Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash
Is your love for sugar sabotaging your healthy lifestyle?
Does this sound familiar? You fill your shopping basket with vegetables, a little fruit, free range eggs, natural yogurt, grass fed beef. You read the labels on food to avoid added sugars and processed food in general. You go to yoga, pilates or the gym, take long walks, enjoy outside activities and start feeling really good about your lifestyle choices; then the lure of processed sugar gets the better of you.
Whether it’s in the form of chocolate, lollies, desserts or sweets, we all have our own weaknesses. You’ve made healthy choices all day and then late in the afternoon when you’re starving on the way home from work or in the evening when the children have finally gone to bed, all your resolutions go out the window or rather straight in the rubbish bin with the wrappers.
Why do we do this?
There’s no shortage of information about the inherent dangers associated with eating too much sugar. It can cause inflammation in the body, a burden on our liver, and increased insulin in our blood which in turn, triggers hunger. Sugar can be addictive and eating sugar activates the opiate receptors in the brain. Every time we reach for something sweet and experience that chemical reaction we are strengthening those neural pathways in the brain. We often reach for sugar in an attempt to feel better but did you know that sugar addiction is linked with anxiety and depression?
So back to that question, why do we do it?
For some people it’s primarily driven by habit that’s been reinforced through repetition, the same environmental triggers, thought processes and chemical reactions. For other people, there’s deeper subconscious programming at play that keeps drawing them back to the behaviour. At a subconscious level they may be linking the feelings that they get when eating sugar to being loved or it may be helping them to form a protective ‘layer’ to keep them safe from unwanted attention or occasionally it may even be a form of punishment or rebellion.
If it’s a habit we want to change, what can we do?
Now, I’m not a fan of dieting and often when we’re deliberately restricting ourselves, we only want the desired food more because of the restriction. I much prefer the approach of listening to our bodies, intuitive eating and enjoying all things in moderation. Recognising food as just “food” without a good or bad label. I believe in loving and respecting our bodies as the vessels that house our souls and being kind to them. That means speaking kindly to ourselves and loving our bodies just as they are, right now. Even though we may desire to become stronger, slimmer or fitter, it’s important to love ourselves in the present moment. Just in the same way we can love a puppy right now and also want to nurture them as they grow and change.
However, in the case of a habit like buying a chocolate every day on your way home from work, I believe a full restriction is actually easier to implement. If you draw a line in the sand and make a decision to stop, it means that every day driving home you don’t need to make a choice. The word decision is Latin for “to cut off from” and when you make this decision, you’re cutting off the other options. Your willpower will only last for so long. Willpower is like a battery that gets charged every night and when we get up in the morning the battery is fully charged and ready to go. During the day we make thousands of decisions and as we become fatigued our ‘will power’ wanes. If you decide to buy a chocolate occasionally on your way home from work, then each day you’ll need to make a decision. Is today the day? However, if you decide to stop buying chocolate on the way home from work completely, then the decision has already been made. It’s in the past, it’s something you used to do.
If you try this and still find that you’re struggling, then going deeper and exploring the subconscious programming and creating change at this level, could be just what you need. I still remember the email I received from one client who’d struggled with sugar addiction and she couldn’t believe that she been out for coffee, ordered a dessert to go with it and then didn’t even want it. She had a couple of mouthfuls and it just tasted too sweet and unappealing. Another client told me that she took her children to a birthday party and normally snuck a few sweets from her children’s take- home party bags, however, now she had no interest in eating them at all. Utilising your powerful subconscious mind can make change easier.
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