Over the past two weeks we have discussed how addictive sugar is and how sugar leads to a long list of chain reactions when we are on the blood sugar roller coaster. We may know all of this, in fact, we may know exactly how detrimental eating sugar – out of balance – can be for us. But, we still eat sugar. Lots of sugar. Why?
Because food, especially sugar, is so closely linked to our emotions.
How do we celebrate birthdays, how do we celebrate holidays, what foods were we given if we had a bad day growing up to ‘cheer us up’? What foods do we use to celebrate a good game, a successful test, anything? All of it typically involves sugar or some serious amounts of white flour (which just converts to sugar). So, it takes about a nanosecond for your brain to intricately connect the positive experience, emotion and high with sugar.
Sugar is something we use from the very beginning to associate happiness, joy, love, warmth, feeling good, celebrating and connecting with our family, team, friends, and community. The challenge is that we start to (consciously or unconsciously) think that the only way to feel these emotions is by way of eating sugar.
Who doesn’t want to feel good? Energized? Happy? Joyful? All of us do.
In our current world of go, go, go, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, I-Phones and I-Pads and what not, we are supposed to be even more connected than we have ever been. However, we aren’t. We sit at dinner staring at screens and not interacting with those around us. We all proclaim being insanely busy and not able to stop and talk with friends or family.
Our lives are leaving large, gaping holes and we are looking for ways to fill in those holes. We crave connection, intimacy, joy and happiness. We learned early on (true or not) that sugar = happiness and connection. Sugar is a legal drug that helps us fill in the gap and feel those emotions we crave, albeit, temporarily. It gives us an opportunity to feel a part of a group when there is a cookie, cake or ice cream party and it allows us to get the elusive high. But, we all know, maintaining that high with sugar gets harder and harder. You have to eat more and more to attain the same high. Then, the fall becomes bigger and bigger.
For each one of us, we have to take some time to figure out what sugar means to us. What does sugar represent? What keeps you going back for more, really? What are you searching for? What void is sugar filling for you? Because, oftentimes we are fully aware that we will not feel good after eating x, y or z, but we still go for it.
Bringing awareness to where your sugar cravings come from, helps you navigate through them and learn how to change them. Next time you are craving sugar, sit with it. See what comes up for you. Then, write it down. Move through the emotions, even the uncomfortable ones and allow your body to process them. Cry, rant, punch pillows, do a bazillion jumping jacks, laugh, scream, write for hours, forgive, sit in silence, whatever you need to do. Allow your body to move through what comes up for you.
Suddenly, that temptation for sugar might just lighten.