Bailey pup, our tomato garden ‘thief’
One of the most vulnerable questions I hear from people when they’re thinking about taking a class with me is this: Do I have to stop eating sugar?
It’s a really important question! If you’re relying on sugar for stress relief or to self soothe, the idea of not eating sugar – or even eating less of it – can bring up panic and resistance.
So when I offer a class, it makes sense that you may be thinking – “Well, yes, I’d like to eat less sugar, or care for my health better — and I’m scared to death to leave behind my comfort food.”
The short answer is no – you don’t have to give up sugar in the Emerge: Create a New Habit class. It’s not a sugar detox, not a diet, and not a boot camp.
As one woman described it, it’s about healing and changing your relationship with sugar, not ending it.
Whew – you don’t have to hurry up and eat all your favorite sugar foods before the class starts! (Intuitive eating founders Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch call these “Last Supper” meals!)
Demanding change vs. supporting growth
One of the assumptions I bring to the class is that demanding change doesn’t work – but supporting growth does.
So that’s where we start.
1. We nourish your growth with respect: we hold your well intentioned, but not always workable, way of caring for your needs with sugar in love and compassion.
2. And we nourish growth by acknowledging your desire: the part of you that longs for healing, ease and less suffering.
When growth becomes a demand
Where we can go awry is when we turn the desire for growth into a demand.
When we demand a timeline for growth, it can be unrealistic, based on an ideal or mental judgment of how we ‘should’ be doing, divorced from our actual experience, our support, and day to day reality.
Our culture can be especially brutal in how it judges how quickly we ‘should’ grow or how we ‘should’ be different. These demands can be especially hard for those of us who are sensitive.
What helps is trusting your own ‘ripeness.’
A story can help – Bailey and the ripe tomatoes
Our puppy, Bailey (you can see her in the photo above), really likes to eat tomatoes out of our garden. This week, we had a beautiful tomato that was just about ripe, ready to be picked – until Bailey got to it.
Now – how does Bailey know that the green, not quite ripe tomato is not ready to be eaten? And how does she know that exact moment when the tomato is ripe, and delicious, and she eats it off the vine?
But she knows, and our salad bowl has been emptier because of it!
Your internal ripeness
We’re not much different.
Have you ever tried to pick unripe fruit? It’s hard. You have to yank the fruit off the vine, and it often doesn’t taste very good.
I remember when I went into early labor with my daughter – she was born 5 weeks early, and even though she was little, under 6 pounds, her labor was longer and harder than my other labors. My body wasn’t quite yet ‘ripe.’
But ripe fruit falls more easily off the vine and tastes sweet and full.
Trusting your growth and healing
Like Bailey pup’s inner knowing, there’s something in you that knows when you’re ripe, when new life is ready to be picked off the vine.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in facilitating group classes, it’s to hold space for this ripeness – to trust when fruit is ready to leave the tree.
I trust your internal ripening and growth process, and I trust your knowing when it’s time to eat less sugar. That’s why I don’t force it.
Here’s how this helped Mary and Paula, two students in the class earlier this year:
Paula and Mary are both deeply caring, highly sensitive, thoughtful, and conscientious.
Paula was attracted to the course because of how it attuned to the needs underneath the sugar cravings. Afterwards, she said, “I felt so engaged and supported that I was willing to loosen my tight hold on food, and instead to focus on developing a caring and attuned relationship with myself…a life-changing experience!”
Mary had a similar experience: “[The course] has worked in me to lower defenses, shame and alarm…I also have approached limits with food in a much healthier way without trying or forcing…it seems like an inner shift has taken place outside of conscious effort on my part!”
To me, their stories are a testament to their courage, their inner wisdom and listening, and to their trusting their ripeness and unfolding.
You may wonder – how do I know if it’s the right time to explore my relationship with sugar?
Here are a few ways you may see ‘ripeness’ or readiness:
- when you have a strong feeling of, “This really doesn’t work and I don’t want to do this anymore!”
- you feel a desire, yearning, wish, hope or intention – a longing to grow, heal or change
- you feel led, moved or inspired to seek out guidance, healing, support or teaching about a certain topic
- you find yourself asking for help or wanting help
What’s common underneath all these things is longing – a longing to grow, for help or support, or to be transformed.
Longing arises from the heart. I think of longing as the seed that emerges from the ground, the new life that longs to be born and that bursts through the soil.
The next question to ask yourself is: What kind of support do I need to help my seeds of longing grow and bear fruit?
Support can take many forms:
- a group class, like Emerge
- working with a therapist or healer
- learning about nutrition, trauma, or some other aspect of healing
- talking with friends or loved ones
- joining a support group in your community
- self care – regular exercise, connection and community, and rest
- relaxing your standards around sugar and food
- meditation and other contemplative practices
- play and expression
There are lots and lots of ways to give yourself support – and it will be unique for each of us. I’ve found it helpful to pause and tune in – what kind of support do I need right now?
That support may very well be rest or waiting – to put your relationship with sugar aside for now. It’s a viable form of support!
When we have what we need, we grow
When we give ourselves the support we’re needing – in whatever form – we help nourish the growth that’s longing to arise.
And when we have the itch and longing to proceed – even if we feel some normal fear or hesitancy – that can be a signal to take the next step forward.