LCHF diets and sugar cravings: Exactly why you shouldn’t cheat

funny-regret-nothing-cat-eating-mouth-full-pics

I decided to try a low carb, high fat diet last year after a particularly bad sugar binge, and the results blew me away.

But let’s go back a minute, to the binge. It started with a single small slice of red velvet cake at work one November morning last year. By the end of the day, I’d devoured something like five slices of cake, a packet of chocolate biscuits, whatever random old chocolate I could find at home (I don’t really keep chocolate in the house) and most of a jar of hot chocolate powder. Yes, hot chocolate powder. Straight out the jar. My nemesis.

In fact, I decided to write this blog post now as a distraction from that self-same powder currently winking at me from our kitchen at work – a large jar that someone has lovingly donated to the office. I can’t stop thinking about ladling several heaped spoons directly into my mouth, which would probably be frowned upon by my colleagues and also extremely embarrassing because I usually inhale half the powder and end up choking.

But that’s besides the point. Or, not really.

Because as I lay on the couch that night in November regretting every morsel I’d binged on – and it really was a binge – I realised that things needed to change. I’d read a lot about LCHF diets and since it was one of the few I’d never tried, having always been terrified of the idea of eating FAT, I decided I had nothing to lose.

cookie-monster

Within one week of strict LCHF eating, I’d not only lost 2kgs, but I’d also almost lost my sugar cravings. It was INCREDIBLE. I think I’ll always struggle to resist sugar, but I wasn’t having hourly – okay okay, ‘minutely’ – thoughts of chocolate and cake and chocolate cake. I felt so good, and I was eating right: meat, vegetables, eggs, salad, coconut and olive oils, avocado, almonds. I was satiated all the time and didn’t feel any need to snack or cheat.

Then about a month later, my birthday rolled around, and I decided to treat myself – and for me, treating myself ALWAYS means food, never shoes or handbags or teacup pigs. For  several days, I gorged myself on chocolate, cake, wine, bubbly and all the carbs that were within arm’s reach.

I tried to get back on the wagon, and it felt like I had one foot on and one foot off. Through December, January and early February, I kept trying to claw my way back onto the eating plan but kept slipping. I added dairy (which some people can do) but it didn’t help with the extra kilo or two that had crept back. I drank diet drinks, which isn’t advised, and once or twice I dipped into the remnants of the hot chocolate powder. I started drinking lite beer, because it’s just so damn boring to drink water at a bar, and when I found a months-old Lindt chocolate in my girlfriend’s car, I devoured it greedily before my brain had a chance to talk some sense into me. It was the day before Valentine’s Day, I rationalised, and tomorrow I’d be indulging. So that day was a write-off (I think I remember some chocolate powder too) and the next day there was dessert… and then K’s mom arrived for a 10-day holiday from Malaysia, so it was all about the pina coladas and French fries.

Things were not good.

They came to a head this past weekend, when I clocked four slabs of chocolate in a single day. K’s mom’s here, we’re eating out anyway, I’m just gonna go balls-to-the-wall and then get back on it when she leaves was how I made it okay. But my clothes aren’t fitting anymore, and this has NEVER happened to me before. I feel gross, and parts of me jiggle when I drive on bumpy roads. I HATE it.

louis-c-k

What I’d been struggling to understand was why this diet had worked so well the first time, and not when I tried to get back onto it in Jan. Obviously, it’s because the first time, there was NO cheating. Not a grain of sugar, not a drop of booze. The second time round, I got a bit more slack. Lots of dairy, the odd drink here and there – and of course a day or two of cheating every few weeks.

Not only was my body completely confused – high carb? high fat? what’s going on? – but I also wasn’t allowing it to overcome its sugar cravings. If you cut the stuff out completely, it sucks for a couple of days but you get over it. If you keep having tiny bits here and there, you never stop craving it. Basically, it’s like a drug – we all know that – but I needed to come to that realisation physically, if that makes sense.

“Maybe you just shouldn’t keep chocolate in the house.” – my sister. Very wise, she is.

I must point out that K is also on this diet, and she has lost 10kgs! She’s been amazing and so much more committed than I. Her willpower and reserve is just phenomenal, and pretty damn inspiring, given her own sugar cravings.

So what now?

Now I’m back on the wagon, albeit shakily, and doing my utmost to get this right. I loved how I felt when I was doing LCHF properly, and I loved the results. I especially loved not craving sugar. It’s hard at first but it’s an investment well worth making.

I’m not quite sure why I wanted to write this – I think that unlike many of my other posts, it was more for me than anything else. Perhaps to remind myself why I’m doing this and why it’s so worth it. And maybe, if you’ve also fallen off the wagon, it might help you too 🙂

Every time, it's a victory. Strive for these victories!

It’s a victory every time. Strive for these victories!

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5 thoughts on “LCHF diets and sugar cravings: Exactly why you shouldn’t cheat

  1. So…I know this is way old but I’ve been out of the blogging/social media/everything loop for a while. But a(nother) bad IBS flare just punched me in the stomach (after miraculously feeling really good for a while) and I’ve been sitting here the last few days thinking “Goddammit I am SO SICK of this!” yet feeling so lost. I just don’t know where to go (food-wise) and even when I do try something to fix it I’m half-assing it. Then, out of nowhere, I remembered your blog and I thought, “What is Debby doing??? What’s worked for her?”

    So this post…love. And I related to it so much. That spiral of “well, I already screwed up so I might as well keep going”. The excuses…”oh my parents are in town/it’s so-and-so’s birthday/it was a rough day/it’s a Tuesday…”

    After reading this, I remembered that the best I’ve ever felt–not sick, no bloating, not feeling shitty all the time–was on a LCHF (or similar) diet. I’ve never stuck to it for more than a few weeks (perhaps a support network is in order) but damn it WORKED. (As I sit here in woeful pain after having several slices of pizza for lunch.)

    So thank you for writing this. I needed to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey! It’s so good to hear from you. As you can see, my blogging has taking a bit of a dive, and I haven’t been on here much.

      I know exactly the feeling you’re talking about. My diet has basically been in free-fall these past few months, and although I’m physically feeling okay (mostly), I feel guilty and uuuuugggghhh and gross a lot of the time. I eat a lot of things I know I shouldn’t, and I’m struggling to stick to something that, well, sticks.

      The more I struggle, the more I realise how much of a mental game this is. When I was fully committed to SCD, I was *fully* committed and it felt great. I’ve been trying to dredge up that willpower again, ever since, but it seems like it’s buried pretty deep!

      LCHF works brilliantly and I feel so good when I’m on it. Yesterday I passed up cupcakes at work so I felt like that was a mini milestone 😉 I think it’s just about doing small things each day to get back onboard, and hopefully that’ll be the long-term answer.

      How are your boys and your little Noa? She must be getting so big!

      I hope today goes better. Just pass up that one thing, and maybe it’ll help you to feel better. But I’m by no means an oracle – I constantly wonder why I feel the need to be a human vacuum cleaner.

      It’s great to chat to you though and to feel like I’m not alone in this 🙂 x

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      • AAAAHHH so good to hear from you. Thanks for replying!

        I think my willpower is in a bunker underground somewhere…haha. Every time I think about making a huge diet overhaul though, my brain freaks out and is like “NO DON’T DO IT IT’S TOO HARD YOU’LL BE SO DEPRIVED!” Plus there’s the frustration of not even knowing which direction to go in…proponents of every single diet (paleo, vegan, macrobiotic, raw, etc.) claim their diet is THE BEST and HEALS ALL THINGS. And yet they’re all soooo different. Right now I just feel confused and overwhelmed.

        I know I felt pretty damn good after I started SCD…but thinking about doing the intro diet again makes me want to hide in a dark closet with a bowl of Ghirardelli brownie batter.

        I like what you said about making small changes. I could start incorporating some bone broth and fermented foods, and slowly start reducing my sugar intake (that’s the one thing that all diet “gurus” seem to agree on…dammit). Sigh. Teeny tiny steps I guess.

        The boys just started school (full time Kinder and 1/2 day pre-K)! And Noa is almost 11 months old (!!). I finally decided to swallow my fears and start putting myself out there, career-wise…so I’ve started doing some freelance editing and writing!! It’s a huge self-esteem boost, to feel that I’m valuable and have actual skills and that I’m contributing. It’s also mildly terrifying. 😉

        Hope you are doing well! It’s so good to connect with you again. Btw, are you on social media? Right now Instagram is the only thing I’m active on…so if you gram I’d love to connect with you there since neither of us are very active on les blogs right now. 🙂 My IG name thing is authenticallyheather.

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  2. Another late comment on an old post, but this is the first time I’ve come across your blog. So, I am approaching 40 and have been off and on with restrictive diets for almost a decade. I have a laundry list of symptoms that convinced me I have food intolerances and that diet REALLY affects me, but despite knowing this, have never been able to stick to it. I bit the bullet (again) and enrolled in the SAD to AIP in Six, which starts January 4, because I think I need some support. My hubby wants to support me but is (understandably) frustrated by my constant back and forth, but I know I have to do something. I am half convinced I am going to quit again but I can’t stop trying. I really appreciated the blog posts of yours that I have read so far. I don’t just stop following my diet (AIP is my current template but I have done basic paleo and SCD in the past), I obliterate it. I go from 8-12 servings of veggies per day, bone broth and lots of water to fast food, pop, wine and almost no veggies whatsoever. And though others thinks it’s crazy, I feel like a machine, just programmed to shove all this garbage into my face. Like you said, when I don’t cheat at all, the cravings go away. Introduce even one tiny, little cheat? Landslide into embarrassing overeating. But when I am being good, that annoying little brat in my brain pipes up about how unfair it is that I can’t have what everyone else is eating. So frustrating!!! I wish you luck on your journey and hope you get a handle on your personal food monster. Two things you said are things I have learned are very true for how my body works – no cheating is the only way I can stay on track and higher (healthy) fats keep me satisfied, keep me from obsessing over food all the time and honestly keep me in a better mood overall. All the best in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Theresa

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for your comment. I don’t know what the answer is – when I’m good I’m very good, and when I’m bad I’m terrible! Which of course is something you understand. It helps at least to know that I’m not alone. I’m doing my best to eat LCHF, as it’s the only way of eating that seems to keep me feeling full and prevents cravings. But I know what you mean – it sucks to see someone else eating things you can’t, and to think ‘Well if they can, why can’t I?’. I wish you luck with your fresh start on Jan 4… maybe this will be the one that sticks. It’s worth it when you realise how good you feel 🙂 All the best, and happy New Year. Debby

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