We all use food at some level to cope with boredom, stress, anxiety, depression, and various other emotions. Becoming aware of the role food and more specifically processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and drugs, play in our life is critical if long-lasting change is ever to be achieved. No matter what we are trying to achieve, awareness is always the first step. You will never be able to help a person with a food, drug, or alcohol addiction if they themselves are not fully aware of the problem and have the deep-seated desire to do something about it. So the simple question becomes – Are you aware of the role food and more likely processed food and sugar are playing in your life?
Weight is the one pathway to happiness that we all have 100% controls over, yet it seems to be the single biggest component that is most out of control. Research is very clear that exercise along with clean eating habits are the single biggest factors every person has at their disposal to manage the stress in their life. Weight, and more specifically fat, have a larger influence on more aspects of our life than any other single variable. Having excess fat on our bodies affects the mood we are in every day, our daily energy levels, our probability of exercising, the way we interact with our children etc. Sugar is the single biggest drug of choice in the world that is most often chosen when coping with life’s issues. Consider a few common scenarios that we see at Results 22 everyday of the week. A client comes in and says, ”I have gained 30 pounds over the last year.” When asked about the cause of the weight gain the reply seems to be the loss of a parent or loved one. Deep-seated pain caused by such a loss results in increased feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, and stress. We cope with these types of issues by using foods that comfort and make us feel good. In the short run it seems to supply just what the doctor ordered, a short-term feeling of happiness, joy and satisfaction. We are unaware of our choice to ignore the long-term consequences at that moment in time. The added weight/fat that will result from the sugar, processed foods, and overall poor food choices, will translate into less energy, worse sleep, and a drop in self-confidence etc. We are simply unaware of the long-term consequences at the time we make such a decision. We are focused on the short-term stress, anxiety, etc. We are looking for a quick fix with no regard whatsoever to the long-term consequences. We cope with one set of issues by using sugar to provide a short-term emotional relief but assume a new long-term problem of weight gain over the next 10 years. We have simply exchanged one set of problems for another.
It fascinates me that we so clearly see this in people with a drug or alcohol problem, but choose not to see it with overweight people. Step one at alcoholics anonymous is standing up, introducing yourself, and acknowledging to the group that you are aware of the drinking problem in front of you and you’re willing to do something about it. It’s an exceedingly difficult task ahead, which is why AA goes out of its way to provide ever member with a sponsor. An alcoholic uses liquor to cope with life’s problems. It is their drug of choice that allows them temporary relief from the difficult issues that face them on a daily basis. The problem is we all know that the following day when you wake up hung over none of life’s most pressing issues have been fixed. Just like an alcoholic who never considers the consequences before turning to alcohol to cope with his issues, a sugar addict never considers the consequences before using sugar to cope with life’s difficult issues.
A classic example is women’s ability to go nine months at a time without drinking when pregnant. The vast majority will go through each and every pregnancy never having consumed even one glass of alcohol. The consequences of drinking while pregnant overtake any desire to use alcohol as a coping mechanism during pregnancy. But the same women who went nine months without a single drink choose to do a low-carb diet and cannot go three weeks at a time without having a glass of wine. Why? How can that be? It’s simple. They come up with excuses or try and justify why it is more important to have a drink then to be committed to a diet program that will have lifelong consequences in terms of their overall happiness and quality of life. When pregnant with an unborn child, all that matters is the long-term consequences. When confronted with the decision to use sugar as a coping mechanism, the long-term consequences are never given a moments thought. The long-term consequences give way to short-term desire, and our food addictions win out time and time again.
The average American makes 75 to 100 food choices every single day of the week. Are you aware of the role that food and more specifically SUGAR play in your life? Here’s a simple exercise to help you become more aware. As always, it will require writing out your answers. When we write things down we become accountable for our thoughts and our actions. In the middle of a piece of paper, write down your current weight. At the top of the paper write down the weight 30 pounds heavier than your current weight. At the bottom third of the paper, write down your ideal weight. Now as you picture yourself at these 3 different weights, try and describe how you feel and how it has impacted your daily life. Here are some questions to think about:
1. Do you have a higher probability of exercising more or less at each given weight?
2. Do you have considerably less energy at a given weight? Of course you do but what does that lead to? More fat equals less energy. Less energy means a higher probability of drinking pop and caffeinated drinks to compensate for the lack of energy through-out the day. The caffeine affects the quality of your sleep, which in turn results in poor quality of sleep. This will cause your body to produce more cortisol, which allows your body to store fat easier and then the whole cycle starts over again the next day.
3. Would you get greater pleasure playing golf, tennis, paddle, or running a 10K at each different weight? One current client is down over 30 pounds and has added 25-30 yards to his golf game because his ability to rotate through the shoot has increased significantly. Drop 20 pounds and you will be much better at playing tennis or paddle than any 25 lessons could produce because your footwork and ability to get to balls as well as putting yourself in a better position to make a shot instantly makes you a better player.
4. Would ailments like sore knees or a sore back be any different at all 3 weights? (Hint: of course it will) Extra fat has to go somewhere. It takes up space, which in turn is moving disks or causing muscle spasms around and greatly increasing inflammation inside the body, which will affect you on a daily basis.
5. Are you taking medications, going for massage therapy, seeing your chiropractor because YOU refuse to deal with the cause of the problem – FAT? Your body is screaming help me! You are treating the symptoms, not the root cause. Americans are wasting trillions of dollars a year by treating the symptoms. Stop the insanity. Go after the root cause of the problem – your body fat is too high.
6. At the three different weights is there any difference in your self-confidence, moodiness, and crankiness? Are you a different when you are severely hangover? Why are you so short with people? Because chemically your body has changed, the acidity has risen in your system, and it will temporarily change your personality in the exact same way that 20-30 extra pounds will change your personality. Have you ever tried to go 1 week without sugar?
People use food (sugar) as their coping mechanism to deal with the emotional stress and difficulties that life is sure to throw at everyone of us. Once you decide to become aware and admit that you are not in control of your life but that sugar, processed food, sweets, fried food is your drug of choice you will never look at food the same way again. You will gleam the most powerful pathway we have to reaching a higher level of happiness – You really are what you eat!
In Good Health,