How I Overcame My Sugar Addiction
There is something I have been thinking about, and I wanted to share with you.
"Sometimes, in life, your situation will keep repeating itself until you learned your lesson."
I stumbled upon this quote on Instagram one day, and it stopped me in my tracks. You see, I have been talking to you about motivation (you can read about my struggles here and here), and about doing the things that are good and healthy for you. Eating healthy food and incorporating movement into our days are important for taking care of our bodies and our minds. I developed Autoimmune Strong to teach you how to eat and move in a healthy way, that will help you take control over your pain, and restore your energy and zest for life.
However, I have also been talking to you about how this change is hard to make. It’s a struggle to change our habits- we want to do the thing that is easy- and taking proper care of our bodies is not easy. In fact, it’s really hard work (you can read my blog about that here).
For me, my willpower challenge is staying away from sweets. I have always had a sweet tooth, as a kid I used to live for jelly beans and cupcakes. As an adult, I still crave those sugary treats, but every time I eat one my body goes nuts- I get puffy and swollen, and my anxiety increases, I worry more and have trouble sleeping. And for me, it doesn’t just happen with sugar, but with dairy, chocolate, and wine too.
My mind knows that these things are not good for me, and that they aggravate my fibromyalgia, my thyroid and my small intestine. I even wrote a nutritional guide about why and how sugar, gluten and processed foods negatively effect our bodies and make our autoimmune conditions worse (which I highly recommend reading- click here to join Autoimmune Strong’s free trial and once you are in, follow the instructions to access the ebook).
But even though my mind knows that sugar makes me feel awful, sometimes I just lack the willpower to say no. Sometimes I just want to be what my son calls “a normal person” and I don’t want to have to worry about what I eat and how I move every day. And then I give in to the cravings, and then I feel awful and have to make a resolve to stop the cycle.
But this quote stopped me in my tracks. It made me realize that these challenges, this willpower battle, is forcing me to confront the need to take care of myself 100% of the time. That I don’t have the opportunity to relax and rest- that I always need to put my body and my health first. That is the lesson I need to learn, and until I really truly learn it, the cycle will keep repeating.
So now that I am honest about my greatest struggle, I can deal with it head on. Here are my three tips for calling your willpower into action when life throws a challenge at you:
1. Breathe: Sometimes we fall into our bad habits when life gets stressful. I know that for me, when life gets overwhelming, a cookie or a jelly bean can feel like comfort. I have learned over time that it is not the food I need, but the act of comfort. So I have been trying to provide that comfort in other ways. When we get stressed out, we often forget to breathe. So step one is to pay attention to your breathe. When you feel like you want to give up the challenge, that the work is getting too hard, remember to take a few deep breaths, and maybe you will find that you have the willpower deep down inside you after all.
2. Distraction: Boredom leads to a lack of energy, and then to more boredom. When we are bored we often lose the willpower and energy to go out and do something. So instead we watch too much TV and snack. Instead of letting boredom take over, find something you like to do, and force yourself to do it at least 1x a week. For me, when I feel the cravings take over, I try to use exercise as a distraction, and usually by the time I am done with my exercise, even if it's just for 5 minutes, the craving has disappeared. You can read a book, go for a walk, leave your house and run an errand, or take a warm bath. Any of these things are a good way to distract yourself from the challenge at hand.
3. Start again. So, you fell off the wagon. You ate a cookie (or 3). Or you missed your daily movement for a few days. No worries, you can always start again. Every day is a new opportunity to break the cycle. Each day is a new day.
So now that I have been honest with you about my unhealthy habit- tell me- what is yours?
What lesson do you need to learn??? What habits do you need to break? What things are the hardest for you?
The first step is to be honest and open about the challenges you face. Once you are aware of your struggles, they are easier to overcome.