Sunday, November 27, 2011

Addicted to addictions

A few weeks ago, our local paper reported about a man who was caught "exposing" himself to women in public. As the matter went to court, it unfolded that this individual was in the midst of dealing with a gambling addiction. For some bizarre reason, restraining himself from gambling had apparently resulted in the emergence of another form of addiction.

I can't wrap my head around that particular man's actions, however, a few weeks ago I did notice that I had a very apparent need to shop. Like most females, I love to shop. But on 1.25 wage and 2 young children it's a desire I need to keep under control. But on this particular weekend I really struggled. I left the house, told my husband I'd be back and just hit the shops. I wandered around fairly aimlessly, but desperate to buy something. I didn't care what I bought, I just know I wanted to shop! I was conscious of the fact that as I was breaking my addiction to sugar, I was seeking out something else to fill the void.

Photo by Romana Correale
Attricution-NoDeivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

I don't want to lose you at this point, but Dr. Phil (please, stay with me...), has the most concise list that I could find of steps to take when breaking an addiction. Check them out here. One of those steps acknowledges that people do tend to replace bad habits with new ones.

He explains that when you take something away - something that makes you feel comfortable, pain free and happy (for me, this has been sugar) you're pretty much left hanging with whatever made you take on that addiction in the first place (eg: stress, boredom, low self esteem...). It's important to replace the addiction with something else that shifts the way you deal with stressful situations. He suggests relaxation, breathing techniques and the like. Funnily enough, he doesn't mention shopping. Bugger.

For me, with two children scooting around my heels the only breathing I do is 3 deep breaths before I bust up a an argument over one green crayon. But the process of making a cup of tea or preparing my food lovingly (and I've been very vigilant with the children about giving me time to enjoy my meals) is a form of relaxation.

This sugar free journey is certainly clearing some fog away, and making me learn a hell of a lot about myself and how I respond to things. I know now to be aware when other potential addictions start rearing their heads.

However, I did hit the shops again on the weekend and bought a pair of skinny jeans in one size smaller than usual - now how sweet is that!


  1. Yep, you are so right with this one. Since giving up sugar I have taken up coffee and crisps (potato chips). I plan to cut back on both. As I was reading your post it came to me that a good substitute addiction might be exercise. Or even stretching. How about a nice stretch when I am tempted to eat a sweet? Thanks for your honesty.

  2. Sarah - I am with you on the potato chips. But I bet you can't eat as many potato chips as you could have once had lollies? I find I feel really ill after a couple of handfuls of chips.

    Great idea with the stretching! As a fitness instructor you'd think I'd be very disciplined in doing this, but I'm kind of like a painter who never paints his own house :( Stretching can help release toxins from your muscles - so it can really help improve energy levels. I often find I get thirsty after stretching, so that in itself could make you reach for a glass of water instead of something sugary.

    I've recently dived into a Pilates program. This combined with the sugar free diet really helps me feel very balanced. I feel like I am being very kind to my body.

    So stretch away! Great suggestion! Thanks for popping in :)

  3. Thanks for your reply. I am in dire need of some stretching as a stress reliever anyway. I already did it once today. :) Take care, talk again soon.

  4. Congrats on the new pant size!

    This is a great realization. I have leaned on a few new "vices" since quitting sugar. Probably should re-read this post a few times and evaluate. Thanks!