Weight Loss Support - Any ex-drinkers now crave sugar more than ever?

Lori Bell
03-02-2009, 05:39 PM
Hopefully this is an okay spot for this thread.

As I've shared before, before I began losing weight, I was drinking pretty heavily. I gave up alcohol for several reasons but the calories more than anything. I have never had a real sweet tooth in the past, (well maybe some as a child), but normally my craving would be for salty/spicy foods. (I would eat sugary stuff...I just didn't crave it.) Well now it seems that the only foods I "crave" are sugar fortified. I was telling a friend of mind (who happens to be in AA and sober for several years) about it last night and she said that when she quit drinking she had out of control sugar cravings. She said that's why they always have pie & coffee after their AA meetings...lol Any ex-drinkers have a newly formed mega sweet tooth?

03-02-2009, 05:43 PM
OMG, Lori. I can't believe you posted this.

I only drank wine... Merlot and Chardonnay. I drank everyday or pretty close to it. Now that I'm not drinking ANY, I have a headache that won't go away. A thud, dud, dull headache. Hurts my teeth, my eyes.

I gave it up because you can't drink wine on South Beach and because I know I shouldn't be drinking that much.

I don't plan to ever go back to drinking wine. It blows my mind how much sugar is in the stuff and how lethargic it makes me feel.

Some people go through this when they give up caffeine.

But to answer your question, I don't feel the sugar cravings just yet.

03-02-2009, 05:44 PM
I've never drank. Mainly because there are so many alcoholics in my family. But, I read in Potatoes Not Prozac that it's very related. Alcocholics and sugar cravings both run in my family.

Lori Bell
03-02-2009, 06:02 PM
A-Diva Interesting...I didn't have sugar craving for several months after I quit drinking either, that's why I never thought there was a relationship between the 2... But I did have chronic head and eye pain for the first couple months, I chalked that up to allergies....hummm

03-02-2009, 06:14 PM
Hi Lori,

I am a sober alcoholic (going on 13 years next months :dance: ) and I wish I had more insight for you. I was quite thin when I quit drinking (although a little bloated!) and lost a significant amount of weight at about 6 months sobriety. I certainly have no memory of developing a sweet tooth when I got sober, but then, that whole first year is quite hazy and blurry. :lol:

I don't have a sweet tooth now, though. Of course, I have a severe nut allergy, so baked goods have always been dangerous for me and I never got in the habit of eating them. Maybe that's why. :shrug:

So, I can't help you at all... don't know why I posted this. :D

Peace, Heather

03-02-2009, 06:14 PM
I had sugar cravings when I first stopped drinking--after I stopped feeling sick all the time, that is. :p Lotta ice cream during that period. However, those cravings did lessen as time went on. These days I have no excuse. It's been way too many years... But I've also heard there's a connection. I don't know that any scientific studies have been done, though.


03-02-2009, 06:57 PM
I was never really a big drinker but my husband is an alcoholic (sober almost 2 years!) He also has a bad sweet tooth - mainly chocolate. I remember from a college nutrition class that the body metabolizes alcohol the same as sugar. So, I guess that sugar cravings would make sense...

03-02-2009, 10:38 PM
my dad quit drinking about 15 years ago and has, every night since, had a big bowl of ice cream. i think there's something to the sweet tooth that goes along with quitting the sauce. i can't speak from personal experience, though. i still indulge in a couple glasses of wine on saturday evenings but i have, for the sake of weight loss, given up the glass or two of wine i would generally have a couple times a week with dinner after work.

Lori Bell
03-02-2009, 10:53 PM
This is very interesting. I wonder if the drug they sometimes give alcoholics to take away the "buzz" they get from alcohol, (Naltrexone) would work on a sugar addict....lol I'm just tired of daydreaming about cookies!

03-02-2009, 11:12 PM
Lori I have an "issue" right now with my Budweisers...no secret around here.

I don't ever crave sweet things really. I have had months where I have had Klondike bars every night for a couple of months or Cherry Garcia for more than a couple of months....but I wouldn't call it a craving...more of a habit.

Haven't had a Klondike bar or Cherry Garcia in years.

Went 18 years without any alcohol....didn't crave sweets...never have.

I like them from time to time....rare though.

I think if I quit drinking I might exchange Klondike bars...but crave?...humm...dunno...for me I guess it would be more "habit"....

03-02-2009, 11:16 PM
Wow. this is verrrrrry interesting. I was a pretty heavy drinker until about mid-December. I still drink, but it's significantly curtailed. And I had noticed the return of the sweet tooth but I chalked it up to my theory about diet.
Here's the thing: I have never had much of a sweet tooth. I've always been a salty/spicy/fried kinda girl. However, I did enjoy the occasional sweets and had a major addiction to frozen yogurt. But this was all when I was dieting all the time. Low fat this. Low fat that.
And then I gave up and started eating whatever I wanted. And any semblance of a sweet tooth I once had pretty much disappeared entirely (save for ice cream, which I have never forsaken).
So I wasn't that surprised to discover in the last month that I am again considering donuts and puddings that I never would've given a second thought to just a few months ago. I just figured that I only crave sweets when I deny myself fats and calories. That was my working theory for years. But now I wonder if alcohol is involved as well. Or smoking. Because these are all things I significantly cut back at the same time I started counting calories.

03-03-2009, 12:43 AM
My mom is a recovering alcoholic who struggles with sugar addiction, I am a recovering sugar addict, and I am absolutely convinced there is a connection. Alcoholism is particularly strong in my family, but I may have avoided it only because I went far down the path of sugar addiction instead. There is a study here which relates alcoholism and sugar addiction: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/132530.php

Edited to add: The only way for me to control my sugar addiction is to abstain. The same is true of my mother and her sugar addiction, or of her alcohol addiction.

03-03-2009, 12:57 AM
I am a musician so I see a LOT of alcohol (AND drug abuse) and because of that it kinda turned me away from alcohol but I HAVE noticed that all the heavy drinkers I know also crave sweets.

And also the druggies I know (none are friends and I steer clear of them) especially the coke heads REALLY crave sweets when they are trying to go clean.

I don't know what the connection is but I know there IS one.

03-03-2009, 08:35 AM
OH YEAH! I for one never liked any sweets at all and now I keep a dark chocolate dove bar in my fridge and have to seperate the tiny serving sizes in little bags to keep it under control!

doesnt alcohol turn to sugar? that could be why

03-03-2009, 09:15 AM
Addictions run in the family....my dad and sister are both alcoholics (sis is recovering, dad is not). My addiction? Sugar.

I'm convinced it's all related.

03-03-2009, 09:26 AM
I've been wondering about this as well. I'm not a sweet's eater, but I start craving beer in the afternoon. Well ya know it's full of bad stuff, and tons of calories.

I think I'm going to modify my plan to have a bigger afternoon snack. I know I don't crave the beer if I'm not hungry in the afternoon. I usually have a piece of fruit or some celery with FF ranch about 3pm.

Need to change that up to a more filling snack that will tide me over until supper. And maybe eat it at 4 instead of 3. I don't get of work until 5 and don't get supper done until about 6:30 by the time I get home.

I think I'll try a sandwich with almost FF turkey, Sara Lee 45 calorie bread, lettuce and tomato.

I've got to get away from so much beer, it's not good for me, and after a couple of beers, I could eat the north end of a south bound horse.:D

03-03-2009, 10:47 AM
I am a musician so I see a LOT of alcohol (AND drug abuse) and because of that it kinda turned me away from alcohol but I HAVE noticed that all the heavy drinkers I know also crave sweets.

And also the druggies I know (none are friends and I steer clear of them) especially the coke heads REALLY crave sweets when they are trying to go clean.

I don't know what the connection is but I know there IS one.

this is interesting. a couple years ago when i was in the music industry, it got to the point where i was supporting a 4-5 gram per week coke habit. as i mentioned earlier, i never craved sweets. however, what would happen was i would not eat at all the night i was doing drugs but then the next day i would have a record-setting binge on an entire dominos pizza AND chinese food or something. horrible horrible horrible.

05-12-2009, 06:25 AM
I remeber hearing Alice Cooper (who I believe is a recovering addict of both alcohol & drugs) talk about how these days rehab places have forgotten what people knew back in the 70s... that is to help people get off the booze and that once a person stops drinking- they need to have sweets & chocolate around to help curb those cravings for the drink... Which is because alcohol is a sugar/carb and when u remove that from your diet and you are used to it, of course your body and mind are going to want it. He said they would have the place stocked with candy & chocolate to help the people get there minds off the alcohol. I think this would definitely be important in the first few weeks and maybe months of quitting alcohol. Because besides the body craving the alcohol it is also craving that sugar rush it is soo used to. And I guess that could relate over to other substances too.

But anyways I also know a chemist who has said that anyone who wants to cut out alcohol for weight loss purposes or because they are an alcoholic should keep some chocolate around (just make sure u budget for it!) and this will help get you through that first couple weeks that are the hardest when breaking an old habit. And if you need it keep the chocolate around for a up to a month or two. Then taper yourself off that and don't transfer your addiction either!! This I think makes perfect sense, considering the chemistry of nutrition.

05-12-2009, 11:32 AM
Verrrrry interesting - I learn something new every day on here! I'm a recreational drinker, and I have noticed only a couple of patterns - that when I'm drinking beer, I'll gravitate toward salt strongly if it's a lager/pilsener/ale. If it's a deep rich porter or stout - not so much - but they do have a sweet component to them (Guinness - a complete food!). White wines don't seem to induce much of a nibbling/craving, but a dry red seems to want savory or dark chocolate.

I've read that for many people, ending a meal on a sweet note (even if it's as simple as a strawberry) sends a signal to the brain that the meal is OVER. I haven't played with this, but the article did cite a number of biological references. Maybe that could help a dieter or two?

Wondering too - since alcohol is processed by the liver, and most of the sugary things we tend to crave fall in the highly processed, factory-food, trans-fatty arena (and also damaging to our poor livers), if there's some sort of an addictive "reward" function generated by filtering that gunk out? It would be interesting to do some experiments with sugar addicts and see if there's any benefit to a liver detoxification program. Dunno - random Tuesday thoughts.

05-12-2009, 11:44 AM
I normally am not really into sugar. I don't like chocolate or candy, cookies, etc.

But I was drinking red wine regularly, recently gave it up... and now I am REALLY into having maple syrup on GoLean blueberry waffles in the morning. Not a ton, 1 Tb total, but I think it's linked to not drinking ;)

05-12-2009, 11:47 AM
Interesting thread. I am definitely an alcoholic although I didn't go through a 12-step program to curb the addiction. I have been a heavy binge drinker since I was about 14 years old. Much of my 20s and 30s is a blur ~ particularly late 2003-2004 since I was drinking heavily, daily, at work and at home, and taking paxil (plus the occasional illicit this-or-that).

My theory is, it's an allergy. I think my body is allergic to sugar. This manifests as an addiction to/extreme sensitivity to foods with sugar content, including carbs, starch, chocolate, alcohol ~ you name it. I think having an allergy to this stuff makes it more desirable, makes me unable to control cravings for/intake of it, and makes me gain weight from even tiny servings.

The only way I can control it is to never, ever, EVER have any of it. No booze, no sugar, no starch. That whole "everything in moderation" thing doesn't work for me.

I think there's 100% link between alcohol, sweets and starch, Lori Bell. I also have a dear dear friend who checked herself into rehab many years ago to get off drinking (and did so successfully) and has had a weight problem ever since. She's addicted to sugar, ice cream, pastries, chocolate...she's back on WW now and has lost 40 lbs and feels great, but she's still a sugar addict. It's got to be linked.

05-12-2009, 11:50 AM
Interesting quote from http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/11/prweb1653024.htm ...

Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays:

Dr. Adrienne Marcus is executive director of Lexington Center for Recovery, the largest provider of alcoholism and substance abuse treatment in the Hudson Valley... When experiencing a craving, said Dr. Marcus, eat something sweet. Alcohol is a sugar, and the part of the brain that triggers the need for alcohol can be satisfied by eating a cookie or a piece of chocolate.

See, it's not all in your head. Well, it is, but only chemically :)

11-12-2010, 01:42 PM
I decieded to stop drinking during the week... After I have pretty much been a 7 day a week heavy drinker my whole adult life. I am 30 and figured I'd better make some changes. I went on to Google this morning and typed the question "I stopped drinking, why do I crave sugar?" and it brought me here. Thank you so much for all of the information. I, like a few of you, have always craved salty, fried, or meat items. Now I can't seem to eat enough Starbursts and Skittles... I lost 60 pounds 4 years ago, so I know what some of you are dealing with losing the weight. Keep it up and the pounds will fall off!!! I am hoping with the 1000+ calories a night that I am cutting out might help me lose these pesky last 15 pounds!

11-13-2010, 11:58 AM
I am a sugar addict. I used to drink white wine before dinner almost every night and I think it was for the sugar rush as much as anything else. No other alcohol really appeals to me. Thankfully I gave up the daily drinking habit but I fight the sugar cravings pretty much non stop. The less I eat of it, the easier it is but I cannot imagine a life without sugar!

11-13-2010, 01:15 PM
Interesting thread and one that I can relate to.

About six years ago I went through a period of stress related heavy drinking. A woman I know, who is a 20 year sober alcoholic, told me to have something sweet whenever I felt like having a drink. I took her advice and gained twenty pounds from pigging out on Vortman's sugar wafers.

Now I drink very infrequently ( maybe one beer every three weeks or so) but still struggle with sweet cravings. However I avoid Vortman's sugar wafers like the plague.

Historical fact: the American intake of sugar began to skyrocket during the prohibition era.

just keep swimming
11-13-2010, 01:23 PM
I remeber hearing Alice Cooper (who I believe is a recovering addict of both alcohol & drugs) talk about how these days rehab places have forgotten what people knew back in the 70s... that is to help people get off the booze and that once a person stops drinking- they need to have sweets & chocolate around to help curb those cravings for the drink...

When I was in grade school, they would put a giant barrel outside the principal's office the week after Halloween for people to put their extra candy, and then they would donate it to a local rehab facility.

11-13-2010, 01:32 PM
My dad is a recovering alcoholic of eight years (most of my small family is in AA to be honest) and he has serious sugar issues. He has always had a sweet tooth, though... I know that a psychiatrist in rehab for some reason recommended the recovering alkies carry around little packs of sugar to dose themselves if they felt a panic attack coming on in early recovery! I don't know the reasoning behind that or if it's common practise, but I remember him with the pockets full of sugar in the early days.

I don't know whether it's a deferred addiction or part of the wiring or connected to prolonged withdrawals, but I know sugar features pretty heavily in the AA rooms in my town. And ciggies and coffee. :D

:hug: to everyone who has struggled with alcoholism, a very misunderstood disease.

11-13-2010, 06:56 PM
When I decided to start losing weight I was drinking pretty much every day of the week, and really heavily 2-3 of those days. I decided to only drink moderately one day a week which surprisingly has not been too much of an issue (luckily it's getting cold and everyone I know is broke so no more weekday trips to the winery or drinking establishments with patios). However, I have been craving soda like crazy. I have never been a soda drinker and thought it was because I've cut all candy type stuff out of my diet. But I really didn't eat that much candy before either. I like starchs! So maybe it is the alcohol causing it. I need to get over this, because I'll buy a diet soda and drink it and get a huge headache since I don't drink coffee or other caffinated beverages, and yet I still drink more. So gross!

11-14-2010, 08:39 AM
I believe they both release dopamine in our system.