I hear from many dedicated people who are trying to heal their relationship with sugar – they recognize they’re addicted to sugar and are doing the necessary steps to heal their addiction. They may be eating a sugar free diet for weeks, months or even years. And then they find themselves eating sugar again. They feel frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
In this post, I humbly offer the top 5 things that can help you get back on track:
1. It’s not your fault. If I could sum up what to do when you’re struggling into one sentence, it would be this: soften blame. When life gets difficult, and we find ourselves coping in messy ways – with sugar – we typically turn on ourselves. We tell ourselves we “should’ve done better.” We blame ourselves and call it “being responsible.”
Sometimes life is difficult and we go back to old habits. This is not proof that you didn’t do the work, that you’re not healed, that you’re going backwards or that there’s something wrong with you. It’s simply proof that you’re going through a hard time and that your current difficulties are greater than your current resources to bear them..
2. Get support. When it becomes too much to bear, be gentle with yourself. Don’t make yourself wrong for needing help. Reach out and get support. This is where many of us stumble, because asking for support means: 1. being vulnerable and honest – “I’m hurting and I need help here.” and 2. asking for help.
Support may mean seeing a counselor, going to a support group, getting a coach, reaching out to friends and family, or reaching out to your spiritual community. Gather all you can; all you need. Needing help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is an act of courage and self worth to give yourself extraordinary support.
As Brene Brown says, many of us carry this fallacy that we should sail through life without any glitches, that we should be “naturals” at everything. So when it doesn’t come easily or naturally, we feel ashamed. Needing help, having to work at something, having something come with effort is not proof of brokenness but of your humanity.
3. Redefine healing. When we’re in a cycle of difficulty, we may avoid seeking out help because we adhere to the “onwards and upwards model of healing.” We see healing as a linear progression with no backward steps – we think that cycling back to old habits is a proof of “not healed.” We then carry this as shame.
I gently invite you to see healing as a cyclical experience. Nature grows and flows through cycles and seasons. We are no different. We all go through cycles of growth, rebirth, loss, challenge, celebration, and more.
If we normalize the cycles – which include darkness and loss – then we don’t blame ourselves or think something’s wrong when we go through them. We feel more able to respond with wisdom – I’m hurting; I need help here – rather than with guilt/shame – it’s all my fault. I should’ve prevented this.
If you’re in a falling apart stage of life, give yourself what you need; don’t make yourself wrong for needing whatever you need.
4. Go back to grounding. When you’re in a spin cycle, you need the basics – sleep, healthy food, rest, and connection with other human beings. I call this grounding: giving yourself regular, rhythmic, nourishing self care.
Of course, these basic grounding needs often aren’t met because of high stress, money, health issues and more, which is why you may be struggling.
This is why healing your relationship with sugar is not a matter of will power. It’s about having what you need – and this starts with the basics. Gently ask yourself, “What do I most need?” Start here. Walk – care for these needs – before you fly – change how you’re eating sugar.
Here’s why: you can’t give up sugar if your blood sugar is whacky from irregular meals. You can’t say no to sugar if you’re exhausted from too little sleep. You can’t thrive, period, if you feel disconnected, alone and separate from your fellow human beings.
5. Take it 1 step at a time.
This is where we get into the nitty gritty of, “How do we get back on track?” And it starts by taking one small step at a time.
When so much isn’t working, we want to rush in and fix it all. This only adds to our frustration, as we feel overwhelmed and exhausted and discouraged. I know slow change can be difficult – it’s human nature to want to wave a magic wand and make it all better instantly – but it’s both what’s doable and what’s kind.
Instead, do 1 thing differently. For example, if you’re skipping breakfast, eat it. Take as long as you need to work on this step. (For me, this step alone took 3 months!) When this step feels solid, like an ingrained habit, then move onto your next step, the next sphere of action or change…
Healing takes time. Rest. Energy. Practice. Patience. Honor this growth process. Honor your being. Honor the courage it takes to start over, to care for yourself, to get through a hard time, and if you so choose, to let sugar go.