Why We Crave Sugar and Salt

Is it time to put down that donut and start feeling again? I can only say this as a (not very) reformed chocolate fiend. Every day lately, it’s pretty much all I can do to walk away from the chocolate.

Dark. Mint. One of those little bars with the X’s and O’s on it from Whole Foods. Sigh.

It’s my stairway to a whole lot of hot flashes, sleeplessness, and general ‘why am I eating this?’ guilt. And it then can become the gateway drug for … hot fudge sundaes, etc etc etc.

We love sugar and salt so much not because they boost our body chemistry, but because they provide a glorious buzz of escape. I know this because I head for the chocolate when I’m frustrated, scared or I have an important decision to make .

Do you relate?

Surviving Without Sugar

Cupcake_wallp-1024x640In a recent post on Facebook about assorted aches and pains , I noticed many women recommended cutting out sugar.

Agreed! And … this can be harder than you’d think. (Am I steadfastly resisting the Dove bars that are lurking in the general vicinity? Sometimes! Often even …)

My naturopath tells me no sugar, agave, maple syrup, honey, pretty much everything but coconut (palm) sugar and dates.

How do you compensate for no sugar?

How I Learned to Do Too Much (and What I’m Doing About It)

hiding-girlOnce a long time ago, I was a little girl who thought she wasn’t enough.

Perhaps you had this experience too?

I was bright, sensitive kid and very attuned to the adults around me who always seemed to be having a hard time. In fact, there was one crisis after another.

But no worries, I thought to myself – I’ll handle it. I could be the steady anchor my depressed, alcoholic mother needed to hang on. And I could be the little star my father so desperately needed me to be, as well. I figured if I made the family proud enough, no one would notice what bad shape Mom is in, right?

This strategy, while exhausting and unsustainable, seemed to work for a while. I found that with enough charm, reason, and maturity – even at age six – I could talk everyone back onto the ledge when they were just about to jump.

It never occurred to me I was just a kid, or that it wasn’t my problem to solve. These were my people so I was on call, 24/7, doing whatever it took to make the woe go away.

And sometimes it did. Sometimes we were all happy and upbeat. Dad would play jazz piano while he waited for Mom to get dressed up before they went out. The smell of Chanel still reminds me of her as she glided happily out the door to a party.

Then I could relax and eat my TV dinner in front of The Wonderful World of Disney.

This is how I learned to expect – no, demand – too much from myself day after grueling day. It was how I learned to jam too many tasks into an over-flowing To Do list, and overload my calendar until there was no time to breathe … or even to eat lunch.

I got things done. I grew up to be a high achiever, albeit with an empty gnawing inside. Somehow, no matter what I accomplished, it wasn’t enough.

This was probably because of that terrible day when I was 13 and my mother attempted suicide. She survived because those who were home that day saved her life. But me? I was off playing with a friend. Somehow I’d slid off duty for a while, and so felt inadequate for years to come.

This is how life is – full of tragic, painful, yet still perfect lessons that move us forward … if we let them.

It has taken me 43 years to heal this particular wound. Now I know, after going deep into my grief and coming out the other side, this sad, confused, overburdened little girl had taken on too much. As so many of us do.

It wasn’t up to me to save my mother from her pain, but what did I know? I was just a concerned little girl who loved her mom and wanted to help her more than anything.

People like me grow up to repeat that pattern again and again, long after the actual players pass away. Today, if I allow it, I still feel that gnawing shame when I don’t tick everything off my To Do list, which I seldom do – because, as ever, it’s overloaded. It’s like a trick of my psyche that for years kept me ever off-balanced … and ever-yearning.

Now, though, the tide seems to be turning. More and more I get the feeling that it doesn’t matter how little or how much I actually accomplish. What matters is how I move through life.

I learned this from my daughter who died in 2012. She was one for slowly, quietly making a path that embraced love, compassion and joy. Teal was a free spirit who one month might backpack through Spain or work on a farm in Belgium. Then another month she might be sleeping on a friend’s couch in San Francisco while advocating for Planned Parenthood.

Teal understood that life is now.

She even wanted to have ‘Nunc Vitae’ tattooed on her arm. When I attempted to hurry or rush her, Teal would just shake her head and smile.

The good news is that I think I’m finally getting it. There is no ‘there’ to get to – I am enough just like this, in this perfect moment, no matter how much I get done. And so are you.

We are only prisoners of the ghosts in our heads when we allow them to run the show.

Turns out we can do as much or as little as want. The work is to discover the roots of that compulsive desire to over-achieve, or over work, or under work, or under earn … or however our tender, aching inner child rolls. So if we’re willing to take a good, honest look at the past and source these behaviors that no longer fit, then we can heal.

Then we discover that we are enough, and that the rest of reality is sweet and welcoming. All we have to do is relax and decide to give ourselves a break.

I think I will do that right now … how about you?