I’m a woman who can’t handle sugar.

You know how an alcoholic just can’t stop drinking? That’s me with sugar.

For me, there has never been chewing one piece of gum. There is only chewing through the whole pack in an afternoon — or an hour.

For me, there never has been such a thing as eating one cookie. There is only eating several, and then looking into an empty package, bewildered, about how this could have happened — again.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then trust that I have a different response to insulin than you.

In 2005, finding myself at the utter mercy of sugar, I gave it up, along with white flour and other foods that, when I started eating, I couldn’t really stop.

I made a commitment to let go of the substances that messed with my state of being, and to start eating in a way that supported the life I wanted to lead.

For the past seven years I’ve been entirely off refined sugar (and its buddies like honey and agave), and with a handful of exceptions, off of white flour too. (Yes, I eat fruit.)

I haven’t written about this, because, it’s a topic littered with land mines and one that deserves so much care. I don’t want to set up any more “shoulds” for women around food, but giving it up has been a big part of my journey.

What are the lessons I have learned from my sugar story that might be of use to you? What have I learned from my letting go of a substance that didn’t serve me, and from figuring out, day to day over seven years, how to keep living free of it?

· I learned to be my own authority. I had to find the quiet, mature woman inside of me who could make a decision about what really worked for her body – whether or not her doctor, her friends, or her culture understood. I had to experiment my way to my own treatment regimen.

· I learned SELF-DISCIPLINE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Trying to quit via self-discipline never worked — in fact, thinking that my eating could be impacted by self-discipline was what kept me stuck in the addictive cycle for years.

· So if it wasn’t self-discipline that led me to say “no,” what was it? This trifecta: a magical combination of 1) knowing the pain of the old way 2) deep, to-the-floor-of-me-self-love and 3) supportive new structures and routines in my life.

Most of the important changes in my life have come because the pain of the old way swelled and rose up like a tight knot in my chest. Out of pain, I began to be open to change.

And yet, something met the suffering, and it was self-care, self-love. There came a moment when I clearly felt, “Honey, I don’t want to you to go through this anymore. You deserve better.” This isn’t about affirmations. We need to actually feel that deep self love that comes up like a wave and, with its fierce energy, pushes us past our habitual ways into the new unknown.

But all the self-love in the world wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t manifest it by giving myself the lifestyle changes and supports that made the actual behavior change possible.

Here’s what I mean. I had turned to sugar when I was exhausted, so I found that to stay off of it, I had to immediately develop a more sane work schedule — with breaks and less extreme hours. I needed to learn to sleep more, both at night and with a previously unknown to me practice known as napping.

And, I had turned to sugar instead of processing difficult emotions, so I needed to make new regular routines of journaling about what was happening in my life or calling friends to talk about it. I needed to take more time to process my life if I wasn’t going to need a substance to help me numb out.

That was and is the magical trifecta:

knowing the pain of the old way
deep self-love
supportive structures and routines

Notice that self-discipline is nowhere on the list.

People often ask me if, after seven years, I miss desserts or sandwiches, or jam on toast. Did I miss not tasting wedding cake at my wedding? Nope. I asked the caterer to put some figs — my favorite fruit – next to the cake, but to be honest, I forgot to taste them because I was too busy dancing with the dearest people in my life.

That’s a pretty good metaphor for how this whole thing has played out.

In the end, foods are material things, and material things are nothing compared to the riches of self actualization.

Now, a few important notes on all this, since this is such a tricky topic:

I don’t want you to give up sugar. I’m not trying to convert a population here. I am so happy many people can enjoy it in moderation and, frankly, I hope I come back in my next lifetime as one of them. I look forward to the root beer floats.

But everyone has substances or behaviors in their lives – whether obsessive internet social media stuff or green tea lattes or shopping — that take you away from your sober, clear minded, autonomous self, that take you away from bright joy and frm creating what you really want to create while you are here on earth.

I want to invite you to set healthy boundaries around those things. I want you to ask yourself, What would I do differently in relation to that substance, if I was making a grand embrace of myself and the life I want to lead?

And I want you to remember you can’t make positive behavior change without vast self-love and supportive new structures in your life.

I also want you to know, that, in my opinion, this post is not enough to help you quit your x. So please don’t try to do it based solely on this and then feel bad if you fail. This post is my story, with an invitation to start thinking about this topic as it manifests in your own life. If it strikes a major chord, I’ll see what more I can share or what resources I can recommend.

I’m really curious what this post — and this topic — raises for you. Please tell me!

Love,
Tara

 

 

Join the discussion 81 Comments

  • My drug of choice is also sugar so you hit a soft spot with this wonderful, tender post. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned (more sleep is something that had never occurred to me) and showing the light on the other side. Seven years is so inspirational! Thanks again xx

  • I love this post, not just because I help women with eating and body related issues and have had my own history with all of this.. but because I think you are really talking about living in congruence. And making choices not to betray ourselves.. or break our own hearts. When we know what we believe in, and yet aren’t able to sustain those practices because we are under the spell of something else..it’s painful.. demoralizing. And it leads to shame and hiding… we all know the feelings of self-sacrifice at our own hands.

    One of my clients sent me this post and I so love your writing and perspective, Tara. I chose to give up gluten a while back.. for many reasons, and know that the right choices for the right reasons are anything but deprivational.

    With love and appreciation,

    Lisa Claudia Briggs

  • I can relate to this article on many levels, as I am a recovering alcoholic, so I know stopping a behavior that doesn’t serve you well, has nothing to do with being disciplined. For so many people, sugar is a drug -I likened it to crack in a blog I wrote. It can completely change your personality and your behavior, along with how you physically feel. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences, decision and discoveries. It’s all about living authentically-and being brave enough to do so. Big hugs!

  • Suzanne Enright says:

    Tara, this DOES hit a major chord – feel free to say more. You put this so eloquently. First my “uncontrollables” were alcohol and tobacco. I gave those up 11 years ago, but I have realized that sugar and lattes (not just coffee but specifically lattes) have taken their place. I’m tired of the struggle against them, the fight to control, and always losing. Like I found with those other substances, I think letting go is the only way to win the fight. And, I’m struggling with the idea of NEVER having x again. I appreciate your thoughts so well put that it’s about embracing the bigger, fuller me I want to be and what serves me. Thank you!
    With love, Suzanne

  • Wanda Meade says:

    Thank you for this post! Perfect timing for me. Sugar and wheat are my drugs of choice. And what you said resonated so much. And the approach of loving myself and taking care of me….much better than “discipline” Much to think about.

  • Christy Brennand says:

    Beautiful story, Tara. Thanks for sharing. Making positive changes in our lives doesn’t happen merely with the decision to do so. Thank you for suggesting that change is a process, and one that must be rooted in self love and compassion. I agree, will-power and self-discipline will never have the power to create sustainable change.

  • Katie says:

    Thank you for sharing this side of the story Tara! I work with women private coaching all the time who say that they lack willpower or they aren’t disciplined. My response – it has nothing to do with those but rather what YOUR body needs, how your mindset is shaped, and your lifestyle and conditions. Once we add the nurturing (naps!) and self-love (gentleness with ourselves), we can put so many things into place that we never thought we could. Thank you!!!

  • Mary Montanye says:

    I love this, Tara. Thank you for sharing your story around sugar. It’s interesting that before I read it, I’d written in my morning journal the following: “Of everything currently going on in my life, my most perplexing, persistent, pressing and painful is why I can’t stick to the healthy diet — one that I know will make me feel better.” Your post gave me some answers especially as it pertained to self-love vs. self-discipline.

  • Susan Hutt says:

    I absolutely love this post!
    You’ve touched on something so vital to many of us, whatever the ‘drug of choice’. I know from experience that it’s very easy to forget about the power of self love when embroiled in some attachment that keeps us from reaching our full potential. Making a move to end an attachment ( be it sugar, alcohol, a computer screen, or gluten) means taking a step out of what’s become a comfortable (if unhealthy) place, and the love of self has to take over to sooth and support. The advice you give to women in your blog is so pertinent and supportive – I always look forward to reading your posts. Thank you so much!
    All the very best, SK

  • Hope says:

    What resonates for me is the part about learning to be your own authority. I’m a mom of 2, approaching an unmentionable age (50), and I still look to others as authorities way too often.

    I had to give up dairy a few years ago. I never thought I’d survive without ice cream. The thing was, that as soon as I was off of dairy for a few days, I felt so much better than I’ve really never regretted it. Well, maybe once a year, when everyone else is eating ice cream and walking on the boardwalk at the beach. But otherwise, the sacrifice was worth it.

  • Andrea Gage says:

    “Most of the important changes in my life have come because the pain of the old way swelled and rose up like a tight knot in my chest. Out of pain, I began to be open to change”. This is where I am right now. Working with the pain. Not quite able to move into what would help (giving up those items that I overi indulge in). I am staying curious and not beating myself up. I can see here by your post that I need to strengthen my support system and pay attention to what self-care and love is really like so I can tolerate that as well! Thank you for sharing your story. Lovely post!

  • Linda says:

    Tara,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It completely resonates with me because I have been evolving my “eating habits” for over a decade. My original goal was to replace junk food with nourishing food simply to feel better in my body. Along the way, and with a lot of therapy, I have been able to find the strength to stare the beast in the eyes and embrace all my emotions. As I continue to make choices that support my vitality in body, mind and soul, the process becomes easier and I feel better and better. I love when you say, “But everyone has substances or behaviors in their lives — …that take you away from your sober, clear minded, autonomous self….” because it reminds me that I am not alone. Others, like yourself, choose behavior to support clear mind and bright joy and creating something meaningful while here. There is power in numbers and I feel more powerful by simply having read your story. And my goal is etched more clearly in my psyche, making it easier to continue choosing self-loving, healthy, healing behavior! It really is about self-love and wanting to give ourselves the best. Then all that spills out from us and into everyone we touch. Thank you for touching me! Linda

  • Alicia says:

    Tara – this really hits home for me. The “failures” of tackling this issue in a variety of ways, the conflicting information, the fear of trying to tackle it again. Your reflections just feel right, on track… not necessarily easy, but important. For me it is sugar, dairy and gluten – a lot to give up! I recently found out that I have sleep apnea, which affects serotonin (an important factor in this issue). I was beating myself up for not having more “control” when there was an important missing link. I’m sure there are many others (vitamin deficiencies, depression, etc.) What I am saying is that it is too easy to beat ourselves up when perhaps an approach such as yours would lovingly encourage walking down a path of self-discovery of all the factors. I look forward to more on this subject! Thank you!

  • I just journaled this week that recognize that I have an abundant life. Abundant love and that I am full of gratitude for this. My sweetie and I also love great food and wine. The price of that abundance is often overindulgence. In order to maintain my abundant life, I must also have moderation. I have to take care of this vessel that houses this abundant life. So it’s off to Zumba and today it’s a salad for lunch!

  • Wow…you nailed it…so much beyond “sugar”…I am hypoglycemic and so used to not being understood….I watch what I eat and reward myself with a glass of wine..then feel bad again!!! We have so many ways to avoid dealing with our thoughts and anxieties and what is beneath it all!!!! I love what you have to say about creating what you really want while your
    here on earth…..And loving yourself can be a lifelong struggle!
    You are so inspiring and todays post was brilliant and constructive and life affirming !!! Sugar, shopping, wine, men….
    I think I’ll fall in love with myself for once!!!! Thank you!!!!!

  • Laura says:

    Thank you for this. For me, it’s wheat and gluten. I feel like an entirely new person when I avoid it – happy, confident, thoughtful, in control. What came up for me when I read this post was this whiny little voice who said, “wouldn’t it be so nice if you could avoid gluten at all times, like Tara avoids sugar, but think of all the ways you’ll make life more difficult for others, the way you’d have to special order a salad at a meeting instead of just eating a sandwich like everyone else…” Putting myself and my health above some fear of inconveniencing some mythical “others” is the hardest part for me.

  • Susan says:

    Tara, this post struck me profoundly. I struggle with occasional binge eating of sugar/carbs. It is something I’ve been working on recently. I know – I can see so clearly – that it is tied to stress and emotional overload. But I have not yet been able to bridge the ravine toward to new behaviours and coping mechanisms. And I get stuck in the remorse, feeling bad, beat-self-up mode (thinking it’s a matter of strength and willpower). It is only just dawning on me that this is tied self-love, staying present to what I am feeling, and finding new coping structures. I constantly feel “the pain of the old way” as you so eloquently put it. I need to work toward – in those tough moments -connecting with my fierce self-love instead of reaching for the sugar. And believe me, my self-love is fierce…I just lose sight of it sometimes! Thank you for your heart-felt words this morning. They are settling over me as I type.

  • Deirdre says:

    Love this post. I’m in the baby stages of setting up new routines and support as I try to free myself from my carb addiction. Naps? I know I need to look there just by how quickly I shrink back at that word—why do I take pride in being so sleep deprived when it serves no one? I hope you do share more, the details of what became your go-to breakfast as well as the the deeper lessons too. I’ll keep checking back.

  • Sally Graver says:

    True for me, too. Kathleen DesMaisons had done excellent work in this area. She got the first-ever PhD in “addictive nutrition.” As a medical writer, I’ve read some of the studies she quotes, and they are rock-solid science. Her website is http://www.radiantrecovery.com

    She examines how simple carbs (suger, refined flours, alcohol) activate different neurochemicals in the brain. Thanks to her, I learned to identify my inability to concentrate the day after a sugar binge. It affects my brain, belly, thighs, social life…

    A turning point came after I had been off sugar for a few days and noticed a feeling I had never registered before — ie, “nothing” — the lack of a sugar rush, muddled thinking, craving or remorse. Just a clear “space” that had never been there before. Radiant recovery is what comes in to fill that space.

    It’s taken me years to be able to get off sugar – and today I have to do it again. Today I now know I can. Thanks for the prompt and the encouragement.

  • Deb says:

    Your post could not have come at a more opportune time in my life as I am struggling mightily at this moment with some of the health fallout from my sugar addition. When I was told I had celiac disease and had to stop eating gluten, I had no problem going cold turkey. For some reason, I did not use foods with gluten as a soother for my emotions. I’ve tried self-discipline; it doesn’t work. When I’ve given up sugar successfully for a few weeks or even months, I always return because I’ve not found found a healthy replacement for the little voice that says, “go ahead, you deserve a treat.” Self-love is probably the only thing that will silence that little voice, once and for all.

  • Self- discipline not the issue. Perhaps I know or accepted that with other addicts but never thought of that with myself although I can do salt (potato chip etc) binges and sugar binges, more so after I’ve had some alcohol. I recently gave up alcohol because it dis-serves me to drink and it lasted awhile but am slowly starting to again. I want to think about the trifecta when it comes to alcohol. I’d be feeling a lot better. Wonderful, kindly written post Tara.

  • One of the hardest things in life is to permanently change eating habits. You’ve done a great job of laying out what helped you to be successful in such an important area for our well being. Thanks so much!

  • Zulfiya says:

    It’s amazing how you put all those feelings in words. I mean, it’s exactly the course of action I knew deep inside I needed to take, but hearing it from you feels so supportive. It’s all about loving yourself and manifesting that love, proving that you care about yourself with your actions, even if not everyone approves.
    Thank you, Tara. It’s truly inspiring and soothing at the same time.

  • Wren Doloro says:

    I know what you mean Tara.

    I recently have had to give up a number of things to benefit my health over the last year. Gluten and sugar are the hardest.

    The hardest thing for me was socializing with other people because I felt obligated to eat the cake or what they had prepared. I had to 1. have my own healthy snacks available to me so I wasn’t tempted, 2. realize it just wasn’t worth feeling crummy to do the expected and 3. start practicing my “No thanks” to feel comfortable.

    Rearranging life to have time for planning and cooking is a work in progress, but Tara is right–it’s not just self discipline. It is rearranging life so you can achieve your goal and be happy (not stoic!) while doing so.

  • Terry Hughes says:

    Eloquent and heart warming. Your post today spoke to many of us I am certain. There is a transition afoot and I for one am climbing on board for the ride. Four months ago I quit smoking and three weeks ago I gave up alcohol. The negative impact of my little ‘goodies for me’ became something I couldn’t ignore. Self love is the hardest but once you embrace that one, I believe ANTYTHING is possible. Three cheers for all of us!

  • Yvonne Gittelson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of your personal story, Tara–and yes, it absolutely struck a chord and is coming at a very compelling time for me. I too, have struggled (and continue to struggle) with sugar especially, and wheat and other grains. For too many years I thought it was all about self-control and willpower, and I beat myself up as I failed time after time. Thank you (and the other posters) for sharing perspectives, common experiences, wisdom, and encouragement.

  • Helen Shields says:

    Very interesting post. I recently lost 4 stone in weight. I have bounced back up 1 stone but held it for the last nine months. I was struggling with food and feeling really bad. Huge weight swings and dress size swings in one day. Sore bloated stomach and all the other unmentionables that go with that. I have just been diagnosed as having Candida and also and insulin issue so this topic is very relevant to me. I am struggling with the “I will never have x” again at the moment. I watch my family eat all the things that were my crux and I am finding it difficult. I am finding it incredibly hard where to start. I have the sugar free cook books and I have search the internet for info but I just cannot seem to get my head in the right place to move on and make a proper start. So please feel free to send me any info you can I would really appreciate it!!!! I hear what you are saying about making those choices about where you are and how you want to treat yourself. My weight loss was one of those moments and I’m proud I have achieved and am maintaining it but I know if I could sort the food front out so much else should hopefully start to slot into place.

  • Hi Tara, thank you especially most for including that part about providing support for ourselves.Unless we do that, with love, kindness, and compassion, our efforts are pretty much wasted and the negative pattern continues.
    So appreciating you!

  • Carol Whitman says:

    Yes! It’s been a year for me since I bottomed out and stopped using sugar. I couldn’t fathom saying I’d never eat it again, so made the rule that I only eat it in Europe. The first trip in April I came home and was able to slip right back into the no-sugar life. Re-entry after the trip in August has been harder, psychologically. This post has helped enormously. I don’t have another trip planned until next fall, so possibly I can let go of that rule and keep my inner calm, confidence, contentment going forward from now.

    Not eating what other people want you to eat can be a challenge. I’ve learned to just say I’m a sugar addict, and can’t have just one. Most people let it go at that.

  • Thanks, Tara for your willingness to be open and honest in your experience. You touched the bullseye on this one…self-love. For it’s the heart which offers us the sweetest and most stable kind of love. Not a donut, a new pair of jeans, or another person. I am transitioning out of a relationship right now. Your post helped me remember how self-love transforms everything for the better. And by being tender to myself, I connect with the superhero power of Divine love. And by inviting in tenderness, I see how the love shared with the other person is part of the force helping me move on…with a heart full of gratitude, courage and peace. thanks again…kellen

  • eSeN says:

    Thank you Tara, this was perfect. You made me stop and think about this and how it applies to me. The fact that I previously gave up pop and then juice reminds me that I can continue to give up foods that don’t serve me or my body. Remembering my past successes gives me the faith that I can do it again.

    Lately, I’ve been having desserts often, though I shouldn’t, because I want to get healthy and fit. Then I feel guilty about moving further away from achieving my goal. Now, I’m not going to buy desserts excepts on special occasions or when we’re out with friends and we’re sharing. If I feel like having something sweet at home, it’s going to be organic chocolate (I’m only ever able to have 1 or 2 pieces) or fruit.

    Practical plan – check! Now I need to figure out why I have dessert, so I can be specific in my self love talk, and come up with more supports to make it easier to keep from eating desserts.

  • Linda says:

    I have found it best to limit sugar, gluten, yeast, milk and alcohol in my diet, and I am OK with that as I feel so much better. Sugar has the worst effect. The biggest issue for me is the incredible amount of social pressure to eat certain foods that people regard as normal or sociable. This seems to be either because they think I am depriving myself, or because it makes them feel guilty about what they are eating. I would say there is much more pressure to each sugary foods such as cake and chocolate than there is to drink alcohol. Saying “no” seems to trigger a lot of issue for other people (their issues) so anyone aiming to sort out their diet needs to deal with the desire to eat the food while others are pushing it at them with great tenacity. Hold firm, its your choice!

  • shairease says:

    Thanks…the timing for this is nothing short of divine. Thanks. This speaks to every addictive personality. Especially those of us who are addicted to other things…such as people…..

  • Deborah says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. Whenever I have a day that feels like self sabotage I try to look back and figure out what went wrong. It usually involved me not getting enough rest or feelings I’m ignoring. Sometimes those feelings are stressful, but they are also creative ideas. I try to eat rather than own up to the possibility of changing the status quo.
    You’re articles and emails are full of inspiration and revelations. They encourage me to stand up for myself and my dreams.

  • Theary says:

    Simply… I just love your story. Please continue with more articles relating to this (your) topic.

    Many Thanks,
    Theary

  • jennifer says:

    great article. I really hope this is not going to lead into a paid course. Some experience needs to be given away, not profited on.

  • Becky says:

    Your written voice is so articulate and spot on. I experienced my gluten intolerance journey much in the same way in 2008. I also have used the parallels of this experience for almost every change experience asking myself if it was do eat to give up gluten how do I make the other changes I so desire. The consequence to gluten was always the driver, never the self discipline against it…this part about active choice.
    Many thanks for highlighting other nuggets like self love ; ). I seem to overlook that is what in doing in my self actualization, change and choices.
    Keep doing your work and sharing it with us…feeling inspired!

  • […] going on over at Tara Sophia Mohr’s blog on food addictions. Tara has written a post called My Sugar Story about giving up sugar, which has attracted a lot of comment from her readers. This is topic close […]

  • Jennifer says:

    This post really resonates with me Tara. I think everyone has some version of a “sugar story.” My own began nearly twenty years ago at the age of 12 and led to several hospitalizations and years of therapy, which is still ongoing. As a person who’s recovering from anorexia, I really like that you point out the uselessness of self-discipline. I have oodles of the stuff, but where recovery was concerned, it didn’t matter. It’s all too easy for people to say “just eat.” If only it were that easy! I hated myself for years and still struggle with remnants of shame because of my inability to ‘snap out of it.’ Though I’ve had periods of wellness throughout my eating disorder rollercoaster ride, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that my recovery really began to take hold, and it’s for exactly the reasons you label here as the ‘trifecta.’ The being sick of it part came first, then the gradual awakening of self-love, and then the positive behaviors to support that love. I love that you put so clearly into words what I’ve been experiencing (minus the need to avoid sugar part ;)). Your post really drives it home for me and reaffirms what I’ve been working so hard for. One question: I still find myself hanging on to a few nagging pieces, and I suspect it could be that my self-love isn’t quite what it could be. I sense myself holding back, like I’m afraid to completely let go. You say “We need to actually feel that deep self love that comes up like a wave and, with its fierce energy, pushes us past our habitual ways into the new unknown.” I don’t feel that. I’ve come a LONG way from where I was, and I definitely believe that I love myself, but I don’t FEEL it in my body. I’d love to hear you talk more on how to get to that point.
    Thanks again.

  • Lori says:

    Thank you, Tara. I would love to hear more about your experience with quitting sugar and also how you supplemented with self-love. I hear the second as a concept but struggle with what it really looks like day to day.

  • I too am on a journey from food. I have begun juicing and left food go for a while. I am now off white flour, sugar, rice and meats. I know it sounds unusual, but I have never felt better in my life. Hypothryoid and the change in meds every 6 weeks was making me crazy and the weight that I could not lose no matter what I did was depressing. So, like you I took my health in my hands and started juicing. I am on one month and weight is coming off, I have tons of energy, I thought I should eat one weekend, but when it was all said and done, it didn’t taste as good as I had planned. Juicing was fresh, tasted better and satisfied me so much better.
    Well, I love how I feel, how I am looking and the mood has never been better. I too don’t recommend this for everyone, but it was right for me, right now. Thank you for your sugar story, that was me to the core. You were not alone with how it affected you.

  • Sarah says:

    I love your blog. This is the first time I’ve commented. What a beautiful peice. There are many ways I avoid feeling. What I liked best was what you said about it not being about self-discipline, but about remembering the pain, and loving yourself so deeply and then setting up different patterns like journaling. It’s clear to me I need to get back to journaling. Thank you for this.

  • Tara – this one really resonated with me AND especially the sleep issue – I never ever allow myself to nap!! I write & stay up until 4 or 5 a.m. but it’s really just gotten to be a bad habit more than anything. And the sugar situation is way out of control. Just recently I’ve had the thoughts that they’re connected and at the moment I”m having some worrying symptoms, so I’ve really been getting serious about figuring this out. And then I got your article on this very subject. It made me cry – so I know it was meant for me.

    One cupcake is a slippery slope. I don’t even know how to talk to people who are able to eat one piece of chocolate and put the rest of the bar away. I love that you are adamant about it not being about ‘self-discipline’ because apparently I have had none. I started a blog to try and discipline myself to write more.. I still don’t. But, I have to tell you that I’ve posted your piece on the ’10 Rules For Brilliant Living’ and have had a good response. I”m also ‘pinning’ your videos on my Pinterest Board, “Inspiration.’ Thank you, thank you, thank you… I think I can do this now.

  • O M G – mega lightbulb moments going on reading this!
    Such a fresh and brilliant way to look at this, always struggling with the concept of self-discipline I can now see the sugar situation in a different light focused on self-love!
    Thank you xx

  • Gina says:

    The Sugar Addiction is not unlike other substance addictions when it comes to letting them go.
    It’s not about the substance so white knuckling it will only have addiction crop up in another form, substance or behavior.
    Knowing what the sugar has been offering as a way out is the Cure and you nailed it…it’s personal. We all have our own Story.
    Getting to the feelings and not running sweetly from the changes our feelings ask of us can be BIG work.
    Beautiful post!

  • Debbie says:

    You articulated that so well – thank you for sharing what so many of us go. I have phases of doing really well with this, then fall back into old habits. You have inspired me to keep this as a focus and keep things in check. Fantastic post.

  • dyan sierra says:

    Unbelievable Tara. I am a woman who has fought pain for years. I have tried to understand what is causing this low left back pain for 15 years and somewhere in the midst of those years, I realized that food often has something to do with it. I started to experiment and discover what foods cause my pain and sure enough, if I avoid them, I have less pain. What really bugs me is that despite the fact that I know they will cause pain, I sometimes just can’t help myself and succumb to that “thing” that lands me on the couch for hours.
    When i read your email it was like…”How does this woman always know what I am going through?” “I guess I am not the only woman dealig with issues like this!”
    I am working on the “vast self love and supportive structures in my life” part and hope to hear more about this from you. How do we set up supportive structures in our lives? How do we develop vast self love? Especially if we are our toughest self critic? Keep up the good work Tara, I love reading your work!

  • Carol whitman says:

    Had one other thought about this. It’s true that like you, giving up sugar hasn’t required willpower in that direction. What does require willpower is setting up the structure to support myself, so that the underlying habits are in place. For me this means packing nutritious food to take to work, getting to bed at a decent hour. Then doing this regularly. Self-care has required extending my will for positive habits.

  • KarenMurison says:

    Hello. Me too. Even at my healthiest I would eat 100gram bars of organic chocolate! I took chromium and upped magnesium rich foods like tahini. My body was craving minerals and protein. Now I eat a proper food at regular times that suits my Ayuvedic Dosha. If I do have sugar it’s raw honey stirred into warm water. This actually helps to clear fat from the body. ayuvedic ancient medicine. My hypoglycaemia has disapeared as have the mood swings and painful periods. Sugar imbalances hormones! It depletes minerals and makes us spun happy. It’s a drug pure and simple. Mixed with salt and carbs in a certain ratio it even acts more like a drug. For example cola! Why is it people can dring buckets of it. That sugar salt carb ratio switched off the natural appetite suppressed in the body that says we have enough. In truth sugar keeps the population sick and lethargic and needing more sugar to makes function. I have experienced such happiness since I stopped eating it. However that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the odd dark chocolate square. : ) that way I don’t go crazy : )

  • KarenMurison says:

    Hello. Me too. Even at my healthiest I would eat 100gram bars of organic chocolate! I took chromium and upped magnesium rich foods like tahini. My body was craving minerals and protein. Now I eat a proper food at regular times that suits my Ayuvedic Dosha. If I do have sugar it’s raw honey stirred into warm water. This actually helps to clear fat from the body. ayuvedic ancient medicine. My hypoglycaemia has disapeared as have the mood swings and painful periods. Sugar imbalances hormones! It depletes minerals and makes us spun happy. It’s a drug pure and simple. Mixed with salt and carbs in a certain ratio it even acts more like a drug. That sugar salt carb ratio switches off the natural appetite suppressed in the body that says we have enough. In truth sugar keeps the population sick and lethargic and needing more sugar to makes function. I have experienced such happiness since I stopped eating it.

  • Irene says:

    Yes, I love this post because it’s the subtle hidden addictions that make us less than who we can be and then make us feel bad about that because we sense our greatness. For me, it’s a combination of TV and eating. I can be so gung ho about life – productive and happy but when I stop to take a TV break, it’s hard to get back into my day in the same way. Thanks for opening up this dialogue

  • Victoria says:

    Hi Tara,

    I totally can relate to you in terms of insulin response. I’m really slim, exercise a lot and watch my calories big time. Nobody would ever think that I have a serious dependance on sugar. I don’t eat any starchy foods: corn, wheat, potatoes, rice and I’m 100% gluten-free. I don’t miss any of these foods and giving them up was really easy. However my response to sugar is something awful. The other day I had 1/2 of a tea spoon of a cake frosting at a birthday party. This little “treat” ended up in 10! boxes of marmalade candies (sugar and pectin) in a course of 2 days. I have 2 little kids, so my stress levels get incredibly high at times. Most of the time I can control my sugar crave by shewing coffee beans, but there are times when I’m incredibly tired and things like that happen. Also, sometimes I just pour sugar in my tea or coffee and empty out one pound bag of sugar in 1-2 days. I know that I need to do something about that, because afterwards I would get horrible migraine and feel just awful.

  • Sandi says:

    Tara – what w beautifully holistic approach to facing and overcoming our addiction to X. I love the shift from self-discipline to nurturing and self love. I too experienced the “wave” of self love and it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. Mine was part of a spiritual journey as well and journaling provided such wonderful insight.

    As I read your story, Irealized that suagr is my drug – always has been. As a child I too would sneak sugary foods – I too eat the bag of cookies, several candy bars, even half a cake and stil crave more. I just never gave it the name it deserves, nor did I realize the consequences other than a lifetime of battling excess weight. There is so much more. Inspired by story and your 7 years of success, I have made a commitment to my health and my body to eliminate the toxin.
    Thank you Tara for sharing so much of yourself with all of us. I have no doubt this will help many people make life changing choices from a stronger place of self love.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

  • […] you enjoyed Tuesday’s post on My Sugar Story, visit it again here and check out the more than 50 moving comments from other women sharing their stories about sugar, […]

  • Japolina says:

    I just heard you on broadminded and it could not have come at a better time for me. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comments on the show and on this blog. I hope that I can kick the sugar addiction too.

  • Jill says:

    First I read your column on roadblocks to “playing big” on Design Sponge, which really resonated with me (so much so that I’ve signed up for the next session). Now I read this and I feel like you really have my number! I am really struggling with this and would love to know MORE (or Mohr?!) about how, specifically, you made this switch. What things (food or non-food) did you substitute instead? What did you tell yourself that helped you get through and past those cravings? I find it’s really hard to break this habit, it’s so ingrained, even though in my head I know it’s self-destructive. I don’t buy or keep candy, cookies or desserts in the house, but I have two kids, and it’s amazing how many situations revolve around sweets! Will you please write more about this topic? You’ve clearly struck a chord!

  • erika says:

    I am so moved by your story. Last week my father passed away and I am wanting to be brave and strong and move through this without trying to “sugarcoat” anything..literally.. thank you for inspiring me to continue to show up as the person I want to be in every moment..no matter how difficult…<3

  • Virginia says:

    Tara,as all the women before me, these words hit home. Thanks for the simplicity and the depth. If we don’t take care of ourselves, love ourselves and respect ourselves, how can we truly care, love and respect others? Besos

  • Liz OConnor says:

    What a great post to find the morning I was en route to ‘behaving’ in an old way that doesn’t work for me, but which I have not completely given up. It was a blessing to be reminded, that self love is the one of the ‘trifecta’ pieces – in depth, with conviction. Reading how making adjustments in the way one live’s and uses time was validating. Thanks Tara

  • The following section of your post describes exactly why I got a divorce 6 years ago. I’m now free to live the healthy, fulfilling life I was meant to live!

    “This trifecta: a magical combination of 1) knowing the pain of the old way 2) deep, to-the-floor-of-me-self-love and 3) supportive new structures and routines in my life.

    Most of the important changes in my life have come because the pain of the old way swelled and rose up like a tight knot in my chest. Out of pain, I began to be open to change.”

  • Manda says:

    Its so nice to find another hypoglycemic…i dont tell people often because then i get their sob stories of ‘i get a headache if i dont eat..’ etc. Hypoglycemics know its much more than that. i rememeber crying once because i was having an attack (i didnt know what it was at the time) and i couldnt decide if i wanted to use hot or cold water to wash my car. Bellamy, do you find you have a higher craving for sugar (lollies etc) than other people seem to?

  • Diana says:

    Once again, thanks, Tara. What a love story. Your post has given me the inspiration to dig deeper!

  • Kate Watson says:

    Hi Tara – I had no idea that you were a recovering sugar addict like me. Thank you for sharing your story and for doing so in your wonderful non-judgmental way. You’re so right that letting go of things that harm you has nothing to do with self-control. For me, it was all about acknowledging the pain of my prior path. I feel so much better without sugar — sayonara joint pain and swelling — and I like myself more. Cheers to everyone who has taken a new path and wound up stronger, healthier and happier as a result.

  • Jill says:

    I am addicted to sugar. It rules my life. What can i do?

  • […] I want to find my own accountability. I read this article by Tara Mohr and it resonated deeply with me. I too want to achieve goals that are important to me […]

  • Amanda (AmethystJean) says:

    I can quite relate, but I am still stuck in a place of not accepting the pain I’m in is greater than my need for sugar and wheat. When I find myself doubled over in pain l, I think, “no one else would put themselves through so much pain. Why do I keep doing this?” I suppose I believe I lack the willpower. I would love to learn more about your journey

  • Laura says:

    wow !! I really think you wrote this for me !! I’m trying to quit sugar and it´s really hard, I did it once, I didn’t eat sugar for three years but I don’t even know why about a year ago I started havind sugar again …but this article helps me a lot, I’ve been reading you and I feel strong enough to start over new. Hope you write more about your story, it’s very inspiring for us.

  • Debra Woog says:

    Tara, we have even more in common than I knew before. Thank you for sharing this post. I would love to learn more about this aspect of your journey. Others’ recovery stories inspire me and help me stay on my own healing path too.

  • Colleen Bell says:

    It’s so nice to read your story. I don’t struggle with sugar cravings as extreme as you did, but I know it was the source of many health issues I had… Just last month, I eliminated sugar for 21 days. My goal was to cure Candida overgrowth and I was successful! On this diet I eliminated sugar, fruit, flour, wheat, starches and honey…I never counted calories and consumed large quantities of nut butters, coconut oil, tahini, quinoa, and I lost weight! I know for sure good fats don’t make you gain weight and sugar really is the root of obesity and health problems. I came to realize that all of the those foods I eliminated were just empty filler foods. I now use Stevia in my coffee and my way of eating has changed permanently. I do eat an occasional cookie and have a slice of toast but I will never eat those foods in the quantities I used to. I’m very conscious now of what contains sugar. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with us.

  • KimC says:

    I, too, gave up sugar almost 3 years and have found it creeping it in again. It’s different than before — I’m not eating entire bags of cookies (in my case my roommate’s, so had to replace them the next morning) — but I’m finding it’s because I’m too tired to say no. And that’s why I so appreciated your reminder of ‘supportive structures and routines.’ A big part of my giving up sugar is through my spiritual practice, but my current lifestyle of long hours and on-call work has left very little time for self-care that is so important for me. And I resist the need for it, and wish it were different, but the truth is it’s essential for my well-being and my health, my whole health (spiritual, emotional and physical). Thank you reminding me of my desire to life an aligned life and to allow myself the self-care and support I deserve (this line really resonated: ‘what would I do differently…if I was making a grand embrace of myself and the life I want to lead?’). I have a sneaking suspicion that the extra weight I’m carrying will dissolve as I lean in to self-care and self-love, one day at a time xo.

  • […] few weeks ago, in my post about giving up addictions, I wrote: “This isn’t about affirmations. We need to actually feel that deep self […]

  • Tina says:

    Thanks, a start to a new journey to explore.

  • I love this, Tara, and have been thinking about it for a while. I’m particularly interested in understanding when it’s helpful to live inside of labels (I think it really is sometimes) and when it isn’t (I’ve been thinking about this in relation to personality inventories and Highly Sensitive Person labels, but the sugar addict label raises it for me here, too).

    Carol Dweck’s research in particular is on my mind. The structures that you’ve put into place to support your need for rest, your need for connection when you’re anxious or down, etc., combined with your years of inner work and evolution seem like they’d naturally make your experience of eating sugar NOW be so different than what it was seven years ago. So I’m wondering whether having some open-endedness is appropriate when it comes to self-identifying as someone who can’t handle sugar (or someone who can’t handle big crowds or loud music, etc.)…some space left open for us to continue to change and to meet life and meet our historical “triggers” differently.

    I don’t have personal experience with sugar or alcohol addiction, so it could be I’m really blind to a reality there that cancels what I’m thinking about here. I’m just genuinely wondering when to nestle inside the security that labels bring us, and when to assume that labels will confine us and our self-perceptions…and thus our lived experiences…unnecessarily.

  • Carrie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and for the thoughtful way you wrote it. And thank you for the courage/heart you continually model. For me, my unhealthy attachment is to a person, not to a substance, and the day I decided ‘enough with knowing the pain of the old way, time for something different, time to give up my attachment,’ was the day I received your email in my inbox. I was encouraged by your words as they are helpful and applicable to my situation.

    I would love for you to expand on your magical trifecta, and know that your words are helpful and inspirational and very broadly applicable to those of who are tired of experiencing the pain of the old way, regardless of what that pain actually is. Namaste.

  • […] through many of my own personal challenges – from giving up sugar (which I’m super addicted to) about 7 years ago and keeping that up, to finding my own right path […]

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  • […] 3. reread and then read again Tara Mohr’s article about her sugar battle (check it out here) […]

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