Holistic Healing Thought Leader: Carol Lee
It’s a sugar-crazy season, it all starts with Halloween and finishes on New Year’s Day… but does it?
If you feel you are a sugar addict (I still consider myself addicted despite sugar-freedom for over six years now) like me then this two month sugar-full crazy season can actually lead to months and months of sugar and processed carbohydrates over eating, perhaps bingeing, as you struggle to reset and gain some balance with your eating. This was me for decades, in fact, until I finally quit sugar and processed carbohydrates in 2017.
In this article I will share my top tips to make the Holiday season as sugar-free as possible.
“My brain became hot wired to associate sugar with all things good, comfort, love and a full belly.”
First though a little insight into what is happening in your brain and body when you feel addicted to sugar and eat lots of it. This is really the number one tip as when you understand why you feel as you do it helps you plan accordingly.
Understand What Is Happening In Your Brain And Body:
In childhood, as our brain grows and develops it creates neural pathways. This growth is prolific, as you would expect and the pathways that are created lay the framework for all the messages that travel through our brain. For me my childhood was full of sugar, sugar for reward, sugar in quick easy processed food meals (my mother wasn’t a cook), sugar for treats. Even as a baby, because I was small, my milk was supplemented with condensed milk!!! My brain became hot wired to associate sugar with all things good, comfort, love, and a full belly.
What I have learned is that although these pathways exist forever we can shut them down. I see them in my mind as becoming a bit like dried out river beds. In respect of sugar we can do this by avoiding sugar-full food which stimulates and creates flow along that path.
For many people, sugar is not the only thing that starts the flow; processed carbohydrates (flour, pasta, crackers, crisps) create it, along with blended fruit and dried fruit. I have learned through trial and error that these foods, along with obviously sugary food, keep my ‘riverbed’ full and flowing, meaning the message to keep eating sugar plays on repeat, creating cravings, making it almost impossible to stop.
Six Tips To Make Your Holiday Season As Sugar-Free As Possible:
1. Know What Sugar-full Foods Create The Most Cravings For You.
The biggest two are generally either chocolate/cookies/cake/dried fruit or bread/pasta/crisps/chips. The reality though is that without exploring more, these all can blur into one huge feast. For me after six years I know I’m okay to eat some bread or flour products occasionally but not chocolate. If you are just starting out on your sugar-free journey I would advise you give both a wide berth.
So once you understand this, what are my other top tips to make the Holiday season as sugar-free as possible?
2. Be Clear Of How Sugar-free You Want To Be Through The Holidays.
Decide this right from the off-set. It doesn’t really matter what you decide as long as you make a conscious decision, then there’s no unconscious slippery sliding, trip-ups. At the start of my sugar-free journey I stayed completely sugar and processed carbohydrate free. I was only about 6 months into my journey and I was still in reset mode. Now 6 years in I will have some processed carbohydrates during festive periods.
“Don’t let one sugar indulgence throw you off completely and become a month long party.”
3. Make A Plan So This Can Happen.
Yes, this does take some work but to stay on track it will feel worth it. Plan delicious options for yourself to share with others or to enjoy when the candy tin is being passed around. Sugar-freedom is absolutely not a diet or about deprivation. I love things like olives, sun dried tomatoes, charcuterie meats, tropical fruit, tasty dips (check labels or make your own), local cheeses to name a few.
4. Be Realistic And Don’t Aim For Perfection.
Honestly trying to be perfect sets us to fail, just aim to do the best you can. I remind people that one ‘slip-up’ is just that, a one time thing. Don’t let one sugar indulgence throw you off completely and become a month long party.
5. Be Kind, Let Go Of The Shame That Can Come With Sugar Indulgence.
This follows on from number four. Shame can be even more toxic to how we feel than sugar and feeling ashamed or how we eat can have us running to sugar-full food to stuff down those uncomfortable feelings. So be kind to yourself, you are doing the best you can.
6. Reset as soon as possible.
When we let go of the shame of eating sugar, we allow ourselves to be really practical and to take the steps we need to, to get back on track to sugar-freedom. The quicker we do this, the less ‘rain’ falls on those ‘riverbeds’ in our brain. A small event then doesn’t become a full scale eating emergency.
Finally, focus on the company and the spirit of the season rather than the food, there is so much to enjoy and celebrate.
About the Author:
Carol Lee is a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist, Sugar-freedom coach, Creative Kinesiologist, Teacher and Author from the U.K. She has been working in Complementary Health for over 25 years. Her holistic approach to healing and transformation is about listening to, witnessing and working with the body’s ‘knowing’. Carol believes this is where we hold our wisdom, experience and capacity for change, especially as mid-life women.
She works with women wanting to kick the sugar habit, those who are navigating health challenges, or who are wanting to up-level their life in some way; helping them to clear the blocks to success and wellbeing. She is currently enjoying her empty nest, and the freedom it brings, with her partner Jon. Carol loves the coast and walking the wild landscape of South West UK, snuggling her sweet rescue cat Stevie, gardening and eating delicious, nutritious food.