Addiction to food, sugar, caffeine, etc

Afternoon all,
I am a casual Huel user. Will do for a week (once a day) then nothing for 3 weeks.
I’m a 38 year old male and I’m addicted to food. Specifically high sugar, caffeine. I know I’m an emotional eater. Bored,tired, unhappy, lonely and even the happy side I celebrate with food. I am 27 stone. I know I am massively over weight and want to change it. I have tried loads of diet plans, WW, Atkins, Paleo, vegan, dairy free. But being addictive, as soon as I allow myself one item outside of the rules, the diet crashes and burns and I put on more weight.
Reading others posts about Huel the simplicity of it is ease of use, complete nutrition at 2000 calories and no need to go in a supermarket.
My basic calorific rate is around 3500 to maintain by body weight. I’m considering using Huel at 2000 calories to try to reset my body. Provide the calories, nutrition and break my addiction. I’d like to go for one month of complete Huel and then re-introduce an evening meal.
I understand the body will need to adjust to this and the side effects could be enormous. Especially the withdrawal from sugar and caffeine. I work from home so in a sense can control my environment a lot more.
Would appreciate any positive tips or guidance from people who may have done something similar?

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Hey David, it sounds like you have difficulty in sustaining the positive changes you are trying to make to your diet.

We don’t actively recommend Huel for 100% of calories but some Hueligans do.

The best thing you can is make a lot of small changes over time. Try a couple a week e.g. no more sugar in your coffee/one less coffee a day and no snacking between breakfast and lunch. Then add a couple more when you feel you have that nailed down. This will help you maintain these changes rather than going for quick, drastic changes that seem great for a few weeks but it’s easy to fall off the wagon.

Our article on fat loss may help. We also have one on eating more plant-based foods but even if that’s not for you the tips suggested can be applied to your life.

You could also see a dietitian who are professionally trained and can provide you with ongoing support.

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I do think it depends what kind of a person you are. Personally, I find it very difficult to introduce things slowly. For instance, when I went vegan I first said I’ll go vegetarian for a month and then vegan, but I just slipped up so many times. When I did cold turkey it was so much easier, just straight up lifestyle change: I need rules! If you are a similar kind of person then go for it, however I would say it might be worth allowing yourself some non-huel foods as snacks, and sticking to huel at a base calorie rate for your meals. That way you will still definitely be in a calorie deficit, be full from all the huel and still not be totally restricted, The restriction is often what causes slip-ups and binges in my personal experience, so set yourself firm targets but also leway in some form.

For example:
Breakfast: Huel @500kcal
Snack: something whole food/carby proteiney like PB toast and banana
Lunch: Huel @500kcal
Snack: something of your choosing but a snack, not a meal
Dinner: Huel @500/600kcal
Evening snack: Huel bar?

Honestly this will be so filling and you will most definitely be hovering around the 2000kcal mark, so you can even have a couple more snacks and you will still be in a deficit! Stick to whole foods when you don’t have huel and include lots of fibre and protein in those foods. Remind yourself its ok to relax (what most people call a slip-up), and when you accept that it can help to break the binge mentality and get you straight back on track.

It can also help to write your plan for the day/week out and put it up somewhere visible in the kitchen/car/wherever you are when you tend to look for addictive foods. Also plan, plan, plan, prep, prep, prep. When you don’t have the things you should be eating with you, it becomes much easier to say ‘fuck it’ and get 2 whole pizzas for lunch. Granted that might still happen, but if you are prepared you are much less likely to succumb to cravings. Prepping can also mean mentally preparing for a special occasion like a party or family meal. Factor it in and enjoy it, losing weight doesn’t have to mean losing friends. Also, if you are hungry, eat more! Just make sure its more of the right kind of whole, unprocessed foods which will fill you up.

(For context, I too have a very addictive relationship with food and have struggled with secret eating and addictive behaviour with food for a very long time. I’m working on it too!)

Good luck, we are all rooting for you!

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It may be beneficial to start with a planned daily routine and to include your meal times in this.
For example, awake at 0530, training at 0600, breakfast at 0700, work at 0730 etc until bedtime.
This can be done without using Huel. Then you can try introducing Huel. This can be done for example on 3 random breakfast days per weeek or beakfast on set days etc. Then replicate for each meal. So you may have Huel on 3 random breakfast days but then for Lunch every Tuesday and Thursday.

I found making the most of the range helped. On the days I work a 12.5 hour shift I used to consume the bars and RTD.

Newish to Huel but not newish to dieting–in fact I’m using Huel to lose weight right now but my numbers are nowhere near as daunting as yours.
If WW taught me anything, it’s that you can’t go too far below your basic calorific rate. You will be hungry and you will find that hard if not impossible to ignore. Emotional eater, you’ll start by snacking and then I’ll just keep eating because I’m ravenous. (pronoun error intentional) WW sent me towards fresh vegetables for snacking (they’re low in calories and high in fiber) but if your body is trying to make up a 1500 calorie deficit I don’t think that will be enough.
Again, not an expert, just somebody who’s deal with weight loss.
If you like caffeine, get yourself an espresso machine (I use a Bialetti). Espresso tastes really good in chocolate Huel and gives you a good kick.
If you like sugar, consider whether it’s the taste or the kick you crave. Taste can be worked around with other sweeteners. Kick, your body may not be processing sugar correctly. I’ve had good results with a chromium picolinate supplement, killed my sugar cravings dead. Your results may vary.
I also swear by bicycle riding since my ankles are too trashed to support running or jogging at all, and complain about walking. At your weight you know what exercise you can and can’t do, but exercise itself, especially if it involves the muscles in your middle, will tamp down an appetite.
Huel being nutritionally complete will allow you to lower your calories without flirting with malnutrition. You should still track your protein/carb/fat/calories, but if you don’t track them too closely Huel could help keep you in balance.
tl;dr Don’t drop your calories that low. Aim for just under 3500 and snack on fresh vegetables. Drink espresso.

Eating something sour is an effective way to neutralise sugar cravings. Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and other fermented foods are great for curbing a sweet tooth. Adding lemon or lime slices to your water can also help. The acids in these slow down digestion and keep blood sugar levels from spiking/crashing as well as helping with nutrient absorption.

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Thankyou all for your responses. I’ve spent the last week or two since the post feeling pretty crap about it and being an emotional eater consumed copious amounts of take-always, soft drinks, crisps and chocolate. The local co-op will be reporting best sales figures ever!
I have a serious inability to control my emotional response and poor food choices appear to be my crutch to keep going.
I need to break the cycle psychologically. To do this I’m aiming to use Huel for 2000 calories a day. At my size I have a BMR in the high 3000s. So this allows me to have a small healthy meal in addition if I want it. I also aim to drink a lot more water.
I’m not sure if people will be interested but I can record my journey somewhere in the hope that it may give me some accountability.
As I said earlier, thankyou for the support.

If you think your over eating is due emotional eating you should check out Marisa Peers books, she is a therapist and her work helped my friend identify the source of his emotional eating and helped him have a better relationship with food and himself.

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So, weighed in this morning.
27st 13.5lbs, 41% body fat

My heaviest weight ever. I know being 6”4(ish) I carry it a lot better than others. But I can’t continue on this path.

I’ve joined a local gym (Milton Keynes area) with the aim of being more active. Part of the membership is a health checkup including a fasting blood test. When I have the results I will post them up here.

I am committed to 4 Huels a day.

Let’s see what happens…

If you are an emotional eater it’s also a good plan to do a lot of things you like. Addiction is not always about the food (or caffeine or drugs etc) but about not being happy with yourself. So do a lot of things you love to do. Make sure the balance between doing things you love and doing things you have to do but don’t like is good for you and your (emotional, mental) health. Good luck! :muscle:

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Would be too arrogant of me to claim I can offer advice when I’m early on the same journey, but I did have what felt like a ‘lightbulb’ moment recently.

I’ve started food tracking recently to help lose weight. Continuing Huel for breakfast (50g) and work lunches (125g), but outside of Huel I’ve essentially cut out added sugar and am targeting for a -0.75kg/week calorie deficit. Plan is to move to -1kg/week later by adding more exercise.

One day early in I came home from work badly craving an ice cream binge. I lay on my bed for a while and tried imagining different things I could eat instead. I quickly realised I could confidently say how well an imagined food would satisfy the craving, because I’ve tried so many things in the past. When I realised ‘hash browns’ would satisfy the craving a bit better than ‘sweetened Huel’, I figured I wasn’t craving sweetness, which I’d always thought I was. I decided I had to be, somehow, craving saturated fat.

So I went to the kitchen, put together 100ml of oat milk, 15g of cacao powder, 15g of coconut oil and some of the Pumpkin Spice flavour pack (filled to a mugful with water) poured it into a saucepan and made myself a (bitter) ‘bulletproof cocoa’. And my cravings vanished for far fewer calories than usual, and with none of the post-sugar illness I get. I’ve been managed the cravings with this since then. I really hope it continues to work.

Just a word on 100% Huel. It wouldn’t work for me for rapid weight loss (above 0.5kg/week), I don’t think. It’s very good food, but it’s just not as non-calorie-dense as I need to stuff myself with when running a big deficit. For that I need a lot of vegetables, or I’m going to get hungry. Is it working for you, though?

I have had to snack on cherry tomatoes or cucumber slices to keep the hungries away, but the amount of calories in either is relatively trivial, especially compared to the satisfaction I get from them.

So, it was very obvious from the first few days that whilst Huel was nutritionally satisfying, it wasn’t psychologically satisfying. My mind was accepting the Huel and understood it’s completeness. But I wasn’t ever happy with this. If I don’t get the feeling of satisfaction I can’t switch my brain off from thinking about high fat, high sugar foods. So, new plan is 2-3 thinner huels a day. I’m not a fan of thick sludge to drink. Making approx 800-1200 calories from Huel. Then a controlled 800-1200 calories from clean foods. I’m thinking chicken with peppers/tomatoes and rice for example. One thing I have noticed is that I quite like intermittent fasting. Not breaking the fast until midday and then allowing 8 hours to eat before I fast again. It seems to give my body time to reset and recover. I wake up feeling less bloated and less uncomfortable.
I like the idea of cherry tomatoes/cucumber to snack on during the day. :+1:

I’m starting at the gym on Monday. Nothing too much too soon. Just creating the habit first. Any extra movement is better than none. I won’t be feeding extra calories to counter the gym deficit. This is a bonus.

I have noticed that my cravings are in the evening after work. So by allowing me a meal and actually chewing food I hope to eliminate the unsatisfied feeling.

Couple of things, firstly I’m glad you mentioned the gym, as when I exercise my mind decides I shouldn’t waste the time and the positive feeling I get from the gym with a bad food choice. It doesn’t have to be the gym though, a walk or two each day counts. It could be to a supermarket (not the nearest one!) to buy a single apple or orange and walk back with it, then you’re walking with purpose. Then you have exercised, and you have something to eat immediately that’s good for you.

Secondly, sugar free jelly. I used to make up huge bowls of it then when I got in from work I could raid the fridge and my immediate food craving was satiated.

Wanting to make a change is the biggest step and you’ve already done that, so, great work :+1:t2::grinning:

Any thoughts on this MFP breakdown of my food?
The recommended calorie intake is the suggest MFP value