Addicted to sugar as a result of Whole30!


kel239

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Has anyone found that they became addicted/enamoured by binging on sweets due to the nature of completing a Whole30? 

 

Background:

I ate a typical "healthy" diet to include a couple rounds of vegeterianism all the way until 02/18/2013 (I'm 25 now) after being put on antibiotics 5 times in 2012, hospitalized for a kidney infection, and getting sinus infections so bad a zpack couldn't knock it out- i thought maybe it would be a good idea to eliminate gluten from my diet. I had no clue why- just a hunch.  I got sick of being sick and started googling natural remedies.  I was so sick I was desperate and went to wegmans and bought enough produce to make fresh juice for 3 days, a neti pot, and some oil of oregano and mullein garlic (ear infections brought on due to sinus infection.)  I felt like Superman on crack. Yeah sure I hadn't eaten anything for 3 days but I healed instantly. I decided to stay gluten free and have been ever since. 

 

Despite eating an un-paleo diet, nutrition has always been a passion of mine. I was just misdirected.  I had heard about paleo but thought that they were all a bunch of crazy people that were going to die from heart disease.  While I did eat meat infrequently, at least I knew it should be grass-fed and pastured. A friend told me a bout a nutritionist they saw who did all these crazy muscle tests and put them on cilantro drops and told them that their body didn't have enough enzymes to digest meat. I was shocked and after researching them I realized that this person might be able to help me. Around the same time I somehow ended up listening to the Healthy Life Summit and stumbled across the author of Practical Paleo giving a seminar on some topic. She started talking about Candida. I ended up listening to a talk by the author of Body Ecology and thought to myself that.....yeah..... I have Candida.

 

I figured my life was over and I would never be cured.  I finally made an apt. with the nutritionist. She confirmed my worst fears through muscle testing. I was gluten intolerent, suffering with candida, and had MOLD in my body. wtf.... She put me on various natural anti-fungals and told me to start drinking apple cider vinegar in water daily, and take baths with it as well.  She put me on a 21 day elimination diet to starve the candida.  It was basically 2 weeks of a paleo diet, EXCEPT the only fruit I was allowed to have was grapefruit and lemon/lime.  After 2 weeks I could reintroduce unfermented goat dairy, quinoa, and buckwheat. 

 

I was kind of truamatized.... being a wannabe vegeterian I nearly keeled over when she said that I would need to eat meat with EVERY meal and that all I could basically eat was meat and vegetables.... What about my beloved filafels and lentils and hummus?  In addition, she said I couldn't have any vinegars (except ACV), no mushrooms, no black tea, and nothing fermented until my gut healed. 

 

I stuck to the diet with extremely low energy as prescribed for 21 days.  I wasn't able to have my checkin until after a vacation I went on in Asia. Despite being forced (and yes I mean literally forced) to eat rice and more than likely some hidden soy while on vacation... and a couple of incidents with SOJU and accidentaly  (by accidentaly I mean having no clue there was wheat in it) rice wine fermented with wheat.... I somehow managed to come back about 35 days later and she performed muscle testing. Apparently I had solved all of my problems. I was elated!

 

As soon as she said that I thought to myself that I would be good and stick to my diet.  

 

THAT'S WHERE IT ALL WENT DOWNHILL

 

Before I completed my diet change, I never had an issue with sweet stuff.  I would see people eating sweet things and thing to myself disgustedly that they just had no will power or self control.  After my essentially 21 day sugar detox I binged on fruit and starbucks frappuccinos (Yes I know disgusting).  I ate a paleo diet to include dairy (usually not pastured) and just went crazy with sugar and paleo ice cream. Long story short within about a month and a half I found myself with a sinus infection.  I went nuts. I had an athletic competition the same week and couldn't afford to get sick. I flushed my system with veggie juice, didn't eat, take massive amounts of oil of oregano and my previous supplements. I somehow managed to survive barely fighting it off until my competition.  It was a great day.... wearing a full uniform in 90 something degree heat fighting and judging all day.  After it was done I went out to celebrate and had a couple of vodka somethings and ice cream. When I woke up the next day I was sicker then ever.

 

Luckily I had an apt. with my nutritionist the next day already lined up.... it was planned to be a check in on my "success" but obviously that wasn't the case.  Long story short, in my binging I ate a bunch of peanut butter. That combined with the sugar kicked my immunity down a notch. Then the heat from the event was just enough to kick the candida back full force. 

 

A few days later I started a whole30.  The first 15 days were 100% compliant.  I did have some 21 day sugar detox friendly SWYPO desserts after day 15.   I was sticking to the no fruit except grapfruit rule at least until day 21.

 

Super super long story tried to make not as long,  my whole30 bit the dust after another athletic event.  I learned my lesson and stuck to eating only paleo foods.  So if I'm going to be bad it's homemade coco milk ice cream made with stevia and honey.....not crap from the store. But I've come to the conclusion that I have an unparelled addiction to desserts and sweets now.  When I'm on Whole30 (I've completed it 2x now) I am obsessings with it and trying to figure out what I can eat that will replace it without "cheating" and when I'm off Whole30 I am binging out the ying yang becuase I know that I am going to be restricted once again shortly.  I can't live in between. I'm either in a state of Whole30 food fantasizing or binging till I get sick again.

 

The whole reason I'm writing this is to see if anyone developed this issue they never had before, and see if they have any advice that can help.  I'm getting ready to start my third Whole30 on Monday 7/22/13 and am trying to make this go around different.  I plan on changing the following:

 

No compliant pork sausage or bacon (Just felt like I relied on this way too heavily on my program)

NO SWYPO fake me out desserts AT ALL

No seeds or nuts (Found myself eating too much of these)

NO fruit except grapefruit/lemon/lime the first 21 days, after that only pear, watermelon, mango, or grapefruit (Nutritionist says if eating fruits, those are best due to alkalizing nature)

No coconut flour, no almond flour (I keep turning these into compliant cheat creations)

 

 

I'm hoping with these changes maybe I will eliminate this dessert fantasy.  I feel like I am just obessed with food now and it sucks.  I never had a sweets addiction until I was told I wasn't allowed to have it. Now I obsess over it. 

 

Side note:  I work out anywhere from 7-12 hours a week depending on what level of my training for competition I'm at.  I finally learned to take rest days and all that good stuff.  I was forcing myself to be really really low carb once I did manage to break the carb addiction (it was great being able to eat 3x a day instead of 6-7!)  after a lot of getting some sense talked into me I started to include sweet potato and other carbs more to support my activity. I wonder if any of my dessert addiction is related to that. 

 

If anyone experience this though and has recomendations, it would be great. I'm sick of being in an obsessive state of mind!

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7-12 hours per day of exercise? Your body needs more food. more nutrition. more carbs more protein more fat.

 

Provide it, and you will not obsess about sweets anymore.

 

I had a friend who decided to train for a marathon while working on a graduate thesis and dieting. She often woke up with empty jars of peanut butter in bed from sleep eating. Your body needs nourishment. Willpower is one thing, but honestly start giving your body everything it needs in the healthiest form you can and things should calm down a bit.

 

ok, I re-read and see it's only 7-12 hours per WEEK. This is a good thing, but still: eat more.

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Are you eating starchy vegetables like sweet potato on a daily basis? It sounds like your body isn't craving junk food - it's craving more carbohydrates possibly. Or maybe just more food in general being that you're so active.

 

Your sinus stuff that you had in the middle of all this sounds like it was dairy related. 

 

I've always had a problem with sugar, so I can't entirely relate to that question. However, I do know that if I quit sugar for a time and then eat it again, I will start into a huge binge with it (as in, much more than I would normally eat before I had quit it) and it gets harder to quit the next time around. Maybe something similar is happening with you. 

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hey! Just a thought: maybe one should try and stick to the advice Melissa and Dallas gave at some point: make your meals be just ingredients, not dishes. So: don't meditate on how you can turn something into a cheat dessert, but keep your meals simple. And perhaps don't be so hard on yourself with the fruit, have the 1-2 servings a day and work your will power to stick to it? Once you've been on whole 30 for a while, all the naturally sweet stuff turns out so much sweeter that it had seemed before. So if you have a few strawberries and a peach, say, during a day, it might actually be easier to stop thinking about desserts. And then, once you get used to these natural levels and doses of sweetness, ice cream and other candy will just seem way too sweet. I have that now: I've made some "healthy" candy bars lately but they're just too sweet, I can't really finish. So, to sum up, my advice would be:

 

1) don't be so very strict with the fruit. Have the 1-2 servings a day that whole 30 allows and enjoy them. But keep your will power alert and don't eat more.

 

2) keep your whole 30 meal plan simple: learn to savor just a piece of meat or eggs with a lot of veggies (raw, or very simply steamed). It makes meal making faster and less absorbing and it keeps your mind off cunning plans how to turn compliant ingredients into cheat treats. I didn't do cheat treats, but I spent way too much time and money on my whole30 coming up with very clever and elaborate dishes all the time. It's fun, I love cooking, but it turns healthy food into time and attention consuming obsession, I find.

 

3) and yes, if you work out a lot and intensely, make sure you have enough veggie carbs - like sweet potatos or whatever keeps you going.

 

Good luck!!

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"I never had a sweets addiction until I was told I wasn't allowed to have it. Now I obsess over it."

 

I think this is really common. It's certainly true for me. If you want a great analysis of it, check out Geneen Roth's work on intuitive eating and the binge/restrict cycle. She has a fourth law of the universe: "for every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge." Very smart lady...I have huge sugar binge issues myself and I've actually cried reading her books because she describes the problem so well.

 

I think you may be stuck in the "dieting" mindset where you're not thinking of the W30 as the start of a permanent change in your eating habits and instead going on it the temporary mindset of a crash diet, an obnoxious restriction that will shortly end, hence the binge when it's done.

 

So stop me if I'm projecting my own issues onto you here, but I'll just say what I think is true for me and if it resonates with you maybe it will be helpful and if it doesn't, just leave it and forget about it. If we think about people in terms of moderators (happy with treats "in moderation") vs. abstainers (feel deprived with trying to "moderate;" feel happier just avoiding it completely), I'm an abstainer all the way. As long as I wasn't trying to restrict sweets, I was a moderator and it was no big deal because there was no thought of "never again." I didn't have crazy cravings, and I didn't really overeat on sweets ever. But then when I started restricting, I transformed into an abstainer with massive binge issues, because it turned into a "forbidden fruit" and it's just human nature to want what we can't have. My physical health took a turn for the better; my mental health took a turn for the worse.

 

So I wrecked my relationship with food by restricting in the name of health*, and it sounds like that might be where you are. Again, I hope I'm not projecting. I know that the only solution for me in the future is 100% permanent abstention, but I feel very unhappy and deprived when I think about committing to a permanent abstention, because I remember that at one point I could get true pleasure from these foods (not the mindless binge-eating urge, but real pleasure from enjoying them without guilt) don't want to cut myself off from that potential source of pleasure entirely, even though I know I'll never be able to experience it again because at this point I'm too mentally damaged.

 

*note that I'm not saying that any effort to eat healthy is automatically bad, just that the way I did it was not productive and I think the way a lot of people do it might be equally damaging.

 

This brings me to my real problem, which is that the entire restrict/binge cycle started in the first place because I have other issues that I'm expressing through food. The food is just the medium. And without going into all the tl;dr, those issues are unresolvable, so the best I can do is to channel them into a less damaging outlet than binge eating.

 

So with that being said, how does this help you? I realize this is not a very comforting response, but if it sounds like this might be similar to your emotional situation here are some things that have helped me put at least somewhat of a band-aid on the problem:

 

-If there's an underlying issue that you're expressing through food, figure out what it is (again, can't recommend Geneen Roth highly enough)...my issues are untreatable but maybe yours are not!

 

-I definitely find that the more important food is as a source of pleasure/meaning in my life, the worse it gets. So I'd suggest making sure you keep up your relationships, doing other things you enjoy, finding other sources of pleasure so you aren't dependent on food to provide it.

 

-I take it one day at a time and don't let myself think about food more than around a week ahead. That way I don't panic over feeling deprived that I can't ever taste chocolate again in my life. I just don't think about it.

 

-I get really involved in my local/organic food scene and try to build connections to the kind of food I want to be around. I have a meat CSA, I do most of my shopping at the farmers' market, etc. This for some reason helps me stay away from junk, maybe because it helps get it out of my food experience.

 

-[politically incorrect coping mechanism alert] I phrase it to myself like a war against binging, with myself as a soldier, and put up all kinds of really aggressive militaristic quotes all around me. Because when I want to binge I'm thinking "I hate myself and my life and want to drown it in Oreos," and it's easier to transform that into "I hate everything and I am going to take a machine gun to THIS **** CRAVING WHICH WILL NOT BEAT ME." than trying to turn it into "butterflies and ranbows! I respect my body and mindfully choose not to harm it with unhealthy foods!" War rhetoric is designed to play on your emotions to pull you in and make you feel aggressive and powerful, so I just let it work on me and let myself get carried away in it, and end up feeling powerful enough to beat the binge. Sorry if this is offensive to anyone but it really does help me; sometimes it works when nothing else will.

 

-I keep a head of lettuce in the fridge at all times. When I need to eat to distract myself from my pain, I eat that. Emotionally healthy? Not in the slightest. But it's a lot less physically damaging and the worst of the consequences is a stomachache.

 

-I like your ideas for a W30 minus your triggers; I did that earlier this year and while it didn't help me at all with resetting my long-term relationship to food, it was nice as a break; just committing for 30 days wasn't an issue and I could just sit back and accept "because Melissa Hartwig said so" as the reason for what to eat. Very soothing and relaxing, in a weird kind of way.

 

-Definitely keep up with the adequate carbs/rest day. And make sure to eat enough food, period - being hungry all the time can make your body crave stuff just to get enough calories!

 

-It helps me in a way to get in the habit of eating healthy; doesn't get rid of the cravings but it quiets them down a little. Once I'm in a routine, it's a little better. It sounds like you've been seesawing back and forth a lot; maybe it might be useful for you to committ to a W60 or something to really get that routine and habit of healthy eating down in your bones.

 

Anyway, I hope this helps you and again if I'm projecting all over you feel free to ignore it completely.

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"I never had a sweets addiction until I was told I wasn't allowed to have it. Now I obsess over it."

 

So stop me if I'm projecting my own issues onto you here, but I'll just say what I think is true for me and if it resonates with you maybe it will be helpful and if it doesn't, just leave it and forget about it. If we think about people in terms of moderators (happy with treats "in moderation") vs. abstainers (feel deprived with trying to "moderate;" feel happier just avoiding it completely), I'm an abstainer all the way. As long as I wasn't trying to restrict sweets, I was a moderator and it was no big deal because there was no thought of "never again." I didn't have crazy cravings, and I didn't really overeat on sweets ever. But then when I started restricting, I transformed into an abstainer with massive binge issues, because it turned into a "forbidden fruit" and it's just human nature to want what we can't have. My physical health took a turn for the better; my mental health took a turn for the worse.

 

Wow. Seriously. You could have pulled this right from my brain. I experience the same thing every single time I try to stop myself from eating anything. It doesn't matter if it's a 2nd hamburger patty, a few more bites of sweet potato, or that box of Honey Nut Cheerios that I'd been happily ignoring for the last 6 months (yeah, swift painful death for that cereal 2 weeks ago). As soon as the thought enters my mind ("you'd better just not have that now"), the countdown timer begins. It's a short timer...10 minutes max and I only hold out that long when I try to eat other things to distract myself from whatever I've just decided is forbidden. Just in the last 2 weeks or so I've come to terms with the fact that I am also an abstainer. I've allowed myself to have sweets so often the last few months that I don't even notice the emotional side effects anymore, which were absolutely glaring when I had sugar right after my W30. So I'm on currently on day 9 of 'no sugar for I'm not sure how long.' The almost overwhelming desire to stop at every store I pass to buy Oreos or donuts has really been muted. 

 

So to the OP, I think something just has to break you out of this restriction mindset. As counterintuitive as it sounds, you might need to just restrict sugar indefinitely. Maybe just taking that option off the table will help the obsession pass, and once you're thinking about it more objectively you can decide how to proceed.

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I agree with JJB and notacommittee. I'm on the last day of my whole30 and the last few days I've been getting all kinds of weird cravings, things I almost never ate before like pancakes and maple bars. While I won't continue with the ultra restrictiveness of a whole30, I've laid out specific rules regarding certain foods for after my whole30, to be in place indefinitely. Maybe you need to not think in terms of "It's just 30 days" but instead commit to eating like you're on a whole30 for as long as it takes to stop having cravings/obsessing over sweets.

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notacommittee, that was freakin' brilliant.  An essay, a tome, a manifesto.  Thank you!  I'm not the original poster nor do I play the original poster on TV :lol:  but that spoke to me in ways I didn't know I needed to be spoken to.  I do hope our original poster returns and finds some helpful information in your post and the others.  Freakin' brilliant.

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I finished by Whole30 about a month ago and my sugar demon has materialized in full form. At first it was for
special treats and then full on binging of sweats. I have to completely cut out sweats. I'm happier and healthier without them. When they make an apperance in my life it never ends well. My self control takes a back seat. It's better for me just to show them the door.

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Apparently one of the reasons sugar is addictive is not because it's addictive in itself, but because of the way we behave towards it - mustn't have any, I'll have a little, I can stop any time I want, oh no i've binged, etc. Our brain can't tell the difference from a "real" addiction & so it becomes real. That's why the "everything in moderation" type thinking works for some people (doesn't work for me though, not yet anyways!)

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Wow thank you so much everyone for the amazing advice.  It's just as described above though, with the binge cycle.  I'm on my last day before whole30 now thinking about all the things I have to eat becuase I won't be able to have them for a while. BUT on the other hand, once I found out I was gluten intolerent, I never looked back! Yeah sure cake and cookies and tiramisu  look amazing BUT I KNOW the effects of what will happen if I eat it, so it has removed all desire for it.  It's hard because if I eat massive amount of sugar (Fruit, honey, whatever you want to call it) and by massive I mean something that is still probably low for the avg. American,  my body gets destroyed. Candida and sinus infections, and allergies come back full force. I wish there was something I could do to make myself correlate the two. But I am living in happy land where I tell myself if I can control it and only eat so much then I will be fine. Which of course, the control doesn't happen. 

 

I've been told repeatedly that I'm probably not eating enough carbs so I'm going to try to include more this go around. Oh yeah and coconut butter is definitly out....

 

It just sucks becuase I feel like my attitude about food was much healthier before all this lol. My food choices may have been poorer, but my mental game was what it needed to be. Hopefully eliminating triggers will help with this. Thanks everyone!

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I went through a period where I was very skinny (I was ecstatic, but my family feared I was anorexic). It still boggles my mind a little, because I remember distinctly that my diet was terrible. Candy/cookies multiple times a day, 4-6 cans of regular Mt. Dew a day (!!!), fast food/ restaurant food on a regular basis. Moderate exercise, terrible sleep patterns. I didn't worry about my diet back then though. I didn't obsess over food at all. I had no nutrition education other than the crap the government spews at us, and although I knew my diet wasn't great, I did not understand what all that sugar especially was doing to me. Looking back, I can see how emotionally wrecked I was on a daily basis. I was also incredibly tired, all the time.

 

This year has been a really tough adjustment period for me. I'm definitely more obsessed with food than I ever have been, but I'm grateful that it's because I've learned so much. I am trying to restrict sugar, diet soda, and wheat because I finally get how AWFUL it is for my body and my brain. This is a good thing. It's a process though. I'm still grieving the loss of all those yummy things (which seems so ridiculous, because it's just food FFS!!). My brain is a bit of a toddler sometimes, throwing temper tantrums because I can't have candy and ice cream. And then it switches to manipulation mode, trying to talk me into it. I'm just hopeful I'll have this all sorted out by the end of the year. I think a full year to make a transition to a healthier lifestyle, after 36 years of doing the wrong things, is totally reasonable. And yeah, I'm super frustrated that I can't get rid of this extra 5 pounds yesterday, but logically I understand that it's so much better to be healthy and educated (with stable moods!!!) than to be super-skinny but an emotional basket-case, ignorantly ruining my body.  (And I realize you've said nothing about weight here...this is a side issue for me...)

 

Just try to be patient with yourself. You are making a really big and stressful change here!

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Apparently one of the reasons sugar is addictive is not because it's addictive in itself, but because of the way we behave towards it - mustn't have any, I'll have a little, I can stop any time I want, oh no i've binged, etc. Our brain can't tell the difference from a "real" addiction & so it becomes real. That's why the "everything in moderation" type thinking works for some people (doesn't work for me though, not yet anyways!)

 

 

I actually heard a report on the news a couple weeks ago that shows that sugar and simple carbs trigger the same addiction center in the brain as heroine and other highly addictive drugs.

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As many others have said, I also obsess and then binge if I feel like I can't have something. I've found it helps to try to change my thinking. So instead of thinking "I can't have that," I tell myself "I can have that, but I'm choosing not to". I feel like this is pretty effective in diffusing that rebellious desire. It sounds stupidly simple, but it has worked for me.

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Guest Annie B

All I can say is, thank god we're all humans here... and not a bunch of computers that a perfect whole30 program can be downloaded into. We are living, breathing, thinking, feeling, biology experiment on two legs. I love to hear the authenticity that is happening in these above posts. There is NO one formula that is going to be the end all, for all people. 

 

I personally believe, that while we are seeking health through food (externally) we are really seeking healing/wholeness/peace/love (internally). For me, the physical is not a big enough container to try and put all of my issues into (though I tried to keep it there for about a decade)... so I needed a bigger one. If I put my physical issues into a spiritual container, the physical stuff is no longer the bully on the playground demanding all of my attention at the expense of the other kids there. The other 'kids' being all the parts of myself, that make up the whole me. Now I'm probably sounding a little crazy right? Anyway, the word spirit may not work for everyone, so substitute some other concept that connects you (meaning anyone who is actually reading this!) with a larger perspective on life, or sense of your self. 

 

Thank you all for sharing your experiences! And good luck to everyone, whatever you may be seeking!

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notacommittee, that was brilliant!  

 

As to the OP, my personal experience is that I do much better with sugar cravings/binges when I eat enough FAT.  If I don't eat an avocado a day, in addition to the ghee, olive oil, coconut oil I use then I am a crazed maniac and I will dream, plot, and scheme my way to a big pan of fudge brownies, a bowl of cookie dough, or whatever.  Eating that avocado keeps all of that at bay and I don't even think about sugar or sweets, at all.  Period.  It's amazing.

 

I've been out of avo for ten days and finally made it to town to the market.. guess what I've been doing for the last ten days?  Yup.  Wrecking my spirit.  I am always compliant at breakfast and lunch but without that avocado, by the time dinner rolls around I'm eating handfuls of cheerios right out of the box while waiting for my quesadilla to cook and simultaneously whipping up a batch of brownies.. truth.  That happened.  Many nights.  Awful.  Then I wake up the next morning and think "OK! I CAN DO THIS!  I've done 2 successful W30's and tons of minis.. what the hell is wrong with you eating like that last night?? " Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

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