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Arati , 26 Apr 2011

having success by giving up sugar!

I have been working on reducing my skin picking for a long time with some success, and fallbacks etc. I use many techniques now to stay on top of it, but the latest thing I discovered is that 2 weeks after I gave up sugar for Lent, I felt like I could give up the picking and did! It has been about four weeks now and, while I still catch myself several times a day doing isolated picks, I haven't had a session. I'm going to try to keep avoiding sugar - I really think there's a connection there in addition to practicing the impulse control (in denying myself sugar) in general. Let me know if this works for you too!
13 Answers
April 26, 2011
I hadn't really considered this, but my picking has been so much worse the past few days, and the only change I can think of is that I've been eating a lot of chocolate for easter. So maybe there is something to this idea?
May 17, 2011
I have recently read online somewhere about a link between cutting out sugary foods and improvement in trichotillomania sufferers, so it probably is related. The annoying thing is, I have a bit of a compulsion for sweets too!
May 18, 2011
Hi Arati... Certainly, there is something to this. I have been tracking my picking and diet closely for years, and have associated, for me, a list of foods which aggravate and initiate episodes with picking. For me, they have been::: Generally- sugary foods, nuts and caffeine. More specifically: Pistachios, Pecans, Walnuts, Peanuts, (Not Almonds or Cashews), Chocolate, Coffee, Raspberries, Artificial foods, or occasionally Chinese food (I'm vegetarian, so I'm assuming it's the MSG). I have a few more on the list which I forgot... But I'd certainly not limit it just to sugar. Major "allergenic foods" such as sugar, wheat and for some, milk, nuts and caffeine are liable to be "aggravators"... I'd recommend journaling what you ate 30-60 mins before episodes, finding repeating patterns, and knocking off likely items out of your diet completely. Also, am a yoga and meditation teachers, and I have a recommendation for a medical meditation for habituation which is likely to help as an alternative, and free, holistic treatment. It helped me stop biting my cuticle and picking my skin after 25 years, and I am now between 20-30 days of no picking after 40 days of just 5-7 minutes of this meditation, and I am hoping to share it with a test group of dedicated people. Please see and respond to my post for "40 Day Medical Meditation Treatment" so I can contact and share it with you. Truly Yours, Fateh -
May 19, 2011

In reply to by Fateh

Hi Fateh, Thanks for this reply. I think I am okay with the other foods you listed, except caffeine, but it is good to be aware, maybe they have some impact. I am definitely interested in the meditation treatment and will email you.
July 27, 2011

In reply to by Fateh

I definitely agree with that. I've noticed that I'll have a breakout of large pimples after eating or drinking anything that contains sugar and eating greasy or fatty foods. I didn't know about caffeine. I'll start monitoring that.
May 22, 2011
Not a surprise...I'm SUCH a sugar addict!! I mean, it's ridiculous. I also have an issue called PCOS (hormonal imbalance issues) that is heavily related to insulin resistance. Going to the doctor this week. I'm thinking my skin breaking out as much as it does is somewhat related to the sugar as well. Dang sugar! It's evil, I tell ya! :)
May 23, 2011

In reply to by godmotherx2

It IS evil! Did you see this article in the NY Times? It's called, "Is Sugar Toxic?" Wishing you strength fighting the sugar! - Arati
July 25, 2011
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October 11, 2011
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June 14, 2012
Giving up sugar will help you in many things like you can loose your weight, also helps to prevent high Blood Pressure. So avoid sugar but drink fruit juice by making it with Hand Blenders.
June 20, 2012
Looks like we got a few spam comments here last week... Anyway, I came across this sugar/picking research last week and wrote a blog post on it. I've pasted the post below. I'm writing blog posts once a week on average, so please go to and click the blog and subscribe. Also, feel free to subscribe to the newsletter on the home page and when I get a few more subscribers I will begin to write monthly newsletters. Here's the sugar posting but the links don't work here - to follow links to the paper and other article, please go to the blog. I was happy to read about research suggesting that sugar may be a trigger for BFRB's (body focused repetitive behaviors) like skin picking and hair pulling, because I had definitely experienced it to be the case myself. Accidentally, which was also the way scientists stumbled upon it in research published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience in December of 2010. You will find a more readable article about the research paper here. The research focused on a strain of mice that are susceptible to skin picking and hair pulling types of behaviors. These mice have lower than normal levels of serotonin in their brains and so the research study proposed to raise serotonin levels by feeding the mice a diet high in tryptophan and sugar. They hypothesized that the higher levels of serotonin would result in reduced picking and pulling-type behaviors. However, the results were opposite - although the diet did indeed raise serotonin levels, the behaviors increased and even emerged for the first time in mice who had not exhibited the behaviors at all when injesting a diet with normal tryptophan and sugar levels. Of course, since the scientists increased levels of tryptophan along with sugar, they cannot say conclusively that the sugar increased the negative behaviors, but the suggestion is so strong that I hope the scientists are doing the experiment and that we will see the results soon. The sad thing is that I am skeptical this will be the case. Probably the grant funding the research is all about serotonin, and the scientists likely now trying to find some other way to increase serotonin, rather than investigate the effect of the sugar alone. Nothing in the title or abstract of the article mentions sugar. Instead, the abstract states the false conclusion, "dietary elevation of brain serotonin unexpectedly increased hair pulling and induced ulcerative dermatitis". There was no proper control experiment done to justify this conclusion. I'd bet a bundle of money that it is not the elevation of brain serotonin that caused the behaviors, but rather the increased sugar. A year and a half ago I gave up sugar for the forty days of Lent (although not Catholic, I thought it would be a good practice). Within a week or two I was surprised to discover I was experiencing none of my usual skin picking urges. I was not even a big consumer of sugar, so imagine the possible impact if you are eating (or drinking) a lot of sugar. For more motivation to give up sugar (I know it's hard!), see the NY Times article, "Is Sugar Toxic?" To integrate dietary changes with a complete program to stop your skin picking, no matter where you are in the world, read about my specialized coaching program, and contact me for a free 45-minute phone consultation.

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