I am a carbohydrate addict in recovery. Day three of induction

Intervention, A&E

The first three days of induction are killing me.Yeah, I know I’ll be over this soon, but if you think about it, how many times have you failed these first three days?

How many thousands of Atkineers have you known who have fallen off the wagon in the first week or two?

I’ve known many. I’ve been one more times than I can count.

Lately I’ve been hooked on a show available on Netflix instant download called “Intervention” from the folks at A&E. I was never sure why, but I could relate to those folks struggling to get their lives back.

No, I’m not a heroin user or an alcoholic; I’m just a chick living in Denver who’s trying to get healthy and lose weight.

And let me tell you what. Again. These first three days of induction are killing me. Day one is the usual. I mean, you scowl at the eggs and you get through it. Day two is when the physiological drama takes place. The physical and mental symptoms where I find myself curled in a fetal ball with a bag of chips in my arms, sobbing. Last night I was so weak. SO weak.

Induction takes what is a normally very in-control person like me into such depths on that day. It’s a literal fight for maintaining control the entire day–and it made me think of something. It made me think about that show.

Let’s talk symptoms I’m experiencing, and I’ll bet many of you are as well:

  • Cravings
  • Shakes
  • Sweats
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Increased blood pressure

Crazy normal stuff for people who are undergoing the switch from burning carbohydrates for fuel to burning fat stores. Millions of people have undergone at least a few of those symptoms.

Now guess what else. Those are also the signs of alcohol de-tox. That’s right. The average alcoholic experiences these same symptoms you do the first week away from sugar and starches (which are sugar to the blood stream).

But wait– there’s more.

How about some more of the rotten stuff I’m dealing with that you might be, too.  How many of these are you experiencing?

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Irritability

A lot of you are nodding, right? You with me here?

Hold onto your hats. Those are major symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Heroin. Heroin.

Think you’re not an addict in recovery? I know I am.

Now know this: this isn’t about will power; this is about addiction and brain chemistry. Dr. Julia Ross and her book The Diet Cure shares how the people she has treated for over two decades in California are now (thanks to her) recovering binge eaters, recovering anorectics, recovering alcoholics and recovering drug addicts. Many of her patients have been self medicating for years due to unstable brain chemistry caused by a combination of genetics and the standard American diet (over 300 carbohydrates per day, largely of grain and grass derivatives).

Dr. Ross has cured addicts for over 20 years: people who starved or vomited to raise endorphin levels artificially because their brains were deficient in those ‘feel good’ chemicals; alcoholics who partook to excess to help calm those malfunctioning pain receptors; binge eaters and grazers whose brains needed seratonin and didn’t care if it came from a bag of chips or an amino acid.

A strong, underlying problem in many of the cases she treats: sugar addiction.

Let’s look for a moment at what a drug really is. According to Mirian-Webster online, a drug is:

something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness

Re: sugar, if you’ve ever read Taubes’ Good Calories Bad Calories or Ross’ The Diet Cure, you’ll learn that sugar was once referred to as crack by the French, a highly addictive substance. If you’ve read Dr. Thompson’s Low Glycemic-Load Diet, you’ll note that starch-addicts are really sugar addicts, since starches are not only treated as sugar in the bloodstream, they’re often sweetened for taste.

And while sugar is not illegal according to the definition above, it does cause addiction, habituation (habit forming) and a marked change in consciousness (think in terms of serotonin/endorphin).

Considering what “Atkins Induction Flu” is, is it any wonder so many of us are suffering from the same symptoms of the alcoholic and the heroin addict?

Thankfully, you have the keys to recovery in your hand right now. You have a healthy, low carbohydrate lifestyle devoid of sugar, the same addiction many alcoholics and eating disordered have (see Ross). You have a saturated fat diet that helps your brain function the way it does (Naughton), with essential amino acids no longer being hampered by the grasses that humans can only consume when they are heavily processed and flavored (Ross). Now your brain is free to partake of those “feel good” chemicals that come from your foods.

While it may take some time to overcome the cravings, know that your brain doesn’t know whether you gave it the Snickers bar or the amino acid. It doesn’t care. It needs those feel good chemicals. It needs those endorphins you have wash over you when you eat a food to which you are allergic, and it doesn’t care if it came from the wheat (which also causes your body to react to protect itself from the allergen) or from an amino acid.

That doesn’t make the first week of recovery any less difficult. I know this first-hand. And while I’m already down 10 pounds in two days, the rational side of me should do a jig. The addicted side of me trembles at the possibility of chocolate and potato chips.

Welcome to a brave new world. This is the fight of your life.

In this struggle for regaining your sobriety, realize this isn’t about willpower. You can’t walk away from food as you can from drugs, but know that the right choices will heal you.

In so doing, don’t let outside influences tell you this is all in your head–unless they understand addiction and wellness through brain chemistry. And don’t go unarmed:

Recommended reading:
Dr. Julia Ross, The Diet Cure
Dr. Julia Ross, The Mood Cure
Dr. Robert Atkins, New Diet Revolution, 2002
Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories

Tom Naughton, Fathead
A&E, Intervention

This is my day three. Hi. I am a recovering carbohydrate addict.

I am proud to report I never ate those chips and I stuck to the program, as weak and as fallible as I was. And thanks to the knowledge of nutritional pioneers, tomorrow is looking even better than today already does.

You can do it, too. How do I know? Because if someone as in the throes of addiction as I can do it, I know you can do it.

Now put down the chips, throw your shoulders back, get your hands on those tools and make this your best day yet! And while you’re heading down the road to better pants, know you’re onto something even more special than that… you’re in recovery.

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  1. johnkgibson says

    I have found that if I get into white flour and sugar I get cravings that can only be satisfied with more white flour and sugar.

    This then becomes a vicious cycle of binging.

  2. Perfectly Primal says

    amazing post-and so relevant to my life…on/off/on/off. Thank You so much for writing this.

  3. Brilliant post!! This is so true for me. If I have sugary starchy carbs I am completely driven to eat more and more. Its bottomless!
    The only way to have any control over my eating is to completely avoid the poisonous foods.

  4. Very real. I'm right there with you, day 5 for me, though not from ground zero, from about 50 carbs so not as bad this time.

  5. You inspired me to go to some kind of Induction again, too!
    You have a way of telling it like it is!
    Awesomeness in action, that is.

  6. wendyusuallywanders says

    Wow! That sounds awful! Congrats on making it this far. I went through being sick at induction, but I did not have the component of craving carbs all that much. I feel blessed that my blood sugar was very high and that I would do whatever it took to bring it down. I doubt I would have had the same dedication just to lose weight. Keep up the good work!!! It gets much easier 🙂

  7. Michele Chastain says

    Great post (as usual). I'm thinking about ya and sending good, carb-free vibes your way!

  8. Wild at Heart says

    The real trick with Induction (aka detox) is to never let yourself get hungry. Keep some deviled eggs in the fridge, some bacon, or quiche handy. The biggest pitfall is when you get hungry and irritable you are most likely to crash and burn. It does get easier, but I vividly remember the struggle of those first couple of weeks.

    After you get over the carb crave hump you will find the next obstacle is boredom. The key to overcoming this one is to figure out what food you used to love, then create a substitute. Cauliflower for potatos/rice, cheese and eggs for pizza crust, etc.

  9. Some of those symptoms are similar to low blood sugar – mild to moderate symptoms. Maybe when uncomfortable symptoms like that happen to that extent you need to add a few more carbs in the way of veggies? Just thinking…. I don't think I could tough it out.

  10. Jamie aka Carbarella says

    John– those are the worst of the worse; and I have problems with those, too. And it is a vicious, vicious cycle. Nightshades have a similar effect for me, and even though I have an intolerance to them, potato chips make me feel happy because while my body is battling the allergy, my brain is releasing endorphins to mask the pain, which gives me a high. It's a cycle!

    Perfectly– I'm so glad this spoke to you, too. It is so important that we feel empowered in this stage of recovery and not browbeaten.

    Pamela– It is so bottomless, and the irony is, the worse your personal reaction to a food, the more likely you are to crave it. It is thought that many who are allergic to grass actually can become addicted to alcohol since you get the double wallop of endorphins and other feel good chemicals.

    Mindy– Way to go on your journey so far! I am so happy for your journey! Keep me posted!

    Anne– Let me know which one you go with. There are like four versions now.

    Wendy– it's the pits! The one thing I remember resonating with me is that Dr. Atkins stated the worse induction is, the worse off you were before you began and the better you will feel when you're in about a week. Congratulations on making it through your induction!

    Michele– Thank you, sistah! I appreciate it very much. I'm keeping the vibes in my pocket so I can find them when I need them. Unlike my keys.

    Jennifer– Those are great points! It definitely all ties back into sugar, though, doesn't it?

  11. FarmGirl67 says

    It is the fight of our lives, but no one else can fight it but us..no one but me can fix this so i have to. im on day 20 and i'm doing good,i am resolute ,my mindset has changed..i'm coming out of the carb coma,the brain fog is lifting..

  12. Jamie aka Carbarella says

    Way to go, farmgirl! I love your resolve and "can do" attitude!

  13. I'm always blown away when people loose 10 pounds in a week, let alone in a couple of days. I've done induction several times and I'm lucky if I loose 2 or 3 pounds in a week. Usually the first 2 or 3 days I don't loose anything! I sure could use that boost to keep me going!

  14. My Metamorphosis~ says

    "Think you're not an addict in recovery? I know I am. "..
    boy me too chica! LOVED, OMG LOVED this post. It's been a constant struggle for me (you know I am one of those that has re-inducted countless times over the last three years)… I truly believe now it is an addiction! I am going to be following your blog closely for a while. Offering encouragement where and can! God Lord.. if it was easy we would be hot, slender babes by now. IF it was easy everyone would be slim. OMG I know we can do this.
    My lightbulb moment came a few days ago (I wrote about it on my blog) when reading about addiction myself I read that one of the characteristics were denial and it just clicked.. I was always in denial. I just “liked” sugar.. I know eventually I would be able to handle it “in moderation”.. No… I. Am. An. Addict.

  15. Jamie aka Carbarella says

    Maggie– I'm positive it's all water. It's only been three days, and I'm Spongebob Bloatpants whenever I've been away from low carb for any appeciable time. I'm sure it's inflammation due to food sensitivities I tend to ignore when I'm not following my regimen.

    You're doing great, and I'm so proud of your hard work! We're doing this!

    MyMetamorphosis– It is such an eye opener. So many think it's all about willpower, but it's not.

    It's more about want power. Once you have the tools you need, do you want to get better? If so, there is a cure!

  16. It's interesting, though I was a major sugar/carb addict, as well as addicted to cigarettes, I never got any of the withdrawal symptoms so many speak of.

    It's almost as if though my body thanked me for delving into all of those valuable amino acids when I began the plan almost 11 years ago.

    I wish you a powerful and successful induction!

  17. Jamie aka Carbarella says

    Hey, Misty! I am using the aminos, but I'm still going through the gauntlet. That's OK, though. It makes the journey all the more invaluable!

  18. Your posts are always good, but this one was great! Whenever I have been without any refined carbs (for even a day) and then let myself have them, my first reaction is that euphoric high that must be like taking drugs. So, I am right there with you! And of course, the emotional crash later of what it does to my body is grim. Thank you for a wonderful, encouraging post! And good luck, I know you can do it!!

  19. I, too, am "just a chick living in Denver who's trying to get healthy and lose weight." What fun your blog is! I'm on day ONE of induction (second time I've jumped on the Atkins bandwagon), and so far I am doing OK. But the thing is, this IS an addiction, and once I slip I just want more and more and MORE. Here's to healty low-carb living!

  20. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!!!! Made your angel food oopsie cake tonight! Ate it plain and it TOTALLY satisfied my "bread" craving!!!!! BLess you!!! I'm on day 3 – need naps, have headaches, but I'm steadfast. Thank you so much!!!!

  21. The old Alcoholic's Anonymous quote makes so much sense to me with my carb addiction: "One is too many and a thousand's not enough"

  22. noranoraspotaphora says

    I just finished reading this post and all the comments and I am in tears. It has never hit me so hard how addicting carbs actually are.
    I'm crying because I see for the first time that I'm an addict and I know I HAVE to do something about it…but it's so hard.
    I think it takes something up-side-the-head for me to see what this addiction is doing to me. My sister is an alcoholic and I see her struggle with it everyday…I'm sure that genetically (and psychologically) our addictions come from the same place. Thanks ancestors.
    Okay…now I know and I can use this knowledge to make my life what I want it to be.

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