5

votes

How long did it take you to be primal to become "at peace" with sugar, dessert so-to speak?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 10, 2011 at 6:49 AM

I have been eating Paleo since about January 2011, generally around 80%, with a few weeks which occured 2-3x this year, where it was more like 30%, with the non-compliance being sugar, dessert related, a bit bingy in some instances. Before going primal, I can't say I recall ever having issues with a sweet tooth, or having a bite of something sweet turn into having 3, 4, 5 sweet things in one seating. We hear all the time that folks who have been on paleo for sometime, eventually reach the point where sweets become disappointing, or something being not as good as they remembered, or just too sweet -- how long does this take!! I'm confused as to why I seem to have the opposite experience of sweets becomeing more palatable after I started eating paleo!

Even though I have found that eating a big protein breakfast has a significant impact on regulting sugar 'cravings' during the day, if I were to consume or taste something sweet, it would still be tasty to me, I am just able to exercise more self-control and not consume the whole thing, or more. When will this go away? How long will it take/what will it take to really be at peace with sugar?

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:12 PM

I'm totally in the same boat JakeA. I've just kicked my dried fruit addiction, I used to eat it every day with nuts as a 'snack' and end up eating half a bag of each - Not good! I find that so little can trigger the urge to binge on SAD foods. It's not moderation, it has to be complete elimination for me.

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:02 AM

Sounds just like my story so far... ha! The sugar demon is a toughie.

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:57 AM

I'd also like to add that the physical side effects of downing absolute crap really helped me kick the habit. I'd wake up the next morning after eating really bad peanut butter (lots of sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils) and my face would be noticeably redder and way swollen... needless to say, it's not a good look! It would take several days to look good again. Tasty crap is not worth looking like crap!

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:49 AM

It took about 3 months of abstaining from added sugars. But it wasn't easy. I'd avoid sugar religiously during the week but always succumb to the cravings on one day during the weekend. The desserts got less and less appealing as time went on until I honestly could not take the sugar overload... I still love sweet things but it's now more along the lines of fruit and dark chocolate instead of pastries and candy. I just took a banana and square of 100% chocolate, microwaved them and mixed them: it was great. I gotta admit though, I need some treats like these to keep me sane.

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 13, 2011
at 07:24 AM

how long did it take you and how did you get to the point where typical desserts/cadies don't taste good?

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 13, 2011
at 07:22 AM

Everytime I feel sick, the lack of desire for sweets only last for day, and i find that the next day the desire for sweets comes back and stronger!

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 13, 2011
at 07:19 AM

What is your recipe for the mousse? ;)

954257965380ca2f0cf22ff1b5922563

(70)

on November 11, 2011
at 06:01 PM

I increased my carbs slowly at first... Working my way up to around 120g. I actually started seeing the drop in BF% and scale weight when I increased them to around 140g-150g. I've been following a lot of Ray Peat's theories and have been getting my carbs from dairy and ripe fruits. I know a lot of his thinking goes against the grain but it's really made me feel A LOT better. Of course, this is just my personal experience. Everyone is different.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on November 11, 2011
at 01:38 PM

Totally. I don't think I'm as bad now, but early in my paleo-life I would start eating dried fruit and then BOOM straight into candy and cookies. Gateway food?

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on November 11, 2011
at 01:35 PM

I like having a little bit of frozen fruit for dessert most days. On rest days I eat mainly green veggies (spinach and broccoli) with some squash and a little fruit. On workout days I eat greens and potatoes along with a little fruit. I try to keep 75-100g on rest days and ~150g on workout days. Some days higher and some lower. The gramage is not adjusted for fiber though, just the raw total. For fruit I get the dole frozen sliced strawberries or mixed fruit as it is super cheap and awesome.

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 11, 2011
at 07:26 AM

Hi Jake whwat were your carb sources? Starchy veggies or just regular green veggies and what was the gram-age that worked for you?

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 11, 2011
at 07:25 AM

Hi Britt_H - what was the "nmoderate" carb level for you and what were your carb sources?

Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 10, 2011
at 04:59 PM

I agree with your response Beth, and think that there is definitely an evolutionary switch that is flipped by intense sweets. Perhaps "short-circuited" is an even better word because novel processed foods exhibit this effect most strongly. I can even dislike the taste and the feeling of eating such foods and still feel compelled to eat more.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 10, 2011
at 04:09 PM

Thanks Edward! I think Rob Wolf says that you can't supplement your way out of a crappy diet, to which I would add, you can't diet your way out of a crappy mental/spiritual/emotional state.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 10, 2011
at 03:36 PM

Agree: one must not kid oneself thinking honey and dried fruit aren't significant sources of sugar.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on November 10, 2011
at 01:54 PM

Great answer, especially with regards to the mental/spiritual/emotional health which is often the easiest for me to neglect. The Paleo lifestyle is slowly becoming more than diet for me and when I neglect these areas my stress levels and sugar cravings increase. Thanks

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on November 10, 2011
at 12:48 PM

Yep it's true :D. When I drink a tiny bit of lemon juice it tastes like candy...

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on November 10, 2011
at 12:47 PM

"Slippery slope back to disordered eating"--how well put, Beth! I'm climbing up the slippery slope I started sliding down the day before Halloween. My gut and joints are hating me, so I really have an incentive.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on November 10, 2011
at 08:18 AM

Give me some good sausages with seaweed chips and I'm happy. Sugar doesn't tempt me at all.

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8 Answers

8
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 10, 2011
at 12:00 PM

I think these are two different processes at work. I have found that the less sugar I eat, the less I have cravings for it. And it's true that the less sugar, the more sweet something tastes ... this is why I find my 85% chocolate delicious, but my siblings who eat lots more sugar think it is bitter.

But I think that's separate from what happens when you actually eat something sweet. Your tongue sends messages to your brain and at that point, some real evolutionary behavior can be kicked in, a la "ooh, sugar means a calorie source, I need calories to avoid the upcoming famine, nom, nom, nom" ;).

I doubt I'll ever get to the point that sweets are disappointing. I keep in mind that, for me, it's a slippery slope back to disordered eating and I generally keep my industrial sweets to a minimum and as controlled as possible (i.e., it's infrequent, planned, and always in the context of a meal).

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on November 10, 2011
at 12:48 PM

Yep it's true :D. When I drink a tiny bit of lemon juice it tastes like candy...

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on November 10, 2011
at 12:47 PM

"Slippery slope back to disordered eating"--how well put, Beth! I'm climbing up the slippery slope I started sliding down the day before Halloween. My gut and joints are hating me, so I really have an incentive.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 10, 2011
at 04:59 PM

I agree with your response Beth, and think that there is definitely an evolutionary switch that is flipped by intense sweets. Perhaps "short-circuited" is an even better word because novel processed foods exhibit this effect most strongly. I can even dislike the taste and the feeling of eating such foods and still feel compelled to eat more.

5
Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 10, 2011
at 01:28 PM

Lowish Carb paleo/primal (fatty meats, veggies, eggs, some cream and cheese, few nuts, water, little fruit) and eating "safe starches" when I really feel like I need something carby, combined with very immoderate exercise (low intensity activity for long durations and really high intensity short duration strength training/conditioning) is what finally helped me to kick my lifetime sweet tooth.

I've been struggling with it since childhood and in young adulthood tried to control it with exercise. My habits at that time would have definitely qualified as "exercise bulimia" and it was very trying on an emotional and psychological level.

The holidays were always tough (Easter and Halloween candy, desserts at Christmas and Thanksgiving, etc.) and I would have a love hate relationship with them. On one hand, it was exciting to think about how wasted I was going to get off of food, but feeling out of control and physically ill after an epic binge was terrible.

Compared to that, I'm living in an entirely different world now.

This year I didn't eat a single piece of Halloween candy. It wasn't because I forced it away, it was because I didn't even have the desire to eat it.

My wife and I attended a wedding this past weekend and I had a few bites of cake, some bananas foster, and a few other things, but a few bites was enough and I didn't even finish my small portion (can't say the same thing about the filet though!)

My brain almost can't process what's going on. I still expect to feel the same way that I did before, that crazy sense of craving more and more and more and really just going to the point of stuffing myself sick. To not have that happen and to not even feel that way tells me that there is a profound shift in my basic physiology.

I actually weigh more now than when I was dealing with cravings/binging but I feel freer and more confident so I am happy to continue eating this way.

Of course I have worked a lot on my mental/spiritual/emotional self and learning how to forgive, let go, and roll with the punches has been part of the process too.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 10, 2011
at 04:09 PM

Thanks Edward! I think Rob Wolf says that you can't supplement your way out of a crappy diet, to which I would add, you can't diet your way out of a crappy mental/spiritual/emotional state.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on November 10, 2011
at 01:54 PM

Great answer, especially with regards to the mental/spiritual/emotional health which is often the easiest for me to neglect. The Paleo lifestyle is slowly becoming more than diet for me and when I neglect these areas my stress levels and sugar cravings increase. Thanks

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:02 AM

Sounds just like my story so far... ha! The sugar demon is a toughie.

4
7d01d86c539003eed77cf901bf037412

(1076)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:42 AM

I've never really had a sweet tooth and I was raised in a household where there wasn't much on offer in the baked goods department, so that aspect of adopting paleo hasn't been much of a hardship.

To be honest, I don't understand why a paleo diet would cure the taste for sugar. Seeking out sweet things is a very natural and understandable instinct for a world where sweet things are rare. If we move to a diet that harks back to that world, I'd think it was more likely that the desire would be stronger, not weaker. I find I am more sensitive to sweet flavours now. On the other hand, mainlining sugar has a really marked effect on me as it's such a contrast to my normal diet, and the unpleasant crash afterwards is like a kind of aversion therapy.

Although it wasn't really my habit anyway, a couple of years ago I made a deliberate decision not to buy, cook or eat sweetened things any more. But my workplace revolves around cake. Perhaps once a month, something is celebrated with a whole lot of cake. Maybe every second or third month, I find that I feel like cake, I eat rather more than is wise, then I feel sick within half an hour or so, and I lose all desire to repeat the cake experience for a while. I imagine if there was no social pressure to participate I'd never eat it at all.

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 13, 2011
at 07:22 AM

Everytime I feel sick, the lack of desire for sweets only last for day, and i find that the next day the desire for sweets comes back and stronger!

3
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on November 10, 2011
at 07:49 AM

The longer you go without, in my experience, the more absolutely you will stop wanting sweet tastes.

I just don't eat deserts now at all (I still make them for guests), the one exception being dark chocolate mousse which I make and which is only eggs and dark 80% chocolate.

Even long fermented water kefir tastes sweet now!

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 13, 2011
at 07:19 AM

What is your recipe for the mousse? ;)

2
954257965380ca2f0cf22ff1b5922563

on November 10, 2011
at 03:17 PM

I guess I am different than most. When I was VLC, I would inevitably end up bingeing just about every other weekend. It would start with just a "taste" or "bite" of something and all hell would break loose. It would lead to a cycle of being extra strict during the week only to have the same thing happen again and again. I finally increased to a more "moderate" carb level and guess what!?!!? No more cravings or binges. Apparently, my body NEEDED the sugar I was withholding. That's been my experience anyway....

954257965380ca2f0cf22ff1b5922563

(70)

on November 11, 2011
at 06:01 PM

I increased my carbs slowly at first... Working my way up to around 120g. I actually started seeing the drop in BF% and scale weight when I increased them to around 140g-150g. I've been following a lot of Ray Peat's theories and have been getting my carbs from dairy and ripe fruits. I know a lot of his thinking goes against the grain but it's really made me feel A LOT better. Of course, this is just my personal experience. Everyone is different.

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 11, 2011
at 07:25 AM

Hi Britt_H - what was the "nmoderate" carb level for you and what were your carb sources?

2
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on November 10, 2011
at 02:11 PM

I have experienced the same sugar craving and binges as you, and have held it at bay by upping my total carb level. If I stay low carb for a long time I will have a sugar binge about every two weeks without fail (though unplanned.)

I do crossfit 3-4x a week so that may affect it. If you are super low carb and you're very active you may want to increase the carbs. Carbs are not the enemy!

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on November 11, 2011
at 01:35 PM

I like having a little bit of frozen fruit for dessert most days. On rest days I eat mainly green veggies (spinach and broccoli) with some squash and a little fruit. On workout days I eat greens and potatoes along with a little fruit. I try to keep 75-100g on rest days and ~150g on workout days. Some days higher and some lower. The gramage is not adjusted for fiber though, just the raw total. For fruit I get the dole frozen sliced strawberries or mixed fruit as it is super cheap and awesome.

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 11, 2011
at 07:26 AM

Hi Jake whwat were your carb sources? Starchy veggies or just regular green veggies and what was the gram-age that worked for you?

2
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 10, 2011
at 11:32 AM

I think it really depends on the individual and how much they craved sugar to begin with. However, one thing you can do to encourage your body to lose the taste for sugar is to stay away from some of the sweeter paleo foods like honey, dried fruits, fresh fruits that are very sweet, etc. for a while until your cravings have subsided.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on November 10, 2011
at 03:36 PM

Agree: one must not kid oneself thinking honey and dried fruit aren't significant sources of sugar.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on November 11, 2011
at 01:38 PM

Totally. I don't think I'm as bad now, but early in my paleo-life I would start eating dried fruit and then BOOM straight into candy and cookies. Gateway food?

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:12 PM

I'm totally in the same boat JakeA. I've just kicked my dried fruit addiction, I used to eat it every day with nuts as a 'snack' and end up eating half a bag of each - Not good! I find that so little can trigger the urge to binge on SAD foods. It's not moderation, it has to be complete elimination for me.

0
D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:21 AM

As long as I have some heavy cream or 90% dark chocolate around, I can control the cravings much more easily. I can't really stand the amount of sugar that's in typical desserts or candies anymore.

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:57 AM

I'd also like to add that the physical side effects of downing absolute crap really helped me kick the habit. I'd wake up the next morning after eating really bad peanut butter (lots of sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils) and my face would be noticeably redder and way swollen... needless to say, it's not a good look! It would take several days to look good again. Tasty crap is not worth looking like crap!

8cbb06eb84dad8d2db56fcc4d8bdc0ba

on November 13, 2011
at 07:24 AM

how long did it take you and how did you get to the point where typical desserts/cadies don't taste good?

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:49 AM

It took about 3 months of abstaining from added sugars. But it wasn't easy. I'd avoid sugar religiously during the week but always succumb to the cravings on one day during the weekend. The desserts got less and less appealing as time went on until I honestly could not take the sugar overload... I still love sweet things but it's now more along the lines of fruit and dark chocolate instead of pastries and candy. I just took a banana and square of 100% chocolate, microwaved them and mixed them: it was great. I gotta admit though, I need some treats like these to keep me sane.

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