In March 2020, our lives were turned upside down; for many that meant no more work, school, or life as we knew it. At first, it felt like a strange at home vacation, maybe you were keeping up with your workouts, getting the closets organized and catching up on the latest Netflix series. Then if you’re like me, about mid-April life started to get a little bit depressing. Workouts started to dwindle, or they stopped altogether, extra cleaning stopped and a whole lot of TV and sweet treats took over. It may have started slowly, and you’re thinking its no big deal it's just an extra cookie or two, I’ll step up my workouts next week. Instead, you find yourself craving more sugar and watching even more TV.
You might be asking yourself “what happened to me?”. I was working out and eating pretty good overall and now I need some kind of ice cream, candy, or cookie to get through the day. Well, life changed, and to make ourselves feel better, albeit temporarily, we turned to sweet foods that light up the pleasure centers of our brain.
Today, I took my family for frozen custard, because my brain was signaling that it wanted some sugar. As I was eating the custard, I noticed I was not enjoying it, nor did I really want it. I was just going through the motions despite not really being hungry for it. So why was I eating it then? One reason is I ignited the sugar cycle for myself, which means the more sugar you consume the more sugar you will crave. The second reason is I am trying to solve primary food issues with sugar because sugar makes me feel good.
What? What is Primary Food?
Primary Food is the components of our life that fuel us and make life worth living. Those components are relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. When one or more of these pieces are stressed or missing then our secondary food, the food we choose to eat, strays from our normal healthier choices.
Since March all of my primary food has been stressed and/or gone missing in one way or another. I lost my job, I was unable to see family and friends, I was not able to go to church and I was not working out as I had been. My healthy secondary food choices slowly fell away as the days passed, and sugar crept into my meals. It got to the point that I started wanting some type of dessert almost every evening. This is not me; I do not eat like this. However, I was eating too much sugar and started noticing I had less energy, my thinking was cloudy and I had gained weight around my mid-section. All this happened because I turned to secondary food to solve my primary food issues.
Secondary food will never solve primary food problems.
Tonight, I had my wakeup call while eating frozen custard with my family. I was going through the motions of eating it, but I wasn’t enjoying it and that’s when it hit me that I was eating it for the wrong reason. I need to stop using sugar to boost my mood and start making choices that move me in the direction of working on the issues around relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. I am ready to make better choices to guide me back to health and wellness. Are you?
I recommend choosing one primary food issue to start with in order to have a successful outcome. Trying to do too much at one time could lead to becoming overwhelmed and then giving up. Try these steps to get you started:
- Pick one primary food. (Career, Relationship, Physical Activity or Spirituality)
- Write down your goal as an affirmative statement.
My waist measurement is down 3 inches and I feel good in my favorite jeans.
- Now break down the goal on a timeline that makes sense to you.
When you understand that primary food is what actually drives your joy and satisfaction in life and not the food you eat; you learn to work on your primary food first, so that it becomes easier to make healthier secondary food choices.
P.S. Please give yourself some grace if you have fallen away from healthy eating and workout routines. This is a unique period of time that none of us have experienced before. We will make mistakes and get off track, that’s okay, as long as we become aware and make the necessary adjustments and work to get back on track.