This is a guest post by Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons, certified Primal Health Coach and author Sugar Addiction: 5 Healing Steps.
Why, despite knowing the consequences, do we keep reaching for that extra piece (or two or three) of chocolate?
Well, let’s face it. For many of us, sugar addiction began when we were kids. Breaking a sugar habit is so hard! But it’s totally possible.
Sure, you could do it on your own…but as a Chinese Medicine doctor and health coach, I’ve found that personalized support and accountability are what make the most difference for most people.
That’s where a Primal Health Coach comes in! They can help you overcome sugar addiction and get you where you want to be with eating and health. Here’s how.
1. Help you check in, take stock, and come up with a plan
These days, there is so much information out there! Even if you want to cut sugar, eat healthy and feel better, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Often, this sort of overwhelm stands in the way of even getting started.
This is where a trained health coach offers tremendous support. They help you see, with as much clarity and compassion as possible, where you are now and where you want to be. Then, they map out a doable plan and next steps toward your desired destination.
Your plan will be unique to you, not a (paleo:) cookie-cutter approach. It may include an eating assessment, meal planning, keeping a food log, and weekly “homework” assignments to keep you on track.
When I work with clients, I make sure to give them steps that are doable…and as uncomplicated as possible. As a client, you get to rest into your coach—letting them guide you, step-by-step, toward where you want be.
2. Help you discover what you’re really craving
Oftentimes, sugar cravings are rooted in something different. Our bodies are desperate for something…but are confused about what we’re actually needing.
On a physical level, this could be a particular nutrient…or sufficient protein or fat. On a mental-emotional one, it could be connection, companionship or feeling taken care of. It could also be a sense of purpose, passion or belonging. With my clients, I find it’s often linked to deep core beliefs—ones like, “I’m not enough.”
Untangling all this on your own isn’t easy—particularly when we’re surrounded by messages that equate sweets with love, self-care and fun! Your coach can help you determine whether your diet is lacking in nutrients…and can also help you look at what else may be missing.
3. Help you turn resolutions into new habits
Even when we “know” what to do to eat healthy, follow-through can be so tough! This is especially true at the beginning, when we have big plans and solid resolutions…but are still caught in old patterns.
Sugar is extra tricky in this regard because each time we give into sugar cravings, we’re feeding two different but interconnected cycles. The first is physiological. This is related to our hormonal system, our digestive system and our central nervous system.
The second is mental-behavioral. This relates to our patterning around food generally and sweet stuff specifically. It includes what “we’re used to” and “comfortable with.” It’s what we expect—and choose—without really thinking about it.
In truth, these “two” cycles are part of a single, larger whole. Our physiological response reinforces our sense that sugar “feels good,” brings comfort, and is worth pursuing…and so reinforces our mental-behavioral patterns…which then strengthen physical pathways and processes—hardwiring us to want more…and more!!!
A health coach can help you see these cycles and step out of them, addressing the physical piece as well as the mental-behavioral one. When it comes to turning resolutions into healthy habits, this is huge. It goes way beyond “white-knuckling” it or relying on willpower (which is limited and, ultimately, exhausting).
4. Help you navigate social situations, restaurant menus and other tricky spots
Ahh—those office donuts and birthday cakes. And that irresistible cheesecake at your favorite steakhouse. Or, forget the cheesecake—how much sugar’s in the salad dressing?!
These days, sugar is everywhere and goes by many, many names. Your coach will help you get clear on where, exactly, sugar is lurking (the condiment aisle, for instance). They will also offer strategies for navigating social situations where saying No might be hard—whether because of your sugar fixation or peer pressure. And they’ll help you map out a plan for special occasions, such as going on vacation or eating out.
Part of this involves weighing tradeoffs and understanding best-to-worst options. There’s no one “right” answer, but your coach will help you figure out what answer is best for you, right now, in this moment.
5. Offer compassionate accountability
This is where we, as coaches, hold you to your resolutions and plans—but in a way that is full of compassion and free of judgement.
With any real change effort, ebbs and flows are part of the process. Your coach will offer what you need at each place along the way, whether that means cheering you on, celebrating your successes, or doling out a little tough love:). Above all, your coach is an advocate for you and helps protect you from the million things (internal and external) that can sabotage follow-through.
As a recovered sugar addict myself, I know firsthand that overcoming sugar addiction can be really hard. But having a guide and source of caring, skilled support can make all the difference.
Plus, by giving up your sugar habit, think of what you’ll gain. Freedom from sugar and carb cravings for one! Not to mention reduced risk of weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, acne, achy joints, inflammation, brain fog, cognitive decline, premature aging, heart disease, cancer…
Primal Health Coaches offer tremendous support when it comes to making lasting changes, getting where you want to be with eating and health, and even making it fun! That’s what we’re here for.
Find a coach in the Primal Health Coach Directory here. And if you’d like to be a coach yourself, check out the Primal Health Coach Certification Program, right this way.
Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons helps people eat healthier in a way that’s uncomplicated. Her work combines eating, medicine and minimalism. Find her website here and check out her ebook, Sugar Addiction: 5 Healing Steps.