New problem with sugar after over a year paleo.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 24, 2012 at 3:40 AM

When I first started living the paleo lifestyle, I found that eating tons of meat (ribeyes) fat (rendered tallow, lard and coconut oil) and lots of veggies really seemed to kill any cravings I had for sugar. I was so seldom hungry that I didn't need them. But the cravings returned along the way. I wonder what longer term paleo people have experienced. Honestly, I feel the best when I go completely without sugar. The less I eat, the less I want it. But, I've got to be honest, I can't imagine living my life without ever eating a piece of chocolate or a cookie my daughter makes or a bowl of ice cream with my wife ever again. And when I eat a little, even a tiny bit, it's like I start all over again. The cravings return with a vengeance. Very frustrating. It's like I have to deal with these cravings all over again like the first week on paleo. Is there a metabolic reason for this? If I knew what my body was going through, maybe I could find some way of fighting this.



on January 24, 2012
at 04:28 AM

First off, stop associating those empty junk foods with your wife and your daughter or else youll never win. Second Magnesium Threonate is how I overcame mine when all else failed. http://paleohacks.com/questions/91589/mgt-side-effect-no-more-sugar-cravings#axzz1kJThgB8o

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7 Answers


on January 24, 2012
at 04:13 AM

Eating very low carb long term, or doing lots of high intensity training, or stress/lack of sleep can all kind of backfire and re-trigger sugar cravings. You should try re-incorporating more safe carbs into your diet such as sweet potatoes, beets, tapioca, etc. in moderate amounts. Be sure you are sleeping plenty in a dark room and managing stress well. Do not over-train. If you must have some sugar, try to keep it gluten-free. At some point, self-control is what it comes down to. Just like with alcohol or drugs or even coffee and cigarettes. But a bowl of ice cream once in a while is not the end of the world.



on January 24, 2012
at 03:55 AM

Sometimes a magnesium deficiency can cause sweet cravings. It is one mineral that can be a little low on many paleo diets.



on January 24, 2012
at 01:05 PM

Is your body composition where you want it? Why not just ditch the low-carb business? Carbs aren't the devil, piles of carbs are.


on January 24, 2012
at 02:53 PM

I have to say I've had a different experience than some with the carbs. For me, carbs are the enemy, in that when I introduce yams and other safe starches in any sort of quantity, my cravings for sugar skyrocket. Maybe that issue will go away in a few more years ...

At least in my case, if I eat zero sugar by default, then when the special occasion comes along I can eat a small piece of cake and those cravings start back so strongly, it only takes about 24 hours of willpower and I'm back to my near-effortless zero sugar ways. If that works for you, then you're not doomed to a life with no sugar. On the other hand, I do know somebody who feels that for her sugar is like alcohol to an alcoholic, and her only option is no sugar for life. I can't say she's super-happy about that!

In other words, self-experimentation. But I'm happy with the approach of having rare, small cheats, knowing I'll immediately and diligently have to fend off my cravings until they go away, which they will.


on January 24, 2012
at 04:02 PM

For a healthy individual...

Sugar cravings are normal and healthy, particularly in the long days of summer when you've been up hunting, gathering, dancing and mating for hours. If there's sugar available, you want to eat as much as you can to make sure you have enough reserves to survive the winter.

The only problem is, winter never comes. And there's always more sugar available. If you spend more time asleep, you'll naturally manage the daylight hours better with only a steak for company. As to how to handle it psychologically, there's a number of ways but my vote would be for seasonal eating. Eat that ice cream in summer, and the cookies, along with the fruit that's naturally available. Up your activity and enjoy the abundance of food, then throttle back and enjoy the sparser pleasures of winter again with only half an eye on the coming spring.

And don't worry about the occasional indulgence. Yes your body's confused, but it's probably not the worst thing you're doing to it. So if the hunger comes, indulge it so you only have to regain control once, rather than half a dozen times.


on January 24, 2012
at 12:52 PM

I haven't been eating low carb long enough to give personal experience, but here's a thought for you: this might be partly sugar, and partly the chocolate. Chocolate without the sugar is actually good for you--and is a decent source of magnesium (and other minerals).

Is it possible for you to have honey or other natural sweeteners in moderation? If so, it might be time to experiment with some homemade, paleo-friendly cookies and candies and sauces.

If not, those magnesium supplements might be a good idea, along with other ways to relate to the family.

In hopes that the former option is feasible, here are a couple of barely-sweetened-chocolate ideas from Mark's Daily Apple:

Dark Chocolate Macadamia Bark Sprinkled with Sea Salt

Chocolate, Meet Meat (Scroll down to #9)

You could substitute 100% chocolate from the baking aisle, and then sweeten them or not, as you saw fit.


on January 24, 2012
at 04:07 AM

This is very much an issue for me as well, I'm interested in what others have to say -- only my situation is triggered by what I formerly considered 'safe' fruits and foods: dried figs, yams, pomegranate, blueberries. I don't cheat, ever, so it's not a cake and ice cream thing, but these sugar-foods are starting to feel 'unsafe.' Someone else on the site recommended supplementing with gymnema sylvestre and chromium to deal with sugar/carb cravings so I'm trying that now. I can't honestly say if it works, yet, because I'm knee-deep in a budding eating disorder and doing a strict intermittent fasting routine (therefore just willpowering through any cravings at all past a certain point in the day) but on the rare occasion I do cut into the figs I can't seem to stop with the sugar binge.

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