Do you crave sugar? Do you have withdrawal symptoms? Do you need more and more to be satisfied? Do you spend time recovering from your consumption of processed foods with a headache, feeling tired and lethargic? Are you eating or using refined carbs against your better judgment?
If you said yes to over three of the questions above, you are a sugar addict, according to Florence Christophers, certified health coach specializing in sugar addiction recovery, weight loss and detox.
Sugar is any refined carbohydrate, like bread, flours and grains, because they all turn into sugar.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women, and nine teaspoons for men. Anything more is deemed “unsafe.” The average person eats 48 teaspoons of sugar daily—a sugar addict, even more.
At the 2020 Truth About Weight Loss Summit online, Christophers revealed that addicts are deficient in feel-good transmitters. They use food for comfort instead of just for nutrition, due to their genetic disposition for addiction. That is why some people can have a nibble, while some can’t stop at one.
A recovered sugar addict, Christophers just doesn’t eat it; there is no moderation for addicts.
“If you’re the sort of person who can take it in moderation, good for you, but I’m not,” she said.
“Never should we be putting this junk in our children. So even when you try to raise your kids in a whole-food manner, when they’re in a school system or social situation where there’s junk everywhere, it can make them feel different. We have to navigate that carefully because we don’t want them to feel like they’re food freaks.
“We need to navigate the realities of being in a food culture that’s malfunctioning and taking us down with it. But at the same time, as mothers, we have to support each other to get the heck out of processed foods. It’s our job as mothers. We’re the ones who feed our families, that’s always been our role, we’re the nurturers.”
What she did
For her sugar binging, she had done psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, supplements, diets, acupuncture, 12-step programs, even worked with a shaman. She would get sugar sober but would be food obsessed. She had no peace.
Christophers shared how she finally broke free from sugar cravings:
1. Identify the voice of your inner addict. Call it your sugar dragon or sugar gremlin, whatever. It will have all kinds of ways of manipulating us to do what it wants us to do. “Aww, one little cookie won’t hurt.” You cannot trust it. It never has your best interest at heart. It doesn’t care if you’re depressed or have migraines or will die of diabetes. It cares about getting its fix.
2. Isolate it. That isn’t me. It’s a sugar gremlin, it has its own voice and its own agenda.
3. Ignore it. Without fighting it, simply recognize that it has no power over your body. It cannot move your limbs to force you to drive to a store to get your fix.
What about zero-sugar substitutes like stevia, xylitol or coconut nectar? Christophers said you’d just be playing food games.
Any refined carbohydrate, like bread, flour and grains, turns into sugar.
“You’re still teasing your brain compared to someone who’s broken off completely and is finally free. Sooner or later, your desire for sweetness will be stronger than your willpower and you will cave,” she said.
Christophers explained that willpower can work for a while but it is not designed to withstand unrelenting cravings. It will get fatigued when faced with the hardest addiction in the world: sugar.
With alcohol, tobacco, drugs, there’s a stigma. You could lose your job or family. But sugar and flour are everywhere. We are constantly barraged at least thrice a day for meals, in advertisements, its availability and affordability, smells, memories, so willpower will eventually fail.
“You cannot reason with your pleasure drive; it’s an algorithm. When we’re addicted, we think our rational and emotional minds are one and the same,” she said.
The difference in her method is realizing that our bodies and minds are separate. Your body can respond to addictive substances like sugar, cigarettes, heroin, alcohol, but your observer consciousness does not. Once you’re of two minds, no willpower is needed. How to tame your ‘dragon’
When you’re ready to slay the sugar beast, say: “I never want to eat sugar or flour.” Then sit quietly and wait for it to speak. Write whatever it says, like maybe, “Well, that’s ridiculous! That’s not possible. That’s not necessary. Everybody gets to have that, why can’t you?”
Then tap into your higher self, your observer brain, the one that wants to be free: “Because it’s junk.”
The dragon might say: “Well, what if that’s all there is to eat? What are you gonna do?”
Then use your rational brain to counter everything the dragon says.
Christophers encourages addicts to have this dialogue and be as feisty as possible, as it helps you find your spine and fortify your resolve.
She assured sugar addicts that the worst of the cravings will pass in seven to 10 days. All the drama that comes with giving up your addiction is not yours, they’re your dragon’s. When you’ve become of two minds, even the usual triggers won’t move you anymore because they have lost their power.
“When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing is that moment when you realize you are of two minds,” said Christophers.
She advised to use the word “never” because it’s the only word your dragon can’t work with. When you say you’re taking this a day at a time, you give it hope. Never is forever.
Relapsed? Take a green smoothie. Greens have thylakoids, which are the antidote to sugar addiction. Have greens for breakfast. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
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