Sugar Addiction and Mindfulness about Food

Rabbit GypsyTo give this post context, here is my personal definition of mindfulness about food, oversimplified for brevity. I have written it as an affirmation. As such, it expresses an ideal, which i strive toward but do not boast of achieving:

I take responsibility for my health by trusting my body. I am aware of its responses to food, noting what makes it feel better immediately and longterm, listening to (and sometimes abiding by, other times resisting) cravings, and otherwise studying my physical, emotional, and spiritual landscape consistently, the way a farmer studies earth and sky. My intuition helps guide food choices. I don’t mistake irresponsibility to myself for freedom. I make adult choices, instead of letting addiction, mood swings, or childish rebellion make them for me. I am willing to have the discipline, organization, and planning that healthy eating requires. This includes allowing myself to do without some foods that I enjoy. I understand a food that makes me feel good momentarily might cause me severe illness and depression in the long run. I refrain from saying, “I do not want to be rigid” if it’s an excuse to hurt myself with food. I indulge in ways that don’t hurt me. My food life is joyful. And with that:

Since 1980, I’ve basically been sugar free. I’ve also refrained from honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, and rice syrup. All this
* has given me the mental clarity to be successful in my career,
* provided emotional clarity,
* is one reason I’ve survived MS,
* and has allowed my shamanic skills to develop. (Sugar clogs every psychic pore in my body, but that is only one way it interferes with my mystical development.)

DandelionsMy experiences personally and in my shamanic work with clients has led to opinions you might find applicable:

It is awesome that people are talking about listening to your body and related beneficial choices, eg letting go of gluten when your body tells you to do so, no matter how common a foodstuff it is in our culture. However, in some ways, mindful eating is a waste of time unless a more core issue is addressed: sugar.

Sugar causes far more disease than all the gluten, other allergens, and pseudo-foods combined. When i say “waste of time,” I’m not suggesting you forsake healthy eating until you can forgo sugar. Anything we do to improve our health is important, and provides stepping stones to even greater action. However, in the meantime, good choices may take someone two steps forward while the sugar will take them twenty steps back, over and over, until they are very ill.

StardrnchdCertntyHeart2Sugar is a drug—a deadly drug that can numb the ability to know what your body wants. In the same way you might not know what your body wanted if you were drunk on alcohol, you might not know what your body wants if you’re drunk on sugar. Again, I am not making an all or nothing statement, am not insisting that anyone who eats sugar becomes unaware of their body’s needs. But it is true for some people. And sugar makes some very aware folks a lot less aware than they could be.

In addition to numbness, sugar sets off a series of physical and emotional “screams” for more of what hurts you, whether more sugar, other health-ruining foods, or health-destroying binges of real food. In the midst of that loud insistent screaming, you cannot hear what your body truly wants.

Letting go of sugar can be the root of mindfulness about not only food but also life. Just like stopping drinking for an alcoholic allows them to start becoming more spiritually aware.

However, sugar is an addiction. It will not be easily let go of. And it is a societally endorsed addiction, because sugar stupor can make us pliable, less mentally vigorous, unlikely to stand up for ourselves, or unable to pursue our dreams.

If this blog is irrelevant to you, ignore it. If your experience is different than mine, rock on! But i suggest you not rule out the whole blog just bc some part of it does not reflect your experience. For example, maybe you achieved your dreams, driven by candy bars. Perhaps without sugar, you would have achieved more of them or been successful without your health suffering. Please read this post for its gist, not pick apart its details.

I suspect sugar is more addictive than any other drug. Which does not mean a person can not overcome the addiction. It means they need support to kick this terrible, destructive habit. I hope this post provides some bit of support.

Sugar addicts are so threatened by talk about stopping imbibing sugar that they attack. So I except to be misquoted and otherwise misrepresented. An addict tends to misunderstand words that discuss letting go of their addiction.

I risk attack because i hope this blog helps someone out of the hell of addiction. I would love to hear supportive responses, please, so I do not feel like the Lone Ranger.

—————
Want control of your life? Need inner shifts to make healthy life choices and stick by them? I am repeatedly told that a single shamanic counseling session with me “changed everything”: http://www.outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/

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12 Responses to Sugar Addiction and Mindfulness about Food

  1. Ashley Rae says:

    Beautiful affirmation. <3

    I first heard about sugar addiction from Kathleen DeMaisons. All the science in her books, and all the descriptions that fit me had me convinced. It still took 5 years to quit sugar and refined foods, but I feel so much better, have so much more energy, drive, and focus, just like you say here. :)

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Ashley, thank you for taking time to read my blog and for your kind words about the affirmation. I am so glad to meet somebody who is refraining from sugar addiction, because it helps you be a light for the world.

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  3. Barbara says:

    Francesca:
    A pagan amen to all you have said. Sugar is the dirty little secret in the kitchen.Although, not addicted to other drugs, I have often thought, who needs heroin when there’s sugar so readily available. I mean sugar is the domestic drug of choice.

    I consider myself pretty aware of my emotions and mental state and thoughts, but sugar is the usurper to all the determined work I have undergone. I am the child of an alcoholic father, and I learned to run to sugary foods to sooth my emotions from an early age. I consider myself so very blessed not to be an alcoholic or smoker, because my earlier life could have taken me down that road. But I am no different from anyone who suffers from those addictions and the rest.

    When I am angry or feeling overwhelmed there is a disconnect that happens within me, and I go and buy the stuff usually in the form of caramels or peanut butter concoctions. I have experienced, through the study of your work, that I can say no and be free of it. There’s a voice in my head saying,’you’re missing out on the fun’ I know there’s a hell of a lot of other fun I could be having by not imbibing in the sugar.

    Thank you for the affirmation, I will use it. And what I really love is that in the last couple of months, the thought has occurred to me that the sugar is obstructing my emotional and spiritual well-being.

    You sound so happy and whole. I looked at your new clothing line today, too. Very beautiful.

    The information always shows up when we’re ready.

    thank you, Francesca.

    Barbara

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Barbara, thank you for everything you said. For one thing, you give me affirmation of the problem, so that I do not, by forgetting its devastating impact, fall into old bad habits.

      I am also blown away and so happy that my book(s) helped you say no, it means the world to me that i was able to support you. It also encourages me to kp on with my community work. You see, yesterday, I was discouraged bc my approach is constantly met by disapproval, bc I am not pagan party-line. I asked for a sign about it this morning, and your post is that sign!

      To other site visitors, I assume the new clothing line she refers to is the new items I made for myself, bc I make very little clothing that I sell, except for scarfs, and it is one of a kind pieces. If you want to see what little clothing I do sell, it is at the following url (again, all one of a kind, so check out the gorgeous ritual robe i painted before it sells): https://www.etsy.com/shop/outlawbunny

      As to the clothes I made for myself:
      http://www.outlawbunny.com/2013/04/24/wearing-joy-talismanic-clothing/

      Big hugs to all seekers.

  4. Angela says:

    Thank you, Francesca! Yes, I experience sugar as a drug and I find it very hard to manage. Yes, I know it dumbs me down, numbs me out, and saps my energy. Sometimes I can go for weeks without it, sometimes I actively don’t want it, and other times I can’t resist it. Addicted. Yes, I am addicted to sugar. And one of my kids has it bad, which worries me. I am feeling inspired to go off sugar again, for myself and as a role model for my family. I will feel my way into what I want to do this week. Thank you!!!

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Thanks so much for yr honest response, I needed it!! I am so glad I risked this post, bc the responses here, by phone, and elsewhere are really helping me. Eg, knowing that others are facing the addictive nature of sugar reinforces my continuing to refrain from it. Keep me posted on what you do, you are always such an inspiration for, and fellow traveler with, me. If it helps you to know this: after 30 plus years off sugar, it rarely tempts me.

  5. ellen says:

    … I keep being called to re-read this article… You have packed an incredible amount of truth in here…

    Crap.. crap.. crap.. crap.. crap… You are so right on target about the sugar being a drug and the numbness and the not being able to hear, etc… I use it just like the all the other substances I used to use… except with this one there is nothing to keep me from doing it constantly… being, as you mentioned, “societally endorsed.”

    In fact, I see now, that Sugar was/is my first addiction. Given what was happening in my life at the time… I can completely see why, on an emotional level, I was so drawn to it.

    Crap.

    Ellen’s Positive Affirmation for the Day:
    “I embrace and give thanks to that part of myself that did its very best to protect me from experiencing pain.”… She was/is an extremely resourceful individual!

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      As u say, I packed a lot in–thoughts from over thirty years of being sugar free and observing other people’s and my own relationship with food. So you might feel overwhelmed by all the thoughts. But good for you for facing the reality, good for you!

  6. ellen says:

    I am definitely a sugar addict. Always have been. Even as a small child, I would spend my ENTIRE allowance on candy. I binge on cookies. I ate a bag of donuts yesterday. Growing up on the commune… I would take my tiny monthly sugar ration and eat it by myself with a spoon while hiding out in my room… while most people left theirs in the kitchen so someone could bake a cake or something. At work I mindlessly shove cookies in my face. I will stop at the store on my way home in order to have my sugar creamer for my coffee the next morning. At work I can be depressed and irritable until I shove a frosted brownie in my mouth… then suddenly I feel euphoric and satiated. I will go home planning to eat something healthy and end up eating sugar food instead.

    I hesitate to even write this for fear you will want to help me help myself. 😉

    Sometimes I get a handle on it… but then something will stress me out and I am back on the sugar train… I can shovel sweets into my mouth like the bulimic woman in the 80s tv PSA who used to hide in the toilet stall with her hostess cupcakes… except I have no desire to hide… or vomit… thank God :)

    Anyway… I guess that counts as support for your cause… and Sugar is definitely one of the ways I run from the Silence.

    I did stop sugar once about ten years ago, while trying to get a handle on a yeast situation… I definitely noticed exhaustion and mood swings being much less of a problem.

    Hugs… Ellen <3

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting, your comments are useful. I promise not to help unless you ask me to. It is no business of mine unless you tell me otherwise, honey, not to worry. Poking my nose into other people’s addictions, unasked, wld be a good way to get my head bitten off. :-) And, to other readers, re the Silence to which she refers: I am teaching a course right now in which we are exploring the magic of silence. So one thing we are doing is noting ways we might run from silence.

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