Have you ever thought about your emotional relationship to food or considered the idea that your brain is literally addicted to some of the compounds commonly found in our food? When you find yourself reaching for the chocolate bar at 3pm everyday, is it habit? Is your brain telling you that you need it? Or has your blood sugar dipped because the 4 meals prior didn’t provide ample nutrition?
I am currently on day 8 of my first Whole30, a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system. Prior to starting this, I thought I had pretty good self control to eat the things I wanted and avoid the things I didn’t, but after 9 days without sugar, grains, dairy and legumes, I realize I had no control whatsoever over what I was eating. I was using food for comfort to pacify stress at the end of the day with a bit of chocolate here or a drink here and there. I’m now curious why I was using food as a stress reliever when I have plentiful access to other tools I know work so well (cough YTU therapy balls, anyone?). Old habits are deeply ingrained and die hard, that’s why.
What I have also found is that my brain is relentless. I sometimes feel like an animal trapped in a cage and I’m trying to escape because I really want is to try TJ’s organic mustard that has sugar in it or that store bought mayonnaise that has sugar in it or drink the bubbly water that has sugar in it. Just anything with sugar in it! And when you start to read labels, you realize that everything has sugar in it.
I am looking forward to finishing this 30 day challenge to prove to myself that I can stick with it, because I pretty much want to quit everything in my life right now (damn you sugar addicted brain). But I also want to empower myself to make conscious decisions over my food choices and be able to decide that I want to have a treat or a beer, because I want to, not because my brain craves it or it is a habit. And if I do choose to have this yummy sugary treat, it will be worth it.
Through the work that I do with my students, at gyms, yoga studios, corporate wellness centers, CrossFit gyms and one-on-one sessions, I hope to empower them in their bodies to literally grab their pain, discomfort and mobility by the balls and be able to make conscious decisions about their movement and what they decide to do or not do. Of course, you can stay on the couch all day, but I want you to be able to do that, because you decide to, not because your pain keeps you there. I feel like I am in a similar experience in my own body with kicking my sugar addiction to the curb. Empowerment can take on many forms, and I want to be able to choose what I eat, when I eat it and why I want to, not because my brain says so!
I want to be able to say in 30 days that I’ve slayed the sugar dragon and lived to tell the tale, but in the mean time, I’ll continue to burst into spontaneous crying when my peach is too mealy and other disappointing food “crises”.
Update: I am on day 10 now (3/18/15) and it has been so much better! I owe it to caramelized onions and ground bison, two of the most delicious things in the world to me right now :)