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Old 02-20-2019, 01:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Anxiety, Sugar & Caffeine


Why do I crave sugar and caffeine when I feel the onset of anxiety, if sugar and caffeine only make me feel worse by fueling the anxiety?
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Old 02-21-2019, 04:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I struggle with it, yesterday I was chowing on chocolate and other sweets while having anxiety over a multitude of things. Like with alcohol, I'm fueling my blood sugar levels and filling a hole within myself. It helps when I don't have those temptations within reach, or have something else to take my mind off of it, sometimes just picking up a book or magazine is enough to distract me from the craving.
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I struggle with it, yesterday I was chowing on chocolate and other sweets while having anxiety over a multitude of things. Like with alcohol, I'm fueling my blood sugar levels and filling a hole within myself. It helps when I don't have those temptations within reach, or have something else to take my mind off of it, sometimes just picking up a book or magazine is enough to distract me from the craving.
Thanks Astro.

How do you find that space between the panicked feeling of needing sugar/caffeine when anxious, with the remembering to have the thought in the mind to distract yourself instead with a book or magazine?
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Old 02-22-2019, 04:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Often I give in to the craving, I'm by no means perfect at this, and to be effective I have to remove all sweets and other processed foods from my home and workplace. What I've found to work is a "no obvious sweets" diet, anything containing sugar or corn syrup in the first three ingredients is a no-go. I've worked that before, right now admittedly it's eluding me.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Often I give in to the craving, I'm by no means perfect at this, and to be effective I have to remove all sweets and other processed foods from my home and workplace. What I've found to work is a "no obvious sweets" diet, anything containing sugar or corn syrup in the first three ingredients is a no-go. I've worked that before, right now admittedly it's eluding me.
Thanks, Astro.

I generally don't keep sweets and processed foods at home. If we do have something, it depends on what it is and what's going on in my life at the time if I can let it be or if I crave it.

I know for a lot of people the "no sweets diet" works. That's what OA does. I've tried it and it did help the cravings dissipate. But I sort of personally would rather live a "sweets in moderation" and just figure out how to handle it when those cravings hit. It seems when I'm very depressed or very anxious, that's when I strongly crave sugar and caffeine. It's frustrating, because I actually enjoy eating healthy.
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Old 02-23-2019, 05:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I thoroughly enjoy healthy eating too, but it's very difficult in my workplaces, there tends to be a lot of not-so-healthy options and the nature of my work motivates me to reach for something when my anxiety is running high to quell the cravings. My wife and I both have health issues that stem from our dietary choices too, and it's surprising to me how often we conveniently choose to ignore what we know would be the healthy decision for us.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Why do I crave sugar and caffeine when I feel the onset of anxiety, if sugar and caffeine only make me feel worse by fueling the anxiety?
Because fear, which is behind anxiety, demands more of itself.
We are addicted to our defects.
It's the ball rolling. It's progressive.
So now the purpose is to wind the fear back down.
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Because fear, which is behind anxiety, demands more of itself.
We are addicted to our defects.
It's the ball rolling. It's progressive.
So now the purpose is to wind the fear back down.
That's interesting you say that "we are addicted to our defects." I understand what you're saying. First of all, I personally dislike the term "defects". I am not defective. Secondly, I would much rather view it as fear, anxiety, depression, etc being a default setting that I am set on, and I need to try to reboot.

How do you wind your fear back down?
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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How do you find that space between the panicked feeling of needing sugar/caffeine when anxious, with the remembering to have the thought in the mind to distract yourself instead with a book or magazine?
The practice of Mindfulness and meditation has been very helpful to me in this area, and really in any stressful situation where my anxiety would flare up. That's not to say that i mediate right then and there if my anxiety flares up...but I have actually tried it and it can help.

Long term is where the benefit was, at least for me. Practice of meditation especially allows me to now view my anxiety from the outside in. I can be mindful of the telltale symptoms as they happen - and remind myself that all of them are normal and regular things that happen to everyone. The increasing heart rate and breathing, the sweaty palms, etc.....those are normal and necessary reactions ingrained into our very being and our "fight or flight" responses.

The difference for those of us who suffer from anxiety is that we let those symptoms snowball and it sometimes makes it to the full panic level - literally for some.

So I practice that when I'm not feeling anxious too - I remind myself that anxiety attach never killed me ( or even injured me! ) and that all of the responses I might have are completely normal. And that it's OK to feel them...they always pass. And when you practice that over and over it literally gets easier and more natural over time. Not to say that i never get panicky anymore..I do. But i'm much more able to see it for what it is, and cut it off before things get too bad.
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Old 04-14-2019, 01:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Good discussion. Fear/anxiety demands more of itself: Sounds like my alcohol intake when it demanded more and more and more.
I have been sober a long while, but anxiety, depression, and binge-eating are newer problems. I'm only now understanding the connections. There have been times that I have breathed through my anxiety, but more times I succumbed to sugar.
Several years ago I attended a retreat in the mountains. Yoga was offered each morning, and I loved it. On the drive home, which took me down a mountain with 18-wheelers and other hazards, I was calm and collected. Typically that drive had me on the verge of panic. I know the benefits of mindfulness, but I am not consistent. When I have practiced, even for just one week, it comes naturally.
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Old 04-15-2019, 03:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I can't say enough great things about sugar and caffeine - just (mostly) kidding.

I like both, but I consume sugar reasonably modestly. If I do, it almost always involves counting calories and, hence, a modest amount.

When it comes to caffeine, I drink as much as I want until I see myself drinking too much, and then I just cut back.

Neither one is a problem in my life.

When I started taking meds 20 years ago, my doctor prescribed Mirtazipine (Remeron), which tells my brain that I need food, even when I don't.

I ballooned up (from around 160) to about 230 or so, and I then made a decision (3rd step style) that I refused to live like that.

I am probably about 175 or so now, perhaps closer to 170.

I am a very disciplined eater.

And I like to go out on really long runs (for several hours) in good weather, like the current beautiful spring we're having here.
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Old 04-19-2019, 08:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I can't say enough great things about sugar and caffeine - just (mostly) kidding.
I get it.

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I like both, but I consume sugar reasonably modestly. If I do, it almost always involves counting calories and, hence, a modest amount.

When it comes to caffeine, I drink as much as I want until I see myself drinking too much, and then I just cut back.

Neither one is a problem in my life.
It fascinates me how some people can be physically addicted to alcohol, but not sugar or caffeine, or alcohol plus sugar and caffeine, sugar and caffeine but not alcohol, etc.

I honestly feel it's not about discipline with regards to sugar and caffeine when anxiety hits me hard. It becomes a compulsion. I can be very disciplined about other things, or even sugar and caffeine when I am not feeling anxious.

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When I started taking meds 20 years ago, my doctor prescribed Mirtazipine (Remeron), which tells my brain that I need food, even when I don't.

I ballooned up (from around 160) to about 230 or so, and I then made a decision (3rd step style) that I refused to live like that.

I am probably about 175 or so now, perhaps closer to 170.

I am a very disciplined eater.
I admire the ability of observing your brain like that. That's so cool how you're able to be disciplined with eating versus listening to your brain when it needed more food because of the meds. How were you able to do that?

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And I like to go out on really long runs (for several hours) in good weather, like the current beautiful spring we're having here.
That sounds so mindful!
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I struggle with it, yesterday I was chowing on chocolate and other sweets while having anxiety over a multitude of things. Like with alcohol, I'm fueling my blood sugar levels and filling a hole within myself. It helps when I don't have those temptations within reach, or have something else to take my mind off of it, sometimes just picking up a book or magazine is enough to distract me from the craving.
Distraction is a great tool for that. Thank you for the reminder.
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:09 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I thoroughly enjoy healthy eating too, but it's very difficult in my workplaces, there tends to be a lot of not-so-healthy options and the nature of my work motivates me to reach for something when my anxiety is running high to quell the cravings. My wife and I both have health issues that stem from our dietary choices too, and it's surprising to me how often we conveniently choose to ignore what we know would be the healthy decision for us.
I was the same way when I used to work in an office setting with a lot of junk food around, or a vending machine. Stress/anxiety would have me craving the junk food. Nowadays I try to make a soothing cup of hot tea that I have to sip slowly, instead of feeding my anxiety with junk food. But it's so much easier said then done. The day I wrote my thread my anxiety + craving for caffeine/sugar were sky high. I didn't have the thought to have a calming cup of tea, because that's not what the anxiety wants. :-(
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:15 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Good discussion. Fear/anxiety demands more of itself: Sounds like my alcohol intake when it demanded more and more and more.
Yes, I often think about the similarities, too.

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I have been sober a long while, but anxiety, depression, and binge-eating are newer problems. I'm only now understanding the connections.
I wish more people talked about this sort of thing. It's like we put down the addiction but then the underlying anxiety and depression come up. Or we switch to something else, like binge eating.

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There have been times that I have breathed through my anxiety, but more times I succumbed to sugar.
I've had a minority of times I have been able to breathe through it, too. The other day I was able to see it happening in my mind, as separate from myself, and catch it. It was really cool. One time the breathing through it didn't work because I started it too late.

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Several years ago I attended a retreat in the mountains. Yoga was offered each morning, and I loved it. On the drive home, which took me down a mountain with 18-wheelers and other hazards, I was calm and collected. Typically that drive had me on the verge of panic.
I have had similar things like this happen--both types where the anxiety took over and led to a panic attack, and times where something that normally would've had me anxious, I was very calm.

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I know the benefits of mindfulness, but I am not consistent. When I have practiced, even for just one week, it comes naturally.
I'm not consistent either. I wish I knew how to get more consistent with it. It seems to only stick for a short time after a meditation workshop or yoga class. I need some sort of structured routine.
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:24 AM   #16 (permalink)
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The practice of Mindfulness and meditation has been very helpful to me in this area, and really in any stressful situation where my anxiety would flare up. That's not to say that i mediate right then and there if my anxiety flares up...but I have actually tried it and it can help.
Thanks Scott! Would you mind describing how you turn your mind to meditation/mindfulness in the moment? I'm curious how you're able to switch it like that. What do you say to yourself?

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Long term is where the benefit was, at least for me. Practice of meditation especially allows me to now view my anxiety from the outside in.
THIS!!! I know exactly what you're talking about. Last week, I was able to see my mind start to feel triggered, and I actually observed it thinking itself into panic and anxiety. Viewing it was key to not feeling it or feeding into it. I wish I knew why at that time I was able to do that. Other times, it just happens in a flash and I can't do that.

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I can be mindful of the telltale symptoms as they happen - and remind myself that all of them are normal and regular things that happen to everyone. The increasing heart rate and breathing, the sweaty palms, etc.....those are normal and necessary reactions ingrained into our very being and our "fight or flight" responses.
That's interesting. So you are observing the symptoms, instead of feeling the symptoms??

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The difference for those of us who suffer from anxiety is that we let those symptoms snowball and it sometimes makes it to the full panic level - literally for some.
Sometimes mine snowball so quickly. Other times I can catch it.

Quote:
So I practice that when I'm not feeling anxious too - I remind myself that anxiety attach never killed me ( or even injured me! ) and that all of the responses I might have are completely normal. And that it's OK to feel them...they always pass. And when you practice that over and over it literally gets easier and more natural over time. Not to say that i never get panicky anymore..I do. But i'm much more able to see it for what it is, and cut it off before things get too bad.
This is fascinating. I never thought to do this. Instead, I don't want to think about the anxiety anymore. I want the memory of it to just go away, because I hate it. I like your idea to practice how you'd think and act next time you were feeling anxious. What a great tool! I'm still interested if you could walk us through what you say to yourself in the moment, versus feeding into the anxiety.
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Old 04-19-2019, 04:06 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm very new to this incarnation of recovery. It has been a bit of trial and error for a few months, but today was a good one. I made the mistake of quitting my anxiety med (Buspar) about a month ago: Very unpleasant outcome--through-the-roof anxiety--but I learned just how much of it lurks beneath. I resumed medication plus another one (Latuda), and I still take Wellbutrin. I've been feeling better, although at first, I had what was most likely a period of hypomania. Therapy helps. I recommitted to the basics this week: Drink water, three meals daily with plenty of protein, mindfulness meditation, exercise. It helps to be on this forum. I want a relationship with food that is not about dieting or bingeing or restricting. No judgment: Food is neutral. I'm tired of thinking about it all the time.
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:24 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I'm very new to this incarnation of recovery. It has been a bit of trial and error for a few months, but today was a good one. I made the mistake of quitting my anxiety med (Buspar) about a month ago: Very unpleasant outcome--through-the-roof anxiety--but I learned just how much of it lurks beneath. I resumed medication plus another one (Latuda), and I still take Wellbutrin. I've been feeling better, although at first, I had what was most likely a period of hypomania. Therapy helps. I recommitted to the basics this week: Drink water, three meals daily with plenty of protein, mindfulness meditation, exercise. It helps to be on this forum. I want a relationship with food that is not about dieting or bingeing or restricting. No judgment: Food is neutral. I'm tired of thinking about it all the time.
Thanks for the post, Murrill. I've been there myself. I also find I feel better from meds and get worse when I try to go off of them. I also had what may have been hypomania when I went off of a low dose SSRI that shouldn't have effected me that way, but it did. I'm sensitive to meds.

I like how you're committing to basics like that. I need to do that. Is that something you decided to do on your own, or with your therapist?

What type of mindfulness meditation and exercise do you do?

I've been where you are with regards to food. I do find that if I keep my food very simple, and eat 3 structured healthy meals and snacks, that I feel better. I also do well when I don't go too extreme with eating healthy, which can lead to my being OCD about food. I feel better mentally when I eat well, but it's not a cure. I eat treats in moderation when I feel like it, and I try to catch myself if I'm eating too many treats, or if I'm becoming obsessive with eating too healthy.

It's great that you're able to think of food without judgement and neutral. I can easily obsess about food until it becomes addictive thinking. When I think of food as just food, I do better with it. Did you ever try OA? Personally I didn't like OA because it was too extreme for me. I don't think I have the physical allergy to food like people in OA do. But I think it's cool that they treat food like alcohol for the people who need that. For me I guess I have the mental obsession with food but not the physical allergy to my trigger foods. It's cool to talk about this stuff on SR. I don't see it often brought up.

Best wishes to you and thank you for your input here.
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