vietnamese food noodle bowl

Sugar addiction and the Whole30, postscript part 2

A few people have asked me, did I go soaring off the wagon last Thursday, face first, into a pool of jellybeans and hot chocolate? I understand this. Part curiosity, part concern.

Short answer? No.

Long answer? Read my postscript part 1.

The treat report, one week out

I have ventured off the wagon, yes, but have not yet tangled with alcohol or anything sweet. 38 days in total, sugar free. Instead, I started to wonder if other W30 forbidden foods might satisfy me just as well. The answer has been a welcome Oh, hell, yes.

pho and rice banh miDay one post-30, I opted for a long-missed lunch at a favorite local vietnamese place, featuring a Banh Mi sandwich and a rice noodle bowl with chicken, shrimp and egg roll. Oh my word. Just lookatit! The softest, most delicious, nutritionless french roll ever, guilt-free. Moaning was audible. Mmmpfth-so-good was uttered. No tummyache, no headache. And there was much rejoicing.

Day 2. After day 1 went so well, I treated again on Friday, since that’s the treat day ‘schedule’ I want to get back on. But I chose conservatively. Pizza.

This didn’t go nearly as well.

I just had to get it right. The pressure of selecting the exact worth-it toppings crossed wires with a brusque comment from my husband. Completely fried my control panel. I picked a fight with him, ordered the wrong sauce on my favorite ‘za, and proceeded to harumph my way through dinner. Sighing was audible. The word ‘martyr’ was uttered. My husband and I didn’t talk for two days.

Bright side? I had plenty of space to experiment with food reintroduction.

Phoenix Coffee latte design

The Dairy Report

Day 5. Full-fat dairy. First I tried chai with a home made, unsweetened concentrate. I love a ginger-heavy Bhakti Chai, but the sugar content and the shipping costs kill the joy entirely. So, I made a knock off recipe I call Mock-ti [yes, they see, you are so clever, love.], some whole milk and a single packet of stevia.

This was far too sweet. One tiny packet of Sweet Leaf stevia is sweetness equal to two teaspoons of sugar. Yow. On the upside, absent was the dreaded knife-through-third-eye sugar headache. No further cravings. Slippery slope side-stepped.

The week has been rounded out with a few more dairy interludes, and a bit more bread. My husband brought home bridies, pasties and fresh baked Scottish rolls from a bakery in Detroit, so, I mean, c’mon.

My Presssshhh-uuuuus lattes have led the post-30 cravings charge…but a single shot 8 oz. Euro short breve [smack me now, I hate coffee speak. I’m not that person, I promise!] has replaced my former 16 oz, tweakifying affair. Two tiny coffee drinks in a week? Moderation I can live with.

I wouldn’t even call it a craving, anymore, really. It’s just something I enjoy. One thing I have noticed is the charge has gone out of food, for me. When you’ve spent a month just going ahead and sitting there with your feelings, unable to numb out with food, it sort of loses its power. I still have charge around/desire for wine and dark chocolate. But not yet, Valentine’s Day be damned. Read part 1 for more on my well-founded sugar reticence.

It’s not supposed to be easy

The Pizza Fail drew a few more lines on my topography of crazy. Scared, second-guessing, worried I was going to undo all of my work, I cocked it up. Way too tender, this emotional state just out of rehab—er, I mean, Whole30.

Add to it the worry that I might be staring down an.entire.lifetime. bereft of cookies, chocolate and wine. Of no more numbing, let’s be honest. We both know that sugar won’t work for me anymore as an escape. But still, I grieve this.

I think what I have begun to accept—through a conversation with one brave reader in the comments—is that this will continue to be *hard*. Addicts don’t kick the substance, then all of a sudden [effortlessly!] stop pining for the fix. I must continue to be willing to admit my powerlessness. One day at a time. Isn’t there some lighthearted joke in AA, where you can promise yourself a drink tomorrow? None today. But maybe tomorrow.

Beware the hair trigger

It is Friday after all, and Valentine’s Day at that. My daughter’s Sweetheart Dance at school tonight could very well derail me in a very public and dramatic fashion. It can only help me to admit this, instead of pushing that fear down, hoping somehow that I don’t notice it. For a while, I may simply hover like this, one slip-up away from the window scene in Chocolat.

So what do I do? I know there will be a baked goods table at this dance—hell, I am supposed to be baking and donating to it. Instead I will prepare a polite and genuine ‘that looks wonderful. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. No thank you’.

A recovering alcoholic might be lulled by the ice clinking invitingly in someone else’s gin and tonic with a twist. In the same way, I imagine that by the end of the night, I will know every single not-to-be-missed treat by name, chirpy baker and nutritional pedigree. I must give that table a wide berth, and give myself the *permission* to struggle.

What about you? How have reintroductions gone? Or mid-30, how are your cravings changing? Let us know in the comments.



Read Part 1


patti carlyle

Writer, feminist and activist in Cleveland, Ohio. I curate a collectic blog of quotes, links, images and long form writing. Learn more or find me on Facebook, Twitter, .

Latest posts by patti carlyle (see all)


  1. Amy

    Patti we are soul sistahs! I am doing well sugar free… A few strategic cheats like that wheat toast I mentioned this morning at church…not too much difficulty. So motivated by the lack of 3pm slump, lack of cravings (mostly). Will take your advice and just sit with panicky feelings if cravings arise and figure out what the emotional trigger is.

    My great workaround of today: So I was craaaaaving sushi today but the rice is so starchy…so I sliced small cucumbers lengthwise really thin–and wrapped the planks around avocado and cream cheese bits…dipped in wasabi/soy…omg. Def. not sushi but def satisfied that craving. Just yum.

    • that’s a great sushi stand-in idea, amy! sometimes i want sushi, but know some of the rolls are sad and tired without the rice. i just saw a good recipe sort of like this in Well Fed [a popular paleo cookbook] with jicama, mango and avocado.

      let me know how the cravings/feelings pause goes.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Sugar addiction and the Whole30, postscript part 1 | pardon my fringe
  2. Surviving the Whole30: a sugar addict attempts a full month of full-tilt feeling | pardon my fringe

Leave a Reply