Sugar, spice, and everything nice, but mostly sugar. Is that what little girls die of?
November 22, 2010 3:07 PM   Subscribe

How bad is it, really, to have a sugar addiction?

In general I am a pretty healthy person. I drink moderately ( 2-4 drinks a week, sometimes none), have never smoked, don't do drugs, birth control is my only prescription medication. I eat a pescetarian diet, with at least one large salad every day, don't drink soda or juice except on rare occasions, always choose whole grains, etc.

But. I am addicted to sugar. I have always joked about it, but it is reaching epic proportions. I eat several servings of dessert every single day. It is not uncommon for me to buy a pack of something (say, 12 large cookies, 24 mini donuts, etc) and finish it by myself within 3-4 days. Yesterday I had 12 oreos, 3 mini-donuts, and 2 large chocolate chip cookies. Granted, it was a weekend. Today, I have had 6 oreos, and that will be it for today, but only because I finished everything else yesterday. Tomorrow I will go to the store and it will begin again.

My favorite things are cookies, but I also eat donuts, brownies, cake, candy, and whatever else sugary I can get my hands on. Given that the rest of my diet is mostly vegetables and fruit, with a couple servings a day of beans, tuna, and whole grains (a pita, a slice of bread, oatmeal, etc) I still fall within my caloric range. I am not overweight. I go on a lot of walks but I have quit exercizing other than that. I would like my skin to be clearer but it's not terrible. I have a little cellulite on my upper legs but that's probably normal. I've been this same weight, within 10 lbs, for my entire adult life, seeminly no matter how much or little I eat, or how healthy I am or not. There was a period of about a year, about a year ago, where I ate extremely healthy (because I could not afford junk food) and I looked and felt pretty much the same. My blood pressure is great.

I know I shouldn't eat that much junk food, let alone sugar. But it is so, so hard for me to go without it. I am distracted and obsessed and anxious if I don't get my sugar. I can't concentrate.

So how bad is it for me really? Am I going to drop dead of something? Or is it building slowly over time? Or, as long as I don't have other health issues, is it pretty much fine?

YANMD but let's be honest, I'm not going to one for this unless something were to change drastically.
posted by ohsnapdragon to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
The primary risk is insulin resistance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_resistance

This article describes some of the related risks.

http://articlesunlimited.holisticnetworkexchange.com/inflammation_sugar.html

If you are not gaining weight and your triglyercides are low, then you may have less to worry about from these risks than other folks who exhibit problem signs.
posted by Aethelwer at 3:12 PM on November 22, 2010


I've been this same weight, within 10 lbs, for my entire adult life, seeminly no matter how much or little I eat, or how healthy I am or not.

i wish i were the type to collect nickels every time i heard a phrase, because this one would have made me rich. depending on your age, you might find that this drastically changes at some point. i know a lot of 20-30 year olds who thought this, and then 40 came around and almost all of them are carrying a spare tire.
posted by nadawi at 3:16 PM on November 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


I go on a lot of walks but I have quit exercizing other than that.

Why have you quit exercising? How's your energy level?

You sound like ex-me. I quit sugar because I had no energy at all, ever, and I had read so much about how sugar messes with that. Three years later, I'm still far from the world's most energetic person, but it has improved greatly.

I am distracted and obsessed and anxious if I don't get my sugar.

This sounds like a health effect to me. I should also say I feel a lot less anxious on the whole without sugar.

I am not overweight.


But how close to overweight are you, and are you over-fat? (Meaning your BMI is okay, and your body doesn't look like it has much fat, but you have internal fat.) I wasn't overweight either, but when I quit sugar, I lost 15 lbs without meaning to at all.

I have also read that sugar depresses the immune system.

Finally, how are your teeth? I am lucky to have won the genetic lottery as far as tooth health goes, but if I hadn't, I know I'd be in deep trouble at this point.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:18 PM on November 22, 2010


Get your triglycerides and cholesterol checked, and talk to your doctor about the results. I thought I was pretty healthy until I did that (as part of a routine physical), but my doctor informed me in no uncertain terms that I would end up with severe liver problems and/or diabetes within a few years if I didn't do something about it.
posted by shponglespore at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2010


So how bad is it for me really? Am I going to drop dead of something? Or is it building slowly over time? Or, as long as I don't have other health issues, is it pretty much fine?

You're fucking up your body, but doing it so slowly that you probably won't really notice until some permanent damage is done, probably diabetes.

Once you have diabetes, you're waging a steadily losing battle until it screws up other parts of your body and you die early from heart complications, which is hopefully before you get slow or non healing sores on your feet (scroll down to Complications for gross possibilities) and have to get one or both amputated.

Go to the doctor, RIGHT FUCKING NOW so he can start monitoring you and get on your ass about changing your habits. Do not fuck around with this. Once you've destroyed the cells that keep your glucose levels regular they are gone and you're up the creek with nothing but an expensive disease that you can only manage through diet, exercise and pricking your fingers for blood several times a day. If this sounds fun, then by all means, continue what you're doing, but I would not recommend it.

Eventually you'll reach the point where you'd sick, tired and hungry all the time, but since the damage is so gradual, along with the change to your body, it'll feel natural, like you've always been that way. So you'll be miserable, even as you're shoving more sugar into your mouth, looking for that few minutes of bliss, that is slowly killing you.

Go to the doctor.
posted by nomadicink at 3:31 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


cookies, but I also eat donuts, brownies, cake, candy

Not that sugar is good, but what strikes me as truly bad about that list is not the sugar but all the other crap that's in those foods. The fat (and not good healthy kinds of fat) and all those unpronouncable ingredients. Unless you're making all this stuff yourself, but you indicate that you're not. It sounds like you're worried about eating too much junk but don't want to give up sugar. If that's the case, you might try first just switching to plain (dark) chocolate and home-made brownies and cookies and cake instead of store-bought crap full of preservatives and who knows what. I think that switch would be, if not healthy, then at least healthier that you are now.

I say that not as any kind of medical expert but simply as someone who has gone through periods where my largely diet consisted of fruit, vegetables, and chocolate, and who loves to bake, but who can't eat processed junk food without feeling horrible.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:44 PM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


How apropos, I read this just this morning: High Sugar Diet Dangers.
posted by smoke at 3:54 PM on November 22, 2010


Different people have different tolerances for sugar. Do you have hypoglycemic symptoms(shaky, anxious, mean, and/or disoriented until you can eat)? Do you have a family history of diabetes? Does your bio family have a sweet tooth, but no ill effects? Are you familiar with symptoms of (pre)diabetes should they start appearing?

6 oreos a day is not a big deal. Three big cookies a day, with more once in a while, is still not a big deal for an otherwise healthy person. The red flags above are that you're starting to worry about it and that you're carefully tracking what you eat. For those, eat mindfully, and don't do other things while you're eating. Stop eating when you're full. Don't get caught in the "cookies-are-forbidden-but-so-good" cycle - it's better to have a cookie than obsess over it. Get bloodwork (cholesterol, triglycerides, maybe glucose level) checked next time you see a doc so you can stop worrying.

(ianad, of course)
posted by momus_window at 4:14 PM on November 22, 2010


Sounds to me more like a craving for fat than sugar. Donuts and oreos arent a great source of pure sugar.

Have you considered adding more foods to your regular diet? I suspect a cheeseburger a day would take care of the craving without the sugar. And there's probably a healthier and maybe pescatarian way of adding a bit of fat to your diet. Veggies fried in oil?
posted by mmoncur at 4:23 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How bad is it, really, to have a sugar addiction?

Bad.

See your doctor and get some blood work done to find out how bad it is in your own case.

But you're quite right to describe it as an addiction, and it would certainly do no harm and may do considerable good to kick it. The most useful thing I've ever found to keep my own life-dominating food cravings under control is regular dietary fibre supplementation: my relationship with food has been far healthier since I started eating psyllium husk morning and evening. In fact I only started doing that religiously as a result of needing to deal with arse-tearing side effects from the second most useful thing (now deprecated) which I now believe I wouldn't have needed had I started earlier with the psyllium.
posted by flabdablet at 4:33 PM on November 22, 2010


Wow, I could have written your post myself. I've cut back a lot, but am not and never will be willing to give up those kinds of foods entirely. To slightly mitigate the worst effects, I make sure to eat them with some type of protein and fiber to cut down on the blood sugar spike, and to make the desserts at home to avoid the preservatives, etc. mentioned by others. Seconding the dark chocolate idea, too.

Also, it might be helpful to post a list of the terrible health effects of sugar somewhere in the kitchen, or at your desk, or wherever the cravings come on the most. Reading about how it damages the small blood vessels in the eye put me off junk food for a while.

And to answer your question, if you eat well otherwise, a few cookies a week aren't going to hurt you. What you described as eating on the weekend, though, will.
posted by martianna at 5:13 PM on November 22, 2010


I know someone just like you. By the time she was in her forties, she had full-blown diabetes.

She still needed sugar. So she kept eating cakes and sweets.

Her husband tried to help her wean off the sugar.

But after 20 years, a habit like that is hard to kick.

In the fifties, she was insulin dependent, and by the time she was in her late fifties, she was on dialysis.

She still needed sugar. The emotional mood swings were so bad that she cried and went into hysterics if it was withheld.

She had a toe amputated.

She still craved sugar. Even just 1 treat a day.

She had another toe amputated.

She still needed sugar, despite 12 years of diabetes related agony.

She died in her early sixties.


All because of her sugar addiction.


I don't think your sugar consumption is bad for you now, but everyone's body's ability to process "bad things" changes as they get older. I know am just hitting my thirties and can no longer process alcohol or bad foods like I used to.

The issue is not that you consume a lot of sugar, it's that you can identify that you are ADDICTED. Get this under control and become able to control your needs for sugar, and you'll be fine in later years. Keep going like this and feeding the addiction, and you'll probably have some sort of physiological effects down the track.
posted by shazzam! at 5:15 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being in the BMI "healthy" weight range is not a charm against diabetes or pancreatitis or high cholesterol, as others have said.

Can you meet with a nutritionist? Because most medical schools only give a week or two on nutrition, so doctors are rarely that well-informed about it anyway.

My guess is that if you are filling up so much of your daily calorie intake with nutrient-sparse processed foods, you are likely not getting the fiber and micronutrients you need.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:29 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was you. Then I watched this video Sugar: The Bitter Truth of a talk given by a doctor in California. He lays out in excruciating detail all the scientific reasons that sugar is actually not just toxic but a real poison for human beings. The first week without sugar was hard, but you know what? I feel phenomenal for the first time in my life. I've got energy and my body feels good. You are worth it. Watch the whole 90 minutes and see if you can still stomach sugar. I mentally replace "sugar/HFCS" with "maggots" in my head whenever I see it on a label.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:31 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


it is so, so hard for me to go without it. I am distracted and obsessed and anxious if I don't get my sugar. I can't concentrate.

I just want to say that a lot of people go through these kinds of withdrawal symptoms as part of the process of weaning ourselves off of the stuff. IME, the worst of it passed in a couple of weeks of gritting my teeth as my thoughts focused irresistibly on sweets and, uh, I found myself actively watching chocolate as it sat in vending machines. But once through the initial withdrawal, my body got used to it, the cravings lessened and eventually stopped. It's a kind of freedom.

Love your title.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:40 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I generally eat more sugar than I'd like, too. About once a year I cut it out for a week. I try to get sugary goods with protein and from reasonably healthy sources, for example dried apricots from whole foods, other dried fruits, trail mixes, my own and from WF and TJs. High quality sweets often taste great even if they aren't as packed with sugar. For example, oreos are very sweet and they have filing in addition to that, which is almost 100% sugar. A good quality cinnamon babka is more delicious and less sweet. Crepes are sweet but don't have that intense sweetness of cookies or donuts.

When I want to stop using sugar for a while (I think it's appropriate to use the same sort of language you'd use when talking about crystal meth), the best substitute for me is a home-made panini with pesto or sundried tomatoes or something like that. Or just a few sandwiches with good butter, avocado and a tomato.
posted by rainy at 5:44 PM on November 22, 2010


People seriously moralize about sugar and about addiction. Put the two together and you get posts about worst case scenarios as if everyone who eats a sugary diet is headed for diabetic hell. If this were true, we'd have a helluva lot more diabetes than we actually do and we'd be seeing lowered life expectancy in the West, which we aren't.

The body runs on sugar but all food will eventually kill us. If you want to live miserably, caloric restriction (cut everything by about 40%) will probably extend your life. Or just feel like it did.

Bottom line: moderation is good. which doesn't mean insane elimination diets or 20 cookies a day every day.
posted by Maias at 6:03 PM on November 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


I am not sure sugar is in itself the root of all nutritional evil. It's basically very similar on a nutritional level to white bread. There are, however, definitely health risks with eating foods high in saturated fat and trans fat - e.g. higher risk of heart disease. Sadly, prepackaged sugary foods tend to be pretty high in those types of fat – so like your oreos and donuts (particularly anything that has partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (transfat).

The other thing to look at, besides saturated/trans fat is the glycemic index (GI) of foods, how quickly the food raises blood sugar. Some foods, like donuts, and things with white flour, will quickly raise blood sugar because the body readily absorbs it. Eating too many foods with a high GI can contribute to diabetes and weight gain. Sugar, interestingly, by itself is only moderate in GI. Here’s an article from the University of Sydney which suggests that sugar is not the cause of all diabetes problems: http://ginews.blogspot.com/2006/02/dispelling-some-myths-about-diabetes.html

I have to admit I, too, love sweet stuff. I found a way to kind of make it "less bad" is to make "healthy" versions of my favorite sweets. So, for example, I'll make cookies or muffins, only with wholewheat flour, applesauce or spread instead of butter, and fruit, like applesauce and bananas, for sweeteners (or Splenda is also an option). You can also add tons of healthy stuff to them too, like nuts (I like walnuts), raisins or dried fruit, ground flaxseed, or oats (all of which are supposed to be really good for you). If you're into chocolate, you can add dark chocolate chips, which is supposed to relatively better for you compared to milk choclate. These extras will help lower the GI, add nutritional value, and are just plain tasty.

I am constantly amazed how good homemade baked goods taste. Like you can basically make pseudo-health foods that look and taste like naughty sweet foods. I used to be like you and buy tons and tons of sweets all the time, but now I just bake a batch of muffins every week and just eat those whenever I get the urge. I suppose it would obviously be better if I busted out a salad, but sometimes you can't have it all. And, at least there's some redeeming value to my homemade sweets.

Eating healthy is not easy, but you're definitely not that bad (congrats on being a pescetarian! That's something I want to try). Most importantly, you're getting out there, getting the info and headed in the right direction. Best of luck!
posted by strekker at 6:13 PM on November 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Um, you're probably fine. I think people are overreacting. Everything is an addiction. I mean, I know a dude who drinks a fifth every night. THAT is an addiction. You had six Oreos. And?? If your doctors say you're fine, I wouldn't worry about it, unless you would prefer not to have the bad feelings when you don't have sugar - in which case you could try and wean yourself off the stuff. But really, you're probably OK.
posted by citron at 6:32 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of bad information about diabetes in this thread. In particular, a diet high in sugar is not a risk factor for diabetes. (As has been pointed out, the foods you're eating a lot of are also high in fat, and a high-fat diet is a risk factor for diabetes-- but I doubt you're really eating a high fat diet if you're a pescatarian.)

There are two dangers from a diet high in sugar. One is overeating. If your weight is stable, you're not overeating. The other danger is that you're not getting enough micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) because the calories from sugar are crowding out calories from more nutritive sources. It's not possible to make an guesses about this without knowing more about your diet, particularly about what and how much nutritive food you're eating on a daily basis. Depending on how many calories you're eating (a function of your metabolism and activity), you could be getting super amounts of everything, or you could be heading for a deficiency. If you want to post or mail more info, it would be possible to make an estimate regarding this.

Remember that there are a lot of people with strong beliefs about food. There are many different, contradictory beliefs about diet, and they are frequently held with near-religious conviction. For nearly any dietary choice you make, you are going to run into people who will tell you that you are going to die painfully if you continue.
posted by nathan v at 6:47 PM on November 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am always surprised when I read threads like this and no one has mentioned that there is a connection between carbohydrates and serotonin.

If you are eating sugary foods mostly to thwart bad moods, there may be more than one way to approach the problem.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:04 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Talk to your doctor/therapist about what you can do to moderate your behavior properly and not rely on food for anti-anxiety self-medication. I'm not convinced you're on the road to diabetes hell*, just a bit worried for you that you seem to be using sugar and/or fat to deal with something else.

* Cannot agree more with Maias that something about sugar triggers a kind of panicky worst case scenario overreaction from people... not really sure what that's about.
posted by asciident at 7:16 PM on November 22, 2010


Well, this guy has eaten pretty much nothing but candy for 40+ years and he's not dead or obese, but I'd probably get my blood tests done more often, especially blood sugar and A1c.
posted by clerestory at 9:19 PM on November 22, 2010


The way I look at it is that if you are doing something to yourself that could be harmful, often enough that you start to worry about it or feel guilty about it (or think you're addicted or NEED it), it's time to cut back. I gave up caffeine cold turkey in the beginning of September and now I sharply limit my intake (no more than 2 glasses of pop per week - I don't drink coffee) and I feel good about it.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:25 PM on November 22, 2010


If this were true, we'd have a helluva lot more diabetes than we actually do and we'd be seeing lowered life expectancy in the West, which we aren't

That looked like a claim worth testing. So I went and collected some sugar consumption data and some diabetes mortality data and graphed them.
posted by flabdablet at 2:34 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


One thing about addiction is that you forget how you felt before you were addicted. In the case of sugar, you've probably been "addicted" since you were a small child. I'm successfully fighting a sugar addiction. After being nearly sugar-free for a month I slipped up today because chocolate and sugar are the "only things" (that's the addiction talking) that cure my monthly cramps. I felt "better" but in a very drugged, superficial way. Mostly, I got a terrible headache, stomachache, and felt lousy for the rest of the day. This experience strengthened my belief that, for me, sugar consumption is not a good thing.

Maybe you will not feel this way. But I think it is worth it to fight through the difficulty and cut out sugar for at least two weeks so you can have something real to compare it to.

Also: do you know how much pumpkin pie, peach crisp, homemade cookies, and macarons you could enjoy if you ended your reliance and calories spent on packaged food that you, being addicted, are perhaps not truly tasting, appreciating, and enjoying?
posted by acidic at 6:05 AM on November 23, 2010


Thanks everyone for your input! There's a lot of information to sift through. To answer a few questions ...


I actually enjoy baking and used to make all my own treats as was suggested - whole grain muffins with chocolate chips and nuts, banana bread, applesauce muffins, etc. That did work, in that it fulfilled my cravings, and everyone is right that it would be a marked improvement over packaged foods. So step one is probably to begin doing that again.

I have always had a difficult relationship with food in that is has been hard for me not to veer to extremes. As a kid I would get obsessed with one food and make it nearly the entirety of my diet until I got bored of it and moved on to a different food. (Once it was roasted peanuts, once sweet potatoes, once ice cream ... I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted because I was always a very skinny child.) When I reached my teens, I fell into the "calories are the enemy" trap and spent several years obsessively restricting. I had/have reached a healthy, balanced place for the most part, but in the last six months, as I said, this sugar addiction has been spiraling out of control. But, at the same time, I am afraid to become too black and white in my views toward sugar and make it "the enemy" because I am afraid it will only trigger me to become obsessive about my food intake again.

But I definitely need to cut back because some of the risk factors mentioned here are definitely present: my mom had gestational diabetes, my father's side of the family all die of heart attacks, I have often though I'm hypoglycemic since I get so crabby and shaky when I need to eat, etc.

I am going to ask my partner to be my witness as I transition into eating "healthier" sugars by making my own treats, substituting dried fruit on occasion, and eating them with protein/fiber to minimize the blood spikes, as well as eating less of it in general. Hopefully with her support I can be careful not to slip back into disordered eating.

Thanks again ... not marking anyone's answers as best because they've all given me food for though ... pun unfortunately intended.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 6:46 AM on November 23, 2010


Is it possible that you are binging on sweets because you just aren't getting enough calories with your pescatarian eating? Lots of veggies are great and great for you but you can eat a whole lot of them and still have a calorie deficit for the day. So you may be compensating for that by having these cravings for calorie dense junk.
posted by WickedPissah at 6:57 AM on November 23, 2010


I saw an analysis of weight gain where the author showed how much error between your caloric need and intake would result in how big a weight gain over time and suggested that it's not that obese people consistently gorge themselves, but rather that their internal calorie accounting is off by about a lifesaver a day over a couple years. Work out how many calories you're actually eating a day. Does that number seem at odds with what a person with your body and activity level ought to be eating? If your lifestyle is changing due to job, kids, or whatever and you're getting less exercise (which you suggest is the case) what then?

You need X calories a day to do whatever it is you do. You also need a host of other things (vitamins, minerals, protein (particularly the amino acids you can't make), salts, fat, fiber, etc.) This list is readily available. The next question you should ask is, "I'm getting enough, but not too many calories; but am I getting enough of all these other things?" I'd specifically suggest that you look hard at protein and fiber.

The web is full of handwaving freakoutry about sugar with all kinds of obscure metabolic pathways being dragged into the light of day and talked about in dire tones. I remain convinced that glycogen is a feature, not a bug and question the logic that makes fructose "a poison" since it also makes hemoglobin a poison, which is silly.

On the other hand, if people had to pay me $5 a day as a penalty for every day they failed to get more exercise and eat less in direct conflict with their doctor's recommendations, I'd be bumping Merck, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson off the DJ30 in the next year or two.

On the other, other hand, people who have had heart attacks fail to follow their doctor's recommendations something like two times out of three. If a heart attack isn’t going to convince people they have a lifestyle issue, what chance does handwaving freakoutry have?

You can lead a healty lifestyle and eat a half-dozen cookies a day. If a half dozen cookies a day IS your lifestyle, you are going to have problems.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:59 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, a couple more notes I forgot to mention:

I quit exercizing because it was boring, and never got less boring as people claimed it would, and I decided I didn't want to spend an hour of every day doing something boring, especially as it didn't seem to show much benefit. Probably the benefit was internal, and if it were necessary, I'd begin again, though grudgingly. I do have less energy now, but I am also eating less (naturally - I'm not as hungry as I used to be when I was working out daily.) Like I said, I do go on a long walk with my dog almost every day, but I should probably find something more aerobic to do a few times a week, like dancing or roller blading or rock climbing, all things I enjoy but won't do unless I plan it.

Since several people are asking, here's a typical day's food:
Breakfast - grits and an egg, or refried beans on toast
"Lunch" - two pieces of fruit (e.g. an apple and a banana), wheat thins, hummus
Dinner - A large salad of cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, onion, and tuna with low fat dressing.
Dessert - 500 - 600 calories of sweets, mostly in the evenings

And once or twice a week I will have 2 beers, or 2 glasses of wine, or 2 drinks. Always 2, because that is all I need to be quite drunk. I'm 5'2" and 112 lbs.

I think another big reason I eat so much sugar, looking at the timeline, is because like many people I like to snack in the evenings, and since I prefer sweet over salty, I eat a bunch of sugary foods and constantly strengthen my "sweet tolerance." I think a piece of rich dark chocolate and a few pieces of dried fruit would satisfy me just as much as a few cookies, and then maybe after that I can find better snack foods to satsify that munchies desire - maybe popcorn, roasted chickpeas, sweet potato chips, or something like that?
posted by ohsnapdragon at 7:21 AM on November 23, 2010


I have often though I'm hypoglycemic since I get so crabby and shaky when I need to eat, etc.

This is me. I am also a person with a major sweet tooth and always have been. And I have been really pleased with the effect that cutting added sugar out of my diet has had. I used to sort of spend every day on an up-and-down blood sugar roller coaster, having spells of anxiety and shakiness and spells of drowsiness and listlessness-- as well as unpredictable and insatiable appetites and cravings. The sugar is a vicious cycle if you're sensitive to it. You start to need it because you've been eating it, and eating it results in a blood sugar crash and super sweet treats help you bounce back. Not eating sugar has evened things out a lot for me. More energy, less irritability, fewer headaches. It's hard, because I love sugar so, so much; I do let myself have occasional treats, but I try to keep them within reason and and have them along with a meal so that they don't have as stark an effect on my blood sugar. I've also found that the less sugar I eat, particularly in its more concentrated forms, the sweeter things taste, so the cookies and candies I used to binge on are much less appealing then they were.

It strikes me, looking at your diet, that you're restricting your diet a lot during the day and then eating a big load of calories in the evening. This is also something I tend to do, and I find it's not very good for me. I eat like a saint all day, and by evening I'm overly stressed and ravenous and worn-out from giving my body insufficient funds to do its work. Then I shove a bunch of crap down my throat, and the resulting digestive lull helps relax me and put me to bed. It's not the easiest or most efficient way to eat, by far. Again, I feel a lot better if I space my calorie intake out more, eat more during the day, with lots of protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates, which set off my blood sugar instability.
posted by bookish at 8:07 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


everything in moderation. including moderation.
posted by narcotizingdysfunction at 12:21 PM on November 23, 2010


Breakfast - grits and an egg, or refried beans on toast
"Lunch" - two pieces of fruit (e.g. an apple and a banana), wheat thins, hummus
Dinner - A large salad of cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, onion, and tuna with low fat dressing.
Dessert - 500 - 600 calories of sweets, mostly in the evenings


Just scanning that quickly-- I'd be worried about the iron content, and probably vitamin D. It doesn't look like a diet particularly high in fat or sugar though. Both of those deficiencies are fairly easy to test for, so you might want to share your concerns with a doc, if you've got one. Otherwise, you might want to take a three-day food survey (what you eat, and just as importantly, how much) and compare your numbers to USRDAs. Here's an online database that you can use to figure out how much of each nutrient you're getting. Here's a PDF that lists recommended intakes by sex and age.
posted by nathan v at 6:55 PM on November 23, 2010


One more follow-up - after a lot of contemplation and some experimentation, I think some of you are right when you say these cravings are somewhat based on my body's desire for more calories/fat period. I've begun adding a little bit more fat and protein to my diet by adding another egg, a couple pieces of cheese, some yoghurt, etc to my diet.

I also decided to go with fat free chocolate pudding for my go-to dessert. It's eighty calories, it's chocolate-y, it comes in a pre-set serving size which prevents me from binging, and they are only about 25 cents a carton. Cool. So far, it is working well for me. I'm still allowing myself to have more "luxury" desserts on special occasions.

Thanks everyone.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2011


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