Close your eyes and imagine in your mind’s eye a flaky, warm handmade croissant that is crispy and invitingly glossy, with a perfect golden brown tan.
Inhale the magical aroma created by the synergy of warm yeast, flour, and butter. As you cradle the delicate pastry in your fingertips, bring the croissant slowly to your lips and take a slow but substantial nibble on one corner.
Get lost in feeling the soft, yielding layers of buttery dough on your tongue, perhaps gently enhanced by a touch of red lipstick—I mean, French strawberry preserves. Savor the tastes, textures, and satisfaction you have received from allowing these delectable substances to enter your body.
When you are ready, open your eyes. Are you aroused yet?
My personal sugary weakness happens to be the perfect croissant laced with a touch of strawberry or other homemade fruit preserve. It’s embarrassing to admit, but the mere thought arouses me only slightly less than the thought of being with an amazing lover.
Think When Harry met Sally—the seduction and arousal is real. It’s called food porn for a reason!
Maybe croissants don’t do it for you, but next time you pass a display of whatever sweets look alluring to you—whether it be baked goods, candy, ice cream or the ubiquitous Starbucks— notice the emotional and physical sensations that arise in your body.
You may be surprised at just how exciting and almost sexual those feelings of arousal are.
With America’s self-acknowledged health and obesity crises at critical levels and getting even worse, why haven’t we yet gotten the message that sweets are harmful to our health in the amounts that we consume them? How and why are we so aroused and seduced by the idea of putting sugary foods in our bodies?
Recently, there have been more and more studies on the addictive qualities of sugar and how sugar adversely affects our bodies on a physical level. There have also been pleas by high-profile doctors and fitness gurus, imploring us to kick our sugar habit.
Some school districts have even banned soda machines on campus.
But big business continues to market sugary products right to our sweet spot, which soon becomes our soft spot. I believe they are marketing towards a deficiency of a vital nutrient in our lives.
I’m talking about the nutrient of love, specifically self-love, which gives us that feeling of a sweet life that we so crave.
To paraphrase a friend, our addiction to sweets might be due to a desire to fulfill a craving for sweetness in our lives, not just in our physical bodies. We may unconsciously reach for sweets to give us a temporary sensation of the kind of sweetness that we want to feel all the time.
This sweet feeling is wrapped up in feeling loved, warm, protected and safe.
Marketing firms capitalize on sending the message that edible sweets are commodities that, if we buy them, promise to make us feel good, if only for a fleeting moment.
The subtext here is that our lives are not sweet enough as they are, and that we need to constantly buy and consume sweetness found outside of ourselves in order to feel good. The marketers perpetuate, if not manufacture, the lack of belief that we have the ability to make our lives sweet on our own.
The sugar-peddling corporations do not in any way want us to discover the renewable source of sweetness that lies inside of us. Instead, they distract us with shiny, sweet objects and prey on our feeling of lack.
We wind up developing a neurochemical dependency on these ingestible products, a dependency that is far more powerful than the occasional high that we might receive from the purchase of any other consumer product.
It has been proven over and over that sugar is really is no different than any street drug. Yet, sugary product can be sold as “food” and can thus slip past the scrutiny of illegal and controlled substances.
With the industrialized farming and a general overabundance of unhealthy foods in our modern lives, how can we possibly reduce or eliminate the influence of sugar when we are literally surrounded by the message that this addictive substance will make us happy?
If your relationship with sugar is currently less physically and emotionally healthy than you would like it to be, I suggest shining a light on your relationship with sugar using these five steps:
Become aware of your physical and emotional state at the sight and thought of sweets. Feel all the feelings of arousal, delight and anticipation. On a physical level, your heart might beat faster, your eyes might grow wider, your breathing might grow shallower and you may start salivating at the thought of ingesting something sweet.
Ask yourself what kind of events or situations you have traditionally associated with sugar, especially when you were a child. Perhaps sugar was a reward for good behavior, such as a lollipop you received at the doctor’s office, or a trip to the ice cream parlor after a victory with your sports teams. Sugar is almost always present at traditional holiday celebrations, so you may have an association between the happiness and excitement of the holidays and sugary foods.
A more painful association might be that sugar was used by adults in your life as a bribe to get you to behave better, or more painfully put, to get you to “shut up.” Giving a lollipop to a crying child comes to mind. Parental use of sugar to control behavior is unfortunately very common, but many people are unaware of this subconscious association and take it into adulthood. In a way, sugar becomes a pacifier for adults.
Ask yourself what cravings or feelings you think you might be trying to fulfill, or distract yourself from, by consuming sugar. This reflection involves looking beyond the physical reasons for your sugar addiction, as well as beyond the “bad” things that people tell us we are doing to our bodies by ingesting sugar. Sugar-shaming—just like any kind of shaming—is not a long-term solution to the problem.
It could very well be a reason that you have never before thought of. For example, perhaps you did not feel the sweetness of hugs from your parents, so you try to get that sweetness from sugary foods. Often the reason that addicts turn to substances is to recreate this feeling of warmth and security that they never received from their parents.
Ask yourself if you can fulfill the craving through non-sugary means. Rather than distract yourself from a sugar craving, as many articles on kicking a sugar habit suggest, I believe the best solution to creating a new relationship with sugar is to acknowledge the craving when it arises.
Then, remember that we are born with pure sweetness and light and that our inherent sweetness never leaves us. Breathe in deeply into the source of that sweetness, and breathe out your own sweetness into the world.
Rediscover your own sweetness by giving yourself a healthy diet of self-love and self-care. When we practice seeing the sweetness inside of ourselves, we become less reliant on external sweetness to fill that void.
Ironically, seeing your inherent sweetness will enhance our ability to see the true sweetness of life. Eating the occasional sugary food will then become a special occasion that enhances our already sweet lives.
Author: Belinda Kan
Editor: Renée Picard