Dealing with a sugar overload of Easter candy and treats? A life-changing visualization and 5 ways to get back on a healthy track are the sweetest thing around.
I’ve come to believe that stress in its many forms is a significant part of the divinely planned personal adversity that defines our mortal journey. For me, the first quarter of this year was exceptionally stressful for a number of reasons. I found myself eating all the healthy food that I dearly love AND returning to my old enemy, candy and sweets, to keep my days moving along. With every passing day in January, February and March, I promised myself that this was “The Last Day” to eat chocolate at every hour of the day and night – mostly alone. It wasn’t enough to cause significant weight gain, but it was more than enough to keep me physically and emotionally in its grips, wanting more with almost every passing hour. An abundant supply of chocolate chip cookies where I work and gifts of chocolate candy on several occasions were my further undoing. It’s a funny thing about cookies and candy for those of us inclined to sugar: The more you eat, the more you want. It does not go away by itself.
Needing inspiration, I checked out a bunch of health books at the library. In my heart I knew a path would appear to break away from the sugar monster. And it did … but not in books from the library! Years ago my husband put a quote on the refrigerator that reads “The scriptures have the answers.” How very true that always is. I found my inspiration to cope with sugar in the New Testament as I prepared for teaching my Sunday School class of 16 year olds. In John 5 is the account of the sick man and the healing pools of Bethesda.
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?”
The impotent man answer him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool; but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.”
Jesus saith unto him, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.
As I read the story, the Saviour’s question and the man’s response, the pages of my Bible seemed to actually glow with personal revelation.
“Wilt thou be made whole?” the Saviour said. It seems to me that in asking this, He is acknowledging the great gift of free agency and saying in so many words “Do you really want this? Are you willing and ready for your life to change?”
Now here’s the interesting part: The man did not answer “YES!” He answered that he didn’t have anybody to help him and that others always crowded him out, making it impossible for him to get to the waters. Were these excuses? Maybe yes, maybe no, but in his mind “other people” – both the ones that he needed to help and the ones that were in the way, were his answer to the Saviour’s question. Although this man was crippled, it rang a bell for me: How often we blame circumstances outside of ourselves for our lack of progress!
My mind reflected on both the Saviour’s question and the man’s response over the next several days as I applied it to myself and my current sugar habit. Did I want to be made whole? Even as the sick man told the Saviour why it wasn’t working for him to be healed, I nursed my own excuses for why I needed my sweets several times a day and wasn’t ready to give them up. Slowly the impression came that when Jesus said “Rise, take up thy bed and walk,” he was saying : “Do not depend on others to take action for you! Do not blame others – or circumstances out of your contol! I alone am the answer and I will provide the direction you need!”
As I pondered and addressed these personal truths, one of the library books I’d check out rose to the surface: “SugarShock! How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life and How You Can Get Back on Track” by Connie Bennett and Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. It was (and is) an answer to my prayers and needs.
Entrapped in sugar’s mighty claws and with the Saviour’s penetrating question, “Wilt thou be made whole?” in my heart, I read the chapters on sugar’s role in the chronic “big killers” diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity. Did you know that glucose is the main fuel source for feeding cancer cells and tumors?
Though that information was impressive and not surprising, what was more important to me were the little ways that sugar affects us every day and diminishes our “wholeness” – including our ability to manage stress, stay in a good mood, establish and maintain good relationships (due to the affects of sugar-related mood swings and negative emotional responses) and a healthy sex drive. As I read through those things that are important priorities on any given day, I realized that my personal enthusiasm for managing my time (and thus making time for exercise and meaningful prayer and scripture study) is definitely colored on an almost daily basis by my consumption of sugar. Keeping our skin looking young and minimizing menopause discomforts can’t be ignored either! Both, and a host of other important health issues, are negatively affected by sugar.
Her fascinating report on the Pima Indians and Diabetes was especially insightful. They are among the most obese in the world, and they also have the highest rates of diabetes anywhere – one half of all adults have diabetes. An adult weight of 300 pounds is not uncommon. Until the early 1900s, this tribe was a reasonably healthy, slender community eating appropriate amounts of complex carbs and vegetables until they began to eat the lard, sugar and white flour that the U.S. government gave them to survive. These sugary processed foods caused weight gain and exposed a genetic predisposition to diabetes. There is no denying the documentation for increasing obesity and diabetes rates in the general U.S. population for the same reason it has in the Pima Indians.
A former sugar addict herself, the author shares her own personal health story and how things have changed since kicking sugar over 10 years ago. She now has an online community at www. sugarshockblog.com where her slogan “Be Sweeter Naturally” especially delights me.
It’s well worth a few minutes to check this site out! The last chapter on her book is a list of 21 secrets to becoming sugar-free. I’ve listed my five favourite below and encourage you to find this very helpful book.
So how has April been for me? Very different than January, February, and March! By visualizing the Saviour asking “Wilt thou be made whole?” and an increased understanding how sugar affects the body both immediately and long-term, my food choices are very different.
Sugar and “quickie refined carbs” have been relegated to a seat in the far, far back of my life. I feel much more whole in every possible way. I know it’s not something that will be permanent without a conscious, prayerful effort every day.
I’m starting my day with my healthy chocolate smoothie (thanks greensmoothiegirl !) made with one scoop of protein powder, ½ cup of frozen blueberries , 1 cup of baby spinach leaves and 2 Tbsp. of cocoa powder mixed in the blender with crushed ice and water. It makes a huge 24-30 oz. shake! The ingredients are very affordable at Costco. Believe me – you don’t taste the spinach – only the blueberries and the chocolate! What’s not to love? And it keeps me full for hours.
I make sure I’m drinking 2 cups of my herbal tonic at MyMiracleTea which helps the body detox and reduce cravings of all kinds, especially sugar. I’m exercising regularly with my favourite DVDs in front of the TV. It’s cheap and convenient as I’m not really a gym go-er.
As we clean up the kitchen each evening, I make sure there’s a healthy leftover for me to eat when the 4:00 p.m. munchies hit the next day. If there’s ot a left-over I steam a big bowl of Costco’s mixed veggies (broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, etc.) and eat sprinkled with lemon-pepper, a little low-fat margarine and Parmesan Cheese. YUM!
And I’m saving the sugar for once or twice a week, to be eaten with special people.
What a difference! I’m sleeping better, coping better and enthused about exercising and eating right. I’m not craving or obsessed by thoughts of sweets, treats, etc. This is a gift of wholeness in a very literal way. I’m going to bed at a much better time without wandering around in the kitchen. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think my skin looks better and younger too! When one of my friends commented yesterday “I can hear it in your voice — you seem so much more relaxed and less stressed…” I knew that the Savior’s question and my desire to be made whole is the sweetest thing around.
If you’re still reading, here are five of Connie Bennett’s Sweet Sugar-Free Success Secrets from her book, “Sugarshock!”
1. See yourself free – visualize not being compelled or obsessed by sugar! And that is FREEDOM.
2. View this challenge a s a blessing: Think Ether 12:27 “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness a that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
3. Remember: If you stray, you get strung out: indulging in one temptation can lead to days of being off track. Before indulging, run a little movie in your mind of the extended possible choices and then say “If I don’t succumb, how will I feel?” Empowered and happy!
4. Embrace the 4 Ds: Delay, Distance, Distract, Decide: Delay – by drinking a glass of water; Distance – physically separate yourself in whatever way possible; Distract -Do something – anything! not sugar or food related; Decide – to respect yourself
5: Inwardly holler HALT! Am I HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY or TIRED? If you’re hungry, eat something nutritious, if not, then address the others in a non-food way.
Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available at Amazon.com Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Learn more about her herbal health tonic at www.MyMiracleTea.com