by Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, SRN, CPh
No doubt about it, we are a nation of addicts and sugar ranks right at the top of the list. While sugar addiction is the most prevalent, widely practiced and legally accepted addiction in our society, few of us understand it and fewer still know how to manage it on a life-long basis. Several books have been published in recent years addressing this issue, a few even becoming bestsellers, certainly letting us know that people are very concerned about their health and nutrition.
This "coming out of the closet" is certainly a good thing for those addicted to sugar. While many readers have gone on to experience success, just as many have failed and many questions are still left unanswered relating to the long-term health aspects of these eating plans, as well as the most asked question of "how does one go on eating like this forever?"
A reality check tells us that while the idea of "getting in control" is inviting, few are willing to effort or struggle for long, and once life's stresses begin mounting, the new eating program is quickly thrown out the window in exchange for the ever popular immediate gratification, and then buried along with the other diet books, gym membership cards and plans for self-improvement. The failure cycle is enhanced one more time.
Although many sugar-addicted people are over-weight, just as many are not. Sugar is well known as the underlying addiction to all addictions, and can be seen hiding under alcoholism, caffeine, nicotine and drug addictions of all varieties from recreational to over-the-counter, as well as prescription medications. It is usually a part of any compulsive behavior and is well connected to anxiety, panic disorder, phobia, depression and a host of other emotional imbalances.
On the physical side it plays havoc with many chronic illnesses, the most popular being hypoglycemia, hyperinsulinemia or pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart and circulatory disorders, certain cancers, gastrointestinal disturbances including irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, as well as PMS and menopause. We can also see it rearing it's head in the area of cognitive functioning, including memory, focus, concentration, mental flexibility and levels of creativity.
It is not uncommon for a golfer or tennis player to have a focus issue and find it related to dietary intake. Another vivid example is a student having test anxiety with memory recall problems. Sugar addiction and under-nutrition are usually screaming out for attention. While the management of any addiction is certainly challenging, the recovery from the sugar pest is particularly so, as it is so ingrained in our daily lives, as well as the way we socialize.
From our children's day care center asking for freshly baked cookies, to our office party, it is all there greeting us over and over. We cannot sit down and watch a television program or pick up a magazine without some sugar substance staring us in the face. But on the bright side, just as we can be programmed to fail, we can just as easily program ourselves to succeed. We just have to know how to do it..
There are certain keys to addiction management and successful people learn to actively employ all of them.. It is not enough to know what to do as some books would have us believe. Specialized tools are needed to transfer all knowledge into action steps, even under high stress situations. Just like in the field of competitive sports, one works to gain skills, then works to develop them in practice, then brings them to the competitive arena. As space allows, lets review some key points about these tools.
Key #1 - Knowledge and Reinforcement
Sound knowledge of sugar addiction is a major key to long-term success and all important aspects should be planted in the subconscious mind to reinforce the desired goal images. As we begin to learn the subtleties of sugar addiction, we can let go of our guilt and confusion. We see it's physiological connections to our family and personal medical history, past behaviors, addictions and our lifestyle choices in general. We no longer see ourselves as lacking willpower or as a psychological weakling. As we come to accept our birth-body physiology, our goal is to understand it and provide the highest self- care possible. While we cannot go back and change our past behaviors, we now have the chance for a fresh start, to recover and actually benefit from our past mistakes and indiscretions.
It is important to have a medical professional take a good history, one that encompasses your family background. Some of the points that need review include chronic disease states and conditions, addictions, medications, age, female hormone issues, stress management, diet history behaviors and exercise history. The emotional medical history can also provide important clues and help in the design of the self-management plan.
A medical hypnotist would also be interested in knowing a history of your strengths, weaknesses, success, beliefs and motivational patterns. This allows for designing and setting sensory goals for health and personal development in relation to the addiction.
Key #2 - A Healthy Nutritional Eating Plan
A healthy, balanced nutritional eating plan needs to be designed and planted in the library of the mind. This plan must take into consideration the information gleaned from the history taking. The goal is sufficient protein for the lean body mass and exercise levels, sufficient fat to meet the body needs, a balance of low-glycemic and high glycemic carbohydrates to meet the individual needs. For some this may mean cutting out all refined carbohydrates for awhile, and for others cutting back on specific foods that are triggering sugar addiction and related chronic problems such as yeast and/or IBS. Some common offenders include artificial sweeteners, caffeine, white flour products, rice, corn and potatoes.
After clearance from the M.D., the medical hypnotist will often plant suggestions for enhancing exercise levels, water intake, compulsive and emotional eating patterns including autopilot or "walk-by" eating behaviors. Programs for individualized problem solving, including work and home eating issues, as well as inner motivations for change will often be planted.
Key #3 - Learning the Skills of Self-Hypnosis
Learning the skills of self-hypnosis is a very important key to managing any addiction, and certainly sugar addiction. Many years ago I designed a method of practicing self hypnosis "in the moment." I call this "interactive self-hypnosis." The individual learns to utilize the subconscious mind as an "inner coach", one who is always ready for either diminishing roadblocks or enhancing goals. The subconscious mind-coach works to wake the individual from "autopilot" emotions, thoughts and behaviors that may be working against the goal at hand, in this case sugar-addiction.
New images, motivations and positive thought images are then put in place. Success is built one image or moment at a time. Each of these moments works to enhance the next, building a resilient self. There are many other tools that work to enhance the functioning of the subconscious mind. As the student of high level health comes to learn, staying healthy affects all other goals as well. The more one progresses and works on this path, the more positive outcomes one gets to experience.
There are only two roads to travel. One goes towards disease and the other towards health. Which one will you take?
Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, SRN, CPh is a Clinical Medical Hypnotist and Nurse Educator.