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Hi all! I know some of you have gone down this path, cutting out refined sugars and all. Lately this has been a topic that is starting to intrigue me, so let me explain a bit about why I am interested.

As a kid I was always the child that would be happy eating only candy everyday. That's not to say I don't like healthy foods, because I did and still do. I love most fruits and quite a few veggies and could easily consume a whole bag of grapes in minutes. But I would also eat spoonfuls of bleached sugar straight from the bag. Sugar never made me sick either, so I could eat boat loads of it and feel fine.

I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to refined sugar and I've taken many nutrition classes, so I know about hidden sugars, other names for sugar, how to read labels, and all that stuff, but it doesn't matter. Half of what I buy at the store is candy and I always regret it later, but I still buy it every week.

In addition to that I have a lot of health problems that nobody can figure out. I'm pretty sure it's neurological in nature and several doctors have suggested possible Epilepsy, though nobody has been able to confirm it. While I do not think sugar is causing my health problems, it certainly isn't helping, and Aspartame causes even worse problems.

To be honest I am not sure I totally want to cut all refined sugars out of my diet. At least not now. Maybe later, years down the road. Maybe never. But I want to reduce my refined sugar intake. Does anybody have any advice or resources?

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Hi Kruch - I'm working on decreasing sugar myself. I just feel like I have too much of it and for a while, I was really craving sweet stuff all the time. What I did, starting last fall, was keep a food diary for a week or so. I wrote down everything and then looked at all the sugar. My big things were flavored coffees with soy and almond milk and desserts - sometimes twice a day. So I started by cutting my coffee drinks down to one a week on Friday morning and then limiting myself to one "treat" a day. Most of the time, I stick to this, sometimes I slip up. But I think it's more about a balance between the good for us stuff and the treats.

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Sugar can be very addictive, and it appears to me that this is the case for you. While I don't have such a sweet tooth, I do enjoy a sweetened food now and then. But I intentionally do not eat any refined sugars. Rather, I use Stevia for my only sweetener. Stevia is all-natural, has zero carbs, zero sugars, zero calories, and is zero on the glycemic index. I recommend the pure white extract powder, with no other ingredients. Not the ones with fillers and stuff to make it measure like sugar. Stevia is heat stable, and can work well in all kinds of cooking and baking. The main difference is that since it is so extremely sweet, only a tiny amount is used. So a recipe which relies on the bulkiness of sugar would need to be reformulated. I've not found this to be a problem in most cases.

However, Stevia is still sweet, and if you trade one sweet for another, it doesn't entirely solve the issue. You need to curb your habit down to a more reasonable level. The occasional sweet is fine, and it's even better when it's not bad for your health to eat it.

I do believe that it is a matter of willpower to resist the temptation to indulge in sugary or other junk food. It is really up to you, but like anything, it is you who must want to change a bad habit, before you can achieve that goal successfully. The fact that you've started this thread is an encouraging first step! Now you just have to keep going forward in this same direction, and be certain to make progress, rather than telling yourself that you'll do it tomorrow or next week, etc. Don't allow yourself to make excuses, and ask the loved ones in your life for encouragement. Make sure they understand not to bring temptation in front of you, but that healthier choices are welcomed.

As for the impact of sugar on your current state of health, you'll only know what difference it'll make to avoid sugar by actually avoiding it. Often times, the things we crave are the very things we're allergic/intolerant, or otherwise sensitive to. Ironic, but oh so true.

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I just read Sue Dengate's book, Fed Up. She says hardly anyone reacts to refined sugar, though obviously it's empty calories and promotes tooth decay. Candy is loaded with both natural and artificial chemicals including food colors, natural amines (chocolate), salicylates in the flavorings, preservatives, and artificial flavors. You mention liking grapes. They are very high in salicylate and natural glutamate. Sometimes our favorite foods bear close examination because people can crave/overeat foods with problem chemicals. You may be addicted not to sugar, but to glutamate or salicylates. Since you react to aspartame, you need to take a close look at MSG and natural glutamate.

Have you considered doing a little baking? If you have a homemade gluten-free sugar cookie instead of candy you might be able to satisfy your sweet tooth without a lot of artificial or natural food chemicals. You could sub in some stevia like Riceguy suggested but be aware that it adds salicylates. Natural vanilla ice cream is good too. Vanilla is a really safe flavoring and ice cream won't bounce your blood sugar around as badly because of the fat.

Sue Dengate's book was really interesting and well worth a read if you're interested. You can get it at A m a z o n.

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Hi Kruch.

I will say this . . . it is always easier for me to resist the FIRST sugary item than it is for me to resist any after that. Sugar makes you crave more sugar.

What helps me to stop a sugar splurge is to eat real food. Let me put it this way . . . I do better if I eat my desert/candy/treat first and then my meal. The meal keeps my blood sugar from crashing (and then craving more sugar) and kind of clenses my palate so I'm not ending on a sweet note . . . and of course it fills me up.

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I've no doubt I'm addicted to something about sweet foods, be it sugar or something else, but I can't figure out why, not that it really matters. My brothers and parents were never big on candy. A few sweets here and there, but that's all. Not like me who can easily spend $20+ on candy alone. At one point I was buying at least $30-$40 worth of candy a month. For awhile I had curbed the habit, but I feel it creeping back in, slowly but surely.

The food journal thing is a very good idea. Might help me find hidden gluten, lactose, and aspartame as well.

Stevia is what I usually use for sweetener, though I have to buy the cheap stuff because I don't have much money now. When I was younger I went to a nursery and they had Stevia plants and they let me take a few leaves and eat them. It was very interesting because it was super sweet, but a different kind of sweet. I can't explain it, but it just tasted different than sugar. Ever since then I have wanted to grow my own but am unable to now. Someday.

Willpower is normally something I'm pretty good at except when it comes to sweets. I cave so easily. It's funny because I get lots of compliments on how I don't give up easily and how I can keep working even when I am really sick or in pain, but with sweets it's the exact opposite. Like I said before, I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to something about them.

Baking and cooking is something I really want to get into. The problem is that at my college I don't have access to the kitchen (yet) but it is something I am working on. I just get frustrated with not being able to eat the desserts they serve because they have gluten. Good thing I like fruit, because sometimes that's what I have for dessert!

Skylark- A few things about your post confused me, so I am hoping you can explain some thing further. First, are you saying that grapes are bad because they have natural glutamate and salicylates? And is natural glutamate bad? Is there a way to tell what exactly I am addicted to so that I can pay closer attention to that/those specific foods? Also, do you have any websites or forums about this topic that you would recommend?

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I think you should track your sugar intake, all types of sugar over one week.

The thing about sugar is that it is highly addictive. If you try to cut it out cold turkey, you will start to realise just how addictive it is. I would recommend trying to cut it out cold turkey as an experiment after you track your sugar intake. You'll probably be surprised at how much of a difference it makes in the way you feel (more so since you will go be in withdrawal).

At least that way you will know what you're in for and you will also be armed with information on your own normal sugar consumption so you will be able to look at it from a medical / nutrition perspective.

Doing something like this will also help you when you do reduce your intake. Theres probably a level at which it won't be too harmful for you while still satisfying your sweet tooth.

One of the things that happened when I cut all processed food was my tastebuds started to like natural foods again. A mango or coconut actually tasted sweet, and things like commercial peanut butter made me gag and spit it out because it was too salty and sugary. If you give up sugar for a longer period of time, your tastebuds will certainly adjust and you won't get the cravings anymore.

I know when I consider cutting something out of my diet because I KNOW it will be good for me, the reason I don't want to do it is because I'm usually addicted to it in some way (physically, emotionally, etc). Once I actually do it, 3 months down the track I have never regretted it.

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Skylark- A few things about your post confused me, so I am hoping you can explain some thing further. First, are you saying that grapes are bad because they have natural glutamate and salicylates? And is natural glutamate bad? Is there a way to tell what exactly I am addicted to so that I can pay closer attention to that/those specific foods? Also, do you have any websites or forums about this topic that you would recommend?

Some people react to natural food chemicals like glutamate and salicylates. Grapes are perfectly fine if you tolerate these chemicals, but if you don't they would make you sick.

You would approach a food chemical addiction causing problems by using the Failsafe elimination diet developed at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia. You have to eat a pretty limited elimination diet for a month and see how you feel. If you improve then you know food chemicals like salicylate or glutamate are part of your issue. I'm honestly not sure how you would manage it at college without a kitchen. :huh:

The reason I mention it is because you already know aspartame is a problem so you've got one food chemical sensitivity going already. Glutamate and aspartate work by similar mechanisms in your brain and body, and they are neurotransmitters. A lot of the other amines that give people trouble like tyramine and histamine are also neurotransmitters or neurotransmitter mimics and the result of sensitivity can be neurological trouble. MSG, synthetic or natural, is a known epilepsy trigger in some people.

Here's a couple websites where you can read. Fedup.com is Sue Dengate's site and there is a wealth of information on it.

http://fedup.com.au/

http://failsafediet.wordpress.com/

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I've completely cut out sugar except for a tablespoon of honey a day. I was also treat and candy addicted. When I was a kid I carried around a bag of candy which I ate constantly. I stole money from my parents and snuck out to the store where I wasn't allowed to go to buy it.

It really wasn't that hard to cut it out. You just stop eating it. Some days I don't even remember to have the honey and it's no big deal. In hindsight anyways, it doesn't seem all that hard.

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I was really addicted to sweets, couldn't pass up the gluten free cookies or the candy dish... My weekness is anything chocolate...

I started using organic raw coconut crystals and for some reason I haven't craved anything sweet... with type 2 diabetes I know the risk of consuming sweets...

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Hi,

Have you had your blood sugar tested? It could be apart of the reason you are craving sweeets.

I eat fruit and use stevia sometimes that about it. I use dot eat candy bars and stuff liek that. Now I am on a whole foods diet and get my calories from meat, veggies, nuts and fruit. When you have protein it takes a while to digest and the release of energy is slower and more even. So your cravings for sugar may be less. I suggest only eating candy after a meal, not between meals. There are plenty of snacks like peanuts or fruit you can eat between meals that are better for you. And if you really want candy, you can make it but just do it without sugar.

Melt 1/4 cup of beeswax over very low heat

Add 1 cup soy free natural peanut butter

Add i cup peanuts of dried fruit.

Add a teaspoon of stevia powder.

Spread on a sheet of wax paper.

Cool in the refrig for an hour.

Cut and eat.

Many variations possible of course.

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