The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 85: Follow Up – Hooked on Sugar

Natalie has been hooked on sugar since childhood. Now in her 30s, she realizes that sugar seems to be controlling her in a big way. It depletes her mood, her energy, and her brainpower, and she can’t figure out how to free herself. Sugar gives her a temporary high, but it soon leaves her feeling guilty and in a fog. In her first session with Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Natalie discovered that the way to solve her problem with sugar involves realizing that sugar isn’t really the problem she thinks it is, and that it’s really pointing to something deeper and far more interesting and important. Tune in now as Marc does a follow-up session with Natalie. You’ll get a chance to see how she’s progressed since her first session, and the results are phenomenal!


Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

To see Natalie’s first session with Marc, click here

Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m with Natalie. Welcome, Natalie!

Natalie: Thank you. Hi.

Marc: Hey! And this is our follow-up session now, months later. And the purpose of this conversation is just to take 20 minutes or so and just kind of catch up and find out how you’re doing, what happened, any usefulness from the session that we had.

You and I talked a little bit about sugar the last time and your relationship with it and talked a little bit about how it felt like that was having power over you. So where have you been since then?

Natalie: So since then, things have actually changed dramatically. I’ve had a lot of openings and it feels like a pretty big breakthrough. Just in myself and in my circumstances and my world in my life right now and also with sugar definitely, it’s been a pretty amazing change.

Marc: Tell me more.

Natalie: So after we talked, it took a while for some of the things to really land and integrate. But there were a lot of pieces from our session that just really hit home and nailed it and gave me some good context for where I am and how to be with my energy in a different way.

So one thing we talked about was a state addiction to that high of being happy and feeling good. And just with that awareness, I’ve been able to really intentionally set the intention and feel myself expand my capacity for holding a range of emotions, a range of feelings throughout my day, which I think was the hard part was once I started going and I had stuff to get done at work to do, it’s like I wanted to be at that, “I’m feeling good. I’m happy. I’m going” level.

And instead what we talked about was finding a new place with my masculine where I could be directed and be focused, but also be slow and steady and not have to be in that place, but actually just kind of ground down. Go slow and steady. Be focused and driving still. But I’ve expanded that range of how I actually feel in that where I’m not necessarily high and happy, but can just kind of be going at whatever, whether I’m feeling happy or sad or a bit uncomfortable. That awareness has been really helpful. Yeah.

Marc: Well, first of all, congratulations. That’s pretty huge. I want to put some words around that. First of all, I think it’s pretty fascinating you use the term
“state addiction.” And it feels like so many of us—and there’s nothing wrong with this—we just get attached to certain kinds of states. It’s easy to get attached to the state called “I’m drunk on alcohol.” It’s easy to get attached to the state, “I’m high on pot,” or, “I’m high on running,” or whatever it is.

And a lot of us walk around almost kind of pushing ourselves with, I think, stress energy sometimes, stress energy, excitement energy, stress chemistry, like, “Wow! This is really great!” And we’re pumping ourselves up to stay in that state. And it can become artificial. And what I hear you saying is okay, there’s also all these other places and these frequencies in these emotional states I could be in and not be afraid of them, really.

Natalie: Right. Yeah, absolutely. And also finding a new place where I can understand being in that masculine state of directness and getting things done and trusting myself in that state. The way you said, going slow and steady and that really resonated for me and has helped me to set a new pace in my day.

Marc: So how has that shown up with food for you?

Natalie: So what happened is that it took a little while, maybe a month or so. But I kind of got to a place where after expanding my capacity for feeling less high and getting things done and being in that more steady, slow state, I just got tired of that like I didn’t want to do it anymore.

And I was actually having some digestive stuff happening. And the sugar was definitely contributing. And I just hit a day where I was done. And I actually changed my diet really dramatically that day and said, “Okay, I’m going to do an elimination diet.” But it hasn’t felt that all like a diet. It hasn’t felt like restriction or efforting. It’s just like, “I want to feel good.”

And I took out all sugar and caffeine, coffee, the things that were stimulating
and hurting my digestion. I just dropped them just like that. And it was really amazing because in the past, I’ve done a lot of restrictive dieting or elimination diets in the past. But it’s always been from a place of restriction and kind of has required a lot of willpower and force.

And this time… I just really want to feel good. And it felt like just coming from this really positive, joyful choice. And it hasn’t been difficult at all. And it just hasn’t even been a struggle with sugar. And my digestion has cleared up completely, which just feeling that much better has kept me on the path of making those really good choices.

I felt sugar cravings come up a few times. It actually happened just this past weekend where I had a lot going on. There was a little bit of overwhelm starting to come in, too many things happening at once. I had some sugar. It wasn’t a big deal. But I didn’t feel that intense craving.

Marc: Well, I want to say congratulations again. That’s a really great breakthrough. I want to just also underline how this change, this choice, this decision happened from a place of, “I just want to feel good,” as opposed to, “I just want to get rid of this problem,” or, “I just want to stop being so bad and stop being such a willpower weakling.”

Whatever it is that we tell ourselves that has a negative spin, it doesn’t bring out the best in us, I don’t think. That kind of conversation that constantly is smacking ourselves around and keeping us in the loop of, “What am I doing wrong? What’s my problem? How do I fix my problem?”

And all of a sudden to, “Oh, how do I feel good now? What do I have to do? What do I have to not do? Oh, I’m doing things that make me feel good. That feels good. Oh, and let me do something that maybe might not make me feel good. Oh, that didn’t make me feel good. Okay, not going to do that so much.” Isn’t it interesting how the charge gets taken away?

Natalie: Yeah, it’s really interesting, absolutely. It’s also been really amazing, too. I think, in stepping into that choice of, “I just want to feel good,” I was also stepping into the choice to feel my best and be my best. And it took a lot to get to that point of being ready for that. I think I was kind of in some resistance to that.

And as I’ve stepped into that and my body is feeling better, my head is more clear definitely. I have more energy. And at the same time, just following that
decision, so many doors are opening up in my life. And it’s kind of been a really incredible summer with just getting a lot of yesses. And a lot of things that I’ve been asking for and moving towards are all showing up at once. And it’s actually really interesting to feel that in learning to expand my capacity to hold emotion, I’m also expanding my capacity to hold the good things.

And I’ve had a lot of good things show up all at once, where in the past I think I might have kind of sabotage or collapsed a little bit, but just too much good even and use a sugar to kind of quell that. And I’m not doing that. And instead I’m actually more capable of stepping into, “Wow, this is really good. And I want it. And, yes, I’m stepping up for it. And I’m holding it and moving into this part of my life and doing this work and having all of these incredible people show up and things lining up and saying yes.” It’s been a pretty incredible transformative time over the past few months.

Marc: So well put. I love the language of how it’s easy for us to have the good but not be able to digest it and absorb it and assimilate it, even though it’s kind of what we want. Like, “I want all the goodies. I want this good stuff.” But then when it starts to come, our system can’t even handle it. And part of it is just being aware of that, like, “Oh, wow. My system is actually rejecting the thing that I want.”

And I think one of the keys for you and for us is to start to see where’s the place where we’re generating this negative conversation. And can I start to starve that place a little more? Can I just kind of let go of that negative conversation? I think part of the negative conversation that you let go of was that this was some dreaded problem that you have. Because really it was just this steppingstone to finding this cooler place inside you.

Natalie: Right, yeah. Absolutely. And there’s another teacher in my life who has kind of been repeatedly telling me this lesson of, “Don’t indulge the suffering. Don’t indulge the suffering.” And I found where that’s kind of what I was doing in stressing about the problem, I was giving the problem energy. And it was indulging it. And it was perpetuating it.

And in making that really strong choice of, “No, I really want to feel good,” that calmed down. And now I’m much more aware and noticing when I do go into that indulging and I can just say, “No, I’m okay. I’m on a path of healing. I’m committed to that path. I trust it. I trust myself in this path.” I don’t have to
go into the, “This is a problem. This is scary. This is hard. This might not get better.” I’m not indulging that. And it feels new and really empowering.

Marc: You’re reminding me how life is not about, “Okay, I got rid of this problem. And now I’m going to live happily ever after. I got rid of my sugar issue, and now everything is great.” Life is really like an ongoing series of events sometimes that it feels like once we start to notice it, these events are designed to help us grow a little bit and designed to actually bring out the best in us.

And when we start to see it like that, it’s less of that, “I’m battling food and battling my body,” and more that, “I’m learning to step into my potential here.” It kind of feels like that’s how you’re wired. You look at yourself. You work on yourself. You’re like, “Okay, let me question what’s happening.” And that, to me, is what has led to your success right now. You’ve really methodically gone, “Okay, what do I do next? What do I do next? How do I address this?”

I felt like you’ve really opened yourself up to a bigger possibility. Is that true for you?

Natalie: Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. And I definitely can look back over the past couple of years in my entire journey with food and with sugar. And it made me stronger. I’ve learned to accept myself and where I’m at. I did learn to accept the sugar was something that I was going through. And I actually had to learn how to practice self-love over judgment around it.

And I also, in this place right now, I’ve had these little creeping, wondering, “Ooh, things are really good right now. A lot of good things are showing up. Is it going to crash? What’s going to happen when the hard stuff comes up again?” And also when I go into that and feel into it, I feel really confident that, “No, I’ve grown here. I now have the skills. I have the tools to carry this through harder times. This isn’t just that everything is good right now. No, I’ve grown.” And I feel really solid in that.

Marc: I don’t know why I’m having this weird image memory right now. It’s probably from when I was like a tiny little kid and I was at some sort of large wedding event with my family. There might have been a couple of hundred
people there.

And I remember there was a particular great uncle of mine. He was probably in his late 70s, early 80s. He had just lost his wife and was going through a lot of grief. They were married since they were practically kids. And at this wedding, he was dancing up a storm. And he looked so happy. And I remember as a kid thinking, “I don’t get it. How could this guy be so happy?”

And what I realized at some point in my life was that he was able to embrace everything at once. Here he was, he was mourning his partner of 50 years. But at the same time, he’s at a wedding celebrating somebody getting married. And how do we have enough humanity in us to embrace all of it? Meaning, yeah, you’ll hit a bump in the road. It’ll snow. Or it’ll be raining out. Or you’ll get a flat tire. Like, whatever!

It’s bound to have its ups and downs. And I think when we can embrace any part of the journey, we can embrace any part of the journey. It helps us get stronger. If I could embrace the morning and the pain, then it’s easier to embrace the goodies.

Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. I feel that.

Marc: Yeah. So I think that’s also may be part of your job moving forward is instead of bracing against, “Oh, my God!” Are challenging things going to happen? Yeah, probably challenging things will happen at some point in life. And you’ll be okay.

Natalie: Yeah, I will be okay.

Marc: Yeah. Anything else that pops into mind for you that you want to share about your journey since we last spoke and from that session?

Natalie: I just want to say thank you. And I really appreciate how skillfully and clearly you saw me. It felt powerful. And it hit home. It hit deeply. It took a while for some of the things to think in and then come back around like, “Oh, that’s what we came to in that session.” And that gave me really new perspective and new context to work with. It was really powerful. Thank you.

Marc: Yeah, thank you. Thanks for saying that. And I just have to make it
teaching comments off of that, especially for people tuning in watching this, whether you’re any kind of helping professional or you’re just working on your own relationship with food.

What you just reminded me of, Natalie, is that we do this for each other in general, not just in a coaching situation. But your boyfriend, your husband, your wife, your girlfriend, when somebody sees us—and not just sees, “Oh, she’s such a bitch, really,” no—but I mean, “Yeah, okay. I can see your challenge. And you’ve laid it out for me.” But what I’m also seeing as I’m seeing how that challenge is wanting to feed you. I’m seeing the great person who is sitting there that hasn’t quite figured that out yet.

So it’s like when we see each other’s gold, when we see each other’s real value, it’s a gift that we give to somebody. And it can’t be measured, I don’t think. But it’s really felt. And it’s kind of like magic sometimes.

Natalie: Yeah. Yeah, that’s my experience, definitely.

Marc: Yeah, life should be like that more.

Natalie: Yeah.

Marc: Well, Natalie, thank you so, so much for being willing to be on this journey and to meet a couple of times. And the best of luck to you!

Natalie: Thank you, Marc.

Marc: Yeah! Thanks for sharing so openly. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcasts. I’ve been with Natalie. If you didn’t see her first session, check it out.

It’s interesting talking to you now and remembering our conversation then. You feel like a whole different person. So congratulations to you again.

Natalie: Thank you.

Marc: Okay. Thanks, everybody take care. More to come.

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About The Author
Marc David
Founder

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.