This month I reflect on reclaiming my attention, addiction, taking myself seriously, living life without sugar, and the journey to recovering the person I was meant.
My focus this month has been on identifying the influence certain addictive products, namely sugar, and secondly social media, have been exerting on my life.
As someone who has freedom as one of their top values, it’s been a real eye-opener to say the least, to realise the trap I’ve been living in.
The three books I’ve read this month that have sparked a mini revolution and a deep investigation and reflection on my addictive patterns are:
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Helped me see how f$%£king shot to pieces my attention is thanks to social media, modern hyper-communication, and the source of all knowing, as well as all rubbish, the internet.
This book helped me step back from ‘busy-ness’ and question what I’m doing in life and how I’m actually adding value. Or rather, how I could be adding value, if I could just stay the f%$k off insta-crack for long enough to get something worthwhile done!
Realising how much power social media and other bits of technology were holding over my attention and the addictive loop we can so easily fall into with them, I started to contemplate addiction generally and to look at other areas of my life where I had a sneaking suspicion I was less in control than I liked to think I was. This led me to shine my freshly-wrangled-from-social-media-focus onto another core health topic: food.
As a health lover and someone in the biz for over ten years now you’d think I’d know what to eat. And yet. I’d say food nirvana is still a tad out of reach and feeding myself in a totally nourishing and non-neurotic way is still a habit that’s up for grabs for me.
These two books have been incredible resources and I highly recommend them both.
Food: WTF Should I Eat?: The no-nonsense guide to achieving optimal weight and lifelong health : Does what is says on the tin. With so much conflicting advice on what to eat it really can be a case of scratching your head and thinking WTF?? The chapter on sugar is particularly enlightening, which is what led me to read the next book:
Good Sugar, Bad Sugar This is an Allen Carr book, part of a series called the Easyway that helps people let go of unhelpful behaviours in their life by reframing how you perceive these so-called ‘treats’ and ‘rewards’.. Its most commonly known for its Quit Smoking title.
If sugar, or feeding yourself in a less than optimal way, is something you grapple with I cannot recommend this book highly enough!! If you could press a button and remove your desire for sugar (the bad kind obviously, we’re not talking fruit here) leaving just a desire for foods that deeply nourish your body, mind and spirit, would you press it? This book is that button. So if you’re not ready to part ways with sugar, then definitely don’t read this, cuz when you’re done reading it you won’t look at it the same again.
This Month’s Experiment: Sugar-Free Jan
A few days before the new year I was feeling sick and tired of not feeling optimal and decided something needed to change.
I narrowed down the most destructive thing in my lifestyle to sugar. That shit was bringing me down and it was time to part ways with it.
I set myself a 30 day challenge. Sugar-free January. There’s nothing like removing something completely to properly gain some perspective on what it adds and detracts from your life.
Compared to the average person I probably eat fairly healthy. I cook my own meals and love a good kale salad.
But I also have a chocolate-tooth. It’s totally a thing.
Cacao is still in my diet, nothing wrong with cacao per se, but I knew the sugar had to go. I couldn’t continue to fool myself that there was any place for it in the sort of high-vibe, feel-great-all-the-time-skip-out-my-door-in-the-morning life I’m aspiring to live.
Sugar has no place in a healthy human diet. It really is that simple. It’s a fact substantiated by plenty of scientific research. There is no healthy or recommended amount, except maybe 0. It’s barely a food!
Sugar: What I Learned
One of the best bits of advice I got from reading Food: WTF Should I Eat is to treat sugar like a recreational drug.
Would you sprinkle some MDMA on your cereal in the morning to help you get the day off to a pumped up start? Probably not.
A quick line of cocaine at 3pm to get you through the afternoon slump?
A bag of ecstasy passed around as treats to the kids after school for being good?
It’s crazy shit I’m talking right there, and yet, we do this with sugar!
Why do we ‘reward’ ourselves and our children with a substance that’s so toxic when consumed in anything but minuscule amounts? A substance that causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, stroke, and depression?
How is that a treat?
We have to really pay attention to the things we expose ourselves to and be honest about whether they are life-affirming or life-detracting. This isn’t always an easy process.
We often want to continue clinging to things that we know don’t serve us because the illusion that they provide some sort of value is so strong. That’s the hood of addiction.
But there comes a time when enough is enough.
I think I’ve reached this point with sugar.
The books above have helped me to reframe my confused thinking around sugar and see it for what it is, a drug like substance that provides no benefit and deserves no space in my life.
Abstainer or Moderator
Gretchin Rubin talks about people falling into two camps. Those who can moderate their intake of something and those who need to abstain. You may be an abstainer for one thing and a moderator for other things.
Only you know if something is a problem for you, but if you find a lot of your mental energy being chewed up constantly debating whether you should have something or not, and if so how much , and how frequently, and then constantly having to re-asses…..maybe it’s time to just abstain. Maybe abstinence is easier.
With sugar, I think abstinence will provide me with a great deal of freedom.
On anything addiction related Russell Brand is a great resource. I’ve read his book Recovery and love his definition of recovery as “recovering the person you were meant to be all along.” Yes!
My 30 day challenge has been freeing so far, and what’s making this stand out from similar forays into sugar-free living is that I’m taking myself and my sugar addiction seriously.
I’m taking my recovery and my extraction from the pull of sugar very seriously. I’m seeing sugar for what it is finally; a vitality-detracting addictive substance.
I’m acknowledging that it has had a power over me and it’s time to put it in its place and take control again.
Before I’d always end up making excuses as to why I should go back and ‘treat’ myself to sugary things again after a bit of a break. But as you can read above, how much of a treat is something that leads to obesity, diabetes and all manner of health-problems?
I want to start acting like I really love myself and start treating myself accordingly by treating myself to actual treats.
Obviously it’s early days, who knows where I’ll end up with this. But I’m taking it day-by-day and letting myself enjoy life without sugar.
I’d like to look back at the end of the year and say YES – January was the month I elevated my life to next level by dialling this new habit of sugar-free living.
The Moon is my Calendar Journalpictured here is helping me track my monthly wellness focus. For every day that goes by without sugar I give myself a little love-heart, a visual reminder that I’ve done something loving for myself.
There’s no deprivation or suffering going on here, I’m actually stepping into a new level of freedom and self-love.
You might say sugar is the new smoking. A widespread health epidemic that ‘Big Sugar’ – as I’ve taken to calling the peddlers of processed-edible-food-like-substances packed with sugar- are keen for us not to look too closely at.
Did you know that if you removed all the ‘food’ items in your local supermarket that contain added sugar you would be left with just 20% of what you see there?
Also, experiments by these companies were run to try and reduce the sugar and salt intake as a way to to address the health epidemic. They failed as it turns out most processed food with added sugar doesn’t taste of anything when the sugar and/or salt is removed. Because they aren’t real food!
Bonkers isn’t it. 80% of what we’re presented in a supermarket is highly addictive, engineered-food-like-substances, with little if any nutritional or taste value, salt and sugar aside, designed to hijack our biochemistry and keep us hooked on something that will insidiously and slowly poison us.
I’ll share something straight from Food: WTF Should I Eat: “If it were a brand-new product, the government would treat it like a dangerous substance to be controlled and regulated, not something that should be given to babies and added to 74% of all packaged foods in supermarkets. In fact, it would be approved as a good additive because it is so toxic when consumed in anything but small amounts. When you look at the damage caused by sugar – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, stroke, depression – you have to wonder why we continue to eat it as we do, and even worse, why we spoon-feed sugary junk foods to our children.”
The food industry is poisoning us for profit. Just like the tobacco industry did. Same shit. Different poison.
A Rose By Any Other Name
…..would still smell as sweet, And sugar by another name will still mess you up.
The Eskimos have over 50 ways to say snow.
We have over 50 ways to say sugar.
Gives you an idea how deeply woven into the fabric of our society this toxic substance is. Read this list of the different names sugar is coated under and soak it up.
Next time you’re looking at an ingredients label and wishing to avoid sugar don’t be fooled by fancy names for it. Dehydrated cane juice, agave syrup, coconut sugar….it’s all just sugar dressed up in fancy shoes.
Once it hits your bloodstream it hijacks your chemistry and brain just like SUGAR SUGAR.
Phew, that’s a hell of a lot of information and rantings on sugar. If you’re still looking for more inspiration and information to advise your own re-assessment of sugar, here’s what else I found useful this month:
Russell Brand – for general addiction information is great!
And this podcast, The Doctor’s Farmacy, is awesome for all things food as medicine.
Of course I’ve been using my oils to support me with this month’s focus.
Cinnamon is wonderful for balancing blood sugar and banishing sugar cravings. I use a teeny-tiny-not-even-a-drop in my cacao to satisfy any need for sweetness.
Peppermint is wonderful whenever you need a pick-me-up. No longer will I grab some chocolate, my new habit is to grab the peppermint and roll some on my temples. You can’t get rid of a bad habit right off the bat, but you can replace it with a better one!
Jasmine – sugar hijacks your biochemistry and messes up your body’s ability to regulate its dopamine. It makes you feel like you need the sugar to get a hit or high. It’s an illusion. Just like the smoker that starts smoking and establishes a craving for nicotine which nicotine then addresses i.e. the nicotine doesn’t make you feel better than a normal non-smoker feels all the time, it just brings you up to normal by feeding a craving that you’ve created by starting smoking in the first place. Mad isn’t it? Sugar is the same. Jasmine helps us to rebalance our dopamine function.
Rose – a reminder that this isn’t about depriving myself of anything but actually loving and caring for myself on a much deeper level, but freeing myself of something that brings me no real joy or benefit.
Over to YOU
Could you give up sugar? How does the thought of that make you feel?
Is there something else in your life that you know isn’t really serving you but you find yourself constantly pulled back to?