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Headache and cranky after reducing sugar, anyone?


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Short version: I have dramatically cut down my sugar intake for 4 days but eat normally otherwise. Now I feel so cranky. I feel no willpower, and I get nothing done. What can I do to NOT feel this way while maintain this diet? Also, when is this going away?

 

Long version:

Hi guys,

 

It's been four days since I have decided to dramatically reduced my added sugar intake. I've already stopped drinking anything sweet for a while, so it's only down to baked goods and desserts. 

 

I had been highly dependent on these things, though. It's within my culture. Cane and palm sugar is an integral part of a diet in Thailand, and we snack on it. Then high fructose corn syrup in America. In November and December, I had at least 2-3 cookies a size of a saucer a day due to stress from a big exam that decided my fate. I exercised daily and ate healthily otherwise, so I only gained 2" of my waist from it, but I see the pattern, and I wanted to stop. 

 

It's not like I abstain from sugar entirely. I had one small chocolate chip cookie yesterday evening at a friend's place, and stopped myself from getting more. That's the first confectionery I ate since I decided to reduce sugar. I also still eat fruits-- bananas, grapefruits, etc.

 

But now I feel very cranky. My focus is blurry if there at all, and I cannot get any work done. Any songs would render me to tear. And there is this small but consistent headache like a baby hand was squeezing my brain stem and release, squeeze and release. I also want to eat everything in sight, including my sweater, a comic book, and a plastic fork with a drop of day old soy sauce on it (Eeww, I know).

 

I have been warned that this is to be expected, and the craving should go away somewhere between 3 days to 2 weeks, but that's a long time!!

 

Is there some way to cope with it? Have some of you successfully slip in this new diet? Any tricks to get through?

 

Additional suggestions as to how I can refuse cakes and cookies from friends and neighbors would be wonderful. Thanks!  

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It is said that eating more fat will help (butter, coconut oil, plain yogurt, etc.)

 

Caffeine might also help.  If you can drink coffee or tea without sugar in it, try some.  Your brain is looking for the rush it used to get from sugar, and caffeine can provide a similar boost.  (Absolutely no energy drinks, sugar-free or otherwise.)

 

also, don't "cheat" with a small cookie at a friend's house.  That will mess things up.  Set a deadline (eg, no added sugar for 2 weeks) and stick to it.

 

It will not take 2 weeks to adjust, so don't panic.  It should be only 3 to 5 days until the physical symptoms ease up.  The mental habit might take longer to go away, so try to be in tune with your body and watch out for stray "hmm, that sugar looks tasty" thoughts.  Usually those thoughts are in your head, not your gut.  If they are in your gut, you probably need to eat something (real food, not sugar).  If the thought is in your head, it means you're bored or depressed or cranky and need to go find an activity to do.

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I'm struggling with this too. :( But I do know this: I gave it up before so I can do it again. You can too.

 

It is said that eating more fat will help (butter, coconut oil, plain yogurt, etc.)

 

Caffeine might also help.  If you can drink coffee or tea without sugar in it, try some.  Your brain is looking for the rush it used to get from sugar, and caffeine can provide a similar boost.  (Absolutely no energy drinks, sugar-free or otherwise.)

 

also, don't "cheat" with a small cookie at a friend's house.  That will mess things up.  Set a deadline (eg, no added sugar for 2 weeks) and stick to it.

 

It will not take 2 weeks to adjust, so don't panic.  It should be only 3 to 5 days until the physical symptoms ease up.  The mental habit might take longer to go away, so try to be in tune with your body and watch out for stray "hmm, that sugar looks tasty" thoughts.  Usually those thoughts are in your head, not your gut.  If they are in your gut, you probably need to eat something (real food, not sugar).  If the thought is in your head, it means you're bored or depressed or cranky and need to go find an activity to do.

 

Thanks for the encouragement! I will stick to it until the end of the challenge. 

 

The cookie wasn't a cheat-- more like a slip, but I get your point. No more added sugar from now on! 

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It's detox - and there's no way around it, except to push through.

 

You can try drinking a lot more water to force your system to process.  You can also try low dose aspirin to help with the pain and blood flow.  As suggested earlier, a bit of caffeine might help stimulate your system and "fake" the sugar rush.

 

But yeah, at the end of the day, there isn't a lot else that will help you speed up the detox process.

 

All that said, you can do it! :D

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For some people (and for the benefit of those around them...), it's better to wean off of sugar gradually rather than give it up all at once.  If you think you can muscle through it without winding up the subject of live helicopter footage on CNN, then more power to you.  That is obviously the shortest route.

Rather than cheating with sugar bombs (like soda, cookies, chocolate, etc.) consider a small dose of lower-sugar fruits like avocado, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries.  I know that some people soften the detox by eating carbs in the form of white rice or sweet potato.  You could also try some sweeter/starchier veggies like carrots or sugar snap peas.

I hope this is helpful!

Cheers,
John

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I had the same problem when I cut back heavily. Not good with my kids at home. So I decided to reintroduce a limited amount of sugar, and ween off it rather than go cold turkey. I drink between 6-10 cuppas per day, with one teaspoon of sugar per cup. I had planned on wiping that out, but after the headaches and the grumpy old farts, my Bec told me to cut back slowly. So last challenge I reduced my sugar to half a teaspoon per cup (tea, coffee, decaf). I cut out things like breakfast cereal and tomato/barbecue sauce, oh and iced coffees and frozen drinks. These got me killing my goal anyway. Now that the kids are back at school I am taking out that last half teaspoon of sugar from my cuppa. After that my main sources of sugar will be milk and fruit.

One thing I have noticed is that I have started craving peanut butter. I am not generally a peanut butter fan, generally buying it mainly for the kids. But now I seem to crave the stuff.

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I had the same problem when I cut back heavily. Not good with my kids at home. So I decided to reintroduce a limited amount of sugar, and ween off it rather than go cold turkey. I drink between 6-10 cuppas per day, with one teaspoon of sugar per cup. I had planned on wiping that out, but after the headaches and the grumpy old farts, my Bec told me to cut back slowly. So last challenge I reduced my sugar to half a teaspoon per cup (tea, coffee, decaf). I cut out things like breakfast cereal and tomato/barbecue sauce, oh and iced coffees and frozen drinks. These got me killing my goal anyway. Now that the kids are back at school I am taking out that last half teaspoon of sugar from my cuppa. After that my main sources of sugar will be milk and fruit.

One thing I have noticed is that I have started craving peanut butter. I am not generally a peanut butter fan, generally buying it mainly for the kids. But now I seem to crave the stuff.

Woden uses ravens, I use an iphone.

 

Thanks Thom! I failed on getting rid of sugar completely, esp. with the current crazy demands, but I reduced consumption from everyday to two-three times a week. That's something.

 

I'll keep cutting. I will fail, but I will try again until I fail less and less!!

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If you can tolerate lactose, full cream milk is a great craving killer (or at least it is anecdotally for me). Just a small glass after meals usually goes a long way to keeping my brain from catching on fire.

 

Turtle, thanks. I feel that cream is helpful. Although I'm not tolerant. A glass of milk will give me a booster rocket to the moon. :)

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sugar not only is addictive in it self but also is habit forming so requires you to break those habits.  The easiest way to do that (I find) is to replace them with a similar but different habit.

 

So... if you always go with a friend to have a cookie, why not always go with your friend to have a cup of tea. 

 

I find that mid afternoon I have developed a habit of walking down the road to the shop, buying a chocolate bar(s) walking back to the office (eating one bar) and then eating the others at my desk while I work.  I am currently changing this habit so I walk to the shop, buy a bag of carrot sticks and and apple, walk back to the office eating the apple and then eat the carrot sticks at my desk. 

 

Result, my body still goes through the process it wants to do, walk, buy, eat, sit, eat... but its with things that I can let my body do that with.  once I have broken the sugar habit I can then look to change this habit again (walk to the shop but dont buy anything).

 

not sure that helps but might be worth thinking about.  

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