of.

B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

(3909)

on August 19, 2011
at 06:46 PM

If your analogy is true then shouldn't a taste of it cause a binge? That doesn't happen though. As long as you don't have enough to kick you out of ketosis you can have it without triggering a binge. I'm one of those people who used to think it was addictive. It's not the same process at all. It's your body dying for some quick energy. Yes, it does set up some powerful cravings. I'm not denying that. As far as your body knows, it's in danger of starving. When you are hungry that gives you some powerful cravings too, but you wouldn't use that as proof that you are addicted to food.

Dbb6872f139877fe1a94aeb471baa7d1

on August 19, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Only problem with this is that I'm a type 1 diabetic -- I'm producing NO insulin, and having NO sugar crashes. I know, because I monitor my blood 5-10 times per day :) Trust me, it's a detox. I described my symptoms to a friend with a heroin addiction, and she said it was exactly what she went through.

A5a835105e726e61d61077e84522a045

(130)

on March 31, 2012
at 12:42 AM

It is an addiction, not insulin resistance. Read "Potatoes Not Prozac" for more information on sugar addiction. I don't follow her advice, but her description of the problem is spot on.

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on May 26, 2013
at 05:44 PM

Yes des maisons in the Potatoes book gets it right.

0
D0501f0cc09c961a06c3d188361e7b07

on August 18, 2011
at 01:47 AM

Balanced Bites has a 21-day Sugar Detox. We haven't done it because we're not too "in" to sugar. We'd both rather fill up on a huge steak instead of popping a few M&Ms or some Reese's.

We've both heard of good things about Balanced Bites, and Diane seems like she'd be a good coach for you.

Maybe give it a shot? Or, avoid the candy aisles at your grocery store, forever.

Natural Calm is another great product. I (Kylie) have been taking it for a few days and notice I just feel better.

D0501f0cc09c961a06c3d188361e7b07

on August 18, 2011
at 01:48 AM

http://balancedbites.com/category/21-day-sugar-detox

0
Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

on August 18, 2011
at 01:42 AM

I'm in no way an expert in any sense of the word but I do a fair amount of Paleo research and it seems like a lot of people are talking about getting the right fats for getting your brain health/mental well being in order. A craving is mental too, not just a growling stomach. Really look into the Omega3/Omega6 ratio issue and get lots of good saturated fats like coconut oil and see what happens. The magnesium mentioned is also a great suggestion for cutting out chocolate specifically since your body wants that for the right reason, sugar just hijacked that particular Mg train. Natural Calm ftw.

0
91632a99b21359bbe98d01dfdc2fd286

on August 18, 2011
at 12:34 AM

My 25 yr old daughter has suffered from sugar addiction for at least 5 years - and its getting worse. She has gone up to five weeks eating "normally" and then craters and binges on sugar, french fries, pizza, and lots of ice cream and candies for days - its seriously affecting her life and job. Amazingly she is a size 6 but yo yos back and forth up to 20 pounds in just a few weeks. Its just killing us - how can we help her? I've suggested hypnotism - has anyone tried it along with all the other "tricks", diets, supplements, etc...?

Has anyone tried a clinic (i.e. food addiction clinic similar to Betty Ford for alcoholics)? We are getting desperate!

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on March 18, 2012
at 04:14 PM

has she tried counseling/anti-depressants? i know this is an old thread but my heart breaks for this girl :(

064a52daff76c953108be99d5b40acc8

on April 03, 2012
at 05:59 AM

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2009/feb2009_Jacob-Marshak_01.htm?source=search&key=Marshak 'Sorry no one chimed in earlier. I'm having some real problems right now myself. I hope things are going better for you and your daughter. Dr. Marshak has some great ideas re: addiction. Also, Nora Gedgaudas is very Paleo/Primal and suggests supplements as well. Good luck; I hope things get better.

0
9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on March 11, 2011
at 07:20 PM

It is HARD. Just when I think I'm in control, I get sucked back in. The longer you go without it, the easier it gets. I've learned that I can't keep temptations in the house -- I can't stop at just one bite. Right now, I'm trying to discipline myself by giving up all sweets for Lent -- no desserts, dark chocolate, artificial sweeteners, etc. I told a few people, too, so there is some accountablility.

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