Kicking the "sugar monkey"

Arrrgh!!! I had this all written out and we had a power fluctuation and I lost it all… Well, here goes again…

I’m trying to kick the “sugar” monkey off my back…

I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life. I’ve had a few successful diets (in that I lost weight) but even then, I was “cheating” while I was dieting…

I’ve been a type II diabetic for about the last 2-3 yrs. In the past 6 months, I had been completely ignoring that fact and going crazy with sugar consumption, especially regular pop (coke, pepsi, etc), cookies, candy, and ice cream. About a month ago, I realized I was out of control and decided to do something about it. I cleaned out the house and decided to take a week’s vacation to get a start on a new plan.

I committed myself to completely eliminating sugar pop, candy, cookies, ice cream, and the like. Other menu items that might contain some sugar (such as salad dressing or other condiments) would be allowed as long as I wasn’t over-indulging. I have stuck with my plan 100% thus far, and have lost a bit over 10 lbs thus far. I was having some pretty bad cravings for a while, and got some sugar free items to help get past them such as the sugar free Hershey chocolates, and sugar free Jello and pudding. I always limited myself to their intake once a day, and limited myself to the package suggested serving size. In the past 5-7 days, the cravings have moderated quite a bit and are now manageable.

In the past, my diets always battled my mind - I could rationalize anything… So I am very cautious about “rationalizing” my way out of this plan… Yet, in the past few weeks I have thought about how I’ve heard that saying you’ll “never” have something again is bad… and I’ve been wondering if it might be advisable to allow myself to have one sugar-type item every so often, such as once a month, or whatever… Set a strict schedule for both amount and frequency beforehand and stick with it.

I wonder though, might that “restart” the cravings for sugar, like an alcoholic taking that first drink??? Or is that all in my mind?

And is the whole concept of “not saying never” just another rationalization my mind is using to try and talk myself out of my diet???

So…I’d appreciate any input from others who have battled the sugar monkey…

Just for anyone curious, before beginning my plan, my blood glucose levels had been running in the 140s-170s, and since beginning the plan, I’ve been in the 90s-100s… a very significant improvment for me…

I’m still battling mine. I don’t have any answers. But I wanted to stop in and offer support. Good luck! :slight_smile:

I gave up sweets for Lent but I did allow myself a little good dark chocolate very evening. Looking forward to my “treat” made it easier to bypass sweets during the day and didn’t make me crave more. By the end of Lent (which was really, really long this year), I totally wasn’t craving sugar at all…

Gad, I hate that damn sugar monkey. Not only is it on my back, but it’s wrapped firmly around my neck. Stupid thing.

For me, I find that I need to severely limit myself to no more than two sugar servings per day, and that includes my Coke in the morning. (Please don’t get on my case about what is an actual “serving”–I’m talking about MY servings, within reason, not like half a cake or anything.) I usually ask myself, “What do you want for your other sugar serving?” Sometimes it’s a scoop of ice-cream, sometimes it’s a piece of dark chocolate, but I really stop and think about what I want, and I’ve found it helpful when I need to say, “Um, yeah, I’d really like to have 5 miniature 3 Muskateer candy bars, but I’d really like a square of Ghiradelli dark chocolate much more.”

I did fall off the monkey wagon not too long ago–I baked a beautiful and absolutely wonderful double layer dark chocolate cake. I ate about half the cake in two days. I was absolutely miserable with the sugar jitters, the lethargic feelings, the uncontrolable urging for MORE sugar for days afterwards. What helped was to cut out the sugar completely (including any fruit, and my daily Coke) for about a week. I was miserable.

About a week before my period is difficult as well (damn hormones!), but I still try to watch my sugar intake. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not.

One more thing…I also found it helpful to cut out my carbs (pasta, breads, cereals, etc.) and increase my dairy (nonfat yogurt, skim milk). That helps with the sugar cravings probably more than anything.

I’m aware that other carbs (pasta, bread, etc) metabolize into the system the same as sugar, but I don’t get the crazy cravings for them like I do for the “real” stuff. Given the choice between a bag of potato chips and a candy bar, I’d pick the candy bar 97% of the time. My g/f is just the opposite - she’d pick the chips 100% of the time.

Right now I think most of my cravings are more “memories” than real cravings…remembering how much I enjoyed eating certain things, and such…

I’ve been doing so well this time, and I really feel like this “change” is something of my own doing, not something forced on me by someone else. I just don’t want to screw it up…

I’m not sure how much this will help you, I am battling my cigarette monkey and it helps me. Don’t think about sugar as a reward. Paint the picture of what sugar does to you. It makes you overweight, it raises your blood sugar level, it causes you pain when removed from your diet. Make it the bad guy, not the reward. Give yourself a REAL reward when you attain your goals. Get a manicure, soak in a bubblebath, buy a pair of shoes. Take your kid out of school and take them to a museum. There is something that you like that is a positive thing in your life. Don’t make it the sugar.

When I was on the Atkin’s diet, I found that dark chocolate chips were really enough. I had 5 of them a day if I felt like it and it is surprising that it really was enough “sweet.” Analyze what you like about the sugar, is the the sweet? The fat? Find the answer.

I didn’t realize I was “addicted” to sugar until I quit it nearly cold turkey about 2 years ago. I was close to 200 lbs, sluggish and depressed. I was a “bingey” eater, if I opened a package of cookies and took out two cookies, I would eat the cookies and IMMEDIATELY want two more cookies, then two more. I always had to have the largest size (venti lattes, giant muffins). I ate a ton of processed crap, spent a ton of money in vending machines (M&Ms or Twix bars nearly everyday) and used an enormous cereal bowl for “servings” of ice cream/chocolate syrup when I watched TV. I used to drowse off in my office almost every afternoon. I had been a yoyo dieter, usually able to restrict calories for a short time and lose weight, but I ALWAYS gained the weight back and more.

Almost exactly 2 years ago, I had a strange “electric” moment. I decided to change how I ate to make myself healthier. All of my grandparents had died relatively young (cancer, cancer, diabetes, complications of alzheimers), so I was interested in food as disease prevention. I read an interesting book called Super Foods Rx: 14 Foods that Will Change Your Life that really made the science of nutrition accessible. The book explained that certain foods were really good for you (tomatoes, oranges, salmon, spinach, blueberries, walnuts etc) and I decided to eat as many super foods as possible.

I didn’t mean to give up sugar, really, it was a byproduct of my original goal to eat better, but I cut out nearly all processed foods and ate mostly whole foods. I still ate lots of fruit, which was great and satisfying my sweet tooth. To make a long story short, I lost nearly 70 lbs and have kept the weight off for over a year.

The REALLY interesting thing (well, to me anyway) is that I don’t miss sugar at all. I remember standing in line at Qdoba, waiting for my healthy naked vegetarian burrito (rice, black beans, salsa, romaine) and eyeing the chocolate chip cookies by the register. In the past, I would have had to have had one - what kind of dinner didn’t include dessert? I realized I had no interest in the cookies, none. It was really fascinating to look at the cookies and not want a cookie. Around the same time I participated in a conference that started every morning with a heaping table of delectable pastries - my big weakness. No interest in the pastries.

I don’t crave sugar normally. I seem to have re-trained my taste buds, I can’t believe how good healthy food can taste. I love natural peanut butter on whole grain toast, I love fresh raspberries, mangos, I think a baked sweet potato is decadently sweet. I snack on sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes and think they taste good.

I know the sugar monster is still there. Last year, a co-worker made me a chocolate cake with chocolate/orange icing for my birthday. I accepted a piece and after eating it immediately thought “that was so good, I wish I could have some more cake.” I still don’t eat a lot of sugar for fear of going out of control again. I would never buy cookies or ice cream for the house. I limit sweet treats to “controllable” situations like splitting a dessert in a restaurant. I don’t eat out of vending machines anymore and I don’t start everyday with a venti caramel latte with whip and a 500 calorie muffin. I don’t fall asleep in my office anymore, either.

I had my glucose tested as part of a health screening earlier this year and it was 76 :slight_smile: considering my family history of diabetes, it’s awesome. I lost a ton of weight and I look better in clothes but the best part about losing weight was getting healthy - I feel fabulous, so much energy. I have to do a lot of shopping/planning/making lunches/packing snacks to maintain this lifestyle but it is completely worth it.

Hi there Lips_Obsession. Congratulations on your success so far! Well done! You’ve got a lot more success to come, I’m sure, so look forward to it!

A few points that might help.

  1. Never go at this as if there’s something wrong with you or you’re a bad person. You aren’t. You’re fine. Somewhere along the line your mind learned a script that went something like, “Sugary stuff = good / nice / reward / comfort”. Now, you’re just learning a different script. “Sugary stuff = overweight / ill-health / poor nutrition / lowered self-esteem”. And you can learn to associate other things with “good / nice / reward / comfort” that don’t harm you.

  2. You haven’t mentioned any form of regular exercise. Trying to achieve this positive personal change through diet alone is very, very tough. Joining a gym or otherwise taking regular physical exercise (at least 3 times a week) is a great idea - the exercise and the new way of eating re-enforce one another.

  3. I’d recommend buying ‘Body For Life’ by Bill Philipps. Ignore all the body bulding / muscle man stuff. Just read the book for the sections on nutrition, mental attitude and cardio-vascular exercise. Lots of good info in there. He even has a plan where one day a week you eat whatever the heck you want!

  4. I don’t want to get all pop-psych on you, but there’s probably a part of you (inner child? rebellious spirit?) that will fight back if you say to yourself that you can’t have sugar and sweet stuff. You might like to learn to think and feel about it differently. See the reality: you can have all the sugar and sweet stuff money can buy. But you just don’t want it because of the consequences, and because you’re making different choices now and aiming towards a different goal.

  5. Understand that every time you take in sugar, your body will raid that for energy rather than breaking down its own reserves (stored as fat). So every bit of sugar is one step away from your goals.

  6. Don’t tell yourself ‘the craving won’t go’ or ‘it’s no use’. Every time you articulate this thought you re-enforce it! Try thinking and feeling about it in a different way. ‘I used to live one way, and I achieved one kind of result (being overweight and unhappy about it and associated factors) and now I’m living a different way and achieving different results. And I prefer this way. No big deal.’

  7. It’s not the sugar you crave. The sugar is just a means to an end. What you crave is the sense of comfort / reward / pleasure that it used to deliver. So look for non-self-harm substitutes. Make this a serious pursuit! You owe yourself every kind of fun, fulfilment, pleasure, satisfaction, comfort and enjoyment you can get your hands on that isn’t self-harming or detrimental to your self-esteem!

  8. Once in a while, go get a sugary snack or what you used to consider a ‘treat’. Sit in front of it and look at it. Look at all the glossy packaging and wrapping designed to make it look appealing. Look at the ingredients - all the chemical crap someone somewhere wants you to shove into your system so that they can make money. Make a note of the time. Assess how good you feel about life in general - with its ups and downs, blessings and problems. Think how long it will take you to eat it - 5 minutes? 10 minuites? Realise that afterwards the world will be exactly the same - same blessings and problems - except that you’ll be a few pennies down on the deal, someone else will be a few pennies richer, and you’ll have moved slightly away from being the slimmer, healthier, more energetic and more self-respecting person you are going to be. Not a very good proposition, is it? Eat the snack or sling it in the bin, and show your contempt for it.

It’s not a monkey on your back. It’s not an insurmountable problem. It’s just old mind scripts and some lack of awareness about choices, alternatives and your direction in life. Over-write the mind scripts with better ones. And educate yourself a little more about the options and alternatives. Enjoy every second!

I would wish you good luck, but you really don’t need it. You can do this, and you will.

Still fighting super-sugarbeast daily…but been doing it for over a year now and it IS getting better! I found it was unreasonable to tell myself I’d never eat sugar again, I couldn’t live up to that standard no matter what. But I did make a deal with myself: no more “junky” sugar, like ding-dongs & crappy artificial chocolate candy bars or foodstuffs. If I wanted a sugar treat, it had to be the “good stuff”. real dark chocolate, real caramel, or good ice cream. And I would SAVOR it as I ate it, really tasting the creamy texture in every bite. As a result, I have learned to detest the very junky sugary items, and I virtually never even want them anymore. I have learned, as Auntbeast says, that the real, rich stuff is satisfying at very small quantities if I am enjoying it slowly and savoring the goodness.

I do think it is agreeable to limit the # of times you indulge per week to a special reward or two, but then eat something natural, rich and luscious, and learn to taper quantities as you go. Also go out and BUY your sugar treat when you are rewarding yourself. Never keep it around the house. If you have to go get your treat, occasionally it doesn’t seem worth the effort, and you will skip it altogether. Also you will generally buy in smaller portions if buying & savoring at the moment of reward as well, and not have “leftovers” to take back to the house. YMMV, naturally.

Best of luck to you! Sugar, tobacco and heroin…aren’t they the three most serious addictions to break, ever?


I, too, am a sugar addict. I got off sugared sodas years ago, and just do diet sodas now, but my real problem is baked goods. My cravings for baked goods (doughnuts, cake, cookies, brownies, pastries) burn with the fire of a thousand suns. It just takes over my mind! However, living with my boyfriend who is a bit of a health nut, I don’t keep these things in the house (well rarely). However, every once in a while, when I go grocery shopping by myself, and I see the Krispy Cremes or whatever, I am just compelled to get them. I will eat two doughnuts in the car on the way home, then throw away the rest, and I am satisfied for days.

When I used to live alone, I used to bake an entire batch of cookies or cupcakes. I wouldn’t eat them all at once, I would usually eat a few then take the rest into work for my coworkers, or freeze them and eat them over time. When I feel the craving, then reward myself, it feels like pure heaven. Like what I would imagine heroin or crack feels like for a drug addict. Of course, over the period of 2 years when I lived alone, I got FAT. I have since lost a bunch of weight and am fairly normal now. But I still have the cravings.

Anyway, I have always said that if I had to choose between being given $10 million, or being able to eat anything I want anytime I want, with no ill health effects (ie weight gain), I would choose the latter. That is how badly I love food…

Staying away from the foods I love (ie high-fat, high-calorie foods) is a constant struggle for me. I desperately don’t want to be fat. But it’s so hard to fight the cravings. Why do the food that are so bad for you taste so damn good?! It’s so unfair :frowning:

I really like these ideas, and they seem very powerful. The sugar has been a reward. It was since I was a little boy… I need to choose a new reward.

As for exercise, that’s not very possible at this point. I’m very large and not in the best of shape, so only very limited exercise is possible. I am doing what I can here and as things improve I will try and increase what exercise I get.

I appreciate all the wonderful feedback I’ve gotten here… Thank you all.

Go re-read Glory’s post but put my name on it. I was over 200 pounds and now I’m down to 170. I have a bike in the basement and can watch DVDs on my son’s PlayStation but that gets boring. I recently started biking on the NCR trail nearby and that’s fun. Hard but fun.
Saturday I went 18 miles, nine up and nine back - thought I was gonna die, but after I cooled off I felt good. I went 16 yesterday and that was good, too. Part of it is getting out of the house, away from the food and the sugar.

I just had to cut out sugar cold turkey. Eat berries and melon for the sweet cravings. Strawberries and raspberries and whatever melon you like. Eat more protein and you won’t miss the sugar as much. Lean meats fill you up more.

Walking would be good for you at this point. Just around the block to start, and go a little bit farther each day.

Hi Lips_Obsession, another sugar craver here (but turned to the light!). Even if you move on the spot to some music, go for a short walk or get off the bus a stop early, you’ll be getting fitter. As you get fitter, you’ll be able to jog on the spot, dance to the music, go for a longer walk etc etc. If you’re very overweight, you may need to see your Doctor before you start exercise, but even a little helps. You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete just yet! You just need to move a little more - that’s really all it’s about. Move a little more and eat a little less - I’ve been doing it since Christmas last and it’s working for me. There are no magic pills or potions, just the energy balance between intake and output that you have to manage.

Also, can I suggest you check out the GI diet? It’s really helped in my chocolate cravings, so much so that I don’t touch the stuff now and have no interest in it. My current love? Strawberries, mmmmmmmmm so good and sweet and tasty and full of good stuff.

Actually, exercise is always possible, and I’m glad to hear that you are doing what you can. Good for you. That’s all any of us can do - do what we can!

Anyone who hasn’t exercised much and is trying to start a new programme is always advised to check with your doctor or physician first. This is good advice. Also, the instructors down at the local gym really are full of good training, experience and advice. They won’t (or shouldn’t) do anything stupid like ask you to do things that you can’t do or that feel unpleasant. They can devise an exercise plan that starts easily, slowly and gently. All you have to do is stick with it, and the results will come with time. There is no way for the results not to come. It’s impossible. Just so long as you stick with it and see it through.

There are two kinds of exercise. Weights and resistance are about building muscle and tone. Cardio vascular exercise is about increasing the capacity of heart and lungs to process oxygen and get it to your body’s cells so that your cells can do work. At this stage, cv exercise is more important for you. Good exercise is anything that asks your heart and lungs to work harder than they do when you’re at rest. It doesn’t have to be a lot harder. At first, just a little bit harder is good. Over time, you will be able to build up your exercise capacity - both in terms of how much of a challenge you can take on, and how long you can sustain this raised level of cv activity. But always start slow, start easy, and never risk exercising so hard that you’ll harm yourself. You need a minimum of three periods of exercise per week. How about three 20 minute walks, walking just fast enough so that your pulse rate and breathing are a little bit higher than they would be at a normal walking pace? That’s a good start! You don’t even need to jog!

Beyond that, go and have a chat with a professional trainer. Lots of the trainers who work down at a gym have ‘down time’ during their working day when they are a bit bored and don’t have much to do. Blag some conversation and get some good advice. Most of them are really helpful people. And you don’t have to join the gym if you don’t want to, but it really is a great idea and a good investment.

I’ll just repeat what I said before - the exercise helps with the diet and new lifestyle, and the diet helps with the exercise. They go hand in hand. Trying to achieve the results you want with either diet or exercise alone is really difficult, and not many people ever manage it. Put the two together and it’s a winning combination! And that’s what you deserve - a winning combination. Because you’ve decided to be a winner.

Try spanking the sugar monkey. More fun.

I’m a sugar addict too. I fight with it all the time…Except when I’m on a low-carb diet. First thing I noticed with Atkins was my sugar cravings just stopped. Before I would eat a bag of gummi bears (not the wimpy single serving size, I’m talking the 2 kilo bags in a couple days).

My kid is a sugar freak too, which is making me wonder how genetic sugar cravings are. She is totally focused on sugar. Every 5 minutes she wants another piece of candy. I don’t know what to do about it either - she’s 4, how do you rationalize it? Especially when she is thin as a rail - she obviously has the metabolism of her mom.

Aren’t there some types of nutritional supplements that are supposed to help cut sugar cravings?

As for exercise, Lips_Obsession, I’d check into some water excercise classes for overweight people. Swimming is a great exercise that builds cardio and muscle and allows you to easily pace yourself.


Allen Carrs book on how to stop smoking basically convinces its readers of this. Allen Carr has also written another book on dieting, but that didn’t do me much good, because he adressed cravings for hearty stuff (fat, meat, etc.) instead of sweet-tooth-cravings.

However, I found Allen Carrs original book “the easy way to stop smoking” more helpful, when I replaced the word "nicotine"with “sugar”. At the very least, the book shows you how addiction works, and that applies to both sugar and nicotine.

Put me down as another person that ditched the serious sugar jones when I started a fat modified atkins. Even being diabetic, I would plan a specific treat [a single hersheys kiss ro a single little dove square] every evening with my coffee.

I toughed out induction and decided to have hubby look around for a good sugar free chocolate for me. After a month [induction plus a little, i wanted to make sure that I was well entrenched in the new way of eating] I had 2 squares of the chocolate bar for low carbers/diabetics and it was too sweet. I think something in chocolate beans hypers the sweet perception.

Now my ‘guilty pleasure’ is my evening coffee with heavy cream, and about half the sweetening [liquid splenda - sweetzfree] that I used to use [i decrease the sweetness a little every few months] and about a tablespoon of good brandy.

I do occasionally have sugar - wedding cake - or an occasional dessert when out to dinner but I have to admit, I would prefer to have 8 or 10 medium large fresh strawberries or a handfull of fresh blueberries any time.

<the monkey on my back now is salt and vinegar potato chips, which i just have to avoid totally :frowning: >