So what do my two seemingly unrelated confessions have to do with one another? I’ll get to it, promise.
But first, let’s talk sugar.
It’s not just the taste that I love but the feeling I get when I eat it. Up until a few years ago, I never considered that I may be addicted to it. After a stressful day at the office or when I was feeling particularly sad or lonely, I liked to indulge. Red velvet cupcakes were my favorite.
I could go weeks, even months without it (when I tried really hard), but the second I had my first hit, it flipped a switch and I couldn’t stop.
The fact of the matter is that sugar is as addictive as crack and as toxic as alcohol.
“Sugar is a high calorie drug dressed up in an adorable way.”
Does your favorite cupcake shop come to mind?
Ross likens sugar addiction to drug addiction because it:
causes a loss of control
drives people to continue to eat it despite its adverse consequences
brings on withdrawal symptoms
is progressive and terminal
So yes, sugar addiction is physiological but it’s also emotional.
Highly emotional. A connection I never quite made while I was battling my own sugar addiction.
When emotional eating expert Geneen Roth took the stage at the IIN Mega Conference , she talked about how we use food to express the things we don’t feel capable of doing directly.
“We don’t want to eat hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes,” she said.
Brilliant. The red velvet cupcakes of my past were the man I so wanted to hold me in bed. The soul mate I frustratingly sought to share my life with. The sweet can’t-live-without-you love that was missing in my life.
Then I found that love not just with a man but in myself and through work that I love and the sugar addiction went away without much effort. Like any addiction, there have been relapses, but none so bad as the recent one. My cravings for sugar were intense for months. Now that I know how to deconstruct a craving, I knew it was due to stress and overwhelm.
Sure, I know about stress relief and meditation and those are great but the play-by-the-rules perfectionist in me needed something more.
By indulging my sugar cravings I was saying “F” it to my health and well-being when what I really wanted was to say “F” it to being responsible 24/7 in my home, my life, my work, my relationships … you get where I’m going with this.
So I did what any irresponsible person would do and deleted the majority of my overflowing inbox. And it felt good. Freeing. Sweetly satisfying. And guess what, nothing catastrophic happened as a result. In fact, I can’t even think of any negative outfall from it.
I did this exercise with a client some time ago. She was hung up on her appearance and always having to straighten her wavy hair for fear of looking messy (and control her food intake for fear of gaining weight). I challenged her to “be bad” and wear her hair wavy for a day. I was surprised when she came back to me to tell me that she loved her hair the natural way, she got handfuls of compliments on it and now it’s her favorite way to style her hair. And when she does, she glows. Needless to say, she has also relaxed about her food.
While I don’t recommend recklessly deleting your inbox regularly, I challenge you to think about where you’re using food to disguise your limiting beliefs and express what you feel you cannot do alone.
In her book, Women Food and God, Geneen Roth offers eating guidelines that she affectionately refers to as If Love Could Speak to You, What Would It Say?
Eat when you’re hungry
Eat sitting down without distractions in a calm environment
Eat what your body, not what your mind wants
Stop when your body has had enough
Eat with the intention of being in full view of other people
Eat with enjoyment gusto and pleasure
Do any of these need more attention in your life? What is your experience with sugar addiction? If you could “be bad” what would you do?