A sugar confession from a former binge eater with anxiety & depression
I want to share a bit of a confession with you.
I’m addicted to sugar. And when I let it, it completely ruins me.
But one thing I want to make very clear is that it’s not all sugar I am addicted to. It’s processed sugar. This is something I think is very important to point out and I’m sure you’ll hear me say it several times in my career as a coach..that when we talk about food addiction, what we are usually talking about is an addiction to food-like products. I am going to go more into this in the future so stay tuned!
Did you know that processed sugar has been shown to be at least 8 times more addictive than cocaine? There have actually been studies done that show that when cocaine addicted rats were given the choice between cocaine and sugar, 94% of them chose the sugar.
It seems kind of crazy, then, doesn’t it? that the majority of the foods we have available to us are full of processed sugar, and it is so addictive? This stuff causes so much disease, contributes profoundly to obesity which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, and yet it isn’t illegal?
Of course not.
The side effects aren’t immediate and they don’t cause inhibition. Since food is something we need to survive, it provides the food and beverage industry a perfect vehicle to disguise addictive properties that will cause us to reach for more. These added properties make food taste better, cause a chemical reaction in our brain that keeps us wanting more, and are cheap to produce. They can’t make food illegal, and all it takes is a little manipulation here and there to mask the problem of chemical processing when confronted.
Money for the big guys--> weight issues, disease, mental and emotional illness, and death for us.
Most of us don’t even realize we are addicted, and we definitely don’t realize what is going on behind the scenes in the food and beverage industry, unless we do a lot of digging to educate ourselves.
On my health journey I have struggled tremendously with sugar addiction. In the past, as someone who was obsessed with dieting and chasing the “perfect body” my frustration with this was primarily due to the fact that sugar is the biggest caloric contributor to excess fat on the body. It took me a long time to start recognizing or even caring about the impact this addiction had on my overall ability to function. Now that I am 10 months into binge eating and diet culture recovery, it is really the only thing I care about.
But here’s the thing..
..though I know processed sugar completely messes me up, I have been scared to cut it out of my diet because I have been worried that in telling myself I can’t have something I would fall back into diet mentality. So I have continued to eat it.
And the past month I have literally turned into a different (and not so fantastic) person.
Recovering from our poor relationships with food and our bodies is definitely work, and after years of learning the wrong way to behave around these things..it can almost feel like an alternate universe learning how to actually eat and function normally. We have to learn to trust ourselves; learn how to listen to our bodies and trust that what they are telling us is what is best.
And as much as i would love to say I have this completely down, I’m still working on it. So although in the past 10 months I have been receiving signals from my body to PAY ATTENTION to the fact that I am literally almost incapable of functioning when I am eating a lot of processed foods, I chose to ignore them because I thought working on my mindset was more important. I didn’t want to go back into focusing on nutrition just yet.
Mindset around this stuff is almost everything, and I truly believe it is the very first place we need to work when learning to move away from dieting and developing a healthy relationship with food and our bodies, but it does not mean we can completely ignore the food portion and how it is contributing to how we FEEL. Especially when so much of the “food” we have available to us is more poisonous than it is nutritious.
It gets MESSY sometimes for those of us especially trying to break the cycle of binge and restrict. We have to do so much work on our mentality to break that cycle, and in that space the thought of cutting something out can be daunting and confusing. So we have to tread lightly and honestly, this is where the help of a coach has benefitted me greatly.
So here is what has happened to me in the past couple of months in consuming more processed foods than i would like to admit, and ignoring my body when it flags “help me”
I want to mention, as well, that I am an empath. I am already naturally very sensitive to the energy around me, and therefore prone to anxiety and depression.
So in the past month and a half or so, I have developed chronic fatigue. I normally sleep about 9 hours a night, and I still feel so exhausted throughout the day that I either have to nap, or I’m just miserable.
I have extreme brain fog. I have trouble focusing on anything.
My hormones have been COMPLETELY NUTS
My moods have been fluctuating rapidly throughout the day
I have nose dived into severe depressive states where I spend the whole day in bed crying.
I have been having trouble feeling inspired or motivated to do anything.
I have been having anxiety attacks that I haven’t experienced for years
I have retreated into my shell, and the thought of leaving it makes me freak out.
Normally, something like this would be diagnosed by a doctor and treated with prescription drugs right? Yea so I have been there. Nothing works, in fact it makes it worse and honestly I believe that treating someone who has depression or anxiety with a pharmaceutical drug is bullshit, because it isn’t actually treating the issue. It’s just treating the symptom...because that is easier, and these “solutions” are backed by the government and therefore likely to be covered by insurance.
So here is what is going on with me, and I wanted to bring this to your attention today because I think this information can be of use to a lot of people who struggle with these kinds of things. The sugar is creating so much of an imbalance in my body, it is literally making me mentally ill.
I know this, because i know my body, and despite the fact that yes I did used to cut out sugar primarily for weight loss, I also recognized that it helped my mood and overall capability to function.
I know there are still some places in my life i need to relinquish control, which will also help, but it’s hard to work on the heavier stuff when what you are putting into your body is creating a space that doesn’t support that energy
So after a couple of very random spells of anxiety in the last week I realized I just could no longer stand feeling the way I’ve been feeling, and I needed to take the step to eliminate processed sugar from my diet completely, until I feel like I can control myself around it again.
So again, if you feel stuck in an ongoing battle with anxiety, depression, or fluctuating moods and you haven’t looked at what you are eating, I would highly suggest it.
At least be aware of the effects processed sugar has on our bodies, and open your mind up to the good possibility that if you consume a lot of it, it might be contributing largely to your symptoms.
I'll keep you updated on my journey!
If you want to learn more about recovering from food related disorders, grab a copy of my free Jumpstart to Food Freedom Guide, and if you are ready for some deeper support you can fill out this form to connect!