Are You Substituting Sugar for the Real Sweetness of Life?

Are You Substituting Sugar for the Real Sweetness of Life?

kid's mouth

Photo: michale/Flickr.

“The longing for sweets is really a yearning for love or ‘sweetness.’”
Marion Woodman

People may think that humans are so wired by evolution to eat sugar whenever they can get it that there’s not much hope to avoid unhealthy sweets in today’s food economy, when they’re available everywhere and they’re so cheap.

The personal seven-year journey that led me to write Sweetness without Sugar has convinced me that sweetness is a natural impulse in human life. But in the modern world we’ve often tried to satisfy this impulse, which is as spiritual as it is physical. By examining my own attitudes towards sweets, I’ve been able to gain clarity that has helped me to see that mastering sugar craving has helped me enjoy a deeper sweetness in life.

To help you explore your personal reasons behind your reach for sugar, consider the questions below from Chapter 3 of Sweetness without Sugar, “Exploring the Reasons Behind the Reach.” I advise addressing the questions on paper when you feel relaxed and calm. You may find it helpful to return to these questions at different stages in your sweetness journey. Also, having your answers on paper will allow you to measure your progress after you make life changes.

  1. Do you notice certain situations when you often reach for sugar more than others (e.g. social situations or when feeling vulnerable, lonely, insecure, unhappy, angry, or bored)? For example, what is your “routine” around eating sweets at home? Do you come home after a long day and eat sweets in front of the television? Perhaps you eat sweets when you “wind down” in your pj’s, when you catch up with a friend on the phone? Or at work, do you pass a bowl of candy, and, without thinking about it, grab a piece or handful? Explain.
  2. What items do you reach for (e.g. chocolate, donuts, baked goods, lollipops, gummy-type candy, bread, etc.)? Is there a reason why you choose these items over others? Explain.
  3. What memories do you recall about your childhood relationship with sweets (e.g. you weren’t allowed sweets, they were always around, or they were given as a reward, etc.)? For instance, do you or did you often bake with family members? Did you have a cookie or candy jar at home? Do you talk with family members now about food, sweets, or recipe ideas? Was going out to the candy store a special occasion or a part of your regular routine? When you did well in a sport or on a test, were you taken out for a treat? Explain.
  4. Do you enjoy eating what you choose? Do you taste it while eating it or eat it so quickly you don’t even notice? Explain.
  5. Are you aware of something you may need instead of the sugary item (e.g. extra sleep, a hug, attention, recognition, time to yourself, a break, a boost in energy, etc.)? Explain.
  6. Are there things that you’ve always wanted to do that you are unable to give yourself? Consider creating a list of things that have blocked the way (e.g. responsibilities, money, health, family obligations, etc.). If the roadblocks on your list were removed, what would you do? (For example, if your bills and debt were paid, your health was great, you had no fear and you had a strong supportive system urging you to do and be what you wanted, what would you do?) Explain.
  7. If you could share a particular quality about yourself that you’re proud of, what would it be? Have you ever shared these qualities with others? If not, how often would you feel comfortable displaying these facets of your true essence? Often times some of our unique qualities are hidden behind others’ expectations. Giving ourselves permission to share is a huge step towards embracing our sparkly, quirky, and special qualities. Explain.
  8. What are some ways you enjoy taking care of yourself (e.g. walking in nature, exercising, talking with a friend, taking a bath, reading, creative outlets, etc.)? Take a few minutes (or more) to brainstorm about what brings you joy and relaxation. If there has been a time in your life where you felt flow, what helped create that? What details about this time felt significant to you? Did you do anything differently? What kinds of activities help you slow down and feel good? For instance, does it make you feel good to remember to take your vitamins or put on a meaningful necklace, organize a list, prepare early for the next day, or write in a journal? All of these things may seem “silly,” but they may be very important to your state of well-being and your motivation for being productive in other areas of your life. Explain.

There are many reasons why we may not claim what we want in life. It is common to find that we weren’t conscious about our choices. There are no right answers, just personal ones. Letting go of the “what ifs” (if = I fail) and replacing them with “what is” (is = I succeed) can be a powerful and wondrous experience.

I encourage you to try this exercise. It may just serve as a stepping stone for embracing every part of your journey toward wellness, healing and vibrant health.