No sugar diet for pbc?

I've been looking into which foods i should be eating / avoiding for liver benefit, I'm thinking about going sugar free again (I did cut out sugar years ago and I felt so much better) but I'm a sugar addict and driven mental with the need for it . I would eat cakes, biscuits, sweets , chocolate all day long ( and sometimes do) so it's a massive challenge for me to go sugar free but I did see a bit on YouTube by Sandra Cabot that said sugar is as bad for the liver as alcohol so I'm curious if there are any sugar free peeps on here ?

35 Replies

  • Hello Harley2016.

    Personally, I don't take too much notice of some claims re dietary. I have read a lot over the years but not from specific people (ie the Sandra Cabot on YouTube for eg).

    As far as I know the only problem that we have with sugar nowadays is that we are said to consume too much of it. I believe that a little of what you fancy is no big deal.

    I prefer to use other options for sweetening odd foods. I will add a teaspoon of honey to a bowl of porridge for eg and of course eating quite a lot of fruit (and veg) there is natural sugars in fruits. I decided when I was aged 11 to quit sugar in hot drinks and continue to do so. I never really add any sugar to breakfast cereals (ie wheat biscuits, rice krispies, etc. I don't buy the sugar coated ones like UK Sugar Puffs, never have even when my children were growing up, raised them the same as I do) except the odd teaspoon of honey on porridge as stated.

    I only buy around 5 pounds of sugar per year and that tends to be used in the odd bit of baking I do as even my husband has weaned himself off sugar in hot drinks these days.

    I think sugar in the diet though we are said to have too much it is a bit sketchy. I say this as I have a son-in-law and granddaughter who are insulin-dependent diabetics (they both developed young, my granddaughter was only aged 2) and I know that they do have sugar at certain times depending on their blood readings.

    I think at the end of the day if we are consuming what is considered (as it keeps changing by experts!) a reasonable diet then small portion of sugar isn't going to make much difference to the PBC. I do however think that it is a high consumption of fats that could probably do that bit more damage to the liver but I think that is another topic...

  • Artificial sugar is not good either. I have a lot of sugar in my home because I enjoy cake decorating. I'm now looking into gluten free. Which my husband baked our first gluten free cake. For me we started a long time ago letting the sugar go. We made up a rule that if we don't make it ourselves we don't eat it. It's fun making your own chocolate. You control everything that goes in it. It doesn't last as long but you get to make more. Now since I am going through this we got almost all the can goods out of the house. We do however have to keep some do to hurricane season

  • Thanks for your reply

  • It's real easy to make your own chocolate, or candy. Reece cups too. Lol. Google it.

  • If only I had the energy lol

  • I'm sorry. I am in and out of it too with energy. Do you have just Pbc

  • Yes only pbc but I suffer from ibs too which also drains my energy if I have a flare up, most days fatigue is present from the minute I awake but I work anything between 36hrs and 56hrs a week so I just have to get on with it but really there's no energy for anything other than work & small amount of cooking and housework.

  • Try to balance your meals if you can. If you have family in your home and they won't help you cook two or three days for yourself in advance then they have to leave. This is your time to manage your illness. There's no time for takers. If they don't get it then show them the door.

  • I have IBS too for 2 years. I took high dose probiotics, L-Glutamin, removed sugar, gluten, dairy from my diet. I only use Avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil. Now it is under control.

  • That's brilliant !! I have to follow a low fodmap diet at recommendatio of a dietician althoughmost healthy stuff makes me ill and I'm most well when I eat a junk food diet But I am ditching the sugar and probablygluten later on

  • It was VERY difficult for me to ditch these food because I love pizza and cheese cake. I failed so many times and now I am finally able to resist it.

    I believe it will always be a struggle for me but it's getting easier.

  • Janeing im just Ike you. My gut is better if I eat junk and veg which I love upsets it.

  • I find it increasingly difficult to eat healthy due to severe ibs, I have been vegan & vegetarian for 30years but now these healthy fruit ,veg &pulsesmake me very unwell, so I'm stuck with being overweight on a junk food diet or ill almost everydayif I eat well, it's very frustrating!!!

  • I am also vegetarian and have been for many years. I wonder if that has something to do with our ibs.

  • Hi..I am gluten free but gf food is full of sugar so like you I bake etc, but what do you use to substitute say in cakes or cookies? I must say that lately I have craved sugar in chocolate as it gives me energy. I was told to lay off too much salt or liquid ..I have stage 4 cirrhosis but not sugar! However it is good to cut down.

  • Bobby manage your sugar. If you're going to have a sugar in coffee then take it from the gluten free and your cereal. It's give and take. My husband was doing the baking cakes and I was doing the decorating and making decorations for my cakes and cupcakes. We were actually considering opening a bakery of some kind. But for now if your having a sugar here take it from somewhere else. I will ask my husband when he gets home about your concern with sugar in gluten free. I'm eating a lot a raw and cooked vegetables and juicing as well. We really began changing our eating habits a long time ago. This diagnosis just lit a fire under my rear end to do more for myself.

  • Hi

    I'm the same...a confirmed chocoholic. In fact all the foods I like (chips, cheese and chocolate) are considered bad for you and I am really struggling to change. I was told to stick to low fat low calories which rules anything interesting out! I found it easy to change simple things like brown bread instead of white and have changed to low salt. I always eat loads of fruit as well but nothing seems to replace the cravings for chocolate. Think it would have to be done a step at a time so at the moment I have reduced to amount to one per day and preferably dark chocolate as its lower in fat.

  • Hi angel-b thanks for your reply it's so difficult if you are more fond of the "bad" stuff than good but being aware is half the battle I think, today I was looking at some labels on food in my cupboard and sugar is in almost everything for example I had wholemeal toast for breakfast and sugar is the 3rd ingredient !! So it's not just about sugar in my tea or on my cereal like someone mentioned earlier as I am addicted to anything sugary it's my drug of choice , so I'm ready to get rid of it - I've had enough of being driven mental by cravings I'm not a "little of what you fancy does you good " I'm an all or nothing type of person "everything in moderation" they say ....I don't do moderation but I have had enough I also want to try make my livers job easier. Wishing you well on your journey

  • Thanks Harley2016 will keep trying. Let us know how you are getting on with it.

  • I will do , if you need any support also, please feel free to msg me x

  • Same to you Harley2016

  • Life is far too short to go completely sugar free!! I try to eat a healthy balanced low fat diet and try to keep the sweet sugary treats for a treat.

  • Well said Debbiem40.

    The only things I tend to avoid is the artificial sweeteners. I'd rather take the sugar over that.

    I am not a big chocolate fan myself. I have found that chocolate these days isn't what it used to be. Saw a programme on tv late last year. A lot of companies have been bought out by other bigger ones, produciton moved elsewhere (overseas from the UK in some cases) and it seems then that the recipe changes.

  • Hi Harley,

    Have you checked out the information about FODMAP foods? These are among our ordinary everyday foods: fruits, veg, cereals etc - and are not obviously sugary - but they do have a lot of hard-to-digest starch/sugar substances in them.

    Nutritionists think that gut bacteria feed on these FODMAP late-digested/unabsorbed sugars in the lower part of the small intestine (I think other non-fodmap types of starch/sugar are digested further up the gut, and so are less of an issue), and thus produce gas and toxins that then cause the ibs (and other) pain in the lower part of the small intestine and in the large intestine.

    I had been having terrible gut trouble before Xmas. I thought ibs ... but was worried about worse, so saw my GP when it got really bad. He over-reacted and sent me for a colonoscopy. All was fine, but I found that the most comfortable I have been for ages, was in the few days before the colonoscopy when I was eating the enforced bland diet, with none of my usual fruits, veg and grains In particular, I wasn't having low-fat yoghurt, granola and pomegranate ... my favourite breakfast. Afterwards, my osteopath - who is wise in all things - said that low fat yoghurt and granola have huge amounts of the wrong sugar, and were probably causing the FODMAP type digestive issues, while pomegranate seeds are known to upset the lower gut. After finishing off the bland cereals bought before the colonoscopy, I retried my lovely breakfast, and 'yup': horrible, horrible pains.

    NB There was a link to an article about FODMAPs yesterday, on here, I think - either this PBC site or the 'Endo UK' site. I will try to find it and send the link. Otherwise, just Google Fodmaps.

    Hope this helps.

  • Hi I've been following a low fodmap diet for about 3 years now but I'm still ill I had various app with a dietitian and I reintroduced foods under her guidance but it still stands that if I eat a processed high fat high sugar diet I can go six - twelve months without and ibs attack but if I eat a healthy plant based diet I can have trice weekly attacks which can leave me bedridden for days , and now I have the pbc to take into account and would be better on a plant based diet for that.

  • Hi,

    Sorry I was telling you what you already know about fodmaps.

    Yes!! The days before the colonoscopy I was astonished that I felt better than for ages - yet I was eating nothing but meats, fats and the worst carbs.

    Meanwhile ... I don't know anything about Sandra Cabot, but ... we do, all, need sugar.

    All carbohydrates, including carbs in plants, are ultimately broken down into glucose, which is the source of energy accessed, required and used by all our cells. Even meats, fats etc have to be broken down and converted to monosaccharide sugars, to then be processed by the mitochondria, in the body cells, to release the energy supply for the body to function. If there are no actual carbs in the diet, then fats and proteins still get converted to sugars for the cells to process - it's just a more complicated process.

    So long as you are healthy and not overweight, some carbs/sugar should not be an issue. I wasn't aware of the presence of sugars in the liver being such an issue for PBC. Even protein and fat converted to sugar will all have to go to the liver - via the blood - to be converted to glycogen and stored in the liver, or then re-converted to fat and stored in the body (until needed as glucose, by the cells).

    Sorry if - yet again - I'm saying all sorts of stuff you know.

    NB The fodmap list I had distinguished between fodmap plants and non-fodmap plants. I was annoyed to see that some of my favourite veggies were on the 'no-no' list, but there were lots of plants that are supposed to be okay.

    Have you talked to the trained advisors at the 'PBC Foundation' about this? They may be able to offer more help.

    Again, sorry if this is all known to you.

    Take Care,


  • What I did with the diatician was I took foods that I enjoyed but were on the no list and I introduced them in increasing quantities over a period of 3 days to see if they would have to stay on the no list or not or if I could actually tolerate small amounts of no food as it's such a restrictive way to live but it's a slow process especially if you do trigger an attack, every one is different of course so it is a work in progress but it still stands that I do better on processed food than I do on a plant based diet and as a former vegan & current vegetarian (only now vegetarian as ibs was better as a vegetarian than vegan) It's a tough way to live , thanks for taking the time to answer my posts , I guess I just keep searching for wellness in my diet

  • If you google Monash University Australia they have a lot of research done on FODMAPS and you can get their app which is very user friendly

  • Yes it's brilliant, monash university actually developed the low fodmap diet , I've been following it for over 3 years now it literally saved my health

  • I read those books also. Brilliant. But not everything sweet is bad. I too am a sweet tooth and I have been recommended to go on a paleo diet. I sooth my sweet tooth by having paleo grain free granola with a banana and berries and nut milk for breakfast and after dinner I treat myself to a small amount of dark organic chocolate. Most of the time I don't crave any other sugars and if I do I eat more fruit.

    Sugar is just a poison for me as is most gluten products which quickly convert to sugars.

    Its funny but as soon as I indulge in either sugar or gluten now I am immediately bloated windy and very uncomfortable and usually get diarrhea. My liver aches as well.

    I used to graze sugar all day long in one form or other but now I can't do it any more.

  • If I were perfect in a perfect world I'd stop eating extra sugar, gluten, salt, milk. Certainly not additives, plastics, food color.

  • I love my chocolate but do pay the price if I eat it too often, well the milk variety. I do love all puds and sweets and would have them daily but I now try not to over indulge , but it's hard and I doubt I could ever be added sugar free but I do just about manage to keep it down to the recommended level each day.

    I did the fodmap diet it took nearly a year with the dietitian and I found I reacted to lactose, fructrans and sorbitol and its surprising what fruits and veg this included, but after reintroducing each food up to my tolerance level. I can now normally maintain the IBS without going without, but I still eat wheat and lactose free as my tolerance level was so low it was easier.

    One thing I have to be careful with is fruit with a meal... I can eat certain fruits as a snack but having it on my porridge in the morning is out. So is any dessert with fruit in it.

    Those having trouble with fruit may find it's worth trying only having it as a snack on its own.

  • I have gone sugar-free due to gastric by-pass surgery. I had post surgical dumping syndrome. Nasty stuff, I also can't process carbohydrates. I do sneak a bite now and then tho. I do feel a lot better but I didn't do it for my "liver's sake". I think whatever make YOU feel better, try it. it won't hurt.

  • Thanks

  • Hi There, this is the first time I've posted but saw your question about sugar free. I have PBC lap over with AIH and when first there was a suggestion I might have a growth in my biliary ducts, I immediately thought..oops, if I have a cancer there then out goes the sugar. So since then, Its been about all of this year, I have diligently cut out sugar. I have lost a lot of weight, some due to the condition and loss of muscle mass but also along with cutting out sugar you can see, you also cut out all those foods that have sugar in them, which keep your weight on. So I feel much better, look much better and have more energy.

    If cutting it out is a massive challenge, then think of it as something you're doing to help your body, a gift. The body is struggling to cope and we must do everything we can to give it a fair chance to do its work.

    I wish you well. Let us know how you are going.

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