"Health is adding a level of intention to every area of your life"
- Miranda Anderson
to stumble across an interview with Bitten Jonsson on the Low Carb MD Podcast. Bitten Jonsson is a passionate Addiction Medicine Professional who has been working in the field for over 30 years. She is currently one of the world leaders in the Sugar/Food Addiction space.
I found this interview particularly relatable to my own nutrition practice, as I have had many clients who seem to struggle with cravings and sugar/food addiction (whether they identify it themselves or not).
While I was (and still am), confident in my knowledge and understanding of the human body and the role of nutrition, I felt that I was missing a piece of the puzzle.
So many of my clients came to me stating “I’ve tried every diet out there and nothing works for me!” or “I eat healthy, but I just can’t seem to lose the extra weight”. They worked extremely hard, but over and over again, seemed to be stuck in the same cycle of repeating behaviours.
While I was more than happy to work with them, and did my best to provide them with the tools they so desperately needed, it has been rare to see long term success in these particular clients.
Personally, I also struggle(d) with cravings and feeling tied to that sweet treat at the end of the day. For a long time, I fooled myself into thinking that if I used so-called “healthy” ingredients (i.e. honey, maple syrup, dates, yogurt, nut butters, cacao) this sweet treat was ok. I deserved it after the end of the day. Whether I’d had a great day, an okay day, or a terrible day, I could think of a reason that I deserved a treat.
And while I can’t say that I needed to lose weight, the constant thought of food on my mind and the feeling that I needed that sweetness at the end of the day really bothered me and was causing undue stress in my everyday life. I knew deep down that I needed to make a change.
However, little did I know that this wasn’t my sophisticated self rationalizing a complex idea, it was simply the addiction to sugar doing what it does best; hijacking the pre-frontal cortex area of my brain and doing whatever it could to convince me to eat the sugar.
Covid didn't help in the matter and I, like many others, was drawn into spending time in the kitchen baking sourdough bread and other sweet treats.
However as time went on I started feeling guilty about this; I had this uncomfortable voice in my head telling me I needed to practice what I preach.
So, after listening to Bitten's podcast, I felt compelled to reach out to her, and I guess you can say the rest is history!
I quickly and eagerly signed up as a student of her SUGAR program. This program trains professionals in the use of the SUGAR assessment interview, which is a tool that is used to identify harmful and pathological use of sugar and other foods. Practitioners must then use their own skills, knowledge and experience to make recommendations and/or develop a treatment plan.
To ensure that trainees are prepared and understand what SUGAR encompasses, it is recommended that they go through the process themselves by completing the interview with a certified and licensed SUGAR professional. Therefore, this is what I did, and, as predicted by Bitten, it was absolutely eye-opening (I'll expand on why in a later post), and took me all the way back to childhood.
While I was a little apprehensive starting the process, the interviewer was warm and sincere. I’ll have to admit that some of the questions are very personal, but the process was actually therapeutic in itself, and I was able to start seeing that I was indeed dealing with an addiction and not a weakness of character. I did not lack willpower or motivation; sugar had literally hijacked my brain.
The acceptance of this was difficult at first. However, I can confidently say that I have been sugar/flour/processed food free since December 26th, 2020!
54 Days in I feel like I’m getting into a good space. However there have definitely been some ups and downs. I’ve been super emotional. Mood swings would come out of nowhere. There were times when I couldn’t tell the difference between true hunger and cravings. Headaches messed with my thinking and productivity. Believe it not, I actually felt like I was mourning the loss of friend when I thought about chocolate.
I’d like you to know that all of this is completely normal. It’s part of the process and with the proper support, you can work through it! I’m still learning, and will be for life, and that’s ok too.
I am now enrolled in the Holistic Addiction Medicine training course so that I can learn more about the neuroscience, biochemical repair, recovery, relapse prevention (and more), to be able to provide thorough, science-based, ongoing support to sugar/food addicted clients in my holistic nutrition practice.
I am currently accepting clients into my nutrition practice; if you feel overwhelmed by cravings, or controlled by sugar/food please reach out. I want you to know there is a solution, don't feel like you have to suffer through this one moment longer.
You too can find #SugarFreedom!