Updated: Apr 5
This month we have been discussing topics from my wellness workshops that I support clients within the GuttyGirl Lifestyle The Four Levels of Healing Course. A decided to share this story about my sugar cravings because a client told me I should share my Self Care September Ritual and the wellness workshop stories on my blog so it can help others who may be struggling in silence because the information helped her so much with her on life in recovery goals. So this year I’m offering it outside my clients and sharing it with whoever could use the information. If you are not familiar with my work do not be offended as I tend to go into great detail. I do not sugarcoat shit. I’m straight up and honest and very direct. I own my shame stories and the lesson I’ve learned from going through them. Feel free to leave a comment sharing your own sobriety story of overcoming food addiction.
So far this September I’ve shared my shame story you can read about it here. I shared my Seasonal Life Detox Ritual in post one you can read that here. I shared my shame story that involves my broken vagina you can read that here. Today in post three we are going to discuss how I overcame my sugar addiction that developed when I was struggling with emotional eating and was diagnosed with binge eating disorder. I'm proud to say I've been in full remission of binge eating since 2016. The sobriety date I started breaking codependency and stopping stress eating was August 1, 2015. It's been a long road but worth every experience.
So let’s go.
My sugar addiction started due to my choice of food I would use to escape and forget all about my mental stress that stem from the concerns about my religious beliefs or fear of what people may think of me, mom shaming, my broken vagina, and my inability to cope as a new trucker wife. Mostly chocolate was my vice, for those of you wondering. But I chose to eat a lot of carbohydrates in the form of baked goods, and my favorite Dunkin' Donuts treat was the maple frosted donut each morning for breakfast with my coffee. All the refined flour and sugars were ridiculous. My body was already paying for the effects of my food choices while traveling all around the world working in the Telecommunication Industry. At age 20 I had to have an anal fissure surgery to restore the hole above my butt that was caused by an impacted clogged colon from eating processed foods. Not a good experience, it hurt like hell to recover from all those bad food choices. During that time I did not know that added sugar is in 74% of our packaged foods. SugarScience is the authoritative source for evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health they explain.
Scientific evidence shows too much-added sugar, over time, is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, lipid problems, and hypertension; all of which are part of what is called Metabolic Syndrome.
Evidence is also mounting that high levels of sugar consumption can fuel some cancers and are linked to inflammation, dementia or Alzheimer’s, and more rapid aging.
31% of American adults and 13% of kids suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
75% of health care costs are from metabolic syndrome diseases. – This is not just about overweight people. 20% of obese people have a healthy metabolism, and 40% of skinny people actually have metabolic diseases caused by sugar consumption. That means 60% of the entire US population is suffering from metabolic diseases.
The thing is we are eating foods that have been radically altered through various processes of refining, heating, pressurizing, and chemical manipulation. Our food choice is only part of the problem it’s the food combination that fucked me up. At the time I had no clue our body could not break down carbs and fats at the same time. In my studies, while becoming a licensed trauma-informed nutritionist I learned that our body could function off of a fat diet or a carb-source diet. We have been trained to fuel our bodies off of carbs without even understanding our unique body type. Therefore, our body will choose carbs first and store the fat. Since I ate high fat plus carbs, my body stored the fats and excess carbs. At the time I did not know that we all have unique body types. I learned later that my body had trouble processing sugar because it was an endomorph which stores sugar easily. Plus my body is a fat-protein-efficient body type which means it prefers healthy fats and protein over unhealthy fats, refined sugar, and simple carbs. At the time I was feeding my body nothing but a fat and sugar combination. All the wrong carbs because I was not eating to fuel my body. I was eating depending on what tasted good at the moment. I didn’t drink water. I didn’t eat vegetables. I didn’t know about organic foods therefore I lived on unclean meat, junk foods, processed foods, and everything in the bakery department which were fat and carbs combinations. Growing up I ate organic foods straight out of my great-grandmother and grandfather's back yard but at the time I didn’t know it was clean and fresh whole foods. As a young adult on my own traveling the world I not only ate and love cake but I was a human cookie monster.
What brought all of this to my attention was my high cortisol level. I learned that when I was stressed, worried, or just couldn't deal with difficult people, or difficult situations these issues triggered me to escape with food. My cortisol levels were high due to stress and the unhealthy food choices I was consuming each day. I learned that cortisol is your body's main stress level. Here are the roles cortisol plays in your body:
Keeps inflammation down
Controls your sleep/ wake cycle
Manage how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and protein
Regulates your blood pressure and blood sugar
I learn that my cortisol levels were unbalanced due to not only emotional distress but the bad foods I was putting into my body. Your body works hard every day to release toxins. It can not be expected to process the food you're eating correctly, decrease inflammation, water weight, and regulate blood sugar if your cortisol level is already too high due to processed foods that are contributing to the inflammation, blood sugar spikes, and toxin within the body on top of stress. I had to learn how to process emotional pains, get past everyday life stressors, along with making healthier food choices all while dealing with my unhealthy habit of emotional eating when stressed. To manage my stress eating I did shadow work journaling to express how I felt and release pent-up anger, shame, and guilt as opposed to escaping with sugary cakes, cookies, and chocolate.
But, I had to understand that my body was different. It processed food differently than others. For some reason, it loved to store sugar, and when it needed to it turned fat into sugar. As I mentioned earlier I learned that I had an endomorph body type that stores sugar easily. Plus my body is a fat-protein-efficient body type which means it prefers healthy fats and protein over unhealthy fats, refined sugar, and simple carbs. I had to start eating according to my unique body type which meant I had to adjust the carbs I was eating because my body tends to store the excess sugar and hold onto the unhealthy fat as opposed to burning it. That meant no more cakes and cookies. I had to swap those foods with Whole Foods like fruit and vegetables. I couldn't trust labels so I had to cut back on processed and packaged food and stuck with whole foods that had natural sugar as opposed to added sugar. I did this until I got control of my sugar addictions and spiked blood sugar issues, due to high glucose levels. This took me about four months to do successfully without experiencing any cravings. I had to explore new healthy recipes and when I did buy any pre-packs foods while out and about running errands or doing wellness workshops I stuck with Ardens Garden pressed juice, Sprouts pressed green juice, Atkins and premier protein shakes, and products that had low sugar, low fat, protein, and fiber to ensure my meals were balanced and had the enriched vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients I needed to fuel my body not just consume empty calories.
The thing is I had no education about nutrition although I signed up for every food and nutrition class as an elective in high school. I guess all the knowledge went in one ear and out the other. All I cared about was being able to cook on Friday and you can guess what I brought to class to cook-that roll of chocolate chip cookie dough. Yeap, I was that girl! I had no clue that as a result of foods being processed, there are no vitamins, minerals, or essential nutrients in them after the processing process. Some foods like cereal and milk have been enriched with vitamins after begin stripped down to process to make available for consumer purchase. But the thing is many of the foods we choose are not healthy or nurturing for our bodies. Because like I used to be many people choose food for the taste only and not to fuel their body.
All the unclean meat I ate was full of antibiotics. All the dieting I did following the diet culture caused a lot of issues due to frequent changing in my dietary patterns. All the simple carbohydrates (refined flour and sugar) as I lived in the bakery department of the grocery store contributed to my yeast or candida overgrowth at the expense of my not eating complex carbohydrates. Due to my food and lifestyle choices, I found myself contributing to making Candida albicans grow in my body and all the imbalance in my hormones and digestive systems. I had a lot of gastrointestinal tract issues, with symptoms of constipation, food craving, and allergies before I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder. I also had a lot of emotional changes after being mom-shamed and my inability to cope as a trucker wife that includes fatigue, depression, premenstrual tension loss of libido vaginal atrophy issues, and being diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder after moving from Florida to Atlanta Georgia. Another lesson I learned was that my hormones malfunctioned as symptoms of a miscarriage I had during my senior year of high school, plus I never really process that painful emotional experience, therefore, I was holding onto emotional pain that involved that painful experience. I needed womb care but didn’t even know what womb care was at the time. But hey we live and we learn. I learn about nutrition after my relapse in 2013 and that started my studies as a nutritionist, and folk herbalist, and me on the path of advocating for mental and emotional wellness. I closed the chapter of my role as a marriage and family counselor and rebranded my private practice to focus on nutrition, emotional wellness, and lifestyle management.
What I Did to Heal and Overcome My Sugar Crush.
When I choose to change my behavior I did not heal my sugar craving by going to a traditional doctor or nutritionist. I healed it through nutrition education, herbalism, and wellness care. My spiritual teacher gave me instructions on how to perform a candida cleanse. I bought a kit from a health food store. I drank dandelion root tea, a blend of herbs that made a detox tea, and drank four liters a day of distilled water. I drank rootwork juice made with herbs and fresh vegetables, the same blend I sell today in my art wellness studio and botanica. I ate detox salads, soft foods, and other raw foods at dinner to give my digestive system a break. Most of what I consume was liquid for the purpose of healing my digestive tract. I read Natalia Rose's book The Raw Food Detox Diet which help me understand the digestive system better. I read a lot of plant-based inspired books during my training including The China Study. I watch food documentaries like Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 1 and 2 which inspire me to learn more about juicing because I wasn’t really into smoothies. I drink smoothies but I juice more than I blend. My spiritual teacher taught me about the importance of Charka Health and eating herbs and food specifically for healing the main seven charkas. The entire dietary approach was based on controlling the overgrowth of yeast, molds, and fungi. By drinking fresh vegetable juice I reset my appetite and didn’t crave sugar. I did this for a full month. When I did eat something with sugar it felt so sweet it made my head hurt. I eventually learned to tolerate veggies. Today I eat some sugar products. But mostly I consume less due to I just don’t need it like I used to. Drinking fresh-pressed fruit juice or a piece of dark chocolate satisfy my craving just fine.
But I must be real with you it took close to four months before all my cravings were fully under control. I try to eat the rainbow for charka's health. I live by the three-hour rule where I eat breakfast then I wait three hours before I eat or drink anything else. Breakfast usually looks like a veggie omelet with fruit, oatmeal with blueberries and pecans, or a bowl with potatoes and two eggs. If I’m hungry or thirsty I drink water and ask myself if is this physical hunger or emotional hunger. 90 percent of the time it’s emotional because I notice how much I ate at breakfast which is a lot most times and there is no way I could still be hungry an hour later. When this happens I look at what I ate, and I check in to see how I am feeling, I ask myself if am I tired, am I upset, sad, angry, bored, or lonely, who did I just talk to did they trigger me or am I really hungry? If I am hungry I eat a small snack like a protein bar I love Atkins products, protein shakes, greek yogurt, mini jerky, boiled egg, 12 almonds and celery sticks, 100 calorie pack of nuts, or trail mix. These choices help me stay full longer. After three hours of being up from my breakfast, I eat a snack if none of the above happens. Three hours later I grab lunch which is usually a giant salad with chicken or a pack of sweet chili cauliflower wings with ginger ice sparking water I can eat this every day and never get tired of it. Three hours later I eat an afternoon snack which is usually a protein shake I love Atkins Cafe Mocha and all Primer protein flavors especially cake batter. Most times I just grab the caramel shake and pour it into my cup with a cup of unsweetened coffee and ice and just sip on it. Three hours later I eat dinner which is usually a vegetable or two and a small piece of meat. If not I eat either wild rice or black beans and rice with mixed vegetables with a dash of teriyaki sauce and two fried or scrambled eggs. I stop eating at 7 pm to give my body enough time to process my food so I can have a good bowel movement each morning after my workout.
During my emotional healing journey, I learned that most of my emotional eating was caused by stress. But also learned that I was definitely addicted to sugar. My body needed something sweet every single day. So, as I learned to deal with difficult emotions and stress that were causing me to emotionally eat I also started trying to cut my sugar use down as sugary food was my choice to binge on.
Later, I learned that yeast thrives in carbohydrates, especially foods that contain sugar. In order to overcome your sugar addiction in the first month you will need to avoid all foods containing table sugar and refined forms of sucrose, glucose, and fructose to reset your taste bud and overcome the craving. When I first reduce my sugar intake all I did was cut down a little at a time- after a while, foods started to be “ too sweet” for me. Then I distance myself from sugar-I didn’t keep anything sweet in the house until I got my cravings under control. I distracted myself. A great way to do this was to brush my teeth and gargle with Listerine mouthwash. Remember most of my craving was due to emotional stress not real hungry. I painted. I went for a walk. I toss Avon brochures. I did nothing but eat sugar.
What helped me the most was my flexitarian lifestyle, eating using the 80/20 rule. 80% plant-based and 20% everything else. This helped me reset my cravings to focus on healthier food choices. When I started eating the rainbow I felt fuller and less craving. Especially, when I drank a green juice. Eating the rainbow is simple. You just include small potions of seven food groups into your diet: complete protein, grain or legume, root vegetable, yellow or white vegetable, green vegetables, red, orange, or purple vegetable, and green leafy vegetables. A rainbow salad looks like this:
1 or 2 oz organic chicken breast
I hope this helps you jumpstart your journey to eliminating or reducing sugar and making healthier food choices by adding more color to your diet. I don’t mean skittles. Lol. Fruits and Vegetables 80% of the time, the other 20% everything else. It's that simple.
Until next time,
Life Love You and So Do I!
Help Developing A Plan For Self Care
Do you want help developing a self-care plan that works for your own busy schedule? Do you want accountability in implementing a self-care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self-care routine, and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self Care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.
About The Author:
Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director, and full-time board-certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC
Art Wellness Studio and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to to fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expanded to include online membership sites so we now provide support to people worldwide. All of our recovery coaches provide at least one evidence-based treatment to assist in your recovery. Dr. White is a big proponent of self-care and helping people live fulfilling life! She has been in full remission with both codependency and emotional binge eating disorder since 2016. In living a life in recovery from sugar addiction. Loving her low-sugar balanced lifestyle.