Who has the control here? You or… sugar?
I recently coached some clients specifically around reducing sugar in their lives and some interesting things came out of it. They came to me wanting to reduce sugar in their diets as they were aware that their overall health was affected by their sugar intake. They both wanted to learn about alternatives that had less of a negative impact on their symptoms and how they felt. But it turns out that sugar brings up a whole host of other issues in our lives (shocker!). Diving deeper into the process, we discovered that sugar cravings mean different things for each of them. For one person it served as comfort and for another it served as a reward. For all it was a habit to reach for sugar when stress levels were high.
We talked all about the course of the day, their habits, and their typical diets. We talked about their sugar choices which were very different. For one person it meant a ritual she did with her son that enabled some quality time together. For this I didnt want her to stop the activity because I believed it to be a healthy one, but certain things could be changed around it. She and her son liked to bake together and so we worked on finding healthier alternatives for baking ingredients. We also talked about the possibility of other activities to make new connections with other experiences. Bonding is so important and sometimes that involves food, so we don’t want to do away with the food aspect altogether, especially when it facilitates bonding!
This also brought up other issues - that the aspect of food being part of self care was missing from her life. In other words, food and eating didn’t have a positive part in her life overall. This is very common actually, and is probably a topic for another day..
Another client found herself to be quite busy and so she tended to reach for sweets when she was particularly busy or stressed. We discussed the triggers for this, and researched different options for healthier sweets. We also discovered that carbs in her diet essentially acted like sugar in her body (actually, this is the case in everyone but she is super in touch with her body), and so we found other choices to impart less overall carbohydrate and more protein and fat.
With each client I mentioned various sources of sugar, glycemic index, natural sugars and unnatural sugars. It was a lot of information to put into this and they gained some great benefit from it.
I made a suggestion in order to work with sugar cravings: that everytime they wanted to reach for sugar, reach for a fat instead (which also brought up more to discuss - What- FAT?!) This way, they would get a macronutrient that was nutrient-rich, relaxing to the nervous system (remember the reason we reach for sugar is stress), satiating, and blood sugar stabilizing. Did it work? YES!
Is it ok to have some sugar in your diet? I think so, unless you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow it. Otherwise, you gotta live! It’s just when there is a pattern of reliance on it when it is problematic.
Just imagine the possibilities of changing our longstanding habits, thought patterns and ideas. It has the potential to change our overall health!