This is a photo of what I bought at Whole Foods yesterday after having one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time.
My day began with getting up at 4:30 in the morning to travel across the country with my four children, and all the hassles and fatigue of traveling – and traveling without a spouse for support. I had been visiting family, and leaving my family is always hard for me, bringing up feelings of sadness and loneliness.
Then there was an argument with a loved one, and guilty feelings for getting in an argument in the first place. Ouch, that hurts.
And then a car accident – my child’s 4th fender bender in several months. This was really hard for me – I felt pretty upset, filled with concern for my child, frustrated about the accident, and worried about paying for the car repairs.
There was more turmoil with loved ones.
Oh, I was one tired, overwhelmed, alarmed momma.
Let’s just say that by dinner time, I felt like I needed a good cry, a hug, and someone to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. At the end of my day, I taught a free class on the 5 things you need to do to say no to sugar. The irony wasn’t lost on me – when you have a day when you feel stressed, worried, sad, frustrated, and discouraged, how do you not turn to ice cream, candy, cookies or cake for comfort?
What amazes me is that I didn’t.
Instead, here’s how I took care of myself: I called a friend and let her support me when I felt caught in emotional turmoil. Then I went to Whole Foods and bought a chicken, cherry tomatoes, and some salad fixings for dinner – I felt too overwhelmed to do anything else. Then I went home, heated up the chicken, tossed some yams and potatoes in the oven, made a salad, and served my children and myself dinner.
After my class, I wrote in my journal to process my feelings and gave myself lots of empathy. Instead of judging myself for feeling afraid or worried or frustrated or angry, I used self compassion to validate my feelings with a loving, empathetic touch: “Oh, sweetheart, I know this was hard for you. I can understand how you feel that way. It’s okay sweetheart. Let it all out.” I felt soothed in the wake of this tender holding – in this space of allowing all my frustration and concern and sadness to be there.
Then I went to bed early. Because my husband’s traveling and we had a guest staying in my son’s room, I put my young son to bed with me – it was probably good that I went to bed when he did!
What’s interesting is that nine, ten or even four years ago, I don’t think I would’ve – or could’ve – responded in the same way. I think I would’ve made myself a treat, sought out sugar, binged, or used food for comfort.
The fact that I didn’t shows me that healing and transformation with sugar is possible.
I felt vulnerable in sharing this story with you, because sometimes these stories can appear like, “Look how great life is for me!” Or, “I have all the answers!” Sometimes they can inadvertently create feelings of comparison (“Why can’t I be more like so and so?”) or separation – and I don’t want my story to create these feelings of separation between us.
At the same time, I want to support you. My intention is to share the teachings and practices that can transform your relationship with sugar. And it’s because I want to offer support, hope and possibility that I share how my relationship with sugar has changed.
What enabled me to say no to sugar wasn’t will power, discipline, self control or white knuckling it. And trust me – it’s not like I was feeling serene yesterday, calm in the eye of the storm! No, no – I was having a very normal, human moment where I was caught in difficult emotions, feeling stressed, and in pain.
What enabled me to say no to sugar was:
- emotional caretaking – reaching in, offering myself compassion and empathy, what my heart so deeply needed
- reaching out, letting someone “hold” me emotionally when I needed support
- making room for my emotions – especially the painful ones – so I could feel them, move through them, and process them
- physical caretaking – giving myself tender care in action – a nourishing meal and sleep, for starters
- and honoring my limits and boundaries – I bought healthy pre-made food instead of toughing it out and cooking dinner when I was feeling overwhelmed and sad
The pathway out of sugar – out of anything – is one of mercy and compassion. To heal the root of a sugar addiction, you replace the stress relief, comfort, solace and emotional caretaking that you receive from sugar with something much more filling – mercy and love from your own heart, loving support from others, and the rest that comes from acknowledging, caring for and making room for your tender human needs.
You’re unwinding the pathway of stress = sugar and creating a new one of stress = loving care. Bit by bit, the new pathway strengthens. And in this space of holding and lovingkindness, you can move through the tough days of life, knowing you have what you need; knowing that you’ll be okay – even without the sugar.
Wanting more hands on help?
If you have a painful, compulsive relationship with sugar, there’s a way to heal your sugar obsession so you’re no longer compulsively eating or bingeing on it – but the answer isn’t found in a perfect diet, will power, self control, behavior modification or even a sugar abstinence.
You heal a sugar compulsion by softening the heart, building emotional tolerance, by feeling cravings more, not less; through emotional honesty, and by healing the inner dynamics that drive the impulse to binge on sugar in the first place.
If you’d like to learn more, I invite you to join me for my 30 day course, Emerge: Create a New Habit. In this gentle, compassion based program, you’ll get 30 days of audio coaching to transition into a low or no sugar diet.