“Don’t be ashamed of telling your story. It may inspire others” – Unknown
With that in mind, I will tell you mine…
Once upon a time there was a little girl with thick blond hair, living in the countryside of Sweden, together with her loving mum, dad and baby brother.
This little girl was raised by very health conscious mum and sweets / candy never really featured in the house. In fact it wasn’t until this little girl was about three years old that she had candy for the very first time, much to her mother’s dismay(!) Simply because her childminder felt sorry for the little girl, that had yet to experience the sweetness of candy…
The spell of innocence was broken.
The little girl discovered that she really loved the sweet taste so much! Sometimes she would even trick her brother (who seemed to be totally ambivalent about sweets) to have some of his too. (Or even sneakily steal some… Not very proud moments)
As this little girl grew up to become a teenager, she continued to enjoy the pleasure and sweetness of all kinds sweet. Jellies, chocolates, biscuits. To be honest, eating them brought a lot of pleasure, yet she never thought of using them to sooth feelings, nor had she any trouble with her weight.
Then one day things changed for this (reasonably easy going) teenager.
She was told that she was fat. Too heavy to continue to ride her favourite horse at the racing stables.
So she decided to do what every sensible person do who have issues with their weight… She decided to go on a diet.
Over the following decade she read ALL the diet books, she tried to; stop eating, eating in secret, overriding her physical signals of hunger and satiety. She tried diet pills, exercise, and replacement products to keep her weight to a number that she felt represented her happiness.
Through all of this, still loved the taste of sweet, so staying off sweets and chocolate was really challenging.
Each time she couldn’t stick to the plan she had set for herself, she would throw her hands in the air and go ”F*ck it, I’ve blown it now so I may just keep eating”.
What perhaps this (now) young woman didn’t realise was that the sweet foods were soothing the lack of other sweetness in her life.
She didn’t see the connection between her eating and her living. She didn’t see that she was working long hours in a very physically demanding job, where she often didn’t feel appreciated or valued.
She didn’t make the connection how the sweetness of food was filling the void and the lack of sweetness in her life.
Because she was too busy weighing herself every day, berating herself for the fact that she couldn’t be “good” with food and that she was still ‘feeling’ fat.
She felt sad, lonely and unworthy. And on top of this she was also tired and suffered with digestive issues.
Then one day, when as she was racing towards the black hole of depression, she woke up and decided “I need to change my life.”
She saved some money, organised a job on the other side of the world.
She changed her environment.
She got a fresh perspective.
Though she stilled weighed herself daily at this point in time, she also started to explore and gather some awareness of how, what and why she was eating.
Then all of a sudden, a moment of awakening and insight struck! “Wait a minute, my happiness cannot be determined by a number on the scales. It has to come from within”.
This ONE realisation, changed this young woman’s life forever.
She simply got off the scales, gave herself full permission to eat whatever foods she wanted (candy and all). She placed her focus on eating when she was physically hungry, and she began the tedious work of paying attention to and stop eating when comfortably full.
She began to honour her body instead of fighting it.
In this moment, this young woman began her healing process of creating a healthy relationship with food, eating and her body.
She began walking the path to freedom, peace and wholeness.
To be honest, this hasn’t always been an easy process, and there are still times that body image issues and negative thoughts around my body appear. They never truly went away regardless of what size my body is /was. But today I have much more awareness, I can hear them more clearly which mean I can recognise them for what they are, thoughts not facts.
So why am I sharing the story of this little girl who liked the taste of sweet so much, who eventually grew up to become a nutritionist, food blogger and mindful eater?
It is because I learnt so much from unravelling my story and perhaps someone else may recognise themselves in it.
It is also because I see so much suffering around food and eating, in today’s “sugar phobic and fat fobic” world. And this is impacting on people’s quality of life.
The sense of restriction that is created around trying to avoid something that is so abundantly prevalent in our western society, can all too easily back-fire.
More than anything, I believe, when it comes to navigate the challenge of consuming sugary foods (or fatty foods, or any food for that matter!), is that it is fundamental that we are making our choices from a place of care rather than fear.
Because when we do, we can approach it with an open and curious mind.
To hear and recognise the subtle messages it give us, if we pay attention.
Rather than getting stuck in a cycle of blame and shame, we can with care and kindness recognise that perhaps this particular food and craving is doing something for us?
Maybe it is filling a void?
Maybe it is a symbol for how we are living our life?
Once we get curious about this, we can create space for choice and be discerning of what it is we truly need and want.
To truly heal my own relationship with food & eating I also had to toss a couple of limiting beliefs into the FIRE.
- When I have a perfect body I will be happy
- Eating “perfectly” will make my body perfect
- I am “good” when I eat “good” foods
- I am “bad” when I eat “bad” food
Giving myself full permission to eat ALL kinds of foods (no rules), and letting go of the “good” and “bad” labels have paved a way out of restriction (precipitating bingeing) , a letting go of any labels also helped me let go of any associated guilt and shame (very liberating!)
This has helped me to arrive at a place where I can listen and pay attention to my body’s needs and eat from a place of pleasure AND care. It tastes like freedom and feels like nourishment.
So I invite you to get curious. What is your Sugar Story trying to tell you?
And if you want some more tips and tools on this journey then sign up to my FREE three parts video series below.