Food addiction is a prickly subject. While some people claim sugar is as addictive as cocaine, others contend that food cannot and should not be viewed as a moral issue, in the same ways drugs and alcohol are.
This is what I think. Drugs, alcohol, sugar… They make us feel good instantly. And we like to feel good. We are hardwired to feel good.
And out of the BIG 3, food, especially sugar, is the easiest and most fun of all. IT IS EVERYWHERE. It is socially acceptable. It is freaking delicious. You can enjoy it for almost no money. Alone or with others. Daytime, night time, ANYTIME. It is the QUEEN of “all good feeling things”.
We are obsessed with the topic of sugar right now. Should we have it? How much? What kind? Detox from it? Hide it from the kids? (The children!! IS ANYONE THINKING OF THE CHILDREN!?!)
The hardest part about giving up booze/drugs/sugar is that you have to find OTHER ways to feel good. (And most likely, you are gonna have to accept that you won’t always feel good… and that feeling bad is just as necessary as feeling good… but that’s a topic for another post)
Here is where this topic gets really interesting. LOTS of things make us feel good. Sex. Music. Art. Exercise. TV. Nature. Friends. Shopping. Roller coasters. Holding babies. Instagram. Dogs. Massages. The list goes on and on and on. The part of your brain that “lights up” when you eat sugar AND when you snort cocaine? It ALSO lights up when you laugh or get a hug or go to Disneyland. (Thanks Dopamine!)
So sugar isn’t evil, it’s easy. It’s easier, and cheaper, to eat candy than to get a massage. It’s less work to eat ice cream at night while watching TV than to reconnect with your spouse. It’s more delicious to cheer yourself up with a big ole soda or Frappuccino at 4pm that it is to feel the negative feelings about your job or current financial situation.
Next time you find yourself craving something sweet ask yourself this:
What am I feeling right now?
Am I seeking pleasure?
Is there another way I can feel good?
The answer may come that you feel uncomfortable, and yes you are for sure seeking pleasure, and you still really want the brownie, and that’s OK. Rome was not built in a day and you are not going to re-wire you pleasure centers in your brain after one mindful moment.
The first step is always raising awareness. When you are fully aware you are capable of growth and learning and change.
Just because we like things sweet and easy doesn’t mean we are weak or lazy. It simply means we are human. For many, sugar is the only thing left after giving up other, more harmful, vices. For others it’s just another tool in the feeling-good-tool-belt. Where ever you land with sugar on the “coping mechanism spectrum” is not important. Right now, being willing to ask the hard questions is really what matters most.