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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 04:21 AM
Original message
Question for recovering sugar addicts
I've been sober for 9 years, haven't smoked a cigarette in 5 years, and have been off coffee for a couple of months, but now it's sugar that's messing everything up. Each binge is my "last one" until the next afternoon, when I eat so many sweets that I pass out. When I wake up, I'm useless for the rest of the evening, and can't get to sleep at a reasonable hour because of the long nap.

(I'm self-employed and work out of my home, so I can set my own hours. But this sugar binging is very counter-productive to what I'm trying to do with my life.)

I know this sounds stupid to some, especially those who have recovered from hard drugs. That's why I'm asking for advice from anyone else who considers themselves to have been addicted to sugar, and found a way out of the cycle.

Any suggestions?
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 04:27 AM
Response to Original message
1. Yikes.. that sounds dangerous..
Edited on Sat Nov-22-03 04:27 AM by SoCalDem
Amateur shrink voice here:

Maybe you have "deprived" yourself of the other vices you obviously enjoyed, and this is your body's passive/aggressive way of handling it..

:shrug:

One way might be to remove sweets from your home, and "treat" yourself when you are with others, so that you would be too embarrassed to binge..

Maybe you could convince yourself that your replacement binges could be something healthy..like reading, or writing in a journal, or baking/fixing all your favorites, only taking them immediately to an old folks home, or youth center or homeless shelter..

That could channel your energies elsewhere..

It sounds like you are bored.. :)
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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 04:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Believe me, ALL the sweets are "removed" from my home...
...by the time I'm passed out sideways across my bed. I wake up a few hours later and swear never to do that again, but end up at the store the next day, like a junkie looking for a fix.

"It sounds like you are bored." That's a very interesting take on it. I'm going to go with that theory. I have a lot I should be doing (i.e., no lack of activities with which to fill my time), but you're right - I'm not too excited about my life lately.

The next time the urge hits, I'll try to find something interesting to do that doesn't involve making me fat and tired. You just may have nailed it.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 05:01 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. That will be $100.00
:)
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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 05:17 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. No problem
I've eaten that much in junk food in the past WEEK.
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MojoKrunch Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 09:16 AM
Response to Reply #4
10. I feel you pain.
Been there, emptied whole bags of chocolate chip cookies.(my worst weakness)

I'd been a cola addict for almost 20 years, since my late-night art making days in college.

The Atkins diet helped me lose 70lbs so far this year and I don't miss the bread or pasta.
My first week without sugar and caffiene was *wild*, let me tell ya... almost like having the DTs.

But it absolutely made clear that I could get off of the insulin roller-coaster I'd been riding for years.

Just remember, if you do Atkins, to take the vitamin supplements he reccommends.
Otherwise, I'd take a multi-viatmin anyway.

If I knew then what I know now, I'd have been in a little better shape, I think.
Splenda.
Splenda brand sweetner in my lemonade.
Atkins chocolate candies made from Splenda.
I drink lemonade all day long and when I crave chocolate, I eat an Atkins candy bar.

Voila... no more cravings.
It may be years before I work through actually giving up sweets/sugar craving... hell I had almost 40 years of reinforcement.
But now I *know how to manage it*.
And that means a lot.

You might want to set up something to do outside for a while as well.
I've worked from home for a while now and I make myself go for walks or drives just to get out of the house.
I have too many time sinks here to distract me if I'm not focused on work...

Good luck.

Mojo
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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 01:01 AM
Response to Reply #10
18. Thanks. I haven't tried the Splenda or the Atkins candy, but
I try to get out once a day for a 30-45 minute walk.
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 05:37 AM
Response to Original message
5. It is probably related to some neuroreceptor
insensitivity or neurotransmitter deficiency. It isn't willpower or just a bad habit as is commonly thought.

This is why drugs for depression especially SSRIs often result in loss of appetite. Other drugs affecting other neurotransmission mechanisms can cause people to binge. Don't know what the solution is. If I did I'd be rich. Drug remedies are often dangerous and worse than the problem. I think diet and exercise probably are the best remedy. Substitute fruit and fresh vegetables wherever possible rather than simply trying to stop eating and exercise regularly to change the baseline of your nervous system.

I find that in the last two years, I cannot follow my own advice because I have lost control of lifestyle and my time.
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enough Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 07:38 AM
Response to Original message
6. Start measuring your blood sugar
RegularBrad, you are describing a pattern that is very familiar to me. Like you, sugar was my "'last" addiction.

About six months ago my doctor told me I should be watching my blood sugar. He gave me a little monitor device. (You can get them cheap on e-bay, no prescription needed.)

I resisted it, because I hate having people tell me what's good for me. I can't stand any form of dieting. It's some kind of anti-authoritarian thing. If you tell me what I should be doing, I'm likely to do the opposite.

But I started doing it, and it was amazing. You can watch the blood sugar go up and down depending on what you eat -- and you can see the great effect of exercise on lowering the sugar and keeping it more level.

Having this form of bio-feedback coming from your own system seems to work much better than any amount of good adivce. Once I started watching my blood sugar, it just came naturally to eat more intelligently. Seeing the extreme effect of sugar binging on my blood chemistry was a powerful incentive to stop doing it. (Fear of full-blown diabetes and all the other dangers that go with it.) Then of course the weight loss that comes along with it is another.

The really good news is that if you can break the pattern for a while, the craving gets less and less. Also, with sugar, once you stop eating a lot of it, other foods taste better. So you can actually enjoy what you do eat and not be looking forward to the sugar.

I'm not saying this will solve everything, but I found it really helped me.

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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 01:06 AM
Response to Reply #6
19. A friend of mine who is hypoglycemic
suggested the same thing, and has even offered to loan me a monitor. Thanks for this advice - I think I'll take him up on it.
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jukes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 08:02 AM
Response to Original message
7. sugar addicts
There's been some research that suggests that carb binging may be attributable to low serotonin levels. L. tryptophan intake is very hard to adjust in some diets, and it is a direct precursor to serotonin, melatonin (connected to sleep response) and a melange of other body chemicals. Natural sources of L. tryptophan are broad, but the amino is destroyed by heat, so processed foods and cooked sources don't truly provide this essential.

There may be some ties to chronic depression and, almost certainly, a link to insomnia.

Production and sale of the raw amino acid is repressed by our FDA and I doubt the efficacy of the "derivative" compounds "melatonin" and "5-HTP" on sale as dietary supplements, but I'm certainly no bio-chemist and I could be wrong. There is @ least one channel island company selling high quality tryptophan via the internet.

I suggest you google, but you'll get megahits, so it may be time consuming. Also, beware of the Gurus and pseudoscientific information in the supplement field.

You can email me if you'd like more on this topic.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 08:19 AM
Response to Original message
8. sugar addiction is real
sugar works in our body much like alcohol does. What you are doing is drinking without the drink. The good news is if you get off the sugar/carb binge you will stop craving it. I have been there, I know how you feel. I used to do the same thing many years ago as a way of avoiding all that was wrong in my life. I would eat cookies and chips until I passed out. It was really distructive and of course didn't change the fact that I was married to an abusive/controlling asshole.

I am now on a low carb diet and I do not miss the carbs at all. I do of course eat about 20 grams in fruit and vegetables, but pasta, bread, potatoes, rice and all sugar laden deserts are out of my daily life.
Do no carb first for about 2 weeks and just see how you feel. If it works for you great. If not find another way, but don't listen to people who do not understand sugar addiction and preach against Adkins or other low carb diets. They don't understand the addiction and they don't understand that for some of us sugar/carbohydrates is like taking a drink and not being able to stop at just one or two.
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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. Susan Powder's(sp?) last book addressed this problem.
Former alcoholics in particular have trouble with sugar. Sugar is very addictive.
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jukes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. "sugar addiction is real"
I believe you are confusing colloquiallism with fact. There are a recognized set of requirements in defining addictions, and your stance supposes that addictions, per se, can be overcome by will power. This is a very dangerous, and judgemental, attitude. (The obverse suggesting is that those who continue to indulge are morally inferior, or weak willed).

I contended in my response to Regular Brad that he might have a dietary deficiency that is being perceived and compensated for with sugar intake. The correct treatment, eg, is to correct that deficiency.

Yes, RB, and you, will feel better by controlling sugar intake since it can lead to an insulin backlash that will rob you of energy. If you feel personally actualized by this display of moral fiber, well, that's nice. But, research indicates that there is an actual biochemical cause for this condition, and valid reasons why it is endemic in a population that subsists on processed food.

let me caveat that I am not a homeopath, or even a healthfood guru; my area of expertise is addiction and substance abuse.
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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 01:16 AM
Response to Reply #8
20. I'm not sure what I would eat if I cut out carbs, since most of
the people I know who are on the Atkins diet fill up on crap like bacon, cheese and red meat. Rice has always been a good, low-fat filler for me, but it sounds like "low carb diet" really means Atkins compliant.

So - what does one eat, primarily, on a low-carb diet, that isn't dripping with fat and blood?
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MojoKrunch Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. Nothing.
But the fat isn't bad for you if you're not eating carbs.
(it isn't like you're eating gobs of lard.)

I prefer chicken breast and fish, but I think I've eaten more read meat while on this diet than the prior 38 years of my life.
lol

Rice has always been a good, low-fat filler for me, but it sounds like "low carb diet" really means Atkins compliant.
Yea, rice won't work.
I was a pasta fiend and I haven't had *any* in 11 months.

the people I know who are on the Atkins diet fill up on crap like bacon, cheese and red meat.
"Crap" is relative.
With a *normal* diet, yes, this much red meat and fat will kill ya.
This isn't a normal diet and with vitamin supplements you're perfectly fine.

I definitely recommend reading the book first.
The info on the insulin/sugar/carb connection really opened by eyes.
I've been a sugar junkie my entire life until this year.

IIRC, Wal-Mart carries a "starter kit" for the vitamin supplements which will get you started.
I get mine online at Vitacost.com but Wal-Mart may have comparable prices.

If you're vegetarian this diet will *not* work for you, period.

If you find Atkins too stressful try The Zone diet instead.
It takes a more balanced approach.

Mojo
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NicoleM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 08:30 AM
Response to Original message
9. Cold turkey, baby.
You don't have to give up all sweet things. It's hard to binge on fruit to the point of passing out. But make sure you're not just getting rid of sugar, you have to check labels for stuff like high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup solids.

If cold turkey is too much, one thing I did was switch to dietetic snacks. They make a lot of low-sugar-but-still-sweet snacks for diabetics.

After a period of sugar abstinence, I would eat some occasionally. I remember the first Reese's Peanut Butter cup I ate after my sugar hiatus--it was disgusting, way too sweet. Now I find that a lot of processed, sugary foods that I used to love are just too sweet to eat.

There are a lot of benefits to not eating sugar in addition to the obvious ones. I stopped getting sunburns and mosquitos were no longer interested in me.

Good luck. You can do it! :)
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flamingyouth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
12. Very real problem
I feel for you. The best thing is to go cold turkey, but be prepared for two days of cravings so insane you won't believe it. I did this as my New Year's resolution for 2003 and now, almost a year later, I eat some sugar, the occasional dessert, but I no longer have to sit on the couch at night and eat tons of candy because I can't stop myself. You might want to have a simple blood test to check for blood sugar irregularities.

Eat fruit! That is a great way to get natural sugar and nutrients into your body without all of the processed junk. Good luck!
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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 01:23 AM
Response to Reply #12
21. I've found that the old "apple a day" proverb is good advice,
and ironically, it's sugar binges that make me want to stay away from fruit. You've given me an idea: when I feel a craving coming on, eat an apple and see if the craving persists.
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jukes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
14. "cold turkey"
My last post in this thread.

Reg Brad. You can not, physically, go Cold Turkey from carbohydrates. Your body requires some carbohydrate intake to function.

Sugar is NOT metabilized by your body like alcohol. Alcohol is a poison that, in small dosed, inebriates. Sugar is a nutrient that, in large doses, triggers our bodies control mechanism, insulin, a metabolic by product of which is lethargy and dullness.

This is NOT an addiction problem and can't be treated as such. Folk knowledge and urban legend will not really address the issue here.

By all means, MODERATE your sugar intake. Those who think they have felt heroin-like or even nicotine-like addiction pangs in this thread are confused by the fact that they're bodies were screaming for a dietary requirement. If you quit eating entirely you'd suffer withdrawal like symptoms also; ie, headache, stomache cramps, tremors, etc.

If you want to stop these cravings, give your body what it needs.
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Barad Simith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 01:29 AM
Response to Reply #14
22. Would acceptable sugar intake be in the form of fresh fruit, bread, rice?
You seem to be saying that there is not an addiction to sugar in the same way that one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and at the same time, that quitting cold turkey will result in withdrawal symptoms.

So if the way to avoid withdrawals is to moderate the sugar intake, what are the acceptable forms of sugar?
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MojoKrunch Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. Complex, unrefined sugars are best.
Stay away from refined sugar, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.
Sucanat is the most unprocessed cane sugar available, but is has a lot
of molasses flavor.
Turbinato is just a marketing ploy.

If you must eat bread eat whole grain breads.
Eat whatever is the least processed rice you can stand.
But don't eat a bunch of it.
A sweetener is actually derived from brown rice.

Sugar substitutes are acceptable if you can eat them.
I get weird memory loss from Nutrasweet, so I can't eat that stuff.
But like I said earlier, I prefer Splenda.
Don't be put off by the price/weight... it is light and fluffy because it is so much sweeter than sugar it has to have an additive to give it "mass".
I buy the largest bag size for about $7.
I figured out that it makes a little more lemonade as $7 worth of coke priced at the 3 liter size bottles.

Mojo
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onebigbadwulf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
15. I don't think it's sugar
I think you just have a need for addiction. Get yourself addicted to something that won't alter your state of mind or sleep/wake cycle. Try getting addicted to carrots and celery bits or listening to streaming internet radio like me ;)
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curse10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 11:40 AM
Response to Original message
16. I used to eat straight sugar
yep, right out of the little packets at restaurants. I put sugar on popcorn. In spaghetti. Everything. I just had to slowly ween myself off the massive amounts of it I was eating. I still eat sweets, but very rarely now. I eat a piece of pie or cake on occasion.

THe withdrawal was the worst. Ugly headaches. Shakiness. Energy crashes. But now I get my carbs from better soruces- like fruits. You get sugar, but it's not refined, and it has vitamin bonuses :-)
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camero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-22-03 12:30 PM
Response to Original message
17. Buy things made with Splenda
It tastes almost like sugar but it's not. There are alot of things made with Splenda now.

It's really reduced my craving for sugar.
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populistmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-23-03 08:37 PM
Response to Original message
25. I was a sugar addict
I guess I'm another person who would have to say the Atkins approach really changed my life. A year ago, I was overweight and depressed. I've always had a sugar thing, even as a child, so when I say this changed my life, it did. When I broke the sugar addiction, it go rid of both. Also, I don't eat bacon or any of that stuff except rarely. I do eat some red meat, but more chicken and fish and veggies. I'd rather eat chicken and broccoli cooked in olive oil and garlic than a bunch of sausage or bacon. I just take a more Mediterrrean approach to Atkins and I feel really good. Occasionally, I will eat something sweet, but it no longer has that physical hold on me, but for about 8 months, I ate nothing with sugar. Now, I just save it for birthdays or holidays in small portions.

I used to smoke when I was younger (late teens) about a pack a day. I quit for years and then smoked again, but only a few cigarettes a day (wouldn't smoke in the house), but I couldn't seem to give it up totally (except when I was pregnant), but about 5 months ago, I did that too. Since I wasn't on a sugar roller coaster, it was easier to handle some minor nicotine cravings. Now, I have none of those either.

I never had any drug issues asside from a few binge drinking bouts in my late teens, but I stopped for a number of years and now might have one drink once or twice a week, but frequently I can go a month or more. I guess I can't really say how ending a sugar addiction would affect this, but I would say be more careful and make sure you have a good support system in place first just to be sure.
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