How to say no to triggers


Can you ever be too old kick your addiction and get your health back? How can you learn to say no to trigger foods?

These and other questions are answered this week by our food-addiction expert, Bitten Jonsson, RN:

Am I too old to start?

I know I am a sugar addict/food addict. It has always been my drug of choice. I am now 70 years old. I have gone on sugar-free and low-carb diets before, lost 30-50 pounds (14-23 kilos), but always went back and slowly ate the sugar and regained the weight. Is it too late? Am I too old to restart and get back some health at my age?



Absolutely not. The oldest client I had was a 84-year-old lady. She had been dieting her whole life without permanent results, always up and down in weight. But you need addiction knowledge. Here is what I suggest you do: first, learn about sugar addiction on my English website, then read Dr. Vera Tarmans book Food Junkies, where you learn a lot about sugar addiction. Join our closed support group on facebook, there you will receive knowledge, ideas and support, which is very important as it is a chronic condition. You will get help to stay “drugfree” from sugar/flour, processed foods, one day at a time.

My best,

PS. The 84-year-old lady did very well, she died from old age some years ago at the age of 94, not from eating junk. DS

The 21-day rule

Hello Ms. Bitten and thank you for the incredible and generous information you share here.

I went on a 21-day no flour, no sugar diet and after the first week of real withdrawal symptoms I started to feel really good. Then on day 22, I allowed myself an exception that included two biscuits and I watched my brain losing control entirely. Like a crack addict, I kept scanning my city to get another fix and another fix. Five days later and I gained back all the weight that I lost over 21 days and I spend days ordering food, eating them, feeling sick, yawning and eating again.

I was sold on the idea that my brain will completely change itself after 21 days. Is the 21-day rule just a gimmick?


Kik, I do not know what kind of addiction knowledge you have but if anyone suggests an addict can go back to eating sugar/flour after 21 days, they are a fraud. We can’t go back. We need to be like an alcoholic to never take even a sip of alcohol again. We can never take a bite again. The detox from sugar/flour last for about 21 days (sometimes longer) and the first 10 are the worst. But we must keep abstaining. I suggest you learn about sugar addiction on my English website and read Dr. Vera Tarmans book Food Junkiesm there you learn a lot about addiction. Join our closed support group on facebook, there you will receive knowledge, ideas and support to stay “drugfree” from sugar/flour, processed foods, one day at a time.

My best,

Sugar cravings on antidepressants

I was prescribed antidepressants in November. After 24 days, I was exhausted from continuous fatigue. My inhibitions were so reduced that I was swearing and eating like I was starving. I put on 1 kilo (2 lbs) in a week. Sugar cravings became consistent.

I was advised to stop the medication and wait a couple of months before relooking at meds. However, the sugar cravings are frightening. I’ve been on LCHF for four years and this is a completely new thing.

PS. I’ve stopped swearing.

My issue is anxiety, with an aged husband and no help.


Dear Marion,

This is a tough battle. Sugar cravings are like experiencing a severe pain attack. Anyone that has not had a craving attack does not know what it is all about. I hope you tapered the antidepressants instead of going cold turkey. Some of the problems might even be withdrawal from them. It is well known that some people react on antidepressants with increased cravings, insulin resistance, blood sugar swings which then aggravate cravings and more withdrawal symptoms. As I have no idea why you needed the antidepressants in the first place, I wonder if your depression is a consequence of untreated sugar addiction?

You have been eating LCHF for four years, but have you done more to treat the addiction? I meet people all the time that have taken care of the “food part” but not dealt with all the other problems that stem from addiction. I am just guessing since the information in your question is not enough.

Here are some tool’s you may want to consider: take 1 tbsp coconut oil in a warm fluid and 1 tsp glutamine powder in regular water between meals. Glutamine is an amino acid and it will have a good effect on your stomach and also increase the amino acid GABA (calming neurotransmitter). My experience is that most of my clients have had a lack of GABA, not serotonin. If needed, eat smaller more frequent meals for two-four days and then see if cravings will lessen. I also advise you to join our support group on facebook for more hands-on-tools.

I also feel for you caring for your husband and understand that it is a very stressful situation. I hope the cravings will lessen and go away soon.

My best,

How to say no to triggers

Hi Bitten, thank you for taking the time to answer :-)

I have a hard time saying no to sugar/carbs when I am triggered. I get triggered by emotions (stress) and by cues, or both a the same time, a disaster. Every day I have to pass close to several food stores when taking public transportation, going to work, going home, everywhere there are vending machines ect.

So how can I learn to say no to pick up the food and act consequently? I have learned about the prefrontal cortex and the reptilian brain and I understand the mechanism, but I have a really hard time with impulse control. I usually make a plan and then two seconds later I act differently.


Miriam, I know what you are talking about. As a sugar addict, we need many, many tools in order to recover. Food is a small part of this and most people work only on the food plan.

Stressors create a cascade of hormonal and neurotransmitter changes and lead to cravings. Eating sugar creates stressors and so on. A merry-go-round. One thing I teach is to have contact with a food sponsor in the early days of recovery. Someone you can call and talk to when you pass the trigger stations, i.e vending machines and such. Knowing about and understanding the brain, great work you have done and necessary is a start but willpower doesn’t help. It is like trying to teach a crocodile heel!

The best book to teach us how to think about “risk situations” and how to implement strategies for dealing with and be aware of our warning signs is “Staying Sober” by Terence Gorski. It helped me immensely. Another tool is to write a post in our support group on Facebook. We will share our experiences and how we have dealt with this and many other situations that we encounter in recovery. Welcome onboard and remember to take it one day at a time.

Wish you a great recovery,

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Earlier Q&A

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More questions and answers

Read all earlier questions and answers – and ask your own! – here:

Ask Bitten Jonsson, RN, about food addiction – for members (free trial available)

One comment

  1. kiran
    i like to know that i eat everyday some sweet with stevia powder. ist same as addiction

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