Consistently I am asked this question, so I decided to write about it. 24 years ago I recognized I ‘really’ liked donuts, and I could eat a lot of them. When the morning arrived I stood in front of my closet trying to find something to wear to work, then realizing nothing fit anymore. I called in sick to work because I felt and was sick. After crying for a few minutes, it came over me like a storm. This was it, this was my last straw moment, and today was the day to do something! So I dried my tears, put on my big girl panties and sought help.
I had to realize that donuts were not my friend, they were not my therapist, and they certainly weren’t helping anything. I began to dig deep, “what benefit am I receiving from this sugary delight?” I began to journal about when and where I would eat donuts, along with my emotions. I recognized boredom and stress were fuel to my donut fire. I stopped eating them immediately, because I was ready to.
The longer I did without them, the better I felt. My motivation machine was ON and there was no turning it off now. It was all about action.
Almost 20 years ago, two well-known alcoholism researchers, Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska, introduced a five-stage model of change to help professionals understand their clients with addiction problems and motivate them to change. Their model is based not on abstract theories but on their personal observations of how people went about modifying problem behaviors such as smoking, overeating and problem drinking.
The six stages of the model are:
Gold, M. (2016). Stages of Change. Psych Central
Understanding your readiness to change by being familiar with the six-stage model of change can help you choose treatments that are right for you.
Nothing succeeds like success. I implemented a good plan, I was beginning to see it work and experiencing it working over time, as well as making adjustments along the way. The many things that hiding in a donut may have taken from me began to be restored, along with hope and self-confidence and continued determination not to eat one.
Today I understand when we eat something loaded with sugar; your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine. An overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more.
So what’s the magic potion you ask?
This is my recipe:
- My last straw moment prompted determination and plan preparation.
- Commitment to change with appropriate skills.
- Success reducing my sugar urge propelled continued achievement.
- Continuing to educate myself and adjust plans to maintain long term sustained change, bye bye donut.
Here are some Tips:
- Out of sight is usually not out of mind
- Make lower calorie choices when possible
- Our environment is toxic – unhealthy food is highly accessible
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry
- Try a cravings journal
- Smart carbs to the rescue – whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables
- Take care of yourself, in a non-food way
I have successfully managed my weight health and sugar craving for almost 25 years now.
As you travel the ELM path, I will join with you to explore your challenges and cravings. We will discover your strengths for determination and preparation, as well as what might get in the way. We will create an action plan with small, sustainable goals, and prepare for long term maintained change.
I look forward to hearing about your donut!
Kelle Greeson, LPCC CWC
ELM Mental Wellness, owner