3

votes

How can you stop a sugar binge?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 01, 2010 at 7:16 PM

When in a situation where there is plenty of sugar but not enough food I find myself sometimes breaking down and sampling a little sugary snacks. Today it is dried fruit that an office friend has at his desk. The problem is once I started I kept coming back again and again and I now realize I have housed full cups of the stuff. Does anyone have recommendations for stalling a sugar binge? It's hard to talk myself out of. I am sure that many have gone through this before. I'm feeling the high now but I really am not looking forward to the low. ohhh boy.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 26, 2012
at 10:40 PM

Stefani, I love your comments. I know this is an old thread, but I saw a comment on a post and was hooked. I also read some of your blog. You are so amazing and I just wanted to cheer you on for keeping your head up and plodding along. Best wishes.

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on May 15, 2011
at 10:50 PM

I see cream mentioned a lot but I've never tried it because I am afraid of the calories is this the heavy cream that comes in cartons?

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on December 20, 2010
at 04:04 AM

I love this piece of advice.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 03, 2010
at 04:04 PM

Any diet that requires "willpower" to succeed will always fail. Not at first, but eventually. this is why most diets fail. People lose weight, but eventually go back to their old ways. Willpower, it turns out , is a limited resource. Fortunately, with paleo, the cravings eventually disappear and the need for willpower ceases. Other strategies for overcoming cravings (glutamine/fat/avoiding situations/plenty of good food) will help more in the long run than simply saying "don't do it/just say no". Reformed alcoholics are the exception, not the rule.

B28d069e6a3b5b6ef68776db4ed8ef64

(505)

on December 03, 2010
at 02:33 PM

@ben I envy the fact that you have no personal experience with addiction. Being an addict (of any kind) is a hell that I wouldn't wish on anyone. My objection is in your opinion that EVERYONE should so easily be able wave off temptation when they are hungry regardless of their environmental setting. YOU are not everyone. And if you look at the addiction and obesity statistics I'd say there are far more people who can't deny those compulsions than those who can. Kudos to you for being in the minority.

1759614d2ac38131d8004c50da2d9899

(10)

on December 03, 2010
at 01:53 AM

Hunger + Sugar = Binge

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 03, 2010
at 12:10 AM

@Jae, yeah im with you all the way. I myself succeed in large part to the time and effort i put in to surrounding myself in all good fuel. For sure you are correct. @Cheryl, im sorry but this line, "When the body is hungry it overrides mental processes that would allow you to think clearly and logically - it is a survival mechanism." is completely untrue. A hungry body in an office setting will in no way override any mental process concerning a "meal" that can be completely missed with no ill effects. Im sorry but you should give yourself and humans more credit than that.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 02, 2010
at 09:18 PM

@ben, I am not saying that willpower is not a factor. I am saying that if you want to set yourself up for success, the first and best plan of attack is to remove sources of temptation. Human beings are not wired for long-term success in the face of Neolithic dietary temptations. Some people succeed at resisting temptation, but many fail. If you are one of those people who can rely on self-control, I applaud you. (Luckily, I am one of them, at least with regard to diet.) I have seen too many people who cannot.

B28d069e6a3b5b6ef68776db4ed8ef64

(505)

on December 02, 2010
at 06:55 PM

@ben When I'm not hungry I have no problem saying "no" to refined carbs. But if I am hungry and have not prepared ahead of time and I am surrounded by sugary treats with no healthy alternative then I will give in every time. When the body is hungry it overrides mental processes that would allow you to think clearly and logically - it is a survival mechanism. People resort to cannibalism in severe enough conditions. Addiction is not a mental disorder, it is a metabolic one. Eating is a biological necessity and if you are hungry and sugar is all there is, sugar is what you will eat.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 02, 2010
at 06:19 PM

@Cheryl, i simply don't agree. I acknowledge leptin senstivity but i also acknowledge will power and CHOICE. your arm is not going to reach out and stuff that food in your mouth; your decision to consume it will only start that chain. Alcoholics can, and do regularly, say no to drinking alcohol. In fact, seeing an old timer parked at the bar, sipping soda water etc and waxing philosophy is regular. Acknowledging your weakness to sugar/alcohol/or whatever is important, but you still and always have the power to make the choice to consume or not.

Medium avatar

(3259)

on December 02, 2010
at 05:13 PM

I agree with Dave. I had a pretty big sugar addiction in the form of 2-3 beers a night, more on weekends. I took Nora's advice on the L-Glutamine and is got me through the rough spots. Took it for about 30 days - about the same amount. I pop a little under my tongue every once in a while if I feel the strong pull of sugar, but it's very rare since getting through initial stages of squeeky clean paleo.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 02, 2010
at 04:37 PM

Points for movie references!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 02, 2010
at 04:35 PM

Glutamine helps turn off the sugar cravings in the brain according to Nora Gedgaudas (and others). It really works for me. This was the first Halloween EVER that I didn't have a single piece of candy. Not due to willpower, I just didn't want any. And I was handing it out all night long! (I take 1g of l-glutamine morning and evening) http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2010/11/taming-the-carb-craving-monster-with-nora-gedgaudas/

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 02, 2010
at 12:53 PM

The plan is to have cans of fish and cans of coconut milk. I find coconut milk very satiating, but thanks for the warning ambimorph

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 02, 2010
at 12:52 PM

I believe that my reaction to sugary foods is definitely that of an addict. As soon as it begins I find it difficult if not impossible to stop. Hence I own no sugar or candy or dried fruit. It's like an alcoholic: no cure only "I've been sugar free for X days." Will power helps me not eat dried fruit or even regular fruit. The addition of some paleo emergency food is going to help when will power breaks down.

B28d069e6a3b5b6ef68776db4ed8ef64

(505)

on December 02, 2010
at 12:23 PM

If there is a genetic tendency toward addiction, will power doesn't exist. It has nothing to do with "being an adult" or "manning up". For many of us the smallest amount of refined carbs will completely derail our leptin sensitivity and the body craves more and more until it is satisfied. Unfortunately, those very things that the body is craving are going to do nothing but feed the hunger. This has nothing to do with having control issues and everything to do with the body's unique reaction to those deleterious foods. The fact that you laugh off the possibility of addiction is insensitive.

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on December 02, 2010
at 12:00 PM

I absolutely and totally agree Ben. No one is holding a gun to your head. If you know what this crap makes you feel like WHY EAT IT??? My recommendation is "man up", don't put the shit in your mouth. Simple..

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on December 02, 2010
at 03:44 AM

This is also what I thought the OPer was asking: once you get *started* on the binge how do you cut it off part way through? I think you're right, brushing teeth or drinking coffee could be effective because you get that taste out of there. As long as you still have the taste in your mouth it's going to be harder to resist keeping going ... (Smell too, of course, but taste is probably worse.)

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 02, 2010
at 02:47 AM

I know many people will say "don't make this about will power, plan ahead!" and all, but why not make it about will power? Be strong. You're an adult, making a living working in office. Think of the people around the world and how problems like this are laughable. I'm not trying to be smug but I mean, am I the only one that thinks as free adults we should be able to NOT EAT if we want to.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:41 PM

I always keep cans of sardines, a cube of Kerrygold, and cans of coconut milk on hand.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:13 PM

This is essentially what I do, but cream (and coconut milk as suggested by another) is too sweet for me for this to be effective. I have to fill up on fatty meat for the sugar urge to leave.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:11 PM

Last time I tried drinking an ounce of coconut milk, I ended up drinking 2 cans of it. So this only works if coconut milk is not a binge trigger food itself.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:05 PM

good call. I am going to bring some coconut milk to store in the fridge at work. That plus some jerky would probably do me well.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:54 PM

May I recommend jerky or meat sticks to keep around the office? Salty meat is imminently snackable, but not as binge-inducing as sugar.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:39 PM

Thanks Jae. I guess I need some paleo pre-prepared foods to keep in the office.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:37 PM

I believe it's "No be there." =) Karate Kid was my favorite movie when I was little.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:36 PM

The best self defense is "don't be there"!

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:21 PM

Eat way too much of it, it will be a good lesson in why it sucks, and you'll likely remember it.

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10 Answers

7
61852721b5ff3613f56f043fe890a679

(1172)

on December 01, 2010
at 08:07 PM

Office situations are hard. One cannot simply "not be there."

To combat a sugar binge, I've lately been using a technique I think I first read about on PaNu - substituting something very fatty for the sugar. Pure cream, for instance. I'll tell myself I can have as much of it as I want instead of the sugar - and lo and behold, I'll get "full" pretty quickly on the fat.

The sugar then loses most of its appeal, and I can resist.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:13 PM

This is essentially what I do, but cream (and coconut milk as suggested by another) is too sweet for me for this to be effective. I have to fill up on fatty meat for the sugar urge to leave.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on December 20, 2010
at 04:04 AM

I love this piece of advice.

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on May 15, 2011
at 10:50 PM

I see cream mentioned a lot but I've never tried it because I am afraid of the calories is this the heavy cream that comes in cartons?

3
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:21 PM

I agree with paleonyc about fat, but cream (and coconut milk as suggested by another) is too sweet for me for this to be effective. I have to fill up on fatty meat for the sugar urge to leave.

Another thing that I've found can help is coffee (especially with a little coconut oil). It gives me some mouth pleasure to focus on, and blunts my appetite in general.

3
1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

on December 01, 2010
at 08:24 PM

Drink an ounce or so of coconut milk or heavy cream. And wait.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:41 PM

I always keep cans of sardines, a cube of Kerrygold, and cans of coconut milk on hand.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:05 PM

good call. I am going to bring some coconut milk to store in the fridge at work. That plus some jerky would probably do me well.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 02, 2010
at 12:53 PM

The plan is to have cans of fish and cans of coconut milk. I find coconut milk very satiating, but thanks for the warning ambimorph

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 01, 2010
at 09:11 PM

Last time I tried drinking an ounce of coconut milk, I ended up drinking 2 cans of it. So this only works if coconut milk is not a binge trigger food itself.

3
8274ce9d4bffd8209055e1e34def04d6

(429)

on December 01, 2010
at 08:22 PM

I like to remember the acronym FACT (borrowed from Gay Hendricks, conscious living "guru").

Feel your feelings deeply (why you want the sugar in the first place).

Accept your feelings (and that the sugar is pulling you closer).

Choose an appropriate action (based on what your sugar need really means).

Take Action!

I personally have found that my cravings are caused by perceived inadequacies and dissatisfaction with myself; perhaps the same applies here.

3
77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:35 PM

When in a situation where there is plenty of sugar but not enough food I find myself sometimes breaking down

IMO this is your first problem. Don't put yourself in that situation.

If you are hungry, you will want to eat. If the only thing available is sugar, you will probably eat sugar.

Don't make this about willpower. Make it about planning.

Hunter-gatherers generally ate a healthy diet because unhealthy Neolithic options just weren't available. When they came into contact with Western European foods, most of them quickly developed a taste for sugar and flour. Of course, there were those that tried it and didn't like it and stuck to their traditional foods, but many of them quickly adopted a Western diet and reaped the diseases of civilization as their reward.

Relying on willpower is a path that leads to failure, for most people.

As for your actual question about how to stop a sugar binge once it's started:

  • tell your friend not to give you any more dried fruit for the day
  • make a public announcement that you are going to stay off sugar for the next X days (blog post, Facebook status, phone calls, emails, office memo, carrier pigeons, whatever)
  • get a friend or coach to keep you accountable
  • don't keep any sugar in your house

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:54 PM

May I recommend jerky or meat sticks to keep around the office? Salty meat is imminently snackable, but not as binge-inducing as sugar.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:37 PM

I believe it's "No be there." =) Karate Kid was my favorite movie when I was little.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:36 PM

The best self defense is "don't be there"!

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 01, 2010
at 07:39 PM

Thanks Jae. I guess I need some paleo pre-prepared foods to keep in the office.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 02, 2010
at 04:37 PM

Points for movie references!

2
C90eecdd76cf57a387095fa49de23807

(960)

on December 02, 2010
at 08:11 PM

I've been a sugar binger for ages. Will power sometimes works, and planning sometimes works, sure. But then something unexpected happens--your mother buys grapes or you go to the grocery store and pass by the candy dispensers or you have a bit of potato at dinner--and the sugar's THERE and before you even realize you've put it in your mouth you've swallowed it and Oh. Snap.

My current strategy is this:

I mentally block out guilt. While I'm watching my hand reach into the bag (I always feel a bit removed from the situation, like I'm observing my behavior) I just sit back and let my resolve build for a bit. Then, if I have access and time for some physical activity, I like to get up and do that, try and clear some of the glucose out of my system. This activity is not only, I think, good for my body, but it also helps me feel better about myself and my ability to take care of myself. Finally, I believe it's most effective because it gets my mind off of it.

So if I can't do some physical activity, I turn to an activity that is fun or that requires focus-- I need something powerful to get my mind off of food. It can't be something I can do while reaching into a bowl, such as reading reports on the internet, but it can be something like responding to friend's emails or returning phone calls or running some errands. Activities that provide physical barriers to food are the best. Sometimes I get up and go do work at the local barnes and noble.

Finally, and again, emphasizing the self-love and lack of guilt I feel while doing this, I turn to paleo foods. Usually the sugar gets me going but I can transfer that feeding to paleo foods. I really like to gnaw on cucumbers, cabbage, or carrots. Raw is fine. They satisfy my carb craving in a very minimal way, and while the fiber, I know, can be damaging to my system, I'd rather deal with that than with the blood glucose problems from the binging.

In all of these things, will power IS important. I understand what everyone above is saying. Absolutely. But it's also important to remember that sugar is THE DEVIL (I'm kidding-- I DO still eat it from time to time, and even without binging!) and that it's wreaking havoc on your leptin, and it's BEEN wreaking havoc on your leptin for a long time. And so long as I am wresting with this, and getting better at it, and learning to have a good relationship food, then I cannot hate myself for binging. Preventing the self-hate is crucial because that type of feeling, at least for me, is a very strong motivation to eat. It's cyclical madness, I'm telling you. In any case, that's my method. Don't feel guilty, try and do stuff, get your mind off of it, and rely on paleo foods to carry you through.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 26, 2012
at 10:40 PM

Stefani, I love your comments. I know this is an old thread, but I saw a comment on a post and was hooked. I also read some of your blog. You are so amazing and I just wanted to cheer you on for keeping your head up and plodding along. Best wishes.

1
E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770

(1638)

on December 01, 2010
at 10:17 PM

I keep some Kerrygold butter in the fridge at work and if I hit that mid-afternoon "I gotta have SOMETHING" urge, I have about a dozen almonds with a generous dollop of butter on each one (just dig in to the container - no one else is using it!). Either that or a piece of sugar-free gum usually works for me.

1
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on December 01, 2010
at 07:28 PM

With any type of food binge, the most important thing for me was to acknowledge the behavior so I wasn't just stuffing my face without thinking about it. The next step was something to get the taste out of my mouth, brush my teeth, drink a cup of coffee or tea or chew some gum. Then, I would try to stay busy to keep my mind off whatever food I was consuming. Sometimes, calling or texting a friend just made me more accountable too.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on December 02, 2010
at 03:44 AM

This is also what I thought the OPer was asking: once you get *started* on the binge how do you cut it off part way through? I think you're right, brushing teeth or drinking coffee could be effective because you get that taste out of there. As long as you still have the taste in your mouth it's going to be harder to resist keeping going ... (Smell too, of course, but taste is probably worse.)

0
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 03, 2010
at 03:42 PM

since the comment thread is getting a bit long i thought id use the "answer" box to facilitate an easier back and forth:

@Cheryl, Well, i have an uncle who was (always still is, i suppose they say) an alcoholic. And at times in my 31 years i think i have spotted those tendencies in myself to be totally honest. But more to the point, I think youre misunderstanding what i said. My point is that many people, especially in the beginning of paleo/whateveryoucallit, and especially in the (cmon lets say it) spoiled US, overthink this. Sitting in an office, being offered dried fruit or whatever as a snack/meal when you are hungry is NOT a situation where an uncontrollable addiction will control you. I give you/me/us/whatever way more credit than that. Put it down, drink a glass of water, walk up and down three flights of stairs, do some jumping jacks, whatever you need, just dont eat it. This scenario is simpler than many make it.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 03, 2010
at 04:04 PM

Any diet that requires "willpower" to succeed will always fail. Not at first, but eventually. this is why most diets fail. People lose weight, but eventually go back to their old ways. Willpower, it turns out , is a limited resource. Fortunately, with paleo, the cravings eventually disappear and the need for willpower ceases. Other strategies for overcoming cravings (glutamine/fat/avoiding situations/plenty of good food) will help more in the long run than simply saying "don't do it/just say no". Reformed alcoholics are the exception, not the rule.

0
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on December 02, 2010
at 03:27 AM

Got really hungry the other day and wasn't binging on sugar but could not get full or kill the growl in my belly until I downed an avocado. Belly immediately felt better and was satisfied.

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