My very first memory of sugar is of being about three and a half years old and finding an open jar of butterscotch sauce in my family’s refrigerator. Where was the lid? What luck! I don’t recall any other time of helping myself to the fridge at such a young age, but on this day, I recall sticking my index finger as far in as I could, swirling it around and bringing it to my tongue. I could not believe anything could taste so good. Why hadn’t anyone told me of this? I put the jar back and scurried away, dizzy with pleasure.
This was the same year that my mother disappeared from my life, and as the adults around me catered to my sweet tooth, my brain began to create a neural pathway that led straight to the cookie jar.
If we think about a difficult time in our early lives and then think of what we did for relief, we will often find our coping mechanisms.
Painfully shy as a teen and beer helped you feel more comfortable and social?
Lonely in childhood and food brought you comfort?
Felt insignificant until you scored that perfect grade/position/career that demanded all your time and energy?
Feared being rejected until you learned to people please?
I think it can become questionable whether we chase something to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Perhaps it is often some of both.
I never did outgrow my fondness for sweet food, and I seem to have gotten away with it so far. According to numbers – the scale, blood sugar level, etc. I am healthy. For now. But I am also well aware of how inflammation can be brewing within the body and sneak up on you one day with a devastating disease. Our habits of today are contributing to our sickness or health of tomorrow.
There is something I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of called a spiritual bypass, a tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to avoid facing unresolved issues, or psychological wounds. While the practices can be very healthy in general – Be positive! Let go of the past! Forgive! – they can also be used to sidestep the psychological work of facing our wounds. And although I’ve generally had a “bring it on” attitude toward inner work, priding myself on not having the spiritual bypass tendency, if I am being totally honest, I have still denied the fact that I have been harming myself by hanging on to my very outdated vice.
I am finally– for real this time- ready to let go of my last line of defense between me and my true self. I know it won’t be easy; I’ve tried and failed in the past, many times. But here I am, ready to try again, armed with an arsenal of tools.
One of my favorite tools is good old knowledge. I’ve been listening to Dr. David Perimutter, a neurologist and author of the book Brain Wash. I can hardly wait to dive into his book for more of his brilliance and sound advice. Hearing him describe how sugar disrupts our metabolism, and puts our reptile brain in the driver’s seat, speaks to me clearly. I not only want to avoid the pain of a foggy brain, heightened risk of Alzheimer’s, or other sugar-induced fears at my heals; I want to enjoy the pleasure of clarity, vibrancy and heightened intuition.
It is only day #2 but I am curious, and optimistic. I want to put the lid back on the sweet stuff, and walk away into my healthy future.
I will let you know how it goes!