Addict

“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

-Frank Sinatra

I was listening to the radio the other day and the host was asking one of his staff if they could stop drinking for a month (this was after he challenged another staffer to stop smoking illicit things for a month). The staff member, Richard, loves beer. He’s a craft beer fiend and drinks a lot of them. Is he an alcoholic? Probably. What was his response? He said he could probably stop drinking but why should he?

This post isn’t necessarily about alcohol. But it is about addiction. What is my addiction? SUGAR. Sugar is most definitely my #1 challenge. It comes in lots of different forms…I eat a ton of fruit, which is healthy but also very sweet and depending on what it is, very high in sugar (i.e. bananas!). I also love chocolate.

I’ve gotten much better over the years eating it in moderation and if it’s not GOOD chocolate, I don’t waste my calories. Have you ever bitten into a piece of candy or cookie and realized it wasn’t as good as it looked? Yeah, that happens to me and now I spit it out. If it doesn’t taste good, why am I still eating it?!? I also make sure that I’m eating things that are a little more “whole” like a really good ice cream with natural ingredients, or fancy chocolate from a boutique. I’m usually taking a pass on the crappy stuff that doesn’t really satisfy my craving.

If you want to read some old posts about food addiction and sugar, I have a plethora. Here are just a few: Food AddictionFat Pills and Why We Get Fat.

A few years ago I did a Sugar Detox challenge. It came about for a lot of reasons but one of them was the Candy Room in my office. I wanted to break the habit of grabbing a handful of candy from this room and mindless eating it at work or whenever I walked by the office. The Sugar Detox Outcome was positive. I realized a lot of things in that single week of refraining from sugar:

I eat candy more out of habit than desire.

I didn’t miss the candy like I thought I would.

I realized that diet soda makes me crave candy.

And what have I taken away from that nearly 2 years later? I’m still eating sugar. I gave it up for one week and that was it. I occasionally go through phases where I stop eating it, or I refrain from eating candy at work but I eat dessert at home. Basically, I can’t seem to give it up entirely.

Awhile ago I took a week off from exercising. It was shortly after I saw the knee specialist who ordered me to rest for 6 weeks. I was feeling depressed and decided to just rest from everything, even though I was cleared for some exercises. I was worried about getting out of the habit of exercising, I was worried taking a week off would cause me to gain weight. I told myself for that week I’d just be really good with my calories and everything would be ok. And I did do pretty decently with my calories for that week. I didn’t go over my allotment but I also didn’t make excellent choices. There were several days where I skipped eating my apple as a snack so I could allot those calories for some chocolate. Was I within my calorie range? Yes. Was I eating in moderation? Yes. Was it the BEST way to “spend” my calories? Probably not!

Some people can’t do the “everything in moderation” concept. I totally understand that. I’m the opposite though, I cannot do the “really restrictive” thing. If I tell myself I’m going to stop eating X, then all I want is X! Then I get hyper focused on it and it becomes an obsession. That is not a healthy path to go down, either, and I’m sure it’s just another sign of addiction.

So how do you moderate an “addiction”? Do you abstain from it completely or try to limit the intake of what you desire?

24 Responses

  1. I detoxed from sugar about two months ago, but not by choice. I got a really bad stomach bug and thought I was dying for a day. I had the full spectrum of symptoms (you can imagine)! I spent one day in bed unable to keep anything down and the next day my stomach was still delicate. After two days of no sugar, I lost my cravings! I wasn’t hungry all the time anymore, I didn’t crave it. I have started eating sugar (unlimited amounts) on Saturdays, but it doesn’t taste as good as it used to. It’s amazing how I even find foods like almonds, green peppers, and peas really sweet now!
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    1. I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience but at least you got over your cravings! I agree, once you kick the habit, everything else tastes better. I’ve been eating fresh blackberries from my garden for dessert for a few weeks now. Love it!

  2. I have to abstain completely. After a while I forget how it tastes, but one bite and I am hooked again. Candy and pastries are my addiction. Also, desserts. When I was a little girl we did not often have dessert, we had nine kids so we didn’t have it. I got it in my head dessert is what rich, successful, people had. As an adult I grew to relate celebrations with dessert and sweets. It may sound silly but I remember my first years in college, taking myself out to eat and ordering dessert- I felt successful and rich. To this day when I go out to eat I feel incomplete if I don’t order dessert. If I am too full I take it home. That has stopped now. I’m okay with it.

  3. I am struggling with that right now. I eat sweets/empty carbs to keep my energy level up when my crohn’s is acting up and I get tired. I know that later in the day, I’ll get a crash, but it gives me just enough energy to make it through my shift or whatever I’m trying to do. Jobs don’t have beds that you can lie down on when I’m running low, so that is how I have coped which in turn doesn’t help my weight loss. I also get B vitamin shots and drink emergenc, but it doesn’t give me the same boost as much as refined sugar does. In fact, I just got done going to Top Pot and buying a maple bar because I know I have a long day ahead of me and I just wanted to stay in bed. I ate 1/2 and then threw the other half away and yet, as soon as I ate it, I felt guilty. I also eat sweets as a reward, so I need to find another substitute. I can eat fruits, but only about a cup at a time because fresh fruits and veggies make me ill cause of my tummy issues and again, it’s not as powerful of a boost. =( Sometimes though, I just do it even if I have to pay for it for a couple of days because I know it is healthier. A couple of days ago, I went to whole foods because I was happy that the Rman and I bought a couch. What do we do? We buy a mini size apple pie and then eat it that night with 1/2 scoop of ice cream. Again as soon as I got done eating it, GUILT. I tried to wean myself off of sugar for a couple of days and failed which is when I realized I was addicted and like you, I can’t just go cold turkey because then I obsess about it and binge. If you come up with a way of weaning yourself, let me know. I know some people do sugar substitutes but I feel wary of those.

    1. Hey Jessica – sorry you are struggling! I know you’ve had a lot of crap and stress lately! Stress definitely doesn’t make it easy to resist things like that. I take a vitamin B supplement, too and it helps. So does coffee. 🙂

      I understand the food guilt too. I’ve been indulging a lot lately and need to reign it in. The guilt sucks! Stop beating yourself up.

  4. I have to tell you that before I started Insanity – I don’t think there was a day for months/years? that I didn’t have at least one glass of wine.

    I would come home, chat with my hubs, get on comfy clothes and pour my glass of wine and make dinner. It was my habit. When I declared Friday and Saturday my only day for alcohol, I thought I couldn’t make dinner or hang outside with my husband while he had a cocktail and I had my glass of water – it wasn’t until I realized I didn’t want to waste my calories on alcohol and let the Insanity program actually work that I was able to kick my wine to the curb.

    And I look forward to wine on the weekend too! 😀
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    1. Thanks for sharing that story. I can really relate. I used to do the same thing, especially when Michael and I were first dating. Cooking dinner together was a “thing” and I had a glass of wine. But you’re right, it adds up fast and if it’s just a habit…why do it? I try and limit my alcohol to Fri and Sat nights too but will sometimes have some during the week with dinner. I just try and not make it a HABIT every night. Instead I have sparkling water.

  5. I am just beginning to realize how addictive my personality really is–I love sugar. I am cutting down on how much of it I eat, but it is everywhere….in every thing. 🙁

  6. Great topic, as always, Lisa. I found that to have a clear mind for both weight loss and weight maintenance, I have to abstain. Once I started thinking about food as “it makes you well or it makes you sick” then it was much easier to choose no processed sugar/ no grains. I even had a doctor tell me to do that 10 years ago and I did not listen because I did not believe it.

    It took 8-10 weeks, I had my ah-ha moment and I haven’t looked back. I struggled with emotional eating for 40 years previously. And here was the answer. Abstinence. And I feel younger at 47 than when I was 27. Joint pain gone, weight loss possible, weight maintenance achieved with no success before. Low inflammation, low blood pressure. All without medicine, all by dialing in my food template with a clear brain.

    One great thing was the Whole30, then the re-introduction of foods one by one. It was easy to tell when a food was not right for me. Pumpkin and butternut squash give me some sort of bad reaction, so they are also out, even those those two foods are enjoyed by most people. Spaghetti squash, zucchini are in- whoot! Everyone is so individual in the food template.

    One other great thing is I can have a teeny amount of processed sugar. Say <4 grams, one serving. 85% chocolate, tiny drizzle of honey for cooking once and a while, or half a pack of beef jerky -most has added sugar. (kept on hand for hiking, getting stuck on the freeway, etc).

    Other things are much more clear: mint jelly with lamb (lapse), large bag of raisins (relapse), so I do not do moderation. So not worth the binge brain ,and the weight gain, and the joint pain. Puffy face and eyelids, too. 🙁

    With either abstinence or moderation, the best thing you can possibly do- IMO is pick a low inflammatory food template that is right for your body and mind. Getting there is a lot of trial and error, but so worth it. You are so young, glad you are looking at these things now.

    My refusal to face the pure facts about what was happening to my mind/body kept me stuck and at high risk for years. It's a miracle I did not have a heart attack while figuring it out. Better late than never.

    Keep up the good work. 🙂 Karen P
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    1. I think it’s great that you were able to determine what causes issues, how much you CAN tolerate, and how to work around it. I’m with you. When I stop eating it and eat naturally sweet things (fruit or sweet potatoes, etc) I can tell the difference.

      I need to look into the Whole30. I’m really curious and know nothing about it!

    1. There’s definitely a difference between the junky sugar and the good stuff. I can totally tell. I feel more satisfied with a LITTLE BIT of real dessert (homemade brownies, freshly made cheesecake,etc) as opposed to a candy bar.

  7. Oh sugar – how I love thee! I’m a sugar freak and add chocolate to that? Forget it. Zero restraint. But I’ve had to completely cut it out during my diet. I have substituted with some alternatives like stevia in my coffee and sugar-free caramel syrup in my coffee. I guess I still need that sweet fix. But long gone are my stashes of chocolate covered cashews and bite sized chocolate toffee. Too delicious. It’s better not to even have it in the house. Out of sight, out of mind.
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  8. I too am still trying to figure this one out. I know that when I go 100% deprivation I can think of nothing else but chocolate, but when I try moderation I find it so easy for it to quickly go from moderation to binge. So my honest answer is that I am not sure about what works for me at the moment.

    I did like the comment that Karen P made about considering if the item is going to make you well or make you sick – I may see how that impacts on my decisions.

  9. I did a cleanse in January and stopped drinking coffee and alcohol. Coffee was really hard to give up, and I went through nasty withdrawal symptoms. I knew I didn’t ever want to go through that again, so I haven’t had coffee since (something I never thought I could do). I used to have a glass of wine quite regularly out of habit before the cleanse, but since then I have had only two glasses, and I really don’t miss it.

    With sugar, I feel I do fine when I don’t eat much of it. Once I up my intake, I start to crave it, so I try to keep my intake low.
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