Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Response to a Sugar Addict, Part V--Join a Support Group

I hope that you guys have been enjoying my series on overcoming sugar (and flour and artificial sweetener) addiction. If you've missed any of the previous posts, you can find them here: part I, part II, part III and part IV.

My honest opinion is that addictions don't get better in isolation.

Image result for 12 step program

Recovery from sugar, flour, etc. addiction is no different than recovery from alcohol or drugs, so don't take it any less seriously just because processed food is a socially acceptable drug. If your eating is bothering you, take it VERY seriously and consider getting with a program.


Yes, I just wrote that in all caps and basically screamed it at you.

I'm not saying that you have to join UWL. I'm just saying that chances are, you can't and won't do this alone. You need other people, no matter how painful that sounds to you right now.

You need to open up.

I know you are scared.

I know you are hurting.

But the biggest antidote to pain is to simply be vulnerable with other people so that those huge feelings aren't all bottled up inside of you anymore.

It's exhausting to keep it all inside.

There are many different methods of dealing with sugar addiction while on a plant based diet. Here is a list of the programs that I am most familiar with, but I'm sure there are more. If you know of other valuable programs, please leave a comment to this blog post.

The Ultimate Weight Loss Program-a whole food, plant based approach to overcoming food compulsions. Heavy on vegetables and starches to satisfy and nourish both the brain and body. I'm partial to this program because it has worked so well for me, but it's not the ONLY way. Based on The McDougall Plan for Maximum Weight Loss and all of the wisdom from The True North Health Center in Santa Rosa California. The daily support from other grateful recovering sugar addicts is priceless.

Bright Line Eating--this program and online community is based on the strict rules from 12-step food addiction recovery programs. You can be plant based or not and still follow the plan. All food is planned and written down in advance (a technique that I first discovered in the book The Beck Diet Solution and have found personally helps me a lot), weighed and measured for each of your three meals with no snacks in between. I absolutely love how it's founder, Susan Pierce Thompson explains the science and brain chemistry of sugar, flour and alcohol addiction. Watching her free video series was a piece of my recovery puzzle that I simply cannot understate.

I found the food rules to be overly restrictive for my personality and nutritional needs, but the group support is really strong and I would recommend this style of eating for those that enjoy following tight rules and find comfort in it.

Overeaters Anonymous, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA), Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA)-there are many different 12-step programs for food addicts with local meetings. Each group has a slightly different flavor and different rules. When I was about 30 years old I attended OA for over a year. It wasn't ultimately the thing that helped me because at the end of the day, I was still eating food (not sugar, but bread and other food) that didn't support my recovery, so my success was short lived. But I am absolutely sure that now that I know how to nourish myself with a whole food, plant based diet, a weekly meeting like an OA meeting would only strengthen my recovery.

Have an accountability buddy-No matter which program you are in, you up your chance of success by finding one accountability buddy that you check in with daily. This person can live locally to you or be someone that you meet in an online group. The key is that you report what you ate at the end of the day, and even what you planned to eat before the day starts, each and every day. It's not so that your buddy can judge you or beat you up if you go off of the plan. Not at all. It's the level of awareness that it brings to your eating that you are going for. It's free and it's priceless.

Find a sponsor-This is a step above an accountability buddy. It's a person who has had success with recovery and agrees to basically coach you through your recovery. You would definitely want to log your food and report it to this person every day if you have a sponsor. Having a sponsor is a basic tenet of the 12-step programs, but you don't need to be in a 12-step program to implement this in your life. Just find a person in one of the groups that you are in who is willing and able to work with you. It strengthens their recovery, so you don't have to feel like you are imposing.

Hire a heath coach-The most successful people in life have coaches for everything. Why reinvent the wheel when professionals have already paved the way?

Personally, I benefited tremendously from having Chef AJ as my coach when I first started down the road of eliminating sugar, flour and alcohol from my diet. I do not think that I would be where I'm at now had I not had the personalized attention that AJ gave me. I needed a sounding board and a coach who called me out on my B.S.

Large group coaching is not for everyone, and even those that love it might find that they need a lot of extra hand holding to begin or hold onto an abstinence from sugar, flour, etc. The clients that I work with receive daily support and a lot of coaching beyond a list of food rules. When you find that you know exactly what to eat but you still cannot stick to the plan, private coaching is a great option for getting help.

And for those of you that made the commitment to join my private book club, this is the perfect opportunity to let your stuff out in a safe environment and reap the benefits of an amazing support group.

So what do you think? Are you still trying to go it alone or have you found the magic of group support? Please share your experiences.
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