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Jan 19, 2014 08:38 AM

Sugar/carb addiction - how long until recovery? Until re-addiction?

Like many people, I crave sugary and simple-carby foods, but if I cut them out for a while, my craving for them decreases. If I eat them again, it can kick off a streak of being hooked again.

If you have similar cravings, how long do you find you need to avoid them before you don't feel so hooked? How much eating of them before you're hooked all over again? If you stay off them longer, are you less susceptible to getting re-hooked? Or does the amount that re-addicts you stay pretty constant regardless of how long you'd gone without them? Are there research findings about this timing?

Soda is a category of its own for me -- I know if I drink it several times in a week, I'll get hooked specifically on soda, and if I go without for a week or two, I really don't miss it after that. But I'm not sure of the timing it takes to turn on/off my craving for the more general class of sugary and simple-carby foods -- cookies, desserts, chocolate, breads, pizza, pasta, etc. (I don't really get hooked on purely sugary candy that's not chocolate, or on salty snacks. I can enjoy those on occasion without ever starting to feel like I NEED them.)

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  1. To crave something, and to be physically addicted to something are two complete different things.

    1 Reply
    1. re: poser

      Point taken, and I'm not concerned with whether or not it's an actual physical addiction. I'm using the term 'addiction' colloquially, and my question is the same if you replace that term with whatever more precise one you prefer.

    2. I think the answer to this will be highly individual. I've never felt addicted to carbs/sugar, though I like and eat them regularly. When I dieted too stringently in the past I craved fat like melty cheese and juicy steak. My cravings are usually triggered by a visual cue or by suggestion.

      1 Reply
      1. re: WishyFish

        Agreed this is very individual. I am not a big carb fan and can go a long time without craving them. Once I do I'm quickly saturated and don't want them anymore.

        To the OP are there particular foods you crave?

      2. It's a problem for me. I've gone 2 years without eating them, had a taste and launched into the same insanity.

        I always think I've been so "good". I'm not even interested in them anymore so I can just have Thanksgiving free and go right back to my regimen. It doesn't work. Sometimes it takes more than a year to clean out my system and get disciplined again.

        I am currently trying to tame the beast anew.

        Good luck with your own challenge.

        1. This is strange. I don't have I have any strong craving for sugary or carb foods. One week, I may be eating a bunch of carb like fried rice and waffles and ice cream, and in another whole week I could on a fairly veggie and meaty diet.

          What do you mean by craving? Like thinking about the foods in question? I don't.

          I also sometime crave for pizza especially when I walk by the frozen pizza section in supermarkets, but I don't really eat these pizza more than once every 3 months, so I cannot really crave for them very strongly. On top of that, I am pretty sure I crave for the melting cheese more than the pizza dough -- which mean it is not because of the sugar or the carb, but the fat.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            "This is strange. I don't have I have any strong craving for sugary or carb foods. One week, I may eating a bunch of carb like fried rice and waffles and ice cream, and in another whole week I could on a fairly veggie and meaty diet."

            I feel your pain .... lol. I crave certain foods from time to time, and would eat it several times a week but would tire of it. Then the next week it's something else. Call it food ADHD ? lol.

            1. re: LotusRapper

              :) Maybe we less "food loyal" than others. Come to think of it. I do crave ice cream more in winter than summer. I usually get at least two ice cream containers during winter, and often none in the summer. I think I crave for high calories food during winter.

              I just realize that you are from Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver has a lot of great food from nice restaurants to street carts. It was pretty cool when I last visited. I also love Toronoto. Great Japanese and Chinese food there. Really good.

              Look at all these wonderful knives I bought from Toronto this year


              and the year before:


          2. I don't know what the timing was, but 40 years ago I would have a maple bar (with coffee) for breakfast. Now, the mere thought of eating such a thing is sickening. I can eat a taste of sweets now and then, but never to the extend of developing a habit again. It's easier to give something up entirely than to try to moderate one's intake of it, especially sugar (in all its forms).

            I don't put pizza in the same category, by the way. There's nothing necessarily wrong with thin-crust pizza, in my opinion.

            I would say it takes a year or so, perhaps several years, to get to a point where there is no desire to eat sugary things again. It helps to develop an interest in other foods. For me, sushi was a big part of my conversion to healthier eating, for example.