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“I can’t have sugary foods in the house, I’m addicted to them”. “I’m so addicted to chocolate, if I start I can’t stop”. “Oh no, please don’t offer me a biscuit, I’m addicted to them and will eat the whole packet”. These are the kinds of things I hear my clients say all the time. But…are you ready to have your mind blown?

Here goes…the big secret that no-one ever told you about sugar addiction…you are not addicted to sugar. Quite the opposite in fact. The loss of control you feel around sugar is actually due to over-control of sugar in your day-to-day eating.

What exactly do I mean by that? The reason we feel out of control, or as if we’re “addicted” to a certain food, is that when a food becomes a “forbidden food” - one that you don’t allow yourself to eat unless you’re being really “naughty” or “bad” then it’s our natural response to seek out that food. In many cases when we do finally allow ourselves to eat that food, we feel out of control and binge on it to make up for the deprivation.

The solution? Start by loosening your grip around food – particularly those that you restrict or deprive yourself from having. I know that may sound a little crazy, you may feel like if you loosen the grip on the foods you’ll be totally out of control and not be able stop eating that food right – but in reality what happens is the total opposite.

When you give yourself permission to eat a food that was previously considered forbidden, the allure of that food becomes so much less seductive. Initially there may be a period where you do eat that food more frequently or in large amounts, but as your mind starts to realise that you can have that food at any time you feel like eating it, over time it will hold the same emotional attachment as any other food that you eat.

Now, I’ve used sugar in this example, but the same applies to any food that you restrict yourself from eating and consider a forbidden or ‘bad’ food. Making peace with food is such a gift. After all, food is far more than calories - it is enjoyment, fun and celebration too, and you know what, life’s too short to miss out on chocolate cake!  

- Contribution by Ali Patterson, Advanced Sports Dietician -