Addicted to sugar

Since I can remember there has always been the belief that there was something intrinsically wrong with me that could only be fixed by the consumption of substances. My addictive cycle led me to dependence on alcohol and cocaine and pretty much any substance (or person) that for a short space of time could make me feel good about myself.

I struggled with low self-esteem and low self-worth, always feeling that I was lacking in any and every way. I never felt beautiful, confident or adequate and self-medicated these feelings with numerous substances and behaviours.

I booked into rehab in 2004 and spent the next nine months in deep introspection. I started healing my relationship with friends and family but most of all I started discovering who I really am.

Recovery from drugs and alcohol was easy, but it was my recovery from an eating disorder that was a lot more challenging.  I spent the next seven years abstaining from eating disorder behaviours i.e. bingeing, purging and overeating.

I tried to “normalise” my eating by having a fizzy drink or chocolate daily as this was encouraged by my dietician (?!) but before I knew it my craving for sugar became far from normal.

I needed my daily sugar fix and there was nothing sweet about that. I would turn into a monster in a desperate attempt to fill that “hole in my soul” with some external sweetness. Far from identifying this disorderly eating I was partaking in, my dietician commended it…. I was finally exhibiting “normal” eating behaviours. She did not take into account the fact that I was eating to get rid of uncomfortable feelings or to reward, punish or soothe myself. I would do anything to get hold of sugar. If I went three hours without consuming carbohydrates my blood sugar would drop and I would become grumpy, irritable and irrational. I would then need to rush to the shop, fridge or a friend in a desperate attempt to ingest sugar just to feel “normal” again! And so the cycle continued.

It was after watching sports nutritionist Professor Tim Noakes on television one day that I realised I had a recognised problem. He mentioned the addictive nature of sugar, likening it to a drug, and in that moment I realised deep at the core of my being that I am a sugar and carb addict.

In South Africa, eating disorders are generally treated as ‘process addictions’, very simply meaning that abstinence from behaviours such as bingeing and purging are sought. They then try to “normalise” your eating. My sugar addiction went further than that. I could not treat it purely as a process addiction, the effect that sugar had on me very clearly showed that this was a “chemical addiction” as devious, cunning and powerful as an addiction to drugs and alcohol. I needed not only abstinence from my overeating behaviour, but also abstinence from the substance.

With Professor Noakes’ guidance, I started following a low carb high fat way of life. I introduced high fat foods such as butter, coconut oil, nuts and avocado into my diet and the positive results were almost immediate. I started losing weight, my moods stabilised and I had a lot more energy. I was no longer dependent on another substance to make me feel “normal”. I was slowly restoring myself to my natural way of being.

If you need support in breaking your sugar and carb addiction the join our next Online program starting soon. Click here for more information or to book your space.

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