It’s a pretty daunting task to write about sugar addiction. That’s because in our culture, sugar isn’t just food….it’s happiness and comfort and a million other sentimental feelings all wrapped up in one. It’s intertwined with our most cherished dreams, moments, and memories. Just imagine a birthday without that luscious, 3-tiered birthday cake. Or Christmas without fudge or candy canes or goodie plates delivered by the neighbors. How do you end a date without grabbing an ice cream cone from your favorite local shop, or close a church meeting without those tantalizingly refreshments at the end? Remove the sugar and it often feels like all our joy is being taken away. I’ve even had people tell me that they’d rather die than give up their favorite special treats…that it’s the only thing that makes life worth living. For these reasons and more, many of us get downright defensive when someone starts talking about sugar being addictive. I think sometimes it’s easier to sweep the negative stuff under the rug so we don’t have to face the havoc this little treat may be creating in our everyday lives.
My own emotional attachment to sugar remained firmly intact until one red-letter day back in November 2004. On the recommendation of a friend, I checked out a book from the library by Kathleen DesMaisons called The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program. Despite the title, I had no intention of admitting I had an addiction. I truly believed my sugar habit was nothing more than a sweet tooth—and a relatively harmless one at that. Yes, all those brownies and doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies may have added a few pounds to my waistline and a few cavities to my teeth, but so what? Well, a few pages into DesMaisons’ book that “so what?” was answered in a big, big way. Suddenly, all my denial and rationalization came to a screeching halt.
Did you know that a high sugar diet can actually cause depression? Irritability? Fatigue? Restlessness? A bad temper? Moodiness? And an inability to control your body’s impulses? I sure didn’t. I’d always thought my short temper was just a lack of willpower. That my erratic mood swings and month-long PMS were part of being a woman. That my depression was caused by the stress of having a house full of kids. But to my surprise, Dr. DesMaisons tied all those difficult struggles directly to the Blizzards and M&M’s and Reese’s peanut butter cups that found their way into my mouth day after day after endless day. As I continued exploring her eye-opening book, I learned that my love of sugar was causing a chemical imbalance in my brain and it was throwing me off not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. In that moment, I finally began to see sugar not as my best friend and favorite escape, but as one of my most dreaded enemies. This subtle and devious adversary had quietly worked its way into my mind and heart and wrapped me in extremely powerful chains—chains that were proving incredibly hard to break. But thankfully, something different happened on that cold November day. For the first time ever, I felt a yearning growing within me to break free from my miserable captivity to sugar and start a new life.
Now, I know some may think I’m being overly dramatic by describing sugar with words like “enemy” and “chains” and “captivity,” but I’m willing to take that risk because I know others will read those words and know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe like me, you’ve experienced countless days where you promised yourself that you weren’t going to eat any sugar, but a few hours later found yourself scavenging through the kitchen hoping to find some old, forgotten candy bars. Maybe like me, you’ve lied to your spouse when he asked you who ate the rest of the brownies or you’ve hidden the bag of chocolate so no one would know how much you’d eaten on your own. Maybe like me, you’ve watched yourself continue binging on cookie dough even though you were already sick to your stomach from eating half the bowl. It’s days like these that finally helped me realize my sugar habit wasn’t harmless in the least. In reality, I was acting just like an addict. It was a painful thing to admit, but it was the first step on my journey to overcome my physical and emotional attachment to sugar.
If my story sounds familiar to you, I invite you to grab a copy of Body Image Breakthrough and walk with me as I describe how I broke free from the stubborn chains of sugar addiction once and for all. (We’ll also talk about a lot of other body image issues as well.) The process won’t be easy but I promise you that, with the Lord’s help, it can be done. Through His empowering grace, your life really can be transformed in a way that is both lasting and permanent. I say that because I’ve now been free from my sugar addiction for more than ten years. I know it may feel like an insurmountable mountain right now, but remember what Christ Himself said to those who faced such daunting obstacles: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Luke 1:37).
Join me in Body Image Breakthrough. I think it’s time we get this journey underway.