There’s tremendous power in grieving: it’s how to foster new life. For things to be born, things need to die. In the case of a sugar addiction, the compulsive seeking after sugar must be let go. In its place, a new relationship with sugar can arise.
How growth begins
The first step of growth is willingness – a desire to grow and transform. Then you move to adaptation: to come to terms with what isn’t working, to change, to try something new. For most people, this is the stickiest part, and the part that we like to gloss over. I’ll explain why.
How you get stuck in painful habits
We all get stuck in painful habits; we can all be nonadaptive. It’s easy to spot in loved ones because it’s very frustrating for an outside observer. We can easily see where a loved one keeps banging their head against the same wall, trying to do the same thing over and over. Because we’re on the outside, we can easily see that it’s not working.
It’s harder to see our own stuckness. That’s because to accept that something isn’t working means we first have to see that it isn’t working. Instead of moving to acceptance, most of us simply try harder, better, faster, more.
In the case of sugar, you may try harder and harder to “stick” to your low sugar diet. If you binged on sugar at night, you may go to bed vowing to do better the next day.
How we get unstuck
Eventually, you may come to see that trying harder doesn’t work – it’s not creating more freedom with sugar or changing your habits. Ah, your eyes open. So then you come to a place of surrender, and of grief. This is hard.
That’s because to accept that something isn’t working we have to feel our loss fully: to come to terms, and to grieve what isn’t so. In the case of sugar, you may have to come to terms that you’re compulsive or obsessive with it. You may have to come to terms that your body is sensitive to it. You may have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t eat as much sugar as your mind would like.
To move through the adaptive process – to truly grow and transform – you have to grieve and let go. Only by truly accepting that something isn’t working can you move forward and change. Only by truly accepting that how you’re eating sugar isn’t working can you move forward and change how you eat it. The Serenity Prayer expresses this truth beautifully when it speaks of “changing what we can change and accepting what we can’t.”
Why grieving helps you stop obsessing over sugar
In my struggle with sugar addiction, I had to truly see and grieve and feel how my compulsive sugar eating and compulsive controlling (trying to be completely abstinent from sugar) was hurting me in order to move forward and change my sugar habits. I had to grieve the loss of sugar and the loss of total control in order to move forward and create a balanced relationship with it.
On the one hand, there were times when I needed to accept a limit in how much sugar I ate. Likewise, I needed to accept that trying to control my sugar intake wasn’t working, either. It’s throug the grief process that I found a more balanced relationship with sugar, where I was neither compulsively eating or compulsively controlling it.
I know this sounds counterintuitive and painful. And yet this grieving process is powerful. Grieving is the doorway to gratitude, joy and peace. It’s how you heal the root of the obsession itself, foster new life, and change what and how you eat.