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SusanB.

The sugar dragon rears its ugly head

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I am not quite sure what is going on here.

 

I have a history as a full-blown sugar addict. It's not pretty, but that's me being honest. Not an exaggeration to say that I consume sugar like an alcoholic drinks - not to minimize alcohol addiction, but the patterns of binging, shame, and trying to hide the problem are similar in many ways.

 

I've gone on no-sugar plans before, with some success. I'm on day 23 of my second Whole30 - completed my first one in March, and really felt like I had spectacular results. I’m still fine-tuning balancing individual meals, but I’ve done what I think is an excellent job of staying away from off-plan foods. This time around, when I started, the sugar withdrawal really wasn’t as pronounced as the first one. Cool, I thought, maybe the body and the brain remember what it was like to feel good.

But today – day 23 – I am raging with thoughts of all things sugar. I literally can’t get the images out of my head. I’m craving random sweet things that aren’t even things I consume regularly (like…s’mores. S’mores? Huh?)

 

I am a master rationalizer, and I have spent the last two hours trying to do mental gymnastics to figure out how to justify falling off the wagon:

 

  • “I’ll have to start over and there’s nothing wrong with another 30 days” is a good one.

 

  • “It will be easier to be the houseguest of vegetarians next week if I eat grains and legumes” is another.

 

  • “It will be nice to be able to have dinner with my friends at tonight’s meeting instead of eating at home and having a club soda there”, that also works.

 

I don’t think I am actually going to cave, but I’m really stuck for figuring out why this is happening. Why now?

 

Does anyone have any insight to share? I feel kind of desperate.

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From the timeline, days 12-15 (I know the days don't line up with where you are, but I think it's one of those things where timing is different for everyone):

 

 
Days 12-15: Boundless energy! Now give me a damn Twinkie.

Hurray! The slump is over! Your pants fit again! Your energy levels are better than normal – you’re downright Tigger the bouncing tiger! But something weird is happening. You’re dreaming. Not crazy nightmare or strange surrealist dreams, either. Incredibly normal and realistic dreams – about donuts. Or Twinkies. Or Snickers.* In your mind, sometimes you get caught and feel guilty. Sometimes you just brazenly eat the contraband. But then, the feelings start following you into the waking hours. Suddenly, you’re craving things you don’t even like. (For me, it’s Diet Coke and Twinkies, for Melissa Hartwig, it was fast-food cheeseburgers!) Your co-workers’ heads transform into giant Girl Scout Cookies as you gaze on in disbelief. Seriously, you’ve almost hit the halfway mark, and now this?!

All joking aside, though, this phase gets really intense and for some people. This is the part of the program where our minds try to drive us back to the comfort of the foods we used to know. Our food relationships are deeply rooted and strongly reinforced throughout the course of our lives and breaking through them is really big deal. Journaling can be especially enlightening and helpful during this phase, and helpful for reflection later. Take some time to jot down what you’re craving, how you’re feeling and what tools you’re using to work through the cravings.

*The cravings people get, and the dreams they often have, rival those of pregnancy. One person told me they craved pickles and Doritos (together) during this phase!

 

 

That's what it sounds like to me, that desire for the familiar and comfortable that some part of your brain is begging for.  All you can do is just keep going, ignore the cravings, and if you're hungry, have protein and fat instead of anything sweet. 

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I can identify with the relationship with sugar you describe. I'm sorry to hear you are struggling, but know that your experience is not uncommon.

One if the benefits of the whole30 program is that it gives us a chance to learn about ourselves and it sounds like that has happened for you.

No one is requiring you to eat compliant. You made a choice for a number of reasons I'm sure, because you felt the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. Right now the drawbacks of your choice to eat this way are more pronounced in your mind, because that is how addiction works.

I'm certain there are some valid physiological reasons that cravings are pronounced right now (eg sometimes carb intake or protein intake is too low) but I would guess that there is lots going on in your emotions and thinking that are influencing you right now. Sugar is comfort. Sometimes it feels like love. It is a distraction - I picture it like shovelling sugar on top of the problem until it is buried. When we have uncomfortable emotions we tend to shrink from them and look for a way to cope. Trouble is, that's not how emotions pass or go away - it just delays them and often compounds the problem since we heap guilt on top to boot.

Look inside yourself. Ask yourself why your urge is so strong. What is your body trying to tell you about your emotions? What are you feeling? Make your choice with eyes wide open, giving weight to both the positives and negatives of each choice, challenging your assumptions (ie how hard will it really be on w30 with houseguests? Is that really the reason?). If, in the end, you decide to eat sugar or whatever, please consider leaving the guilt out of it. It just makes it worse in the long run and will likely spur on any binging that may come.

Google Isabel Foxen Dukes blog post called "emotional eating may be saving your ass". It may resonate.

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This kind of sounds like you are ging through an extinction burst - basically your brain is giving it more more highly intense try to convince you to need sugar.  As frustrating as it is - it is normal.  Just try your best to work through it.

 

Make sure you are getting enough fats with your meals, and keep some starchy veg on hand.

 

I remember my first whole 30 the extinction burst lasted 3 days.  Of course it didn't help that every time I opened the refridgerator at home I was faced with my brother's leftover birthday cake.  I was told over and over that it honestly didn't taste that good.  I didn't care.  I wanted something sweet and sugar ladden and that fit the bill.  I never did try it though.  As much as my brain talked at me.  During extinction bursts cravings have been everything from marshmallows (I could litterally smell them from one isle over in the super market) to doritos.

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It's been quoted that Dallas said you've got to starve that sugar dragon to make it go away.  I believe it.

 

Don't feed the thoughts, thoughts lead to impulses and actions. 

 

I don't know if you've had any sugar inbetween W30's.  Dairy has sugars, too....which can stir it back up.

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Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful replies. I am trying to lean on every possible pillar of support I can find.

 

 

I don't know if you've had any sugar inbetween W30's.  Dairy has sugars, too....which can stir it back up.

 

Yes, oh my goodness yes. Moderation is very difficult for me. What started as a gentle reintroduction (Dairy went great, next up I was trying rice) over a period of weeks all went to hell in one evening when I had some dinner company. My (compliant for me, for where I was) dinner was, umm, supplemented by about three different guests bringing a range of baked goodies. I was like that alcoholic having that first drink (again, I do not intend to minimize alcoholism - something that has affected a number of the most important people in my life). But this one indiscretion led not only to feeling like I had been run over by a truck the next day, but also ice cream for dinner. Once I was off the wagon, I was waaayy off. Almost eating sweets like I was trying to gain weight or something. The only way I knew how to cope was to set a date and go cold-turkey off the junk foods again.

 

 

That's what it sounds like to me, that desire for the familiar and comfortable that some part of your brain is begging for.  All you can do is just keep going, ignore the cravings, and if you're hungry, have protein and fat instead of anything sweet. 

 

I don't doubt that this plays a huge role. I live alone, and life is sort of rough on many levels these days. I also have battled with depression my whole life and keeping my game-face on in public is utterly exhausting - for someone with depression, I am pretty highly functional in the outside world, but it leaves me with not much left at home, in terms of energy left to take care of myself. Eating ice cream for dinner was an absolutely dysfunctional coping mechanism....but it was a coping mechanism. Take that away and I am kind of at a loss for where to find some soothing and some comfort.

 

 

No one is requiring you to eat compliant. You made a choice for a number of reasons I'm sure, because you felt the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. Right now the drawbacks of your choice to eat this way are more pronounced in your mind, because that is how addiction works.

 

Yes, yes, and yes. Nobody is forcing me to do this. It is true. And I think I needed to be reminded of that.

 

 

I'm certain there are some valid physiological reasons that cravings are pronounced right now (eg sometimes carb intake or protein intake is too low) but I would guess that there is lots going on in your emotions and thinking that are influencing you right now. Sugar is comfort. Sometimes it feels like love. It is a distraction - I picture it like shovelling sugar on top of the problem until it is buried. When we have uncomfortable emotions we tend to shrink from them and look for a way to cope. Trouble is, that's not how emotions pass or go away - it just delays them and often compounds the problem since we heap guilt on top to boot.

Look inside yourself. Ask yourself why your urge is so strong. What is your body trying to tell you about your emotions? What are you feeling? Make your choice with eyes wide open, giving weight to both the positives and negatives of each choice, challenging your assumptions (ie how hard will it really be on w30 with houseguests? Is that really the reason?). If, in the end, you decide to eat sugar or whatever, please consider leaving the guilt out of it. It just makes it worse in the long run and will likely spur on any binging that may come.

Google Isabel Foxen Dukes blog post called "emotional eating may be saving your ass". It may resonate.

 

I am a master at rationalizing things, so asking myself the difficult questions is really hard sometimes. Like...so I'm going to visit friends, and they are vegetarians. They eat a whole lot of grains and legumes. Since I just don't have it in me to be the guest who stays at their house but refuses to eat what they cook, I am going to have to remain a little flexible within the bounds of making the best choices that I can. When I frame it that way, any other interpretation (up to and including "cancel the trip") seems unreasonable to me...and I can't see it any other way. I think that's the same part of my brain that has a hard time with moderation - once my brain gets fixed on something, I have a very difficult time not thinking that way.

 

I will check out the article, thanks.

 

 

This kind of sounds like you are ging through an extinction burst - basically your brain is giving it more more highly intense try to convince you to need sugar.  As frustrating as it is - it is normal.  Just try your best to work through it.

 

Make sure you are getting enough fats with your meals, and keep some starchy veg on hand.

 

I remember my first whole 30 the extinction burst lasted 3 days.  Of course it didn't help that every time I opened the refridgerator at home I was faced with my brother's leftover birthday cake.  I was told over and over that it honestly didn't taste that good.  I didn't care.  I wanted something sweet and sugar ladden and that fit the bill.  I never did try it though.  As much as my brain talked at me.  During extinction bursts cravings have been everything from marshmallows (I could litterally smell them from one isle over in the super market) to doritos.

 

I read ISWF, but must have missed the part about the extinction burst. I appreciate your explaining the concept for me. This resonates.

 

The coda is that I did cave. Someone brought fancy macarons into the office. I bake, and have spent countless hours trying to perfect the macaron...you can see where this is going and how I rationalized it, right?

 

I'm trying not to beat myself up with guilt over it, just looking at the calendar and trying to figure out how to plan for better choices in some upcoming danger zones. Trying to use this moment of weakness to remind myself that the misstep wasn't all that rewarding - hope to take that thought out of my back pocket when I need it again.

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I'm back. Well, back here. Fell off the 30 when I gave in to the sugar dragon. I'm back to what I call the all-sugar-all-the-time plan of eating. It's making me feel sick, tired, hopeless, and humiliated.

 

I am really stumped for how to proceed forward. I'm not sure how to find the confidence that I can actually make this work. Like many people with eating-related disorders (I'm a lifelong binge eater), I have made it practically a vocation to read immense amounts about health and nutirtion. I don't need to be convinced that laying off the sweets is worthwhile - and further, that not doing so is literally killing me. I am firm in my conviction that the 30 is a good plan for my body and brain on many levels.

 

I just don't know where to find the strength to continue to plan, shop, and cook - while at the same time not being able to participate in either most of my social events, or anything that can be a time-saver shortcut for when I don't have the time or energy. I mentioned this in another thread, but I work full time, live alone, and I'm renovating my house (as in, I'm doing the renovations myself, which is hugely time consuming). So planning, shopping, cooking, and cleanup takes pretty much all of my after-work energy...and sometimes it takes more than I have. At those times, I just don't know where to turn.

 

An example: I'm in an informal club for one of my hobbies. We meet at a local bar every few weeks for dinner/drinks. If I am going to attend, I have to leave work early to allow time for myself to shop and cook. I rush through that, then get to the bar and have a club soda while everyone else has dinner. Not drinking alcohol isn't a big deal (I don't drink much of it anyway), but the food component really is. It takes what is intended to be a fun night of taking it easy (getting dinner with friends while we catch up) and transforms it into a busier than normal night of just more things to fit in. Sure, I could not go, but then I'm cutting out some of my only social connections just because of my diet. There are countless examples like this, and I'm just not sure how to deal with them.

 

I try to make social events around things other than meals, but it's difficult because all of my friends also work full-time. If we are going to spend time together, it's pretty much always going to be over dinner because that's the time we have. I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember, and I really rely on these connections to keep me out of the dark, so I am reticent to cut those things out just so that I can spend my time alone...planning, shopping, cooking, and doing dishes.

 

I can't be the only person with these issues - limited time, feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life, and depression. How do other people make it all work? Where do you find a well of energy/motivation to keep going when you know that going off-plan will give you back hours of time and the ability to share meals with the people who are important to you?

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Is it possible for you to call the restaurant(s) you go to before you go and try to see if they can make you a compliant meal?  While things like canola oil aren't great, you can have them and still be W30 compliant.  If you plan ahead (especially if you can ask questions ahead of time, and say you'll be with the X party at time Y on Friday night or whatnot), that would let you eat with your friends (win), not shop / eat ahead of time (win) and let you enjoy the social experience (win win).  I'm trying to prep for another W30, and dealing with the social / restaurant anxiety is one of the things I want to try to get better at in round 2.

 

There are other threads you can search for where people are looking for time-saving measures, most seem to revolve around cooking in large batches and reheating a lot.  This is what I started doing during my W30, and what my husband and I still do most days.  It may or may not be less time overall (I think so, but haven't exactly put up a stop watch), but cooking in batches saves us time when we need it most: weeknights, and for lunches.  Breakfast I usually get up and cook something easy (e.g., root vegetable hash with fried eggs, and some quick green veggie with no/little prep), because that's our "sane" time before heading into the crazy of our work days.

 

The last thing I'll say is that you're worth the time and effort, as much as your house deserves to look awesome via renovations. Investing in you will pay off dividends across everything else you do in life.  It's hard to think of it that way, and it's easy for us to get lost in all the external things, but truly, you're worth it.  Take time for you, and you'll have more time for the rest because your energy will be better and you'll feel more alive.

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You may also not be in the best place for a whole 30 at the moment. It sounds like you're tremendously aware of nutrition and what's best for your body but the stress of following these rules is perhaps feeding into that black and white thinking. Thus leading you back to these cycles of compliance followed by sugar binges. I would recommend focusing on your renovations and just trying to eat mostly well/balanced meals but not judging yourself for slipups or going off plan. Socializing is very important for mental health and overall well being and it sounds like that's a better investment than being mentally preoccupied with planning every meal. Perhaps revisit the whole30 when it feels more manageable. Remember progress not perfection!

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It's also worth reviewing what you were eating just prior to waking the sugar dragon.

 

I found dates were sometimes a trigger for me when it came to the sugar dragon and even some fruits (mostly when I didn't eat them with fat at the same time).

 

If the bar/location is a regular place for dinner, see if you can leave a Whole30 food list with the chef there, and see if they can come up with some things you can order regularly (as you *are* a regular). That way you can stick to your usual dinner routine and enjoy your social time.

 

Also, not sure if any are available where you are, but you may want to investigate whether you can get any pre-prepared paleo meals where you are. You don't need them for every meal, but on busy work nights, they may bring a little more balance.

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Oh, I almost forgot, Clothes Make The Girl cookbooks, Well Fed & Well Fed 2 have lots of quick and easy meals and techniques to make meal prep quick, such as "hot plates".

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Hi Susan,

 

The sugar dragon is an awfully hard one to slay.  He and I know each other quite well - we are still on speaking terms but his control is less so.  The dragon doesn't like it much as he would rather be out and play rather than being caged. 

 

I would say I did suffer long term (undiagnosed) with depression and anxiety.  Being overwhelmed at every turn was pretty common place.

 

I commend you for trying to get to a happier, healthier place.  You and I both know that sugars will feed into the depression and anxiety.  So the more sugar you have the more depressed and anxious you become, and the more depressed and anxious you become the more you want sugar.  Listen we all understand that here.  It's a very hard roller coaster to get off.

 

There are a couple of ways you can approach this

 

Start off slow rather than rip the bandage off - so to speak.  Get a calendar out.  If you have a good whole 30 day give yourself a red check mark.  If you have a slip - just leave it empty.  Take it one day at a time. 

 

You could give yourself rules that you will stay compliant at home, but not stress when eating out (I do this when not on a whole 30)  Other suggestions of calling and making arrangements with the restaurant/bar/pub ahead of time is an excellent suggestion.  That way you have all the hard questions answered for you already and you don't have to become "that person".

 

Also roasting a chicken in a crockpot, making chili, or boiling eggs, all can be done while you're doing renovations and require very little attention.  I have some pretty long days myself(12 hour days if you include travel time back and fourth to work) so when I get home I basically want to have something ready within 30 minutes of arriving home.  A bowl of ready made soup is great to warm up and eat while you are making dinner plus you get extra veggies!

 

Bottom line do what is best for you but treat yourself kindly when you make a misstep.  You always have choices.

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I hate the sugar dragon...and it seems to be sitting on my shoulder! I'm in day 3...and have been in an all-day meeting where there is a GIANT bowl of candy, just sitting in the middle of the table like it's welcome there (ok, it probably is welcome by everyone except me!). It's not even candy I LIKE but it still looks good.

 

Now on a meeting break for lunch and I'm eating my compliant turkey taco salad, plum, and parsnip/cauliflower puree like I need to be.

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The key to solving this riddle is telling yourself that this candy is not "special".  Your mother didn't lovingly make them from scratch because she knew they were your favourite.  No they were made in a factory. 

 

Also please note that candy, cookies, chocolate, wine did not and will not be leaving the planet in the next 30 days.  So they will still be there after your 30 days for you to enjoy.

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When you were having the sugar cravings you first posted about, were you PMSing?  I have terrible sugar cravings for about a day when I'm PMSing.  It's ridiculous.  I managed to make it through my whole30, but now that I'm done, I will give in to these cravings every couple of months.  However, my 'give in' now consists of eating a Kind bar.  For how I eat now, they satisfy my sugar craving.  Pre-whole30, I would have eaten half a box of oreos.

 

Moderation is not an option for sugar fiends like us.  I believe (an no, I'm not a doctor, just a sugar addict) that alcoholism is a type of sugar addiction.  Your body likes consuming those simple sugars and the added boost of the effects of alcohol help you rationalize it even further.

 

I'm sorry you fell off the wagon.  I know what that feels like :(  My whole 30 ended 6+ months  ago and I still battle sugar cravings.  They aren't as frequent but just as frustrating and strong.   I have found that the only way to deal with them is 'Just say no'.  There is no 'one bite', 'just a little bit', 'just this once', etc etc.  It's just NO.

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I second Carlaccini's suggestion to allow yourself the flexibility to enjoy evenings out now and again without worry and go back to template eating while at home. What works for me for foods prep is to always have protein ready to go, and veg on hand that I can prepare quickly. Like salad greens. It requires a bit of planning, but by now it's become habit. On my worst unprepared days I at least always have sardines and sauerkraut for a brainless ready meal. I also remind myself of two things when the sugar dragon starts breathing fire down my neck: a sugar craving is a signal to the body that it needs protein (Ayurvedic wisdom), and feeding it sugar makes it more ferocious. Oh, and one more I'm adding that I read on another thread: sugar feeds cancer cells. This one is especially powerful for me as a cancer survivor who knows we all have cancer cells in our body at all times waiting to be turned on or off.

You're not alone in this. The choice is yours. You do have the strength and resources to do this when you choose. If not now, when?

It doesn't have to be all or nothing. If W30 is too much right now, I suggest sticking to the template three times a day the best you can without obsessing. That might at least help develop the habits to keep the sugar dragon at bay. And when you do choose sugar, know that the template awaits you and the sooner you return to it the sooner you return to sanity.

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I wanted to add something to this comment:

 

"I just don't know where to find the strength to continue to plan, shop, and cook - while at the same time not being able to participate in either most of my social events, or anything that can be a time-saver shortcut for when I don't have the time or energy. I mentioned this in another thread, but I work full time, live alone, and I'm renovating my house (as in, I'm doing the renovations myself, which is hugely time consuming). So planning, shopping, cooking, and cleanup takes pretty much all of my after-work energy...and sometimes it takes more than I have. At those times, I just don't know where to turn."

 

I work full time at a job that is 53 miles (one way) from my house.  I have a kid (who does after school activities three times a week), a husband, 8 dogs, a farm, and ~100 head of various livestock to tend to every day.  So I'm into timer-saver shortcuts!!

 

I have found that cooking every meal right before you eat it, kills you (time wise). 

 

If you can cook several meals on saturday or sunday and then freeze or put them in the fridge, it makes a HUGE difference.  It's much easier to eat compliant when you arrive home tired and hungry and there is something to immediately put in your mouth.  If you have to shop and then cook, you have an hour or more where you are at risk to fall off the wagon.  If you can make one dish and stretch it into 3 meals, you save a lot of time and money.

 

I have gotten into the habit (and this is several months post whole30) of cooking several meals on sunday.  I do a dozen hard boiled eggs and make them into deviled eggs to eat for breakfast during the week.  Then I usually do some sort of pot roast and put that in the fridge.  This past sunday I made a meat loaf and Melissa Joulwan's thai stir and we've been eating off that several times.  My husband did a batch of sweet potato and beet hash that he used as a side dish for several meals.  We always have a clam shell of salad greens in the fridge as a default side dish.

 

Some weekends I will make a large batch of soup and freeze it in individual portions (zip lock bags are quick and easy.)  You can eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner and since they are frozen, the food doesn't go bad.

 

Rearrange your cooking schedule so you have time to socialize and the food is handy when you need it.

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Well, I'm back here on the forum after some time away. I was back to binge-eating (all sugar), and I just couldn't cope with the idea of interacting with people who, in good faith, offered their advise and expertise. I'm in a moderately better place now, so I'm ready to absorb more experience/wisdom here. 

 

I didn't see the multi-quote function before - and it was a pain to do it all manually. d'oh!

 

Is it possible for you to call the restaurant(s) you go to before you go and try to see if they can make you a compliant meal?  While things like canola oil aren't great, you can have them and still be W30 compliant.  If you plan ahead (especially if you can ask questions ahead of time, and say you'll be with the X party at time Y on Friday night or whatnot), that would let you eat with your friends (win), not shop / eat ahead of time (win) and let you enjoy the social experience (win win).  

 

[...]

 

The last thing I'll say is that you're worth the time and effort, as much as your house deserves to look awesome via renovations. Investing in you will pay off dividends across everything else you do in life.  It's hard to think of it that way, and it's easy for us to get lost in all the external things, but truly, you're worth it.  Take time for you, and you'll have more time for the rest because your energy will be better and you'll feel more alive.

 

I wish that calling the restaurant was an option, but I really don't think it is for these social events. Think neighborhood corner bar - that's about the level of establishment we're talking about. Sometimes a step up (a few of these places have legitimately good food), but even so, they are still bars. And in the kitchen is a cook or two, not a person who has any (I don't know how to call it) creative control over the food.

 

However, I had not thought of calling actual restaurants ahead, but this is something I will remember. Thanks.

 

And as far as me being worth the time and effort - I'm working on seeing it that way. But being reminded is helpful.

 

 

You may also not be in the best place for a whole 30 at the moment. It sounds like you're tremendously aware of nutrition and what's best for your body but the stress of following these rules is perhaps feeding into that black and white thinking. Thus leading you back to these cycles of compliance followed by sugar binges. I would recommend focusing on your renovations and just trying to eat mostly well/balanced meals but not judging yourself for slipups or going off plan. Socializing is very important for mental health and overall well being and it sounds like that's a better investment than being mentally preoccupied with planning every meal. Perhaps revisit the whole30 when it feels more manageable. Remember progress not perfection!

 

This really resonated! I read this when you posted it, and had been thinking about it for a while. Eating better, but not exactly on a plan is difficult for me - it's that black and white all or nothing mentality that I have struggled with in pretty much every area of my life.  So I decided that if I could lay some ground rules and cut out the worst offenders for a few weeks (and get back to cooking), maybe I might try another 30 later down the road.

 

Thanks for the reinforcement that socializing is important. Sometimes I feel like a real ninny whining about how my diet affects my ability to see my friends.

 

 

It's also worth reviewing what you were eating just prior to waking the sugar dragon.

 

I found dates were sometimes a trigger for me when it came to the sugar dragon and even some fruits (mostly when I didn't eat them with fat at the same time).

 

Also, not sure if any are available where you are, but you may want to investigate whether you can get any pre-prepared paleo meals where you are. You don't need them for every meal, but on busy work nights, they may bring a little more balance.

 

Some things I noticed during both my successful 30 as well as this attempt: there are quite a few things that I need to stay away from. SWYPO for sure. Things I can not eat a reasonable amount of - and when I really look at it, I'll admit that these are foods with which I can recreate my sugar binges. Dates, dates for sure. Cashews. Almond butter. 

 

I had not thought of pre-prepared meals, but I live in a pretty big city full of busy people (hi from Washington, DC), so I bet if I look hard enough, I would be able to find something. 

 

 

[...] You and I both know that sugars will feed into the depression and anxiety.  So the more sugar you have the more depressed and anxious you become, and the more depressed and anxious you become the more you want sugar.  Listen we all understand that here.  It's a very hard roller coaster to get off.

 

There are a couple of ways you can approach this

 

Start off slow rather than rip the bandage off - so to speak.  Get a calendar out.  If you have a good whole 30 day give yourself a red check mark.  If you have a slip - just leave it empty.  Take it one day at a time. 

 

You could give yourself rules that you will stay compliant at home, but not stress when eating out (I do this when not on a whole 30)  Other suggestions of calling and making arrangements with the restaurant/bar/pub ahead of time is an excellent suggestion.  That way you have all the hard questions answered for you already and you don't have to become "that person".

 

[...]

 

Thank you for the suggestions. Today was the first day of my attempting to actually walk the "better but not perfect" walk. My ground rules kind of came down to "eat real food". So no to the sweets and the processed foods. And most grains. Try to stay away from non-obvious sources of sugar. I'll make an allowance for dairy because I love good cheese, and I will try to do the best I can reasonably do when I'm not cooking my own meal. I'll try the red check mark as well.

 

The key to solving this riddle is telling yourself that this candy is not "special".  Your mother didn't lovingly make them from scratch because she knew they were your favourite.  No they were made in a factory. 

 

These are magic words. Because I really need to remember things that way. I bake fairly often and by request, so I know what kind of love and time can go into things. And neither of these are to be found, as you say, in factory.  :)

 

When you were having the sugar cravings you first posted about, were you PMSing?  I have terrible sugar cravings for about a day when I'm PMSing.  It's ridiculous.  I managed to make it through my whole30, but now that I'm done, I will give in to these cravings every couple of months.  However, my 'give in' now consists of eating a Kind bar.  For how I eat now, they satisfy my sugar craving.  Pre-whole30, I would have eaten half a box of oreos.

 

Moderation is not an option for sugar fiends like us.  I believe (an no, I'm not a doctor, just a sugar addict) that alcoholism is a type of sugar addiction.  Your body likes consuming those simple sugars and the added boost of the effects of alcohol help you rationalize it even further.

 

I'm sorry you fell off the wagon.  I know what that feels like :(  My whole 30 ended 6+ months  ago and I still battle sugar cravings.  They aren't as frequent but just as frustrating and strong.   I have found that the only way to deal with them is 'Just say no'.  There is no 'one bite', 'just a little bit', 'just this once', etc etc.  It's just NO.

 

I am not sure I get PMS anymore - I'm on the 24-day oral contraceptive that is specifically designed for severe PMS (PMDD, which I had terribly, before getting on these). But I'll pay more attention to when during the month the cravings hit, see if there is a pattern. If I can find a pattern, I feel like I can prepare a little better.

 

I'm glad that you understand that there is pretty much no moderation, no just one bite. Nice not to feel alone in that.

 

[...]

 

I have found that cooking every meal right before you eat it, kills you (time wise). 

 

If you can cook several meals on saturday or sunday and then freeze or put them in the fridge, it makes a HUGE difference.  It's much easier to eat compliant when you arrive home tired and hungry and there is something to immediately put in your mouth.  If you have to shop and then cook, you have an hour or more where you are at risk to fall off the wagon.  If you can make one dish and stretch it into 3 meals, you save a lot of time and money.

 

[...]

 

Rearrange your cooking schedule so you have time to socialize and the food is handy when you need it.

 

So I'm not crazy - sometimes cooking right before eating is an available time-impossibility?

 

When I was doing well on the 30, I pretty much spent one day a weekend shopping and cooking. Lots of individual portions of protein got frozen. Veggies got chopped. I hate the idea of spending an entire day at it, but maybe for a while I just need to commit to making that the reality. Until I have some more experience with compliant meals.

 

Sorry to have go on and on here. I didn't want to post like seven individual responses. But I hope everyone knows that I appreciate the insights. Every one of them said something I needed to hear.

 

I'm off to search the archives for answers to some of my other questions - because surely, if I have a question, someone before me has had it as well, right?

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Have you considered seeing a counselor?

This made me giggle. If someone who has this many issues is only in the "considering it" stage then my guess is there must be an awful lot of denial involved. I might have a lot of things to overcome, but if I can say one thing positive about myself - at least I am aware of what exactly these things are?  I have been consulting with mental health professionals for...I don't know, most of my adult life I guess (and I'm in my 40's). So when I talk about depression, anxiety, these are diagnosed conditions for which I'm under the care of an MD with whom I have a good working relationship.

 

Doc suspects that the binge eating is anxiety-related, so that's what we're working on now. I have some particularly difficult comorbidities - medicating one exacerbates another and so on.

 

I didn't mean to provide so much detail about my mental health, but if I didn't have these challenges then I bet I wouldn't have an eating problem. They are what gets in the way between understanding how to create a healthy plan (not difficult) and executing it (supremely difficult). You might never know it from conversations like this, but to most of the world I pass as normal pretty easily. It's only the people who know about things like my overeating who have any idea.

 

(edited for clarity)

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I just wanted to chime in with some support. I also live alone, which means that outside socialization is huge for my mental health; being an introvert means that that doesn't feel meaningful unless it's in small groups where I can have actual conversations. That means my calendar can get really full of events so that I can connect with different people. (This week I have three dinner dates, each with one other friend.) All that to say: socializing at restaurants is a big part of my life, and that has been the hardest part by far of the two Whole30s I've done.

 

I have a few strategies for it. Sometimes I'll just go over to someone's house after work, and if I know that that's going to happen, I'll often pack not just my lunch for work, but also dinner to take over there. I do almost all my cooking on the weekends (and nearly everything I cook routinely is Whole30-compliant, with the possible exception of some added sugar in sausages or that kind of thing), so that's often fairly straightforward. If I'm going out to eat, I make the best choices I can. I am not on a Whole30 right now, so for me, that usually means trying my best to eat a lot of vegetables (it's hard to do without spending a lot when you eat out!), avoiding grains and desserts unless they're really worth it, limiting dairy to cheeses (mostly hard ones), and when I can, going to restaurants where I trust the food and how it's prepared. I'm lucky to live in an area where I have a lot of good options.

 

Cooking up on the weekends does take a lot of time. No way around that. But it does get faster the more you do it (I can make mayo pretty much in my sleep at this point), and I view it as a form of self-care, just like exercise or seeing a counselor. Thinking of it that way was kind of a light bulb moment for me.

 

Doing a full Whole30 might not be the healthiest thing for you mentally at the moment, but taking the main principles and giving yourself some grace about them really can still go a long way.

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I just wanted to chime in with some support. I also live alone, which means that outside socialization is huge for my mental health; being an introvert means that that doesn't feel meaningful unless it's in small groups where I can have actual conversations. That means my calendar can get really full of events so that I can connect with different people. (This week I have three dinner dates, each with one other friend.) All that to say: socializing at restaurants is a big part of my life, and that has been the hardest part by far of the two Whole30s I've done.

 

Thanks for the support - it's nice not to feel alone. I had never contemplated the introvert angle of it, but that is such a big component. I usually want to run away from big gatherings of people (especially if there are lots of people I don't know), but I have a fairly large number of close friends. You are so right, keeping connections with them takes up a lot of my evenings. But it's a trade-off - these friendships are what sustain me in so many ways. 

 

I'm a week in right now, and not full Whole30. But it's going well - I'm not obsessing about hidden additives being strictly compliant or not, trying more to look at it on the macro level. Eating real food, staying away from processed food as much as I can, and no sweets. Maybe after a few weeks of this I'll feel strong enough to commit to another 30?

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I'm glad you have a sense of humor, Susan.     Wyomingites are bold.   It comes with the territory.   I don't know any true Native Wyomingite that's not bold as a lion.   I'm used to it.... I'm glad you giggled.  

 

The giggle was the equivalent of "oh, bless your heart". I may be a New Englander through and through, but I lived for six years in New Orleans, and that became one of my favorite concepts. 

 

There were two ways I could read that comment: either as rude and insulting or merely naive. Because the person who wrote it either thought that: a) I am so dense as to not put together the concepts that if I can speak freely about my psychological difficulties I should probably enlist professional assistance for same; OR b ) that this person is so far removed from people who have similar challenges that they think that theirs is a novel suggestion. 

 

Might not have found it funny when I was younger and more sensitive. But "ummm, you need help" (which, after all, is what the comment said) is no longer an insult. I've seen people struggle mightily because they think that needing some mental healthcare is a sign of weakness. I feel sorry for them.

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