How to dump sugar… for good

August 18th, 2011  |  Published in Eating, How to eat  |  79 Comments

Mans Life magazine with monkeyIf you’re like most Westerners, you’ve got a horrid little monkey on your back. He keeps scratching and squealing in your ear. He makes you feel and look like crap.

That monkey is sugar.

If you are a “carbaholic”, “sugar fiend”, “sweet psycho”, etc. you are not a bad person. You are not a weak person. You do not lack “willpower”.

Sugar is a drug that is stronger than you. That is all.

Sugar fucks with your head and your heart. Sugar makes normal people crazy. Sugar does all manner of nastiness in your body that goes beyond mere body fat.

I don’t mess around when it comes to sugar. Some folks will say it’s no big deal.

But you reading this… you know of what I speak. You know this monkey. How fierce and feisty it is. How it whispers and cajoles and cackles and then grabs you by the face with its sticky fingers and pushes your maw right into the cookie jar.

Afterwards you feel dirty and ashamed, joints hurting, belly aching, head pounding. Helpless. Out of control. Bloated. Desperately thirsty. And worst of all, looking around for more.

Another binge, marked in red on the calendar of your life.

You, dear reader — you know what darkness sugar gouges forth from your soul. You want this little bugger gone. Forever.

Well let me ask you this:

Would you trade a month of feeling like shit for a lifetime of feeling awesome?

Of course you would.

From now until you die of something other than Type 2 diabetes or heart disease (such as, for instance, being shot by your lover’s wife at age 120, or skydiving), you can enjoy endless energy, youthful exuberance, and freedom from that little bastard monkey.

All it costs you is 4 weeks of shit. That’s a darn good deal.

If you’re ready to trade, I’m ready to deal.

Here’s how to dump sugar for good, in just one month.

Step 1: Get your head right.

Before any of this begins, figure out and focus on why you want to do this.

Don’t half-ass this part. This is a big decision and it’s gotta reflect your values, life priorities, and who you want to be from this day forward.

Buy a notebook.

Writing exercise 1: Write down all the reasons you want to give up sugar.

Why is this a meaningful project to you?

Brainstorm everything you can think of and write everything down. Here’s a starter list:

  1. Almost all chronic diseases are a form of diabetes — poor blood sugar and insulin regulation. You don’t believe me? Google “insulin” or “glucose” plus any chronic disease you like. Enjoy losing your evening to PubMed.
  2. 85-90% of diabetes cases are Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is 99% preventable. Nobody should ever get this terrible disease. You can stop this train right now.
  3. Sugar causes aging. That means wrinkles. If you won’t dump sugar for your heart, do it for your vanity and your cougar career.
  4. Do you want to be around for your grandkids? And be able to play with them? And beat the snot out of the little brats at baskeball? Hell yeah.
  5. Planning a pregnancy? Time to get healthy now — gestational diabetes is serious bidness and sets your kid up for problems later on as well. Plus, you need a healthy baby so that baby can eventually make grandbabies whom you can beat at basketball. See how this plan all comes together?
  6. Want to have consistent energy and be free of the blood sugar rollercoaster? Free of the shakies, crankies, bitchies, fainties, dizzies? Damn right you do.
  7. Sugar cramps athletic performance. You want slow-simmering, endless energy, not bump ‘n’ bonk.
  8. Sugar might make you insane.
  9. etc.

Don’t do this for me, a clothing size, or anyone else. Do this for YOU. YOUR body. YOUR future. YOUR life.

Your body works so hard for you. It loves you. The least you can do is not kill it prematurely.

Writing exercise 2: Forewarned is forearmed.

Write down all the obstacles you think you might anticipate.

For instance:

  • sugar pushers at work
  • sugar pushers at parties
  • sugar pushing family/relatives
  • having sugar around the house
  • etc.

Think about strategies to deal with them in advance.

Don’t get overwhelmed by all these potential obstacles. Stay focused on today. Just get ‘em out there so you aren’t blindsided by them.

Keep this notebook with you and review it daily. Set a reminder on your calendar or cellphone if necessary.

Step 2: Plan & schedule.

Give yourself 4 weeks to do this.

Use the first week to get ready. Don’t just jump in.

Set yourself up to succeed. (I’ll explain how below.) If you do this without planning and preparation, you’re much more likely to bomb out, and then feel even worse. Help yourself do this. Be your own best friend.

Start your sugar-free life on Week 2.

Don’t start this when you’re PMSing. Let Week 2 rip about the 2nd or 3rd day of your period, when the hormonal demons are quiet and you’re ready to rumble.

I’ll walk you through this step by step.

WEEK 1

If you haven’t already done so, make your list of reasons to do this, and the obstacles you may encounter. Again, keep this list handy. Refer to it daily.

Grieve your loss.

Get out a piece of paper and write down all the feelings you feel (physical and emotional), and all the thoughts you have about sugar. Thoughts and feelings like:

Understand that you will grieve this loss. Yes, I’m serious. You will go through withdrawal, sadness, anger, bargaining, the whole nine yards.

Again: Forewarned is forearmed. And hey, it’s normal. You and sugar were tight. Be sad. Be mad. It’s OK.

If necessary, have a little ritual funeral for sugar. Bury a chocolate bar in the back yard. No shit. This works.

You’ll probably be tempted to go hog wild on sugar the day before you start Project Fuck Sugar. If you want to, do it. Binge your face off.

Stay checked in and notice how that feels. Notice how it tastes. Eat slowly, meticulously, tasting every last molecule of that sugar. Eat that sugar until it burns your tongue then keep going. Make yourself utterly ill.

Leave a notepad and pen by your bed. Wake up the next day and write down how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Whenever you doubt this project, read your notes from The Morning After.

Get informed.

Understand all the forms of sugar. This includes:

  • table sugar
  • “natural” sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, agave
  • anything else ending in “syrup”, e.g. corn syrup, rice syrup, pomegranate syrup
  • molasses
  • almost anything ending in “ose”: glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, etc.

Read labels. All labels. Of course, you should be cutting down on foods with labels anyway, but for now, read labels.

Prepare your environment.

Do NOT rely on willpower. Ever.

Willpower WILL flake on you like your wastoid high school friends did when they saw Principal Meany coming to bust you for setting the wastebasket on fire in second period history.

Rely on structures and systems.

Think of this like toddler-proofing your life. Sugar-proof yourself. Otherwise you’ll stick your fingers in the electrical sockets and drink bleach soda. Again, not because you’re bad or stupid or weak, but simply because sugar is a drug that is stronger than most humans.

  • Clean your house. Get any and all sugar-containing items as far away from you as possible. Clean your cupboards and your fridge. If anyone else in your house absolutely must have sugar, get them to hide it and/or keep it the hell away from you.
  • Clean your work. Desk drawers cleaned out. Have a plan to avoid toxic coworkers as much as possible.
  • Clean your routine and your schedule. Find another route than the one past the bakery. Take the long way to the bathroom at work to avoid the lunchroom with the brownies.
  • Have a backup plan. Find other things to substitute for when you want sugar, e.g. gum, tea, a stick to gnaw on, scream therapy, a walk, etc.

Recruit support.

Tell people. Make a bet if necessary. Gather some cheerleaders as well as drill sergeants. Get as many helpers as possible.

Practice saying “No thank you” and “Wow, that does look delicious, but I’m full” or “I simply couldn’t eat another bite of that wonderful confection now, but could I take some for later?” (then toss it out on the way home).

Most people should be polite enough not to make a big deal of it. With some rude-ass sugar pushers who get up in your grill about not eating that candy, you need stronger stuff.

Lie if need be. Tell people you’re having “blood sugar issues” and your doctor has advised you to stop eating sugar for a month “until the tests come back”.

Tell your people no matter how much you beg, plead, or cajole, do not give you sugar. You are Odysseus strapped to the mast, listening to the siren call. Make sure those ropes are tied tightly.

Accept that this will suck.

But you can do this.

WEEK 2

This week will probably be the worst one. If you can make it through these 7 days, it will get a whole lot easier.

If you’re a ladyperson with a monthly cycle, start week 2 around the 2nd or 3rd day of your period.

Plan ahead.

Remember: Plan your menu. Plan your substitutes and strategies. Plan your interactions with sugar pushers.

Plan especially for your low moments — usually afternoons and evenings, or after some familiar stressful event. You know when those low moments will be. It’s not like you should be surprised by evening snacking by now.

Plan, plan, plan. Once you get into a routine, you won’t have to use as much brainpower, but for now, plan like crazy.

You are going to bestraddle this sugar bitch like a Colossus of yore. But you can’t do that without a plan.

Alexander the Great didn’t just wake up and go, “Oh, maybe today I’ll conquer Persia,” then go hunting for his armour like the car keys he threw out thoughtlessly the night before. Dig?

Keep a daily journal.

Use your notebook to help you plan as well as to record:

  • What you are thinking
  • What you feel, physically
  • What you feel, emotionally

Every day, take 5 minutes (or more) and write down your thoughts and feelings. Set a reminder in your calendar or on your cellphone to help you remember to do this. It’s really important.

I suggest a twice-daily check-in:

  • once in the morning, to strengthen your motivation and plan ahead; and
  • once in the evening, to record how the day went, and problem-solve for tomorrow as needed.

Schedule a non-food reward at the end of this week.

Give yourself something to work towards. I recommend a massage or something that makes you feel really groovy. Your desire for sugar will go up when you’re stressed, so seek out rewards that relax you.

Things will taste like shit.

Just get through it.

Coffee will taste like dirt. Water is less appealing than soda.

However, salsa is still pretty damn good, even compared to ketchup and sweet relish. So that’s something.

Grit your teeth. Your tastes will change. I promise. It only takes a few weeks, if you can just get through these first days. Trust me.

Don’t go low carb while you get off sugar.

Keep the carb fires stoked for this month with small portions of carbs (about half a fist) at most meals. Don’t over-carb, just have a little bit of carbs with each meal.

But think “starch” instead of “sugar”. Think “stick to your ribs”.

Choose starchy, high-fibre carbohydrates to keep yourself fuelled. Such as…

Beans/legumes, tubers, and WHOLE grains are your friend.

Small portions of beans/legumes (especially lentils for some reason — they’re sorta magic), whole grains, or starchy tubers help immensely with cravings.

Now, I know that primal eater types are off grains and beans/legumes. Fine. If you’re used to being off that stuff, great. If you aren’t, now is NOT the time to try. One thing at a time.

Whole grains means WHOLE grains. If what you’re eating does not look like a seed, that is not a whole grain.

Rolled oats are not whole grains. Oat groats — which look like grains of brown rice — are whole grains. Steel-cut oats, which are the oat groats cut in half, are close enough for now.

“Whole wheat bread” is not whole grains. Wheat berries are whole grains.

If possible, avoid processed starchy foods like bread, pasta, crackers, etc. But they’ll do in a pinch. Keep the fibre content as high as possible. (Read the labels — sugar even finds its way into bread and crackers.)

Remember, our goal is to GET OFF SUGAR. We’ll worry about the rest later.

Keep fruit moderate.

Fruit is your sugar. So save it for when the sugar cravings really strike badly. If possible, opt for less-sweet fruits, such as apples, pears, plums, and berries.

Most of the time, go for high-fibre starchy stuff (again, beans/legumes, whole grains, and yams) instead.

Get plenty of fat and protein.

When you dump sugar, you get to eat more fat. YEAH!!!

Every meal should have a palm-sized portion of protein and a thumb or two of fat.

Sample menu:

  • Breakfast: Omelet with black beans, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and a few chunks of yam
  • Midmorning snack: Cottage cheese, chopped nuts, a sprinkle of cooked oat groats & berries
  • Lunch: Chicken on salad topped with lentils and olive oil vinaigrette
  • 3 pm snack: Hummus and baby carrots with a boiled egg
  • Dinner: Chili with kidney beans & brown rice, topped with a little blop of real sour cream

Are you missing sugar now after that scrumptious day of fat and protein? ‘Cause I sure ain’t.

Get plenty of friendly bacteria.

Take a probiotic and/or eat real sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented foods daily.

Use substitutes sparingly.

Don’t just swap sweet tastes. You need to train your taste buds as well.

A bit of stevia, Splenda, or diet soda will do if things are getting real ugly.

Eat slowly.

Now that your tongue isn’t being fried by sugar, you can notice other flavours. Eat slowly. Put your fork/knife/chopsticks/hands down between bites.

Slow the fuck down. Notice how things taste.

Cut the booze down as much as you can. Or have a designated sugar-security person.

If you’re used to drinking a lot, don’t try to reduce that now. But understand that drinking seriously affects your judgement. So, just like you should have a designated driver, have a buddy who keeps you out of the sugar after you chug-a-lug.

Oh, and dump the rum and Coke or worse, vodka coolers. Grownup women drink gin and tonic or expensive red wine.

If you fall off the wagon, get right back on IMMEDIATELY.

Ideally this won’t happen. Your clever planning and cheerleading squad should be keeping you out of the pitfalls.

But hey, life is imperfect.

If you have a slip into sugar, don’t hesitate. Jump back on that wagon as fast as possible afterwards. Clean the slate, throw out the empty wrappers, and go!!!

All is not lost if you have a slip. Keep moving forward. Go back to your original notes about why you’re doing this, and how badly you feel after that sugar binge.

Don’t bullshit yourself with navel-gazing, self-pitying stuff like, “Oh, now it doesn’t matter because I’ve already screwed up, I’m such a failure, I might as well just lie here and die, blah blah blah.”

Get over yourself. You’re a warrior and you took a shot to the gut. Fine. Suck it up. Shut up with the whining, stop crying, wipe your nose, and get back in here, soldier.

WEEK 3

Congratulations! You’ve made it through one sugar-free week!

Reward yourself.

But not with sugar, obviously. Again, I recommend some kind of stress-busting reward. Something that makes you feel all “ooohhh” in your body.

Movement dissipates cravings.

Movement is cravings’ release valve. Move accordingly. When the cravings are weak, move gently (e.g. a walk). When the cravings are strong, move powerfully (e.g. sprints, heavy lifting, rounds punching the heavy bag, etc.).

Watch your stress.

Stress will make your sugar cravings worse. Deep breathe like crazy through this. Don’t take on any new responsibilities right now. Practice saying “no”.

Start looking for patterns.

Now that you’ve gone through the first week, start looking for patterns in your relationship with sugar cravings. When does it strike you the worst? Then think back and ask yourself: What was happening just before that craving hit?

What was I doing? What was I feeling? What was I thinking?

Cravings aren’t random. Find the patterns.

Feel as good in your body as you can.

Sugar is your way of self-soothing. Sugar stimulates the same pathways in the brain as drugs do. That’s why it’s so damn hard to dislodge. As far as your brain chemistry is concerned, sugar is not much different than cocaine.

Find other ways to feel good in your body. (Not just in your brain.)

Get touched. Hug your loved ones, dog or cat. Pet a fuzzy blanket or wear your favourite fluffy sweater. Get a massage or pedicure. Sit in the warm sun or a sauna. Go to bed early and get some lovin’.

Keep eating slowly.

Taste. Savour. Enjoy other things.

If you fall off the wagon, get right back on IMMEDIATELY.

Yep, same rules apply.

WEEK 4

Congratulations again! We’re in the home stretch.

Things should be starting to fall into place now. It should be getting a lot easier. (If it isn’t, don’t feel badly. You might just need to go for an extra week.)

Reward yourself again.

Remember: No food rewards. Anything else is fair game, though.

Keep eating slowly.

One bite at a time. Mmmm.

Plan ahead.

See a theme here?

This week may be PMS week, so be on your guard. Keep sugar-proofing your life.

If things get really hairy and out of control with the cravings, try a combo:

  • One tablespoon (15 grams) of liquid fish oil
  • A few squares of dark chocolate (75% cocoa or higher)
  • 200-300 mg magnesium

(You needn’t mix all that together, but props if you try.)

If you fall off the wagon, get right back on IMMEDIATELY.

As always.

WEEKS 5-8

YAY!!!

You did it!!!

How do you feel? Awesome, I hope. (Or maybe not quite yet. Week 5 may be the week of your period again. Hang in there.)

Don’t get complacent.

Now, don’t get lazy. If you’ve followed all these steps, you’re out of the worst of it, but sugar is sneaky.

Understand that going back will make you feel just as shitty as before. Sugar is like an abusive partner — after it beats you up and tells you what a piece of crap you are, it brings you flowers and promises never to be so mean again. Until the next time it slaps you.

Understand that sugar hides in things. Keep reading labels.

Understand that foods can creep back in to your space. Be vigilant and keep crap away from yourself. Sugar-proof your life as much as you can.

Understand that you are vulnerable every time you go back to sugar. If you absolutely must have sugar now:

  • have it in a context where you can’t binge afterwards;
  • have a buddy looking out for you;
  • eat SLOWLY and MINDFULLY, tasting that sugar carefully and savouring it;
  • anticipate that for a few days after, you’ll be jonesing again — plan to get through it.

Keep planning.

Keep writing in your journal, if you like. It’s very helpful.

Focus on what you can eat. On how great you feel.

Keep eating those yummy whole foods. Keep eating that filling fat, fibre, and protein. Keep eating those beautiful, colourful fruits and veggies.

Keep taking good care of yourself. Every week you don’t have sugar, reward yourself with something wonderful (and non-food-related) for your body.

You might enjoy reading my colleague Ryan Andrews’ account of his sugar-free year: Sugar Daddy.

What’s next?

Up for a new challenge? Then why not try:

  • phasing out all processed foods
  • going primal (here’s the quick-start guide – look how far ahead you are now!)
  • eating more organic and local foods
  • learning to cook a few new dishes
  • cutting down your carbohydrate intake even a little more — perhaps taking the carbs out of dinner/evening meals (remember, when carbs go down, fat goes up)

The world is your oyster now. Take a deep breath. Aahhhhh.

You’re free.

Sayonara, monkey!

Responses

  1. KicknKnit says:

    August 18th, 2011at 6:38 am(#)

    I gave up sugar 20 months ago.. it was harder than quitting smoking… compare to sugar, quitting smoking was a (pardon the pun) cakewalk.

    I remember standing in the kitchen bawling and screaming at my partner “ALL I WANT IS A GODDAMN BOWL OF WHITE PASTA WITH BUTTER AND SALT IS THAT SO WRONG!?”

    I wish I had this advice then.. it would have save all of us a little madness.

    but I’m soooo glad I got that monkey off my back. I do occasionally indulge but I don’t get the ZOMGGIMMEMORENAO! thing anymore.

  2. KicknKnit says:

    August 18th, 2011at 6:42 am(#)

    ahem.. a small edit: I was off sugar and all grains.. which is why no pasta was “allowed”. I had noticed that a bit of pasta or bread just kicked in my sugar cravings so nope.. no grains either.. two weeks later, I started reintroducing grains (do you smell South Beach Diet? why yes.. that’s exactly what it was.. but no sugar substitutes for me even though they were “allowed”)

  3. KC says:

    August 18th, 2011at 6:58 am(#)

    I’ve noticed that a lot of no-sugar or “paleo” types will make an exception for dark chocolate. It’s still got sugar… is it just that chocolate is THAT awesome? What’s the deal here?

  4. Mistress Krista says:

    August 18th, 2011at 7:13 am(#)

    In my paradigm it’s because chocolate (cacao) stimulates the same druglike pathways as straight-up sugar does, but the sugar content is relatively low and it seems to satisfy most folks. So you get the “hit” you seek, plus some antioxidants, fatty acids (from cocoa butter), magnesium, and the chocolate taste.

    If any food triggers you — whatever that food is — then don’t include it.

    If any situation triggers you — whatever that situation is — then avoid it. Or anticipate and strategize for it.

  5. Misty says:

    August 18th, 2011at 8:59 am(#)

    Thanks for the great article, Coach Krista!

    What do you think about Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet? Six days of the week it’s pretty non-controversial, with plenty of protein, fat, and veggies. On the seventh day it’s a free-for-all binge. I’m doing this with my husband right now, who has never had any success with changing his eating because of feelings of deprivation. He thinks that the seventh day of being able to eat whatever is very helpful, and I respect the psychological effect of that. I’m wondering about the physical effects of binging on sugar, though. Do you think the healthy eating the rest of the week is enough of an off-set?

  6. Mistress Krista says:

    August 18th, 2011at 9:35 am(#)

    Misty: In this case, I strongly recommend cold turkey. One sugar binge will set you back a week. IMO you need to immerse yourself in this fully.

    In my experience with clients, most folks can’t tolerate weekly binges. It’s too much of a liability physically, emotionally, and mentally.

    And really, ask yourself: How does a weekly binge make me healthier? Fitter? If I cut out sugar, what am I really depriving myself of? It’s not like you’re cutting out vitamin C or something. If you feel deprived then you need to look at what hole in your life sugar is filling — what bingeing on sugar gives you that you aren’t getting elsewhere.

    If you feel like that sugar-hole is really big, then take more prep time to think about that. If your life is so devoid of physical pleasure, so full of stress, so disconnected from love that sugar is the place you wanna hang your hat for pleasure, release, and comfort… ask some tough questions about your existence and start with these other things first.

    This approach says suck it up for a month as well as possible, and then re-evaluate. You need to re-calibrate the system.

  7. Jaime says:

    August 18th, 2011at 10:17 am(#)

    This might be a really basic, backwards question, but the one thing I get stuck on is this:

    Sugar tastes great,

    Do I just need to remind myself that heroin probably feels great, too, but it doesn’t mean I shoot up every afternoon? Is there another good way of psyching myself out of that thinking?

  8. Mistress Krista says:

    August 18th, 2011at 10:31 am(#)

    @Jaime: Don’t bother psyching. Don’t bother “shoulding”. It’s a trade-off. If right now, “sugar tastes great” is more important to you, own that shit. Ask yourself why getting off sugar would be truly valuable and meaningful to you. If you conclude that this is not something you can relinquish right now, and/or that the health value of sugarlessness is not as important as the taste, then stop reading and go do something else, guilt-free.

    Yes, sugar tastes great. Manic sex with toxic yet hot people feels great. Drinking margaritas till your face goes numb feels great. Whipping out a brilliant and cutting comeback on a loved one feels great.

    Until it doesn’t.

    And when that “doesn’t” occurs is individual. It’s your call. Your body.

    What you will find if you go off sugar for several weeks is that you can make do with less. You’ll notice sweetness and subtleties you didn’t before. You’ll be satisfied with less. And truly satisfied, not “nom nom want more dangit the box is empty”.

  9. Erin says:

    August 18th, 2011at 10:36 am(#)

    Krista, do you have any recommendations for those of us who would really like to scale back our sugar and carb consumption but take part in endurance activities?

    If you run for two hours, bike for 6, hike for 8? What sort of rational balance should we seek?

  10. Bob Kuyper says:

    August 18th, 2011at 10:42 am(#)

    About 2 years ago I went for testing because my doctor feared that I was getting an early onset of dementia(60 years old). They found I was pre-Diabetic, with average blood sugar between 110 and 125. I got the wakeup call loud and clear and switched to a no-sugar, high complex carbo diet with lots of veggies, lean protein and good fats. I have lost 50 lbs of fat and now am putting back on muscle. I feel better than I have in 15 years, both in energy and mental clarity. I had no idea how badly sugar was impacting me, even though I read “Sugar Blues” a long time ago and believed every word of it. You’re right, it takes about a month and it isn’t pretty, but then you realize that for years you have been waking upevery morning with the feeling of a mild hangover from what you ate the night before and now you aren’t. Great feeling!

  11. Lauren says:

    August 18th, 2011at 10:48 am(#)

    I haven’t been trying to cut out sugar entirely, but for the last few months I haven’t been eating much of it — my sugar mostly comes from fruit, with occasional bits of dark chocolate or drizzling honey over Greek yogurt and walnuts. I indulged in a few ounces of frozen yogurt with carob chips once or twice, and that went fine, but my workplace had an ice cream party a few weeks ago, and I had a very small amount — just a couple of spoonfuls with a little bit of chocolate syrup. And then regretted it because I almost immediately got a headache and felt like crap.

    I still don’t plan on cutting out sugar entirely, but I thought it was interesting that it seems like there are forms in which I can’t tolerate it anymore.

  12. Mistress Krista says:

    August 18th, 2011at 10:58 am(#)

    @Erin: Opt for simple starch instead of sugars. Simple starch is your friend for fast-digesting carbs that don’t seem to create the same types of problems as straight-up sugar. Also, becoming fat adapted (i.e. dropping carbs and increasing fat, allowing a few weeks for adaptation to occur) will help a lot. (That’s a project for another day, though.)

    Simply blend a yam or some butternut squash into your protein shake. Seriously. It tastes fine. :) Actually one thing I love are Asian sweet potatoes — when baked, they have a caramel note that is quite agreeable. It all goes to glucose obviously, but veggie starch seems to make people less crazy and energy-weird than sugar. Throw in half a banana (rather than a whole one) and you’re golden.

    If you’re hiking, that’s fairly low intensity, so you don’t have the kind of glycogen demands you’d have from, say, a high-volume leg workout.

    Have more starchy carbs immediately postworkout to replenish glycogen stores and set yourself up for the next session.

  13. Danielle says:

    August 18th, 2011at 1:27 pm(#)

    Krista, I KNOW I have an addiction to sugar and while it’s “under control” (to the degree it can be) I’m positive that giving into sugary cravings is what has kept me from achieving the uber leanness and healthy ‘tude towards sweets that I struggle for. It is my “difficult-difficult”. (When I hear myself rationalising how I needn’t remove sugar and feel all tense and scared inside I KNOW sugar has become far too important to me!)

    I’m part of your July 2011 Lean Eating group; should I try to tackle this now? While it would be difficult to avoid sugar for even one month I’m almost positive it would stimulate fat loss. Or should I just file this away in my noggin and keep following the LE plan as prescribed? I’ve been doing exactly that so far. Thanks!

    Great article! Also, SUPER COOL to see you blogging about paleo! I’m a big fan (of both you AND paleo! ;-)

    Danielle

  14. mingy says:

    August 18th, 2011at 2:01 pm(#)

    Am I fooling myself by having a couple glorious dates or a small handful of raisins drizzled with macadamia nut butter?

    Otherwise, I’d say I’m 95% refined sugar free. Do the above mentioned still make me a sugar fiend?

  15. Mistress Krista says:

    August 18th, 2011at 3:05 pm(#)

    @Danielle: Leave this alone for now and wait for the carb-related habits to try this, OK? One step at a time. :)

  16. Mistress Krista says:

    August 18th, 2011at 3:06 pm(#)

    @mingy: How often, and how do you feel? If you eat this rarely, and it doesn’t bother you, then fine. But is this a real 95% or a self-BSing 95%? :)

  17. Meredith says:

    August 18th, 2011at 5:06 pm(#)

    Thanks… It is SO smart to cut sugar first and slowly — in steps, as you recommended. I did it a few weeks ago and went cold turkey and was OK — but crazed with cravings for a few days…

  18. Marjie says:

    August 18th, 2011at 5:08 pm(#)

    Did you write this for me? It’s gotten easier to go for longer periods of time but the monkey still pops in for visits. Thanks, Coach; I’m implementing the plan immediately.

  19. Toby Wollin says:

    August 18th, 2011at 5:30 pm(#)

    Krista – the only thing the silences the monkey for me is fat and eating lots of little protein snacks (even a half a cup of a protein shake will put the monkey into the background) every couple of hours. Otherwise, the noise just redlines. My biggest issue is basically at home – my job really is to get my husband and my son on board to clean out the house and not bring anything back in. There is just this huge expectation of ‘what’s for dessert’ and ‘mmm, I want something sweet now…’ and ‘well, we have to have…in the house…’ If it’s in the house, I eat it. The other day, I actually took an entire half gallon of ice cream out of the freezer and threw it down the toilet – boy did I get hammered for that.

  20. Sugar makes me feel like a drug addict. | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page says:

    August 18th, 2011at 7:10 pm(#)

    [...] [...]

  21. Tenacious Ginger says:

    August 19th, 2011at 6:28 am(#)

    Your blogs will be my sugar. Serious.brain.candy. Now, if I can just get my body to enjoy what my brain totally does!!

  22. Heather says:

    August 20th, 2011at 5:32 pm(#)

    Please add me to your list! Love this! Thank you!

  23. Vickie says:

    August 21st, 2011at 9:00 am(#)

    I did this with the whole30 just recently. My problem even then wasn’t I couldn’t go completely clean, because I became a fruitaholic. You’re not supposed to eat that much fruit on the whole30, but I couldn’t get a grip with it. I cut out candy, grains etc, but just couldn’t go low with fruit. Any suggestions for that?

  24. Mistress Krista says:

    August 21st, 2011at 9:45 am(#)

    @Vickie: If your biggest dietary problem is fresh fruit, then you have no problems. Eat a variety, eat colourful ones as much as possible (e.g. blackberries), stay active, and enjoy.

  25. jujubee6 says:

    August 21st, 2011at 3:29 pm(#)

    Here’s a longer one, but one that helps your body detox and re-establish normalcy. Tough and inconvenient, but it cleans you up fabulously. http://www.McCombsPlan.com I was eating 4 or 5 candybars doing errands, 97 halloween candybars in 3 days, 3/4 Carvel cake at one sitting…..all I wanted was to look at a candy bar like others did – to be able to walk by it or have one actually sit in my house or 2 days – eating it when it suited me rather than even if I was full from dinner. A generally good cleanse and solid elimination diet in general – I’ll probably do it again in January even though I’m not having sugar problems

  26. Renee says:

    August 21st, 2011at 6:03 pm(#)

    I am now 1 full year in recovery from sugar/carb addiction (and 35 pounds lighter). Besides working out regularly and eating more protein, what helps me avoid the junk sugars, is that I allow myself all the fresh fruit I want. If I have a really strong craving for sweets, I eat dried fruits. My blood sugar is now much lower (was border-line diabetic) and I just feel so much better. Far less moody and not as crazy hungry as I used to get. Love your blog!

  27. allie says:

    August 22nd, 2011at 4:08 am(#)

    This is a fantastic article. When I got pregnant, my sugar monkey magically let itself off my back… Lucky for me right? This is great, will help a LOT of peeps.

  28. Heather B says:

    August 23rd, 2011at 9:21 am(#)

    I had already adjusted my tastes by following Weight Watchers’ Core plan, but had an even further reduction when I got pregnant (both times), just like allie.

    Re gin and tonic: otherwise, a great article, but I’m surprised you suggested replacing rum and Coke with gin and tonic. Tonic has as about as much sugar as Coke does, and I’ve found that most bars don’t have diet tonic.

  29. Mistress Krista says:

    August 23rd, 2011at 10:29 am(#)

    @Heather: You’re right — go with Scotch and soda. :)

  30. Hillarie says:

    August 23rd, 2011at 12:57 pm(#)

    Krista,

    Thank you for posting this — I am a sugar addict, and I’m ready to kick the habit. Starting my notebook tonight and going to plan my attack soon, per the timing you suggest on Week 2.

    Is Week 1 a sugar-free week, or a week of consciousness and preparation?

  31. lensy says:

    August 23rd, 2011at 3:41 pm(#)

    Just dump the coffee and caffeine and your sugar cravings will be much less.

  32. Mistress Krista says:

    August 23rd, 2011at 5:02 pm(#)

    @Hillarie: Week 1 is just a week to get your head together and prepare. So it’s a week of normal eating for you, whatever that looks like.

  33. eileen says:

    August 24th, 2011at 5:33 am(#)

    We just started a facebook group: Eat Clean (No Crap!), Train Smart, Be Awesome. The group came from a couple of us doing NO CRAP challenges. It has over 400 members in less than a month. (come on over!)

    Anyone who doesn’t associate the word sugar with addiction is either in denial, or just completely lucky they are not addicted. I don’t know anyone who “really likes” sugar who is not truly addicted in some way.

    I love this post. It is so real. I’m posting it all over the place.

  34. eileen says:

    August 24th, 2011at 5:39 am(#)

    Also, I’m someone who did this in stages. Meaning, over 1.5 years. First cut out all the candy, jellies, bagels, breads, but still ate rice. Then cut out the rice. Then, played with drinking beers (max 2) for over a year. It’s been almost 60 days of no beer, and yes, the results are very apparent!

    I still love sugar and am not cured. I schedule cheat days and don’t shame myself or beat myself up if I have a little sugary thing when I’m “not supposed to” – these usually consist of larabars that now have chocolate chips in them.

    So if anyone reading this is terrified of giving up their best friend, seriously, if I could do it, you can. I am one of the biggest sugar addicts on the planet. You got this, and this blog is the best I’ve seen!!!

  35. Ruby says:

    August 24th, 2011at 1:07 pm(#)

    It’s not often you read a blog post that has life-changing properties… but this is one of them, and I don’t say that lightly. Something about the no-nonsense approach really clicked for me.

    Day 3 of OFS, and I’m having fewer violent fantasies and toxic farts. I run like a Terminator – last night, I swore I was about to take off.

    I’ve ditched the sweets, which is not easy, but I’ve made a public commitment and that’s helped keep me on track. I’ve also dumped my old buddies bread, pasta, couscous and quinoa (that was painful, it’s DELISH), and dairy (because it gave me gip). I journal twice a day and plan plan plan plan plan because if I don’t, I’ll fail fail fail fail fail.

    I’m eating cleaner as a result, and any cravings I get are usually down to wanting to eat my feelings at the time. This means I have to find better strategies for dealing with stress, boredom and emotion of any kind that don’t come with the word ‘biscuit’ or ‘frosting’ on them. I’m going to be shaking my tail in costume at the Notting Hill Carnival on Monday, so yeah I won’t have lost 20 pounds by then, but I won’t feel like a dancing hippo!

    I’m done with sugar, because I’m sweet enough :-)

  36. Yael’s Variety Hour: Decision Fatigue, Other’s Resistance & Work Rudeness | Yael Writes says:

    August 24th, 2011at 1:34 pm(#)

    [...] How to dump sugar… for good. I’m trying! [...]

  37. Serena says:

    August 24th, 2011at 3:23 pm(#)

    I’ve tried cutting out sugar before too and ended up falling into a cycle of avoiding it for a few days and then bingeing,

    I’ve been okay with eliminating it but I still have issues with overeating especially overeating healthy carbs like brown rice, sprouted grain breads, etc.

    Should I be dealing with this binge behaviour before trying to stop eating sugar? I was thinking that maybe getting rid of sugar could be my first step.

  38. Mistress Krista says:

    August 25th, 2011at 2:17 am(#)

    @Serena: One thing at a time. I would get rid of sugar first then worry about the bingeing. Sugar is gasoline on your binge fire. Keep the journal while you get off sugar, and simply notice and record what you experience (e.g. starchy carb cravings, etc.), without trying to change it.

    Once the sugar monkey has been gone for a few weeks, and you feel like you’re in a good holding pattern, THEN focus on the bingeing. I strongly recommend a good counsellor or psychotherapist for this — it’s hard to solve disordered eating on your own, and a counsellor can really help you dig in to the root causes of the behaviour. However, your notes will be invaluable.

  39. Mistress Krista says:

    August 25th, 2011at 2:18 am(#)

    @Ruby: YEAH BUDDY!!!!

  40. DebbyK Fitness says:

    August 25th, 2011at 8:53 pm(#)

    I cut out sugar back in 1988! I’ve basically been eating Paleo like since then. I too had a sugar addiction. Woke up drugged and depressed every morning after binging on sugar gumballs bought from the bulk bin.

    I have always been into hard core training. Once I competed in my first BB show I realized sugar was the weak link. I basically coached my way off sugar after identifying my addiction. People thought I was nuts. My diet consisted of fish, fruit in moderation, other protein like turkey, veggies, egg whites, small amounts of oatmeal, sweet potatoes and cream of rice after workouts mainly, and good Omegas, and fatty fish and small amounts of nuts. Ive been eating like this ever since. It’s a commitment.

    A crack addict can’t just have some once in a while. You’re in or out, on or off. But identifying the addiction and acknowledging that your an addict is the first step. Then, how important is it to your core values, vision and goals? It’s a life long commitment.

    I know if I eat sugar I will feel depressed. I never want to feel that feeling again. So I just don’t eat sugar. People ask me if I crave cookies and pies and sweets. No. And it’s not that I ever did. But once I had one bite I couldn’t stop. And my addiction came in the form of sugar gum balls. Like 2lbs a night! Sounds crazy. I didn’t eat the cakes and cookies non stop. But I was addicted to a huge blueberry muffin for a while that packed on the fat around my middle in about 6 months. And huge bowls of grapenuts cereal! And at night just one sugar gumball would set off a sugar gumball binge.

    So I have not had any treats for about 24 years. NOr do I eat any grains. Cut those out about 15 years ago, with the exception of maybe small amount of steel cut oats up until about 8 years ago. I noticed no stomach issues after that.

    Do I crave it? NO.Do I like sweet tasting things? Yes. I just replace it with savory. Fat actually tastes sweet to me!! I crave good fats!! To me someone offering me a piece of cake is like offering me cocaine. I just don’t do it, thank you!! It’s a conviction I hold true to myself and will not waver. I’m a revers Nike ad: ” I just don’t do it”! After so long it’s just not a part of my life. It would be like going back and sleeping with your x husband, if I had one! What’s the point. It’s toxic!

    Oh!The great benefits of becoming sugarfree and sugarless is that I’ve had ripped abs and hard body ever since!! No wrinkles, never sick, and energy for every workout, every day. I would never trade that for anything…

    I’m working on a book about it, and some ‘sweat’ recipes that I’ve been creating and eating since the 80′s.

    Krista, the yams and protein I have been doing forever. I also make a frozen pudding, sweet potato pancake. All Paleo friendly.

    This is a great post. Great advice. I wish everyone luck. But it’s not about luck really. It’s about mindset. You all can do it!!

    I’m so glad the sugarless craze is starting to take hold. At least now I have support for my sugarless ways and I”m not longer considered eccentric….! Well….

    Thanks
    DebbyK

  41. kathleen says:

    August 26th, 2011at 7:10 am(#)

    I love this article!
    I quit smoking cold turkey almost 6 years ago after reading The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr (?). Love the ‘get inside you head’ type information. Not “preachy” as in you will die of lung cancer but more to the fact that the government and Big Pharma are ruining your life. I think this also applies to sugar. Walking through Walmart yesterday and seeing how much CRAP is on the shelves for people to be tempted with made me almost sick to my stomach (and I’ve been on a sugar/crap binge for a couple of months….besides the point). Please continue to “get into our heads” with this kind of information. Sure many of us know about diabetes and heart disease, but how many of us realize we are lining all the pockets of the idiots who benefit from sick people.

  42. chab says:

    August 27th, 2011at 4:58 pm(#)

    Great article – I’m definitely inspired.
    What about artificial sweeteners in protein shakes? Or do you recommend unflavoured protein powder?
    Also curious about your thoughts on stevia?

  43. Mistress Krista says:

    August 28th, 2011at 12:25 pm(#)

    @chab: Artificial sweeteners are artificial sweeteners no matter where they appear. Thus be a critical consumer with ALL products, “healthy” or otherwise. Personally I recommend an unflavoured or stevia-flavoured powder, which you can then flavour as you like, e.g. with coffee, cocoa, fruit, etc.

    Stevia is the safest of the bunch.

    However, again, I do recommend that folks wean themselves off overly sweet tastes. The bonus here is that “regular food” (e.g. fruit/veg) will start to taste sweeter and more satisfying once the palate isn’t getting blasted by super-sweetness. Even scallops (yes, things that come from the ocean in a shell) will taste slightly sweet if your tastes are calibrated properly. Plus, you won’t “need” as much really sweet stuff to feel satisfied, so even if you do revisit sugar on a special occasion, you won’t be able to plow through a brick-sized piece of cake.

  44. babs wright says:

    September 11th, 2011at 11:12 am(#)

    hey Krista,

    thank you so much for this program. i’ve been following it for about two weeks now, and for the first time in a long while i feel like i have my life back, along with hope for my future.

    since i was about 13 i have had problems with eating and body image. i started to diet the summer before highschool because i felt overweight and ugly, and i was terrified of the all-girls gym class i would have to take. i wasn’t overweight at all, but i was nerdy and lanky, and i didn’t know how to throw a ball or swim. my eating disorders over the rest of my life have basically boiled down to my fear of the highschool’s pool, in which i would have to admit in front of a large group of athletic girls that i would have to start from the beginning, like a four-year-old. wearing a goddamn swimsuit to top it off.

    i am proud that i admitted it, bold-faced. i gulped down my fear and was honest. the other girls didn’t really give a shit (thank god). even better, i had an amazing gym teacher who seemed happy to teach me everything from the beginning: swimming, weight-lifting, tennis, basketball. and to my amazement, i loved it. i was good — i guess because i already knew how to study hard. for the first time ever, i got an A+ in gym.

    my eating improved until i got with the boys, and then of course i felt humiliated and exposed all over again.

    anorexia. bulimia. drugs, drinking. fucking puking ice cream in the middle of the night as quiet as possible so my parents wouldn’t hear. then locks on the kitchen cupboards. psychiatrists at 15. i was a mess. left home at 17 for more drugs, an abusive boyfriend and more self-destruction. and an amazing English teacher who helped me turn it all around and get out.

    i healed. discovered yoga, kick-boxing, brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, mma. i kicked ass to become strong. ate fantastically. spent two months alone training in Brazil. it was all so goddamn easy. i trusted myself completely. i was on top of the world for seven years. and then i fell in love with a good man and it all fell apart again.

    when i stopped training so hard to stay at home sometimes and cuddle with him, what i figure happened is that my steady stream of endorphins suddenly crashed. i had been on a very low dose of anti-depressants and all of a sudden i went from being on cloud 9 to suicidal. literally. called the ambulance for myself one afternoon because i couldn’t think of any other way to prevent myself from hanging. they didn’t know what to do with me at the hospital. a doctor finally came to sit with me and just listened as i spilled my guts to her. then she let me walk out the door.

    i was only eating sugar at this point. i had stopped puking because there wasn’t any point to a nice body. i hit my worst low in February of this year. very nearly walked out into the back woods and took all the medication in my bathroom. my psychiatrist didn’t know how to help. my eating disorder specialist said she didn’t treat mood problems and she didn’t really believe i had an eating disorder. i was completely fucking lost.

    so . . . here i am. that good guy i fell in love with picked me up even after i’d left him because he knew i was pretty much dead otherwise. i got the biggest dose of anti-depressants i could and clung to the guy until it kicked in. when it was impossible for me to feel depressed anymore, i continued to eat sugar as much as i wanted and went back to work. my pshychiatrist thought this was a victory. i knew i wasn’t done. i tried to kick sugar and go back to the gym mutiple times, but something stressful always happened and i ended up back on the couch with my ice cream.

    until now. so, thank you. for doing the job of my psychiatrist, the eating disorder specialist, the dietician and my doctor. :) you alone have had the insight to see sugar as an addiction, like i’d always felt it was but couldn’t understand how to kick it. thank you for caring enough to put together a plan that coaches me every step of the way. you are helping me get my life back. i’m only two weeks in, but i can see my future now, instead of just living day by day. thank you.

  45. Serena says:

    September 19th, 2011at 6:04 pm(#)

    This dumping sugar mission is really making me hate myself because I’ve screwed it up too many times but I’ll get right back on the wagon as you suggest.

    Do you know of any helpful books about disordered/binge eating aside from The End of Overeating? I’ve read Intuitive Eating but if I ate intuitively I’d be eating chocolate and bagels all day so I want to explore other books on the matter.

  46. Mistress Krista says:

    September 20th, 2011at 6:00 am(#)

    @Serena: It is not OK to hate yourself. In fact, hating yourself WILL make you fail. Read that previous sentence again. Hating yourself, as a strategy, DOES NOT WORK and, in fact, creates the exact thing you are trying to avoid. As for a book recommendation, check out Kristin Neff’s work on self-compassion. It seems unrelated… but research strongly shows that self-compassion is the ONLY way through disordered eating.

  47. Rayca says:

    September 27th, 2011at 1:23 pm(#)

    Hmmm. This strategy sounds like the Dr. Beck book. Great info., though. Don’t get me wrong. Any kind of mental rehab. calls for: notebooks, writing down feelings, finding your inner self, etc. I’m just not sold on it. I find it to be distracting me from the problem, which is good, in this case (and mine), sugar. The “steps” are merely a diversion. Sure, I find I’m not doing a whole lot of eating sugar because I’m: busy jotting down feelings or making signs and sticking them on drawers, whatever. I mean, AA, is the same concept really. You have 12 whole steps to get through before you’re “over it.” Problem is, only about 5% of folks ever get “over it.” I cold-turkeyed sugar withdrawal for 2 months. I didn’t white-knuckle it. It really wasn’t tough at all, once I made up my mind. A stressful situation came up and guess what?: I didn’t just need a little sugar to satisfy myself because I had stayed away for so long. My tastebuds hadn’t changed. I wasn’t satisfied with just a little. I had a full-blown attack that lasted ONE MONTH. That’s the longest binge I’ve ever had and not so ironic that it was the longest I had ever stayed away from sugar. You are certainly correct in that it is like a drug (I’ve been there and done that, too). The preceding was certainly IMHO, so no offense to those that this strategy works for. I do have a new strategy for myself that I might as well give a try.

  48. Mistress Krista says:

    September 28th, 2011at 5:35 am(#)

    @Rayca: Perhaps, but I will tell you that these types of strategies work very well for our thousands of clients at PN. Of course, each person applies the strategies in the ways that work best for their own situation. Yet the evidence is there in our practice that staged and self-aware habit-based change WORKS. This particular piece is more dramatic than the approach that we use, but it still works, and has been demonstrated to do so both empirically and in practice.

    Your example is actually a good illustration of why “willpower alone” strategies do not work in the long term. If one does not consider the mental-emotional-behavioural aspects of one’s situation, one is not likely to be able to sustain change. Let us know how the new strategy works for you.

  49. danielle g says:

    October 4th, 2011at 11:38 am(#)

    Thank you!!! I loved reading this and totally appreciate this read – yes, I had a sugar monkey attached to my ass for sooooo long. I was a junkie and did horrible, shameful things to get my fix of the sweet evil shit.

    I totally gave up sugar and went cold turkey on August 1st, 2011 so yes I can say the first month was pretty hellacious indeed. Funny enough, after the first month I naturally progressed to a more “primal” diet since I just decided that I felt better if I cut out grains and legumes, and added more sweet potatoes and yams, and I did! I still don’t eat a ton of meat, but love eggs and fish. Eating this way has totally helped me conquer this sugar demon and stay victorious even in the most challenging food situations. I have become pretty comfortable tellng people “no thanks” and fuck off with the sugar if need-be.

    no more sugar ever again, demons begone!

    thank you!!!

  50. danielle g says:

    October 4th, 2011at 11:44 am(#)

    also, I would like to mention that it took me several attempts over 10 years to finally give it up for good. What changed was I was finally sick of feeling sick. Also, the biggest part that made it stick for me was changing my environment, planning ahead, and getting a support system where I have to check in daily. Yes, it is like AA and this addiction can kill you. Don’t underestimate its powers, you must fight this monster with all your might and bring in reinforcements. but anyone can slay this demon, if i did it than anyone can. yes, i used to eat an entire 32 oz jar of strawberry jelly in one day with pie and ice cream. yes, i used to put 8 tablespoons of sugar in my coffee. yes, i used to drink chocolate syrup like it was a beverage.
    and yes, i conquered this demon and have been sugar free for 2 months and 4 days… if i can, anyone can!
    and eating paleo helps also :-)

  51. Mistress Krista says:

    October 5th, 2011at 8:26 am(#)

    @danielle: Thanks for sharing your positive experience! It really helps to hear from folks who have already done this, or are a little farther ahead along the road. It’s also great to hear about strategies that worked for you. Most appreciated.

  52. danielle g says:

    October 5th, 2011at 10:19 am(#)

    yes, it is all too easy to make excuses… i probably had a Phd in the “art of excuses and bullshit” because i let my sugar demon rule my life for so long.
    however, it is never too late! what comes to mind now is how crappy i used to feel on sugar, compared to how much better i feel now. the thought of putting that toxic drug in my body actually disgusts me, but i had to really hit a low bottom before i felt this way. hopefully most people don’t need to have that dramatic of an experience, but if you do it changes you forever.
    eating a primal/paleo diet makes a lot of sense to me. it has kept me clear minded and full of energy. i don’t have cravings to binge and don’t crave sweets at all. like you said, tastebuds can change. mine have totally! coming from someone who ate tubs of frosting and thought it was better if i put some syrup in the frosting cuz it wasn’t lethal or sweet enough, i now can eat a yam and say that is too sweet!
    throw excuses out the window. write them all down and set them on fire. then take those ashes and have a burial. if you want it, you will make it happen.

  53. sufficientuntotheday says:

    October 6th, 2011at 2:14 am(#)

    Hi Krista

    I always feel better when I lay off the sugar for a bit. Even a couple of days without sugar leave me feeling calmer and more energetic. But I’m confused about the red wine or gins and tonic – doesn’t booze contain plenty of sugar? To be properly sugar-free, shouldn’t one be booze-free too?

    SUD

  54. Mistress Krista says:

    October 6th, 2011at 5:07 am(#)

    Ok people, the booze is kinda tongue in cheek. I am not, for the record, RECOMMENDING it.

  55. sam says:

    October 7th, 2011at 8:38 am(#)

    Hi Krista,

    Very helpful article. I am coming to the end of week 2 without sugar, and starting to feel like i am not going crazy anymore after a terrible 10 days. I am unable to eat wheat and struggle with oats, any ideas on a good way to start the day with a good breakfast that includes complex carbs.

    Sam

  56. Mistress Krista says:

    October 7th, 2011at 9:22 am(#)

    @sam: Well let’s brainstorm. If you had a client in this situation what might you suggest?

  57. danielle g says:

    October 7th, 2011at 9:40 am(#)

    @ Sam, maybe a smoothie? Sometimes I’ll have a smoothie with banana, coconut milk, ground flax seeds, chia seeds and some cinnamon. You can also skip the banana and replace that with cooked yam, sweet potato or pumpkin instead. That will have lots of good fats, carbs, etc. and not assault your system with gluten or junk.
    Other days I’ll put a few spoons of ground flax into some beaten eggs and make a flax omelette. Sounds weird but the flax is almost tasteless so if you put in some good seasoning, it really rocks!
    sorry to butt in, I’m new to this also (in month 3 of life without white poison!) so any ideas are appreciated over here as well.
    This blog and site are pure brilliance!!!!! Mistress Krista you are awesome – and why did it take me so long to find this site?

  58. Camille says:

    November 28th, 2011at 2:56 pm(#)

    I have had extended periods of being primal and I am slouching towards another such period now, but for some reason the idea of never ever eating sugar again is horrifying to me. I don’t eat a lot of sugar, but I do associate sugar with the occasional treat (read: happiness). I am having a hard time figuring out what other food-related joys I would have if sugar was gone…and it makes me sorta sad to know that though I don’t eat sugar that much it really has a hold one me. I probably won’t try this any time soon, but thanks for at least giving me food for thought.

  59. Mistress Krista says:

    November 28th, 2011at 4:30 pm(#)

    @Camille: First, fat is happy to give you some lovin’. Second… what other joy is missing in your life that sugar seems so salient?

  60. Camille says:

    November 30th, 2011at 12:35 pm(#)

    @mistress krista – so I’ve been a day and a half sugar-free. i feel pretty OK.

    as for joys, i am very happy indeed. i was just referring to food-related ones. but this last day and a half have shown me that there are a lot of other foods that i like and enjoy that have no sugar in them at all. i’m taking it one day at a time…

  61. Sara says:

    December 19th, 2011at 1:33 pm(#)

    I get extremely sad about day 3 into no sugar, and that day usually ends with some sweet-fatty combo.

    “Afterwards you feel dirty and ashamed, joints hurting, belly aching, head pounding. Helpless. Out of control. Bloated. Desperately thirsty. And worst of all, looking around for more.”

    I experience this EVERY week, sometimes 2x week. I’ve tried everything: various amino acids from the Mood Cure, drinking tea, going for walks, going to the gym, immersing myself in a project a work. Getting a pedicure. Nada. Zilch. I can’t shake the sadness. And so in comes the glut of sugar. Even if it is my very own homemade, raw milk, maple syrup, raw chocolate bean, icecream – it is still giving into the demon sugar monkeys. Happy for 3 days w/o and then the cycle repeats.

    I am writing here at this point, because I am looking at Christmas in a week. I can play a game- avoid all sugar for the next 6 days so that on Xmas day I can completely indulge. I need a plan to deal with this Yule log cake. I know it is coming. I want it. I really want it. I can already picture myself shoving a huge a piece of it into my mouth. It has to be huge to get the textural experience of the creamy icing with the fluffy cake. No savoring small bites in this mental picture, it’s a full on gorge.

    But I know the consequences. I will destroy my fat-loving metabolism, and emotionally, I will be a wreck. I will feel guilty for giving into holiday eating.

    But, at the very moment at the xmas table, if I don’t have that cake, then I will feel unhappy. I will feel like a prude for not enjoying a treat even on a special occasion. And then I will jones for something to make up for the missed cake, which I held out for. I will end up eating something sweet anyway to accommodate for this… argg!! I just shoulda had the damn cake… And next year? will I be doing the same thing when the holidays roll around? (Yup.) When will I decide to end the game?

    I hate it.

  62. Mistress Krista says:

    December 19th, 2011at 2:51 pm(#)

    @Sara. Your problem is not sugar. Sugar is just a pathway. Your problem is the sadness. Go towards that with the help of a skilled person (or three) and there lies your answer.

  63. Petra says:

    January 26th, 2012at 9:45 am(#)

    Personally I found that I have less sweet cravings if I include pure cocoa powder (pure cocoa without sugar or anything else added) into some of my meals. I don’t know why this works, but it does, for me.
    I add 1Tbs of cocoa powder to my oatmeal, or to a smoothie with banana, or to milk. You can also mix it up with half an avocado for chocolate-cream or add it to nut-butter.

  64. Matilda says:

    February 11th, 2012at 3:20 pm(#)

    I’m so very thankful for this guide. It takes my problem seriously and helps me. THANKS!

  65. danni a says:

    February 29th, 2012at 4:40 pm(#)

    Hey there Mistress K,
    I had to re-read this post today… I gave up sugar on August 1, 2011 and came across this post soon after, which just totally made my life so much better! I was all hunky dorry and sugar free till December…
    then came the fucking holidays! Ugh, anyhow, since then my sugar monkey has slowly but surely gotten back on my back and now here I am again, with a full blown sugar addiction again and annoying-as-hell cravings. Well, thanfully it is nowhere near as bad as it was before I gave it up since I’ve learned to eat more protein before I dive into the sugar pile, but still. It sucks!!!
    Anyhow, I’m telling you this because this post is literally saving my fucking life. I’ll tell you why: I was addicted to sugar for 20 years and developed a severe eating disorder. I got into recovery on Aug 1 and later read this post, which kept me on track and totally saved me. Since then I’ve gotten lost again, but I had to come back to this post to remind myself that this sugar monkey is real… but I CAN do something about it. I’m going to print this post, have a goodbye ceremony to all the fucking sugar, get this fucking monkey off my back again, and write down all the lessons that I’ve learned from my slips, stumbles, and crashes.
    Thank you for inspiring me, and saving my friggin life – for real.
    D

  66. Mistress Krista says:

    March 1st, 2012at 7:20 am(#)

    @danni — Wow, good luck! We are all rooting for you! You are NOT alone.

  67. Tina says:

    March 3rd, 2012at 11:25 am(#)

    I have been trying to get the sugar out of my life for a couple of months now. I am pretty much eating paleo but my family not so much. I’m trying to wean my kids off the sugar but having a really hard time. Especially my 9 and 10 YO’s. They see no reason they should have to give it up just because I want to! Plus I can’t control what they eat at school or get at grandma’s house. Any ideas on how to get my kids off the sugar without a war. I have been cutting back and won’t buy certain products anymore but I get a lot of flack from them, which is no fun. :(
    Tina

  68. Mistress Krista says:

    March 3rd, 2012at 11:45 am(#)

    @Tina: You are the parent. You don’t let your 9- and 10-year olds make financial decisions for you, do you? Or drive the family car? YOU are the grownup here. YOU buy the food and set the household expectations. No, you can’t always control what they eat, all the time… but you have a very important responsibility and a major voice here.

  69. Tina says:

    March 5th, 2012at 1:03 pm(#)

    Ok, I know I need to stick to my guns. I am not supposed to be their “friend” but as you say, the parent. It’s just hard when I have to hear them constantly complain! I took away all their sugar cereals so my daughter informs me this morning that she is hungry but there is nothing good to eat, even though there is fruit/veggies/sausage/eggs, etc. I try to tell them it’s for their health but when you are young you don’t care about that. My father-in-law has uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, etc and had a stroke at 59, a heart attack last summer and is permanently disabled so I ask them if they want to end up like grandpa. So do I tell grandma no more sugar so I can really be the “evil” mom? They talked her into buying them pop tarts last weekend. I hate the way all the junk food is pushed at you on TV/advertisments, etc. I just hope some day they appreciate me for being so mean! LOL

  70. Caroline says:

    March 11th, 2012at 8:32 am(#)

    Seriously great blog and this has to be the best ‘how to’ on giving up sugar that I have read – including all the comments! I know I have issues with stress and need to learn to manage and reduce my stress to help beat my sugar monkey. I know I feel better when I don’t eat sugar, and when the craving hits, I know I will regret it, but have the overwhelming need to have the instant hit to feel better instantly. I will get there and back on it tomorrow, after falling off the wagon again today (but it at least didn’t turn into a binge blowout!)

  71. Mistress Krista says:

    March 11th, 2012at 8:37 am(#)

    @Caroline: One way to practice and get better is simply to practice tolerating discomfort. Try doing a 5- or 10-minute delay at first. Check your watch when the first craving/urge hits. Tell yourself that you are just going to put it off for 5 or 10 minutes while you breathe a little bit. Don’t try to resist the urge. Just agree that you’re going to let it be there for a few minutes. After that, you can do whatever you want. As you practice tolerating the urges and delaying action, you’ll find it gets easier to do.

  72. stefania says:

    April 7th, 2012at 2:38 am(#)

    I stopped eating sugar 3 years ago. I had withdrawal symptoms for months. I was very sick, I couldn’t work, I couldn’ recognize the people around me, I had many panic attacks,I had this strange feeling that there was something not working in my brain. Can withdrawal symptoms be so bad?and for so long?From one point of view my health has improved,I didn’t get any flu, cold..headache since very long time, but on the other side I have moments of deep fatigue,especially during my period. I am so bad that the HR offeredme special accomodations to help me to keep working.One specialist told me that I have an inborn metabolic error and for my body is hard to transform food into energy.I am starting to do test in the hospital to find out which enzyme is not working.When I was eating sugar I was hyperactive and I could do thousands of things.Since I develope hypoglycemia reactive I had to quit all simple carbs.The problem it seems that I have some fatty oxidation disorder and my body find difficult to trasform fat into energy.Basically I am on a high protein diet, I eat all types of meat and vegetables.I have to eat every 4 hours otherwise I would have an attack and I will be sick for weeks. Unfortunately I never experimented the amazing energy after the sugar withdrawal simpotms.I used to be very active and now I have a life style of a 80 years old person, very healthy because I never get sick,but with the energy and the limits of a person of that age. It took years to undestand for me and my doctor what is wrong with my metabolis and we are in processing of find out a specific diagnosis. I understand sugar it is bad to the health but in my condition my body can’t process fat properly and I have hypoglygemia reactive so I am stuck in this situation.Sometimes I don’t undestand if I am craving sugar because I am an addict or because my body need energy, or both.I didn’t meet anybody that found so hard to quit sugar.Eventually the person feel better. This didn’t happen to me. Krista did you ever met a person with a similar conditon to mine?I wish to find a solution and be able to go back to live a full life!If a person can’t eat sugar and fat what else is good for giving a stable energy?

  73. Lynne says:

    April 20th, 2012at 4:42 am(#)

    Awesome and great advice as always! Especially about willpower. Very true that willpower is a flaky bastard. I am anticipating migraine headaches and cement in my veins (I have tried to ditch sugar before), but I didn’t have this advice and a plan in place. I have so many issues I need to address with my diet it’s just disheartening. Sugar need to be the first to go though.

  74. Carole Koudsi says:

    April 24th, 2012at 8:10 am(#)

    GREAT site! I lost over 60 pounds in 2008 and never looked back. I also never really craved sugar and used to (secretly) feel “holier than thou” when I could easily pass up cookies, pies, candy, cakes, brownies and so on — BUT –then I realized there were very few days I could go without some kind of alcoholic beverage (and LOTS of it) and…!DUH!…Alcohol IS sugar! So yeah, I’m an addict/sugaholic as well! Starting NOW, I’m going to try to cold turkey with NO alcohol at all. I think that’s the only way I can succeed. It IS mind over body; I just have to decide I like REALLY feeling good better than “fake” feeling good! I found I really like sparkling mineral water like Perrier, San Pellegrino and Saratoga; so I’m going to try to psyche myself out by believing that can be my special treat (with lime or other natural flavorings). Wish me luck, and all the best to everyone here. I do feel your pain; it took me long enough to realize I’m in the same boat! Thank you so much, Mistress Krista!

  75. Alexis says:

    April 30th, 2012at 4:56 pm(#)

    Apart from being lethargic, I haven’t had much trouble giving up sweets, but I have been trying to say fuck processed food as well. After 2-3 days off it I start getting really horrible diarrhea (sorry, squeamish readers) and it feels like someone has dumped a bucket of battery acid into my abdomen for the first half of my day. After that I sometimes feel better, sometimes my stomach just feels very cramped up and sore, and I’m always dead tired.

    I have asked doctors about it before and the general consensus is to take Zantac (which does nothing), eating something like popcorn before bed (again, nothing) or that it is psychosomatic (how do I treat that??). Is this just a detoxing stage? Could it be psychosomatic? It completely disrupts my work day, which I cannot have. Any thoughts about what’s happening?

    I am also working on kicking an extreme overeating habit as well, don’t know if that could be causing anything. My body is really frustrating me and I don’t know how to fix it.

  76. Mistress Krista says:

    May 1st, 2012at 5:37 am(#)

    @Alexis: I’d link the overeating to the stomach upset. Overeating is definitely a major stress on the body — you know the feeling when you force your body into a deep stretch way beyond its limits? That’s what overeating does to your GI tract. So no wonder it’s a bit cranky. :)

    Let’s ease into this, OK? Do two things:

    1. Keep a food diary of both symptoms and what you eat. After a few days of data collection see if you can start identifying trigger foods. If it’s diarrhea and stomach cramping, look first at grains and dairy as potential problems. I found years ago when I ate grains that whole grains (e.g. oats, “whole grain bread”, wheatberries, etc.) were a major problem.

    2. Slow down eating. You can still eat lots, for now. Just go SLOW. As slow as you can. This will give your digestive tract time to address whatever you’re giving it.

  77. Smith says:

    May 2nd, 2012at 3:23 pm(#)

    I have six days left of 30 sans processed/added sugar/sweeteners, and honestly, right now is the worst time. Granted, I’m quite stressed right now, but I hadn’t thought about candy at all after the first week until now. It’s finals week, I broke up with my boyfriend, and I just want a fricken candy bar, darnit! Six days though. I’m so close to my goal, there’s no sense in giving up now.

    My body feels great. No more mood swings, volatility, or edge-of-depression behavior. That has been wonderful.

    Also, after a lifetime of toilet terror, I am now a regular pooper! Thank you, stumptuous!!

  78. NQ says:

    July 10th, 2012at 10:20 pm(#)

    Okay I just have to say. I found this blog/site today, and this is perhaps the third article I’ve read… and I’m legitimately inspired. Thank you for being hilarious and personal and making me feel like this is something I can commit to. Planning phase begins TODAY.

  79. WonderfullyWorthy says:

    July 31st, 2012at 1:58 pm(#)

    I am a little over a year sugar free and I wish I had had this article for my original cleansing phase! Your blog is great thanks for always having such great content.


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