On Habits, Hunger Rage, And Sugar

On Habits… 

Last year when I was experimenting with Intermittent Fasting (IF), I really enjoyed it for a few reasons. One of the main reasons though, was that it helped me to really understand my own hunger cues and it helped me to stop eating out of habit. Well, I’m not following IF anymore (although I’m contemplating it right now), mostly due to scheduling and getting sick of packing three meals for work every single day. But even though I followed IF for a few months and really became in tune with my own hunger/satiety cues, I hate to say that those habits have slipped away over the past couple of months with an increase in stress and an unforgiving schedule.

I seem to have fallen into my previous ways of eating out of habit and not really paying attention to what I really want or when I really want it. I’m not sure if this can be blamed on stress, or if it’s really just mental laziness on my part. Either way, it needs to stop, and I need to figure out some way to shift my habits back towards those that I developed while following IF (without actually reverting to a strict IF schedule).

On Hunger Rage… 

Speaking of my eating habits, while falling back into the mindless eating trap, I’ve also become once again sensitive to the evil beast known as Hunger Rage. This type of rage rears it’s ugly head when I let myself get so hungry that I become a shaky, irrational, must-have-food-at-any-cost monster, and it’s been happening more recently lately. But I think I have a pretty good idea of why..

On Sugar (aka, the devil)…

Unfortunately, I think I have a pretty good idea why both of the above things have been happening lately: Sugar.

The past two weekends I’ve eaten a stupid amount of sugar. Stupid.

Stupid meaning that last weekend, I ate a ton of sugar in one day, had a horrible sugar hangover that entire evening, and felt like absolute crap for a couple days following it. So then what did I proceed to do this weekend? Sugar it up again, leading to the same hungover, comatose feeling that I had had last weekend. Seriously, last night I couldn’t even move from the couch without feeling like I was either going to hurl or pass out. Or maybe both.

The problem with sugar is that when you have it, you want more because it makes you happy initially. Your body then wants more, and more in order to get that same “high” that you experienced previously. This leads to sugar overload, insulin spikes and crashes, and all of the craziness that comes along with that (such as hunger rage, feeling hunger pangs at inappropriate times, and your brain telling you that you must eat ALL THE FOOD).

I will probably write a full post about the highs and lows of sugar consumption soon, but for now I’m still on too much of a sugar hangover to even think clearly. For now, I’m going to avoid added sugar for a while, even if it kills me (which I’m pretty sure it won’t), and let you know how I feel in a week or two. Will I do a whole month of no added sugar? Well, I guess I have to say I’m going to to make this official. If I cheat, I promise I’ll let you all know, so that you can sugar-shame me (but you wouldn’t really do that, would you?).

Anyway, I’m off on my no-sugar-added adventure. My greek yogurt bowl this morning had some vanilla extract mixed in instead of honey, and I feel a little better already… although that may just be the sugar of this weekend finally leaving my blood stream.

Readers: Do you avoid added sugar like it’s the plague? Or do you let it sneak in once in a while? Have you ever followed IF and did you find that it allowed you to become much more mindful about hunger, etc?

32 thoughts on “On Habits, Hunger Rage, And Sugar

  1. By hunger rage, I think you mean that you get ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry)!
    I definitely have difficulty with my hunger cues when I eat junk (especially sugar), but i’ve found by gradually decreasing the junk they normalise. I find that if I allow myself to have a little sugar, like dried fruit, I can avoid something worse, like chocolate.

    1. I’m with you. When I began to allow a bit of honey, dried fruit (no sugar added) or even dark chocolate into my diet, I stopped craving “bad” sugars like ice cream. I never say no to fruit, too. Is it a “carb”, yes…but a damn good one. A bit high on sugar, but it’s better than eating a cake.

      1. It’s better to do that than to feel like you’re depriving yourself and going on a cookie binge.

    2. Haha, yes, Hangry! I just prefer Hunger Rage, because I do feel true, unbridled, irrational rage 🙂 And I totally agree with you on the “little bit” of sugar thing, and the only reason I’m doing this “no” sugar thing is to challenge myself a little bit, and also to just sort of reset after a couple weekends that were just too much. Nothing permanent here, I do appreciate treats for sure!

  2. I had been trying to watch what I am eating lately, but I sometimes fail. I fall for fast food and sweets among other things. I tried drinking “no sugar” juice but it’s not really nice and I switched back to sugary juice. This past week, not only did I not work out at all, but I also had some fast food as well as sweets and chocolate in excess. My body hurts, but I am not sure if this is related or not. I am gonna try to pick myself up again next week. . . but maybe after Saturday because I am invited to a birthday and there will be cake! =P

    1. There is always room for cake on a birthday 🙂 Your aches could certainly be related to the excessive sugar, but it’s tough to say for sure. Just keep working at it, and remember that there’s no need to be perfect!

      1. I don’t seek perfection, of course, but I just wanna feel good and healthy.
        Thanks for all the tips!

  3. I used to follow IF more strictly. Right now I’ll I do is skip breakfast on most days. I sit on my butt for 16 hours a day and I don’t need to eat three meals; two is just fine. If I know I’m doing a long run, or do something else strenuous, I’ll eat breakfast. Basically I eat to meet my needs.

    1. I’m not sure that I could do just two meals a day, I think I would drive myself crazy! But I also work in a very active job and hardly ever sit, so I don’t think I could physically do that either.

  4. I’m trying to moderate sugar. I let some in, but I try to be careful that it doesn’t escalate. A little chocolate at the end of a long day is fine (I’ll go to be soon anyway,) but too much too soon makes me crave it the rest of the day. I don’t moderate natural sugars, like fruit, at all, but I keep an eye on the candy and other sweets. It’s still a learning process though.

    1. I generally allow myself a little bit of chocolate or something sweet at the end of the day too, this is just a little challenge I wanted to do for myself. Everything in moderation, right? And I totally know what you mean about eating sugar too early — it just makes me crave it for the rest of the day!

  5. A Twenty-something September 23, 2013 — 11:24 am

    I have never followed IF but it sounds really interesting….I am a total snacker and I would like to change that. I have noticed that with sugar, once I have it, I can’t stop! I have been trying to just keep fresh, cold fruit around and have that when I’m having a sugar(donut, cake, froyo, candy) craving. But unfortunately that doesn’t always work (but I do have a secret stash of twizzlers, which are low in fat and in calories, for a candy, and I’ll just have one if I’m dying for something sweet and that usually does the trick). Hope your sugar hangover subsides!

    1. The best thing that I found about IF was that it did totally stop my snacking, and I did lean out a little bit as a result of that. My eating window was so small (8 hours), so trying to fit in 3 full meals during that time left me with absolutely NO snack cravings!

  6. I’ve never done IF and admittedly have seen it first here. I let sugar sneak in every now and then, and I’m not sure if I’ve experienced sugar overload recently (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth). I made a conscious effort last year to cut it out of my coffee which was the major source of sugar intake for me. You’ve got me intrigued now with IF.

    I came across your blog when your post on being lean was featured on WordPress and I’m really enjoying your blog. Not too technical and the perfect length — short enough so it’s a quick read, but detailed enough that you provide sufficient info. Great job!

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 I also cut sugar out of my coffee last year, and now if I do happen to have a coffee that has sugar in it, I don’t even like it anymore. It’s crazy how your taste can change!

  7. I try not to eat too much added sugar, but sometimes I just can’t help it. Like Greek yogurt. I just haven’t acquired the taste for the the plain stuff yet. I started mixing half plain with half vanilla to cut down on the added sugar though. And chocolate – I need my chocolate haha. I figure I don’t get too too much though, so I’m okay with it.

    1. Yeah I can’t eat it totally plain either. I have found that mixing in a little bit of vanilla extract is great though! And I hear ya on the chocolate — I’ll bring it back into my life soon, I just needed a little break 🙂

  8. My problem is not eating sugar… it is drinking sugar. But I have cut back on that a lot. I use to drink a sugary coffee drink or chai tea from Starbucks everyday. Now I drink unsweetened tea instead. On the rare occasion when I buy a sugary coffee drink, I can’t finish it. My taste buds have changed and I can no longer even tolerate a really sweet drink. It is scary to think how much added sugar is in stuff. I don’t do dairy, but 1 cup of skim milk has 12 grams of sugar. It upsets me- they take out the fat and replace it with sugar, and tell people its healthy. A venti Chai latte from Starbucks has 66 grams of sugar. The average woman should only have 25 grams of added sugar a day according to the American Heart Association. No wonder so many Americans have heart issues.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how your taste buds really do change? Once you stop eating (or drinking) sugar all the time, it’s amazing how much more you can taste it when it’s added to things. And don’t even get me started about the Starbucks drinks… some of them are SO good, but I only get them on very rare occasions because it’s just too much!

  9. Oh the damn sugar hangover. Even those seasoned ‘no sugar ever’ people have one bite- and its like crack- you cannot help but crave more!

    I generally don’t add sugar to anything, but have natural sugars in some foods (dairy/fruit). I avoid it, but sometimes it can’t be helped (damn Thai food and those damn tasty sauces)

    I loved your IF experimentation- I’ve always been interested in that aspect of body builder dieting, and also IIFYM.

    1. It’s crazy when you realize how much sugar is in most sauces… even just plain red pasta sauce has a ton of sugar in it! Most of them are so good though… Thai sauces and flavorings especially 🙂

  10. I’ve never followed IF, but I avoid processed sugars. I use pure honey or maple syrup or agave if I want a little sweetener. Since I cut out processed sugars, I just feel so much better. Better mood, more energy, plus, I enjoy my food more because I can actually taste what I’m eating. A lot of food turns me off now if it’s too sweet.

    1. I usually use honey as a sweetener as well, and I agree, it’s crazy how much our taste buds can change as we avoid a lot of the processed and highly-sweetened products. It’s wonderful to be able to taste fruit or other things with natural sugar and really enjoy the flavors!

  11. I am intrigued by IF, and can see how it may help. I am trying to stay in touch with my bodies cues lately, something I have not paid attention to ever that I can remember . I eat because it is time to eat mostly. I cut out all sugar but natural 3 years ago ( no cake,cookies, candy, ice cream, etc) but lately have also been trying to remove labels from “bad” foods and have had a cookie on purpose while mindfully paying attention to what it taste like and was able to stop at one. I do not miss those guilt ridden sugar hangover days and hope never to go back there. I look forward to reading a future post on IF.

    1. IF is certainly interesting, although I’m very quick to say that it’s not for everyone, and I don’t think that I’ll be going back on a strict IF schedule. As much as I loved it and saw results, I did find myself getting a little bit obsessive over things, and I don’t think that’s healthy either. By the way, I’m glad you’re now allowing yourself some treats every once in a while — the key is really to enjoy it and savor it in the moment.

  12. quiet but devoted reader. may I ask when you say you overdid it on sugar…what does that mean in terms of how much? I’m not trying to be nosy but for someone who shares a similar approach to working out, having fun, living life and the struggles in between, i’m curious what you consider sugar overload?

    I workout regularly but due enjoy my sweet treats but indulge in treats that serve as both DELICIOUS and satisfying but also somewhat good for me. I.E. Chocolate covered almonds (dark) or coconut milk frozen desserts. Sure i love and partake in birthday cake but as you said, once i dive into that buttercream frosting…my body craves more. and more. and more. I’m learning as long as I get one satisfying, worth it but healthy sweet treat, i’m okay. if I abandon all sugar, then i end feeling deprived and grumpy and obsessing.

    1. Hi Ani, thanks for chiming in! I hesitate to say exactly what I ate when I felt like I overdid it on sugar, because I do not think that it’s healthy for people to be comparing what they eat to others diets. I will tell you that on the first weekend I had 3 different pastries, followed by coffee and then gelato, which left me a shaky mess for a while until I crashed, and then I was lethargic and absolutely useless for the rest of the day! The next weekend I was at a wedding that had a huge cookie bar full of delicious homemade cookies… and let’s just say that I could give you a thorough review of most of them 🙂 Anyway, it was fun and indulging at the time, but left me feeling horrible, as it was way beyond the amount of sugar that I normally eat.

      And I totally agree with you about choosing treats that are delicious and worth the indulgence, and I am in no way saying that I’ll be avoiding treats for the long run! I just needed to give myself a break after going so overboard, but don’t worry, treats and decadent desserts are not going anywhere anytime soon
      (after this mini break to re-set)!

      Whew! Sorry for the novel, and I also apologize for taking so long to get back to you. Thanks for reading, cheers!

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  15. My Mom in her seventies is slightly diabetic,when low is glucose she becomes restless,almost hyper…it is with provisions for her to eat well,like allot of pasta,but she nit-picks or eats a minimal amount…this allows for a more active life-style,meaning when she eats it just calsms her craving for food,does not totally nourish her…Eating substantially is important,primarilly it calms down the body,a person is more relaxed,less energetic less hyper,terpemantal.Eating sufficiently is important,not just to satify thecrave for food,but to nourish-substantially the body.When there’s little food in the digestive system the body will not metabolize substantially and the food will stagnate,not pass.One must eat to metabolize the food,or else the metabolism will occure with no food in the body…the body will consume it’s self.Bringing the metabolism down by eating substantially will calm a person and thus less metabolism,less food is mandated.Not feeling hungry and hyper will balance the body.Hypeactivivity increases the crave,which must be satisfied

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