Tag Archives: advice

Power Outages and Stress-Induced Cravings

So, that post I wrote about how convinced I’ve become that eating sugar isn’t worth what it does to my body? Remember all that?

You can toss it out the window.

Because here’s the thing: addictions don’t care about rational thought or compelling reasons. They just want to be fed. And these past couple days my refined carb addiction has been raving.

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Changing Tastebuds

So, here’s an unexpected side effect of completely cutting sugar from your diet: your tastebuds start to change.

Or, at least mine seem to have. I taste things differently from what I used to. When I eat, I really taste the food. I had some potato salad today and really tasted the potatoes much more than I did before. And they tasted sweet to me! Strange, huh? I notice the natural sweetness of foods now incredibly more than I ever did before. When I have fruit, it tastes so surprisingly sweet. It kind of bursts on my tongue. My daily smoothies are perfectly sweet to me now without any honey. And I’m immediately aware when something has sugar in it. We got some pork barbecue the other day, and when I bit in I instantly tasted the sugar. The meat tasted weird and sweet to me. I’m sure that before it would have tasted just fine, but now, after having successfully detoxed from sugar, it just tasted strange.

All of this makes it much easier for me to avoid foods that I know will make me feel bad, and to enjoy the foods that don’t! So, if you’re starting out, or are wondering if you could make it if you tried, I hope that encourages you. After a while, regular, non-sweetened food becomes much more satisfying than you thought it could be.

I’ve also started to tolerate the taste of Stevia more. I used to think it tasted plain weird and wouldn’t use it, but now the “sweet” of the Stevia is just fine to me. In small doses, at least – in large doses it still tastes weird to me. I realized this had changed this morning when I had my husband try some of my Homemade “Nutella.” He was very aware of the Stevia taste, where I didn’t notice it at all. To me it just tasted good. (So, if you want to try it, you’ll have to taste it for yourself and see. If you find you can’t tolerate the Stevia, you can use honey instead.)

Here’s the problem: How can I create recipes for people who are currently hooked on sugar, or just coming off, when I don’t taste things the way they do anymore?! It might taste good to me, but maybe it wouldn’t to sugar-eaters. I guess I’ll just have to use my family as guinea pigs.

I find all this very interesting. It reminds me of models of people’s brains on drugs, where their pleasure receptors don’t react to normal pleasure anymore because they’re always overwhelmed from the drug. Maybe our normal tastebuds get similarly corrupted by sugar? Maybe we don’t realize that food is a lot more naturally sweet and flavorful than we think because we’ve gotten so used to the overwhelming taste of sugar? 

All this has made me start to think of sugar as a scary sort of menace more than a temptation. It ravages our bodies, corrupts our tastebuds, prevents us from enjoying ordinary food as much, and hooks us on it to the point where we feel like we’re going crazy when we don’t eat it! It’s scary stuff, man. Now, I don’t know that I’ll never cheat again. But I think that when I do cheat, I’ll do it with non-sugar alternatives – palm sugar, honey, maple syrup. Because it’s just not worth it to do that to my body.


Life Lessons: EAT!!!

So, I didn’t follow my own advice.

You know, the one about eating all the time? About not letting yourself get hungry, ever? The one I repeat over and over again? That one.

I didn’t do it intentionally. I just sort of forgot. I woke up early for a Saturday, and ate at around 8:00, and then just…got busy. I was writing a recipe post, my son had a baseball game, I was getting ready for a visit from my mother.

And then it was 3:00 and I was headachy and dizzy and CRANKY.

I mean, really cranky. I was all stressed and emotional inside and kept snapping at the kids who still-hadn’t-cleaned-their-rooms-after-telling-them- for-15-times-to-get-it-done and WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU WHY CAN’T YOU JUST DO THINGS THE FIRST TIME NOW WE’LL BE LATE FOR BASEBALL HURRY UP!!! Yeah. It was ugly.

And then I had to go to the grocery store to pick up some things, and I saw the rolls.

ROLLS. White and soft and yeasty rolls.

And soda. Sweet, tasty, liquid sugar in a can.

And donuts. Oh, sweet Lord, DONUTS!!!

And every cell in my body called out for those things. I was hyper-aware of where they were in the store. And it seemed like they were everywhere. I totally felt my addict persona come out as it seemed like sugary carb-laden foods rose up in front of me everywhere, begging to be consumed.

I resisted, because I know from past experience what happens to me if I cheat. I’d feel happy while I ate it, but afterwards I’d be even worse off than before. So I got my cream and apples and safety pins and kitchen soap (yeah, I know, it was a random list of things….) and bought them and went home. When I got home, I ate some leftover curried butternut squash soup with chicken and fontina cheese, and then, suddenly….

I wasn’t headachy. Or tired. Or cranky. I felt like a whole new person.

I never before was so sensitive to missed meals. I might have gotten hungry, but I wouldn’t crash like I did on Saturday. I can only assume that not having sugar or as many grains in my diet means that I need to fuel up more regularly. There is probably a scientific, medical reason for this that I don’t know about. All I know is my experience. And it kind of sucked.

So, let my experience be your experience! Eating regularly keeps you from being a terror to your family. And it is the number one way of keeping intense cravings at bay. So, don’t do what I did. Eat!

Birthday Cheating

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 37, which means that I truly have to accept the fact that I’m on the 40 side of my 30s now, and should probably stop thinking that I just graduated from college “a few” years ago. (The older I get, the more flexible my definition of “a few” becomes.)

I don’t mind getting older, because life kind of gets easier the older I get. But I do miss the days when I just ate whatever I wanted and could get away with it. sigh.

So, yesterday, since it was my birthday, I decided to cheat. My husband asked me where I wanted to go for dinner for my birthday, and I didn’t know what to tell him. All the foods I used to love for gastronomical reasons are on my naughty list now, so it kind of sucks the joy out of eating out. I’ve been very scared to cheat, because I haven’t wanted to go back to the joint pain, and have also been very nervous about starting the whole sugar withdrawal thing over again, because that was TORTURE. 

He talked me into having a birthday cheat, though, so I chose Carrabas. For the bread, of course. We all went together, and then we dropped the kids off at kids’ clubs at church and went to the Olive Garden so that I could have a Chocolate Almond Amore. It was heavenly. Absolutely heavenly. But it meant that I had had the Big Three of anti-inflammation diet no-nos: refined flour, white sugar, and alcohol. I waited to see what the damage would be.

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How To Handle the Evil Craving Monster

Cravings. There is no getting around it: you’re going to be plagued by them.

If you’re just starting out on trying a no-sugar diet, it’s going to be really hard. Sugar is incredibly addictive, and when you go off it, your body acts like it’s lost a vital element of life. Everything in your being will tell you that, to survive, you must have some sugary goodness. It’s completely irrational, yet completely consuming. You don’t care that it’s irrational. You probably don’t even stop to consider that it’s irrational – it just feels so obviously necessary to you.

I’ll be honest: Most of the recipes on here won’t do much for the chemical dependency of sugar, or help you feel better during the withdrawal process. I’ll give you recipes that satisfy your sweet tooth and taste good, but they won’t give your brain that chemical buzz that it wants, so your body won’t think it’s any good. For the first week or so, that’s the way it’ll be.

But don’t give up! Stick with it, through the crazies. Warn your loved ones that you’re going to be slightly insane for a while, and expect it to be hard. But realize it is temporary. I’m not saying all cravings completely go away, at least they haven’t for me, but after the first week, it gets much, much easier. Your body gets more used to not having that chemical reaction to the sugar, and starts accepting the other sweet things you give it. Fruit starts to taste incredibly sweet, and you’re more easily satisfied. It’s a process, but it does get easier.

I’m going to post recipes here that will help with that sweet tooth urge, or that have helped with me, but in addition here are some practical hints, some of the things I’ve found that make it easier to deal with cravings.

1. Eat. All the time. Eat all day. Just not anything with sugar or refined grains. If you let yourself get hungry, it becomes almost impossible to fight the urge for a quick sugary fix, so stay full. Plan ahead and have foods that you enjoy on hand so that you’re not scrambling last minute. Don’t overeat – be sensible – but don’t let yourself get hungry.

2. Eat lots of protein. I’ve found that eating foods high in protein fills me up and satisfies me. It’s much easier to resist cravings if I’ve been eating enough protein.

3. Satiate yourself with good fats. Good fats are natural fats, like butter (preferably from grass-fed cows) coconut oil, olive oil, and (yes) even lard. You’ll feel satisfied when you incorporate a lot of these saturated fats into your diet and won’t feel the need to snack as much. (And, don’t be afraid of healthy saturated fats like these. It’s actually GOOD to get enough cholesterol and saturated in your diet. Really! I know, I know – that’s hard for most people to believe, but it’s true. This is an excellent article that explains why and is a must read: http://paleodietlifestyle.com/cholesterol-is-not-bad/)

4. Keep foods you enjoy and are easy to eat on hand. For me, that’s things like chocolate peanut butter and banana bread. Also plenty of fruits for smoothies and stewed apples. I keep these things on hand almost constantly so that when I want something sweet I don’t have to think about it – I just go grab it. If you have to work for it, you’ll be frustrated and be more likely to eat something you shouldn’t. Maybe for you it’s yogurt, or peanuts, or popcorn (NOT microwaveable!) Whatever does it for you and is okay to eat, keep plenty of it on hand all the time!

5. If necessary, go gradually. If you’re having a hard time cutting all sweeteners and refined grains at once, start by just cutting sugar and occasionally eating raw honey, or maple syrup. Try only having natural, whole food sweeteners for a while, and then slowly cut back from there. (Just don’t eat artificial sweeteners. They’re almost worse for you than real sugar, so STAY AWAY!) You might find that you can get away with just cutting sugar. I have to be careful with all of them, but listen to your body and what it tells you. Which brings me to…

6. Really pay attention to your body. Start out by trying to eliminate everything – all sweeteners (including honey and syrup), all refined grains, maybe even all wheat or all grains altogether. See how you feel after a couple of weeks, then start introducing things back one at a time. Eat a little honey and see how you feel. Try a 100% whole wheat something-or-other and listen to your body. Really listen. Make your choices about your diet based on an honest reflection of how you feel.

7. Cheat. Yes, if you have to, cheat. If you feel like you’re in danger of bingeing on an entire half gallon of ice cream, allow yourself to have one cookie instead. In the first week, I was dying for a cheese steak (my husband was eating one), and so I took a bite of it. After that bite I felt like, “Okay. I’m in charge now. I don’t need to take another bite.” If you think it will help you get control of yourself, allow yourself a small cheat like that and see if it helps. Some people end up bingeing once they have one bite, though, so listen to yourself, and do what works for you.

8. Remember how you used to feel. If you’ve been doing it for long enough to feel better, just think about going back to how you felt before. It makes it seem not so worth it.

9. Educate yourself. Learn just exactly what sugar (and even wheat) do to your body, and what’s happening inside you when you eat it. When you can picture what it’s doing it you, it seems less appetizing. A good place to get started is on my Links and Resources page. I’ve collected there a lot of the articles that have educated me on issues.

10. This article shares some really interesting information about an easy way to stop sugar cravings with taking an amino acid – which is potentially a life changing thing!

Have you found other things that have helped you resist the urge to eat sugar and refined grains? What’s worked for you?