Eating DisordersSugar

Sugar – how quickly can we get hooked?

I had an interesting experience over the festive season: I helped someone with an employment law case (I used to be an HR Director) and they very kindly sent me the biggest box of chocolates ever as a thank you. (My love of chocolate is well known). This was a 1.4kg box from Hotel Chocolat and it had everything from 100% cocoa beans to white chocolate batons. This arrived early in December, so we started munching about Mid December. Then I had a dark Hotel Chocolat Christmas selection and a ‘classic’ (not just dark) Hotel Chocolat Christmas selection arrive just before Christmas and then quite a few more chocs were delivered by Father Christmas…


(The above photo is of a 1kg box of chocolates – the 1.4kg box has the batons and slabs!)

Once I’d eaten all the 85% dark batons and slabs, one does find oneself having a coffee ganache here and a hazelnut praline there – but these are mainly sugar, not mainly cocoa/cocoa butter/vanilla/cream/nuts/coffee and other natural ingredients that can make up real chocolate. The outcome was that, within about 10-14 days, I woke up in between Xmas and New Year and found myself with a slight, but distinct, craving for sugary chocolate. I was really shocked to see how quickly cravings could return. I went with it on the first day to see what happened and I had an even stronger desire for pralines etc the following day. That day I nipped it in the bud and had no more for several days. I did have the odd one here and there after that but I am happy that they are now all gone.

The moral of the experience? I reckon most of us could get ‘hooked’ on sugar again within a couple of weeks, no matter for how long we had been avoiding it. Learning 2 is not to let any cravings grow by the day (as the three conditions are ‘fed’ and can take hold again). The minute you feel yourself needing something, rather than just feeling you could take it or leave it – that’s the time to stop having the substance immediately, so that the cravings can’t take hold again.

John Yudkin likened sugar to Heroin in his book “Pure White & Deadly”. I don’t think he was far wrong.

7 thoughts on “Sugar – how quickly can we get hooked?

  • Pingback: The Harcombe Diet® by Zoe Harcombe | Top tips for Christmas

  • Interesting. Zoe Id be interested to hear how you made the transition from HR to your current profession, would you do a blog on this? For purley selfish reasons of course, but Im sure would make intersting reading too!

  • Thank you for your reply Zoe. I have completed Phase 1 and feel so muchmore awake. Day one of Phase 2 today so will seek support on facebook cos I really need it, thanks for that tip.
    I too have done the Hypnosis cd and book I have even paid lots of money to see a hypnotherapist who had a different outlook to the TV guy. She was all about healthy eating and eating quality food not rubbish. I was thinking of pointing her towards this diet. The mind can be very strong and not to be underestimated and together with the Harcombe Diet could be a powerful tool.

  • I have to agree that the sugar addiction can begin very quickly. Just over a year ago, I tried a famous hypnotist’s (no name’s) weight loss programme. Because he stated you could eat whatever you wanted but you mustn’t let yourself get hungry or overeat, I found that, with weird break times at work, I would have something small from the vending machine to see me through to the next break – 3 hours later. Now, I previously worked for a raw food company and, although a bit overweight, I did eat a very healthy diet and only ever consumed 99% cocoa chocolate. Ofcourse, they don’t sell that in the vending machine and he did say I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I stuck to the four main rules he set out… Eat when you’re hungry, stop before you’re full, eat conciously and eat what you want. He also says not to weigh yourself much. I kept at it and found myself buying more and more chocolate bars even when proper food was an option. The result, on that diet, in 3 months, I gained 1.5 stones, got spots and got hooked on chocolate! It wasn’t until I did phase 1 that I cleared that ‘addiction’.

    It’s like you say about alcoholics Zoe, they can’t have a little bit or they end up gradually having more and more.

    Have a great day! xx

    • Hi Helen – many thanks for sharing this. I know the famous chap well. I was asked a Q about his plan in a radio interview just before Christmas and I said if I followed his first tip alone, I’d be the size of Newport! I like his TV shows a lot (for entertainment), but I don’t think he’s ever been addicted to food or eaten 5000 cals in one sitting!
      I often get asked about the psychology of food in interviews – “people need to come to terms with why the psychological reasons why they eat”, presenters say to me. My usual reply is “two thirds of the developed world are overweight and I don’t think for one minute that two thirds of the developed world need to see a psychologist!” There are such clear physical reasons for overeating – why don’t we address these first?!
      I’m sure you’ll address yours!
      Very best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Sue – I’m so sorry to hear of your long term struggle with food. Me included, most of us who’ve embraced this diet have done everything else under the sun and were at despair point. A muffin can be that bad that quickly – because it will return water retention, bloating and wheat/sugar cravings all at once, if you haven’t been eating real food long enough to overcome all the conditions. We are looking to set up a club but it’s just time commitments and other demands at the moment – not least USA/Aussy & NZ launches and all I want to do is finish the research and writing for the next book!
    In the meantime – there are some wonderful fans helping each other out on Mums net also have support groups doing this together, so hopefully one of these may help.
    Stay strong – once the cravings are under control and you have the energy to take on the world, you’ll never look back!
    Very best wishes – Zoe

  • It’s a frightening thing. After years of attending a slimming club and being a successful consultant with weight flying up and down, I am now ready for a complete change and I found your book. It made sense so I tried phase 1 and did with ease which surprised me, the second week on phase 2 I had a chocolate muffin due to a family visit then that was it, 3 weeks of hard work undone. Christmas is now out of the way and I am planning to start Phase 1 on Wednesday. I pray I can succeed this time and get to the point you are at and be aware and in control because if this doesn’t work I have no idea where to turn. I have two young children which I do not want to have the same food anxieties that i have developed so it’s important that I ‘sort myself out’.
    Do you have any support groups or anything that can help with us desperate people in need of help?

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