DO ONE OF THESE FOUR COMMON TYPES OF SUGAR ADDICT SOUND LIKE YOU?
Are you a sugar addict? You can’t change behaviour if you don’t uncover how it’s influenced by your THINKING. Your brain controls both your conscious and unconscious actions, so in order to build your healthier new normal, you’ve got to investigate what stories and beliefs are lurking in your brain that have unwittingly led to destructive habits.
New thinking = new behavior
New behavior = new habits
New habits = new normal
New Normal = NEW YOU!
This is all about examining how you think, and retraining your brain. By understanding what kind of addict stereotype you resemble, you may get some insights into what kind of thinking you’ve been unconsciously conditioning yourself to adopt.
1. THE STRESS BALL
Hallmarks of a Stress Ball:
- Needs caffeine to get started in the morning or to make it through the day.
- Has trouble going to sleep, or wakes up in the middle of the night without being able to go back to sleep.
- Regularly experiences indigestion, acid reflux, or constipation.
- Feels like you’re always running — that there are never enough hours in the day.
- Has chronic aches, pains, and tight muscles.
- Gets headaches.
- Puts others’ needs above your own.
- Thinks that if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.
- Reaches for sugar or fast food because you “don’t have time for something healthy.”
The Stress Ball is the epitome of someone who runs herself too hard. You don’t know the meaning of the word downtime, and fatigue is almost constant. In the Stress Ball’s mind, she can’t take on anything else. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done, and you pressure yourself to try to be the one who does everything for everyone else – but never for yourself.
You see yourself as the go-to person when a crisis arises, and you create an unhealthy sense of pride by ignoring your own self-care and putting everyone else’s needs before your own.
Stress Balls regularly have sore muscles, trigger points, and areas that stay tight and painful. Stress and poor breathing habits keep muscles tight and hyperactive. Painful knots and trigger points develop, and with an overactive nervous system, autoimmune conditions or chronic pain can develop (conditions like fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome).
Due to stresses (both external and self-created), poor diet, and lack of sleep, the Stress Ball’s adrenal function becomes impaired. This is called adrenal fatigue, and it results in chronic fatigue, low thyroid function, and low blood sugar that triggers sugar cravings.
Stress Balls tend to eat poorly because they think planning their eating requires too much time and attention. Instead of sitting down for a healthy meal, these types of addicts grab whatever’s handy, often turning to sugar or other junk food to give them the calories they desperately need while they dash off to the next task.
The physical and mental stress from the Stress Ball’s punishing schedule causes insomnia and restless sleep. Lack of quality sleep disrupts the normal production of appetite-suppressing hormones, so the Stress Ball is prone to hunger and cravings.
Best Advice for a Stress Ball
Because the Stress Ball’s life feels so out of control and pressured, the most important thing he or she can do is learn to PLAN instead of REACT. Any amount of food planning – you don’t have to be perfect – will improve your eating.
The Stress Ball’s #1 Reminder:
You have 100% control of your actions and your attitude every second of every day.
2. THE COMFORT SEEKER
Hallmarks of a Comfort Eater:
- Often feels lonely.
- Often wishes your life were drastically different.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Tends to do the same things week in and week out.
- Strong PMS symptoms.
- Wakes up tired no matter how long you’ve slept.
- Gossips or talks about others behind their backs.
- Feels depressed or hopeless.
- Eats sugar late at night, regardless of whether or not you’re hungry.
Comfort Seekers use sugar as a drug. They spend a lot of time feeling sad and depressed, and their behaviours around food embody the very definition of the term emotional eater.
Out of all the addict types, the Comfort Seeker has the unhealthiest relationship with food. It’s common for Comfort Seekers to turn to sugar for comfort and companionship; often Comfort Seekers feel like food is their only friend, even if they’re surrounded by family or coworkers.
Comfort Seekers often have a strong inner critic, with self-esteem problems stemming back to childhood. Many Comfort Seekers find themselves in a difficult Catch-22 with food — they feel fat and unlovable, so they eat sugar for comfort, telling themselves they “just don’t care.” A high-sugar diet, of course, leads to more body fat and a worse self-image, feeding both the fat cells and the pity party.
Comfort Seekers often act angry, crabby, and/or judgmental toward others. If you find yourself regularly getting irritated with coworkers or angry with family members because they don’t act according to your expectations, you may be exhibiting Comfort Seeker behavior.
Comfort Seekers are commonly perimenopausal, or are particularly sensitive to PMS and monthly hormone fluctuations. If you have a deficiency of estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone, you can become sad or even clinically depressed. When this happens, you start to crave sugar in an attempt to raise your serotonin levels and feel better.
Best Advice for a Comfort Seeker
Comfort Seekers can more easily stay away from sugar if they develop a better sense of emotional awareness. Do some self-inquiry to uncover more details about the negative emotions that you’re experiencing — the more specific the better. For example, if you’re feeling stressed at work, try to find some more accurate and specific words to describe what you’re feeling. Instead of just stressed, do you feel overwhelmed? Unappreciated? Afraid? Trapped? Inadequate? When you start to understand a more detailed picture of your reactions and emotions, you’re able to more accurately assess the situation and deal with the truth instead of just reacting negatively and reaching for the sugar.
Some professional therapy can help steer the Comfort Seeker toward greater emotional awareness. Getting your head straight is a vital part of improving your behavior (and your relationship) with food.
The best things to boost a Comfort Seeker’s mood are to do something outside the normal routine and to do something good for someone else.
The Comfort Seeker’s #1 Reminder:
Pay attention to what you really want, because it’s not sugar. Do something gratifying.
“I feel healthier, I feel stronger, I feel more confident in myself”
3. THE SUGAR STALKER
Hallmarks of a Sugar Stalker:
- Keeps a stash of sweets at work or in the pantry at home.
- Drinks sweetened drinks – doesn’t like the taste of unflavored water or tea.
- Gets headaches or becomes irritable if you skip your sugar fix.
- Eats sweet things like pastries or donuts first thing in the day.
- Has trouble knowing when to say when – When you start eating sugar, you have trouble stopping.
- Has a craving for something sweet after every meal.
- Hides sweets or is embarrassed to eat them in front of others.
- Orders dessert at a restaurant even if you’re full.
Out of all the addicts, the Sugar Stalker is most physically and chemically addicted to sugar. The Sugar Stalker’s taste buds have been over-stimulated and desensitized to the point of finding nothing but the most over-sugared, sickly-sweet treats to be even remotely satisfying.
If you’re a Sugar Stalker, your life revolves around sugar to the point where your eyes light up and your mouth starts to water at the very mention of something sweet. Sugar Stalkers eat a stream of sugar throughout the day, starting with an all-carb breakfast of sweetened coffee, pastries, or fruit juice. Sweet snacks like cakes and biscuits are the norm, and the thought of drinking something that isn’t sweetened — even water — turns their stomach.
Sugar Stalkers, like many people addicted to a given substance, act impulsively when presented with their object of addiction. They can’t say no when offered something sweet and have a hard time knowing when to say when.
Interestingly, Sugar Stalkers are very often shy, introverted people despite the outward appearance of being very social and having many friends. Many suffer from self-esteem problems even though they display a bubbly personality on the outside.
Best Advice for the Sugar Stalker
If you’re a Sugar Stalker, you need to quit sweetened drinks cold turkey. Your taste buds and the dopamine reward centre in your brain need to be re-sensitized to what normal food tastes like. Sweet drinks — even diet drinks with no actual sugar — make that impossible. To gradually disengage from the habit of having to have something sweet after every meal, start substituting sweet things that are healthier — a few berries or grapes instead of cake, for example. Never eat from a package; put your allowance on a plate instead, and that’s all you get.
The Sugar Stalker’s #1 Reminder:
The first two bites are the most satisfying. Everything after that is just extra junk calories. You don’t have to eat the whole thing, and you don’t have to eat everything that’s offered to you!
4. THE EXHAUSTED ADDICT
Hallmarks of an Exhausted Addict:
- Tired most of the day.
- When something stressful happens to you, your energy nose-dives.
- Seldom eats breakfast.
- Typically eats a low-protein diet.
- Experiences sugar cravings at night.
- Drinks less than eight glasses of water per day.
- Eats a majority of food for the day after 5pm.
- Has trouble concentrating.
- Gets irritated easily.
The classic Exhausted Addict is often a low-energy person. You love to sleep, and you generally find it very difficult to muster the energy to do anything above and beyond what is absolutely necessary — even things you enjoy. In that respect, Exhausted Addicts are similar to Stress Balls (discussed above), but while Stress Balls continue to unhealthily push themselves through their stress and exhaustion, Exhausted Addicts crash and shut down instead.
If you’re an Exhausted Addict, you probably have a history of spinning your wheels and feeling stuck or trapped in your job, your family issues, or your body size. Exhausted Addicts often feel out of touch with others and regularly ignore their own emotional problems, admitting that “I just can’t deal with that right now.” Defeat and hopelessness visit you every day.
You seldom eat breakfast, and when you do, it’s usually an all-carb affair. In fact, most of your food is carbohydrate. You tell yourself that you eat enough protein “on most days,” but if you journal your food for a few days, you’ll see that you barely eat one or two servings of protein a day — not even enough to meet the recommended daily intake, let alone enough to be healthy and energetic. Eating like this keeps your metabolism low, so you probably find yourself gaining weight even though you don’t eat much.
Like many sugar addicts, the Exhausted Addict feels overwhelmed with making food choices. You’ve tried dozens of frustrating diets and special “detoxes” over the years, none of which has yielded any long-term success. Eating healthy takes too much energy and planning, so like the Stress Ball, you turn to sugar because it’s easy.
Best Advice for the Exhausted Addict
Make sure you eat protein at every meal. By eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates, you’ll have more energy, fewer cravings, and have an easier time making smart food choices moving forward.
The Exhausted Addict’s #1 Reminder:
When you have a sugar craving, get up and do something! Your body and your brain are craving activity and stimulation, so take a walk, write in your journal, or do some jumping jacks instead of continuing to drug yourself with sugar.
To learn more about healthy eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.
ABOUT JAMES STARING
James Staring is a personal trainer Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.