Struggling

Not sure what's up with me...death of an old friend...memorial service...super-stressful job hunt...spring fever...being bummed that despite absolutely Herculean efforts for weeks on end I'm not losing any weight (a really bad case of the "why even try" self-defeatist inner dialogue)...all of the above...

I was doing REALLY well on holding the carbs down to a dull roar for the past three months. My BG's were great -- regularly reading under 140 and lots of readings in the double digits.

However, over the past few days, it's been really, really rocky.

Sigh.

I think what started me down the road to perdition was trying some "artificial" sweeteners after three months of abstaining (darn you tasty-sounding Jenny recipes.)

Just the taste of something artificially sweet triggered a craving for more, more, more...

Here I go, back into "sweet detox" again. I'll be fine in a few days, but in the meantime. Ugh. Not looking forward to the transition symptoms: headache, queasiness, exhaustion, crabbiness, sleepiness. Yuck.

It's amazing how fast sugar addiction grabs me by the neck if I give in even a little, bitty bit.

I think you have to be super human not to be sucked in once in awhile. I go through phases and right now Greek yogurt with cinnamon and stevia make me feel like I have had dessert without screwing up. Who knows what it’ll be next week. I just found some cocoa dusted almonds that might do the trick. How does anyone survive without some kind of a sweet something? I don’t know.

I'm sorry you're having a bad time, Jean. I know how that happens, when a couple things add up together and then there is this sense of sadness or defeat. I've spent half my life learning to recognize that place, and the next half learning not to act on it, but to do the reverse: be kind to myself.

Yeah, I know that nasty sugar trap. Everyone is always so amazed when I say I haven't had sugar in 17 years, but I tell them the hard part was stopping, staying stopped is easy. I had lots of false starts, and had to bang my head against the wall of my own addiction before I really got that I couldn't eat any sugar..none at all. I think I've mentioned on here that when I stopped everyone wanted to offer me their favorite sugar substitute foods. They all tasted like crap to me and made me crave "the real thing". So I learned to just eliminate the whole dessert food group. And it all took a long, long time.

Sorry you have to go through the detox again. Treat yourself well, my friend. You do deserve it you know.

Thanks, Zoe. I haven't said it, but your abstinence gives me great hope. I know a couple of other long-term abstainers and each of you remind me that it is possible. You'd think I'd know this as I have been able to quit smoking, probably the most challenging and difficult personal accomplishment of my life.

Getting off of sugar and simple carbs (except glucose tabs in the rare case of a real hypo <=70 mg/dl) is going to be 10 times harder than quitting tobacco was, but I really don't see any way around it. I've tried and failed to moderate for forty years, and look where it got me!

Oh, Molly, super human I am not. When I really clean out my blood by avoiding any kind of refined/starchy carb, chemical, additive or artificial whatever -- within a week or at the most ten days -- a diced ripe tomato and cucumber salad can taste like "candy" to me.

My taste-buds do adjust very well.

But if I introduce anything refined into my diet...whoops! I reset my taste-buds to want more and more sweets. It's like some part of my brain thinks I'm "starving" and that only something extra-sweet will do. Darn these "thrifty" genes; maybe my ancestors survived the winter famines by having an extra-strong hankering for ripe berries and honeycomb in season.

I'm glad you have hope, Jean. Yes, I make the exception of glucose tablets too and consider them medicine. (It did bother me at first). Don't hesitate to e-mail me on the subject.

I meant to ask this in another post you replied to, but I am curious what you count as "sugar"? I mean, doesn't fruit have sugar? Or do you only count processes types of sugar on food ingredients lists?

I admire anyone who can go completely without sugar or really low-carb. I tried the low-carb thing and only lasted a few weeks before backing off and settling on about 100g per day (give or take a few grams). I think it's only natural to slip once in a while, and as long as it doesn't last too long, it's okay!

Jen, for those of us who are truly addicted to sugar "slipping once in awhile" doesn't work too well, because it starts the addiction cycle all over again. I know it's hard for others to understand, but think alcoholic.

I know you are addressing Jean, and all people who have sugar addiction and give it up have different definitions of abstinence, but for me: I don't worry about fruit (or I didn't before Diabetes anyway!). I don't eat added sugar in anything and when I first got into recovery I wouldn't eat anything in which sugar was higher than the 5th ingredient on a label. In my Diabetes today the only exception I make is glucose tabs which I think of as "medicine". I also don't eat sugar substitutes, because I learned years ago that they taste awful to me and make me crave the "real thing". Today that's just a habit; I don't use sweetener in my coffee and basically don't eat dessert so no need for artificial sweeteners.

Curious where you came up with that "5th ingredient on the label" rule. It sounds like a good one!
I know the closer to the beginning of the ingredients list, the more of the ingredient is in it.

I'm pretty good at reading labels now, but still get surprised every now and again. The other week, I accidently bought the regular jelly instead of reduced sugar. I KNEW it tasted too good!!

I find artificial sweetener kind of nasty, too, at least when it's added to coffee and stuff. I have it occasionally, but not often.

I used to drink a TON of Diet Coke and quit cold turkey this summer. I swear that stuff is addictive, although I don't know if it really is, it was certainly hard enough to quit. I've had it a few times, but I know from trying to quit multiple times in the past that having one quickly turns into two, then one a day, till I'm up to three or four a day again and hardly noticed how I got there! So mostly I am not letting myself buy it unless I'm eating out and really want it (and also can't buy multiple bottles to bring home!).

Way back in the exchange days I was given the guideline to not eat anything where sugar was in the top three ingredients. I've been thinking lately of trying to go back to something like that ... I was thinking the other day after your food post about how, in some ways a food allergy is easier than diabetes because there are definite rules, while diabetes doesn't have any! In a way, it's much easier to look at a food and say I definitely can't have that, no exceptions. I suppose addiction is very similar in a way. With diabetes, it's too easy to look at a food and go, "Well, if I gave myself tons of insulin I could ..." I saw a post on a diabetes forum several weeks ago where someone compared the above to a person with a food allergy going, "Well, if I gave myself tons of epinephrine (used a few EpiPens) I could ..." (which of course would be ridiculous!) and that really stuck in my head!

That rule is from OA, KCCO, the 12-step program for eating disorders.

I rarely eat it anymore because of the carbs, but I always much preferred the "spreadable fruit" which is simply fruit, no sugar and no artificial sweeteners. And for soda I drank "Crystal Geyser Juice Squeeze" which is one of the rare brands that also has no sugar and no artificial sweetener; just fruit juice sweetened. It is too many carbs for me these days.

I think you're right, Jen. I make the distinction that I eat absolutely no sugar because I'm a sugar addict, and I know that's what I have to do. But when I hear on here how people struggle, feel tempted, "cheat", feel guilty, etc. I sometimes think it's easier to have a reason to just cut it out completely.

That example with the EpiPens is pretty funny and it definitely puts it in perspective!

I guess my obstacle against the "just bolus for it" way of eating, isn't that I'm so disciplined but that I'm terrified to gain weight and at my age, that happens too easily.

I'm sorry to hear that Jean. I don't have the issue w/ sweets, w/ me it's fried. Which is sort of like "roulette"? How much is "chicken" vs. how much is "fried"

Haha! I remember those exchange days. Except I think I was told nothing in which sugar was in the "top 5." Or maybe my mom just made that up ;-) Anyway, I think the exchange diet has some benefits - while I know they want type 1s to be able to eat "whatever" (within reason), I have found that such an approach just doesn't work for me. My BGs get whacky and I start to feel bad from all the yo-yoing around. I know a lot of folks hate the concept of being restricted, but as a type 1, I think that such a diet does have some benefits.

I go through this all the time and it's not just because of sugar. Like Jen I am also a super diet soda addict and a coffee addict. On top of that I associate certain foods with those beverages. Peanut butter cookies and milk, coffee and chocolate, etc. Add that to a former endo. who encouraged that we could eat anything as long as we counted for it and you have trouble. I'm wondering if I'm the only crazy one, but I've noticed that most artificial sweeteners raise my BG just as if I had eaten the real thing. But I agree, don't beat yourself up and realize that your doing well by recognizing the problem in the first place and trying to solve it.

Hmm, maybe it was the top five, but like you I was a kid, so it's a bit fuzzy ...

I agree with you about eating anything versus being restricted. In fact, as a kid I had a restricted diet and really didn't mind all that much. Then in my mid-20s I started MDI and was told I could eat "anything I wanted" as long as I bolused for it. Well, that didn't work so well ... and in fact I wish I had never been told that, because it makes it SO much harder to "go back" to a restricted diet.

Maybe instead of being told I could "eat anything" I should have been told that I should keep the same type of diet (which was moderate carbs, probably) except use actual carbohydrate counting, and then actually have a shot at achieving a 6% A1c instead of the 7-9% range I'd been hanging out at most of my life ...

When I first went to a CDE or nutritionist I said, "I eat healthy, I'm a vegetarian and haven't eaten sugar for 13 years". She said, "good, then you don't need to change anything. Most vegetarians eat lots of pasta and rice and cereal! I wonder how they came up with that "eat whatever you want" stuff, did they think we wouldn't come back if they gave us some guidelines? I think it all comes down to the medical profession seeing patients as "difficult children" who have to be coddled and given low expectations. What a disservice they do us!

I realize it was probably a reaction to the days when diabetics were told you can "absolutely never eat this", but really, they have gone way too far in the opposite direction.

When I talk with my community college students about things like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and yes, sugar I don't say "this is bad, that is good". I treat them like adults and help them come up with pros and cons. Then, like adults, they will make their own choices.

Q - "What do you count as 'sugar'?"

I have a number of strategies that I use to combat the sugar rush/crash that sets off sugar addiction and craving in me (I can't really speak for anyone's body but mine):

1) Fruit -- I only eat 'whole' raw fruits, that is no dried fruit, fruit puree, spreadable fruit, fruit juice, etc. I do this because having the cell walls of the fruit intact and all of the fiber present slows absorption (smaller spike = lesser crash.) I also limit quantities - approximately a 1/2 to 2/3 cup at a go -- and I never eat fruit by itself. I will have a bowl of fruit, yogurt and nuts, for example, because the protein and fat in the yogurt and nuts will slow the absorption of the fruit (again, flatten out the spike/crash.) I control what fruit I buy in the store, and avoid the really high-glycemic fruit such as watermelon and grapes. I tend to get less-sweet fruit such as berries. Reading this I see that it sounds complicated (obsessive?) but I have learned through trial and error what spikes me and what sets off a cycle of cravings/binges. I want the micro-nutrients in fresh fruit but this is the only way I can eat it without setting myself off.

2) Simple carbs hidden in everything -- I learned years ago that to my body, a simple carb is a simple carb. I get almost as triggered by white bread or a bowl of white rice with butter as I do by a spoonful of sugar in a cup of coffee. I have to read the labels on everything now and avoid anything with added starches, sugars, flours, anything that adds simple carbs to a food.

In my opinion, food manufacturers have become both more creative and more insidious about stuffing cheap, addictive carbs into everything! Food fabricators know about the "avoid sugar" strategies of their customers, so several years ago they started putting five or six different sources of starch/carbs/sugar into a food, thereby lowering the total contributed by EACH ingredient (moving each separate ingredient down the ingredients list), thereby sneaking all the sugar past busy shoppers who might just glance at the top of the ingredient list ("OK, the first few ingredients seem alright") and not really understand that dextrin, glactose, maltose, natural flavors, malt, evaporated cane juice, etc. are all refined sugars:

"It has about 70 names, including sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup and other names like diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, D-mannose, crystalline fructose and galactose – which sounds like it’s from another planet."

http://www.lifescript.com/food/articles/s/sweet_sabotage_uncovering...

My opening strategy is to look at the total grams of carbs, fiber and sugar, calc the net carbs, and ask myself if it appears to have a lot of hidden/added carbs? If so then I don't even bother to keep reading the label. I just set it back down. For example, if I pick up a package of chicken sausage and it has three grams of carbs and three grams of sugar per sausage link, then I put it back. I know that I can find sausage with 0 grams of carbs and 0 grams of sugar because meat and fat have zero carbs. Obviously the manufacturer has added some refined/simple carbs to their recipe and I'd rather stick to the sausage with 0 grams of carbs/sugar. I don't need to wade through a long ingredient list to find out if "ethyl maltol" or "glactose" have been added -- I just need to know that a food that should/could be carb free has been adulterated.

3) Against the grain, and the roots -- I've been experimenting with avoiding all grains and starchy tubers, that is any source of concentrated carbs/starch, including potatoes, the so-called "health whole grains" such as brown rice, oatmeal, polenta/grits, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, etc. etc. etc. If it's a concentrated source of starch/carbs, I don't eat it. Extreme? Maybe, but it makes my life so much easier. If I am going to eat a few grams of carbs per meal, they're going to come from one of just a few, easily controlled sources: plain yogurt, low-glycemic veggies (leafy greens, broccoli, mushrooms, collard greens, cucumbers, celery, asparagus, avocado, etc.), the aforementioned 'whole fruit' (in small quantities) that are high in vitamins and phytochemicals (e.g. blueberries, roma tomatoes), or some lemon/lime juice squeezed on a salad (great way of getting Vitamin C without all the sugars in citrus juices.)

When I'm 100% honest with myself, I know perfectly well what sets off binges vs. what does not. Someone else can have "one ounce of dark chocolate" after a meal. I will keep going until the box is empty and then go to the store at midnight for more. Someone else can stop at one modest PBJ sandwich on whole wheat bread twice per week, I'll clean out the whole loaf and both jars in two days. I can take or leave the unsweetened almond milk or raw almonds, but if I open a package of almond cookies, even the "healthy whole grain" kind sweetened only with "natural honey", they'll be gone before morning.

Oh, I hear you on that. I have tried a few times to buy "fried chicken" thinking, "I'll just peel off the breading" only to discover that it was 80% breading! Yikes.

Congratulations, LaGuitariste, on tackling the sugar cravings, yet again! And it certainly sounds like you know a great deal about what you're dealing with and how to be successful at it!

Here's hoping that you go from "sweet detox" to sweet success really quickly!

Best wishes,

marty1492