SICK OF FEELING LIKE YOU CAN'T CONTROL YOURSELF AROUND SUGAR?
What if I told you that thinking you're addicted to sugar has nothing to do with the actual sugary treat?
Ok, well, yeah, I know you've heard it before that sugar can be as addictive as drugs, and it's kind of true, but I think that could probably be said of a lot of things in life if we allow them to become an addiction.
And truthfully, I'm not here to ever tell you that you have to give up all sugar forever. I personally WOULD DIE.
So, the question I hope to answer today is not whether or not you can give up sugar for good, but instead, can you find a way to happily balance sugar in your life 100% guilt free?
I'm Elizabeth and I'm here to help you become a woman of wellness by healing your relationship with food and today is all about that dreaded word... SUGAR.
WORDS FROM WOMEN LIKE YOU
Let's hear what some of my clients have to say about this topic:
"Elizabeth, my number one struggle with eating right is SUGAR.....Anything sweet, especially when I am in stress mode...."
Or this one:
"I struggle with a lack of control around food, ESPECIALLY sweets"
Or, have you ever been in this situation?:
"It is easy for me to plow through a whole row of oreos before I’ve even realized what I’ve done. Then I beat myself up for doing that."
And lastly, an honest phrase from a client who said exactly what we were all thinking, "I just love sugar!"
And guess what... so do I. In fact, loving sugar is not a bad thing. Yep, it's not at all. It's one of the finer pleasures of life wouldn't you say?
But, the problems arise when we feel out of control with sugar, and mostly because... our sugar addictions are linked to our feelings.
Yep, those pesky feelings. Those dang emotions. Those hormones we experience as women that sometimes make dealing with an entire day HARD, HARD, HARD.
HOW TO FEEL IN CONTROL AROUND SUGAR
Today I am going to suggest that instead of focusing on sugar, we're going to look at emotions. In fact, I'd be willing to bet it drives 95% of your sugar consumption.
Would you agree? When do you crave sugar? When you're stressed, tired, bored, lonely, or even when you want to celebrate an event or simply making it through the day.
It's not the sugar your body is craving, it's the desire to manage all the feelings going on inside of you!
So, while I could say that the less sugar you eat the less sugar you'll eat, and just to cut back and you won't crave it and all of the stuff you hear a million times in the wellness world, that's not the path we're taking today.
Today is two-fold. First, to understand and deal with a sugar "addiction" from an emotions standpoint, and second, to learn to enjoy sweets happily and in moderation when you want them!
SUGAR AND EMOTIONS
When we crave sugar, it is usually because we are being deprived of something else. We are feeling restricted in some area of life.
This could be feeling restricted at work because you can't seem to get it all done - cue the stress response.
Or maybe you are restricted feeling fulfilled in life and that leads you to eat when you're bored or just generally unhappy.
Or, maybe you're the type of person that feels like you need a celebration everytime you do something hard, make it through another day, or accomplish something (this is the kind of emotional eating I tend to gravitate toward - I ALWAYS used to reward myself with a treat at the end of the day for making it through the day).
The next time you are driven to binge on sugar, ask yourself, "what is being restricted in my life that is driving me to want this?" It's likely that some sort of emotion will come up.
But, then what do you do? It's a 3 step process. First, stop. Just stop and notice what is about to happen. Chances are you were about to binge. Pause for a minute.
Second, ask yourself what is happening. "What is being restricted? What emotion is driving me right now and what can I do about it?"
At this point, you have two choices, you can either deal with the emotion head-on by confronting it, or you can distract from the emotion and do something else. Both are acceptable forms of emotion management. And although it is good to deal with your emotions, it also can be exhausting to do all the time, so sometimes it's as simple as distracting from them so you can calm down enough to make rational decisions.
Physically get away from the temptation and do something that helps you deal with or distract from that emotion in that moment. This could be a walk, a call to a friend, a Netflix episode, whatever it is that will help that emotion calm down.
Then, third, evaluate. Once you've walked away and done something else, evaluate what happened and what your next steps are. Then, you can make a rational decision from there. And sometimes, that rational decision is still to eat the treat, but you're in control, you're making that choice, and you don't have guilt. Other times, the treat isn't necessary.
EATING SUGAR IN MODERATION
Ok, now I want to switch directions a little bit. How do you actually live a life of eating and enjoying sugar in moderation without being fearful of it or feeling like it controls you?
The answer is simple. Remind yourself that food is neutral. Sugar is not a "bad" food, it's just a food. It's just a part of life. It's everywhere, it's available whenever you want it.
Remind yourself that if you want sugar, you can have it.
I know, that might be kind of scary, but I promise as you get used to this kind of relationship with sugar, it will not be so much of a temptation.
Remember that word restricted? When it comes to sugar, we often think about it with a scarcity mindset - "I can't have this on my diet, so I better binge it all now", OR "I already ate one, might as well eat the whole box".
Know that sugar is going to be everywhere and you can access it anytime you want. It's funny because you instantly think that would drive you to binge like crazy (and guess what, when you start on your intuitive eating journey, you might have some days like that), but over time, you just won't.
Let me give you an example. I once had a client who LOVED ice cream. It was her "off limits" food. she couldn't be around it and DEFINITELY couldn't have it in her house.
Together, we worked on applying intuitive eating and she was given "permission" by herself to eat as much ice cream as she wanted. And she ate a lot for a few days.
Then, an amazing thing happened. Having the ice cream available to her at all times, made it less appealing. She started eating less and eventually was able to keep it in her freezer without wanting it all the time. She got to the point where she could enjoy ice cream without worry or guilt.
It was life-changing for her.
I approach it a little differently. And both ways are right, by the way. I don't typically have sweets and treats in my house, just because I don't feel like I need them to be accessed regularly, but, I know that whenever I want a treat, I have full permission to go out and buy one. I can go buy a candy bar at the store, I can go get an ice cream cone, I can eat a piece of cake at a party.
I don't binge on food because it's not in my house and when I really want to indulge in something, I go for it. I also really like to make my indulgences an activity - so I will invite a friend to ice cream to visit with them, or my husband and I will go on a date to grab a treat.
Knowing that sugar is always available to you actually does that opposite of what you think it would do - it makes it less appealing and less "off limits"
In fact, the only way you can know this for yourself is to try it. If you need to, go rewatch this video and go through the steps needed to make peace with sugar. Then, give yourself full permission to eat whatever you want.
Be patient. Remember you are still learning. And we're not worrying about scales or gaining weight or anything else. Promise me that? That's not what it's about.
The experiences of so many of my clients can attest to this principle - make food neutral for you. Give yourself permission to eat what you want and then listen to your body. It will tell you what you need.
Believe it or not, sometimes you might actually crave the veggies instead of the sugar!
I hope this was helpful and even more hopeful that you'll actually TRY IT. The principles don't work unless you practice them.
And if you need more help with emotional eating, don't forget to take my free course...