Well, it's been far too long since I participated on this blog. Life has finally mellowed just a touch and i wanted to take a moment to concentrate on what I've learned about letting go of "sugar".
When it comes right down to it, could you walk away from sugary treats forever? I have the hardest time saying yes to this question. Throughout my life I've attached so much importance to the existence of sweets. Fun, comfort, group enjoyment, family togetherness. For me the most subtly sinister attachment has been a feeling of deservedness. For example, if I can't have new clothes or don't have enough money for the new 'thing' then by heck I'm at least going to get something I want. And that something would end up sweet and gooey and fatty.
Letting go of eating sweets has been so much more than just not eating sweets. It's meant facing life's challenges without a buffer. And you know what? It's not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
So what are the initial steps necessary to begin the transformation? Everyone is different. My husband and I each used a different approach but 1 thing remained the same. We both made a manifesto. A list of guidelines, helps, goals and plans. After all, if you fail to plan, you will fail to succeed. I relied heavily on my manifesto during the first 2 weeks of 'sweet abstinence'. If I got the shakes or cravings (and I did) I would read it out loud several times and things would get easier. Several months have passed and my manifesto still hangs in the kitchen, mighty as ever.
Things to keep in mind when planning. Balance, be realistic, avoid zealousness but accept that addiction requires more than moderation (hard line to walk), realize error will happen and foster an attitude of 'try, try again', set limits to your restrictions (birthdays Christmas, 1 exception per month).
To outline a helpful manifesto I recommend these key ideas:
1. A goal needs a reward but also a punishment.
For example, my reward was money - because I like money. My punishment was disappointment and I had to start over on the time-line of my goal.
2. My manifesto included general advice.
I gleaned advice from the internet, from lots of personal evaluation, from family and especially a loving and wonderful father who is also a recovered alchoholic. After gathering as much info as possible, I took it to the Lord in prayer for guidance.
3. A list of good ideas and good practices to learn while 'unlearning' the bad habit.
For example, if you are craving sweets, eat an apple. Meditate, think positive, get out of the house, record successes and feelings. Blogging has helped me A LOT.
It's never easy overcoming an addiction. No matter the subject. Just when you think you've got it beat, you experience the hiccups of life and find yourself crawling right back to those old comforts. I've found that keeping an attitude of 'try again' has kept me in the ring with my head up and gloves on.
A note on zealousness -
I believe that zealousness when it comes to food is extremely counter productive. The more you do without it and force yourself to avoid it the more you're going to rebound when a weak moment occurs. It's critical to find balance between the 2 extremes of never and always. Unfortunately with an addiction it seems that the balance has to hang on the 'never' side of things. That's why I believe that sugar addiction cannot be overcome without integrating the heart, mind, soul and body. Facing the things that frighten or worry us is difficult but so much better than being a slave to a mindless chemical. In fact, that may be a discussion for another day - sugar and idolatry. Until then, be kind to your body.