Important factors to resilience in recovery

The road to self-healing

I guess that you a familiar with the expression – “One oneself is the better farmhand” – and we know through first hand experience that asking for help is one of the most difficult things in the world. 

Most of us prefer to try to solve our problems and challenges ourselves, avoiding to disclose our perceived shortcomings for as long as possible (and sometimes even past that)

For some, dealing with your own shit by yourself without help, also works – but for many it doesn’t. There is a reason why addiction is called the disease of denial!

To work and succeed by yourself, you need to have quite a toolbox in place that is well implemented in your life and lifestyle.

Have you tested yourself with UNCOPE  and received the answer that you probably have an addiction problem with the food, or do you feel in your heart, without need for external verificationt this is the case?

If you know by heart, have made selftest with UNCOPE or taken a SUGAR diagnostics, giving you the answer that you probably have an addiction problem, here you have 10 “simple” questions you can answer honestly for yourself.

If you get 10 out of 10 – Congratulations – You are in a good position to deal with your addiction on your own, find your way to the life you really want to live

So why wait – Sit down with pen and paper and work through the questions here.

Do you have insight into your problem. DO YOU KNOW and understand that you have a problem with food, and where the problem lies?

Your first step is to realize that you have a problem, that sugar / flour / dairy / processed food has taken over and that you no longer posess logical control your intake.

This process can be extremely tough, and covered in SHAME over not being able to fix this on your own. But believe me, if you have tried half your life, no miracle will happen completely by itself. You need to find tools to grasp it, and these tools are different for all of us.

I (Frida) have known for a long time that sugar has been a problem that has created a loss of control in me. I was sneaking with my food consumtion, and till this day others are not really aware how bad it actially was. I din’t just lie to others – also to myself.

It was only after I went on a 4 day detox with Bitten Jonsson that I understood the extent of my addiction. I went there to get a nice little kick in the butt and instead got a huge punch in the face when I realized that I also changed outlet and had started moving into alcohol. The insight and shame that i felt once i realized that, was a real tough one to overcome.

But it was also that realization that saved my life. I realized there and then that if I didn’t do something about this, I would be soon be completely lost. Not adressing this would have cost me my marriage and had severe consequences for the kids. I had just resigned from my job and was going to start my own business and I would never have been able to do that if I had not also started to deal with my addiction.

Gaining insight can also be called capitulation. A rough word for all of us good girls who wants to solve everything on our own. If you don’t have a full heartfelt acceptance of the harsh reality, you will not be able to move on. That is something I have seen and learned in the past 6 years (since 2014).

So, do you have any insight to your problem and your challenges? Are you ready to do something about it?

that is a very good (and necessary) first step on your journey to a freer life.

Do you have motivation – things / emotions that kick higher than the drug so you do not perceive it as you renounce something by living a life without the drug?

What is motivation?

According to wikipedia, it is defined as follows:

Motivation , psychological characteristics that give an organism  impetus , that is, it evokes action towards a desired goal and attracts, controls, and maintains certain targeted actions. It is the inner driving force behind behaviors such as what choices you choose, how long you take before you get started, how much commitment and perseverance you have, and how you feel and think during the activity.

For example, an individual who has not eaten, feels hungry, and in response to eating, hunger is reduced. There are many ways to approach motivation. Psychologically, behaviorally, cognitively, and socially. It is the determining factor in setting and achieving goals, and research shows that individuals can influence their own levels of motivation and self-control.

Regarding food addiction and motivation to a sugarfree life, “living sugar-free” only works as a driving force if you feel that it really gives you more than “not living sugar-free”.

Taste the words – to live sugar-free. The feeling you get can certainly be anything from hm – I can test that to dismay and disgust (The latter being your red dog that reacts to the words).

Using the words and the meaning – to live sugar-free, is therefore not a good motivating factor.

The reason for this is our “red dog”! The only thing the dog hears when you express the words “living sugar-free” is a punishment, negative and nothing positive. With these words you are basically renouncing your best friend i the world.

If, on the other hand, you look further. What would “living sugar-free” actually mean to you? What do you achieve in health, mentally, socially and spiritually?

Now that would give a completely different feel to it. The red dog can not oppose to things like more energy, healthier skin and fitter, or better relationship with spouse / partner, better parent, or how about more money left over to do things you previously could only dream of. Ultimately – have time and energy to live your dreams.

Consider this –  why  is it that you choose to live sugar-free (or whatever your choice is right now). This is where you should find your driving force. Using the words “to live sugar-free” does not ring a positive bell in your emotional center in the brain. The words only works when reasoning with logic and rationality.

So – Find the emotions – and you can also identify and make use of your motivating drive.

Motivation as a fresh produce

We don’t just wake up motivated every morning. Motivation is a fresh produce – and much in your environment can be factors that replenish while others “eat” of it.

See your motivation as a bank account. The account needs to be a plus for you to be able to make the withdrawals during the day that challenge and drain you. You need a positive account for you to have the resilience to make the conscious choices that are good for you in all situations – DESPITE the fact that you may both have the opportunity to eat and that no one is there to see and tell.

Eating your favorites for emotional mangement is a short-term solution to a problem with long-term consequences. Now have a taste of that.

You need a positive motivation account that makes you resist the sweet smell even when you pass the bakery for the 10th time that day. Every time you pass by and need to make an active decision, to say no inside your own head, you make a withdrawal) .

How do you ensure that you continuously replenish your motivation account? This is different for all of uss, but common to all is to make sure to do things, think thoughts and feel emotions that are positive to you.

Resilience factors that fill the motivational account

What do you really feel good about – even in the short term?

A good friend expressed it like this – there are two things at play here, Needs and Desires. Desires are something that emerges when our basic needs are not being met. Once the real need has been acknowledged, the desire also disappears. 

You fill your motivation account by making sure that your basic needs are met – You know maslows hiearchy of needs? Needs such as joy, peace, gratitude, physical health, security, community, to be seen and to be loved.

So start writing a list of the little things in everyday life that give you this, and make sure that it is something you really have the opportunity to replenish continuously in your everyday life.

What gives you joy? – to run, sing, draw, paint, something fun to laugh at, someone fun to laugh with?

How can you feel calm? – order and tidyness at home? cleaning? quiet walk? cuddle with the dog, cat, children or spouse / partner? hot shower? heavy blanket? massage? go to the hairdresser? fold laundry (yes you read correctly… .) Check out which of your daily chores that you may currently view as musts, that also give you emotional fullfillment with joy or peace of mind.

What do you need to be able to excercise feeling grateful? Write a book of gratitude? Meditate gratitude before you fall asleep, or when you wake up? Morning affirmation where you set the tone for the day? forest walks?

What do you need to feel safe? a door you can close and lock behind you, a peaceful corner of the house? a locked door? a warm embrace to rest in? That you can trust people around you?

Continue with all the different factors we mentioned above and see if you can find feel-good factors you can get into your everyday life in all areas.

When you get to a point where you are fulfilling your basic needs your are also constantly replenishing your motivation account, enabling you to resist the call of the drug – not because you have to, and not because you should, but because you actually WANT to – thats when you can tick this one off. Motivation – being a fresh produce.

If you feel that this is something you want to immerse yourself in and work more with, then our  Workbook  may be something for you to work a little further with.

Is this your D-day – The point of no return, where you came to your senses and decided once and for all? Do you feel it deep in your bones – ENOUGH? If it has already happened – Maybe you can look back and find that day and see the time before and the time after?

Some call this surrendering, which for others may sound nasty. Like giving up. 

In on sense it is giving up, Giving up your drug. Giving up one thing to win a life. Or would you rather give up your life for the sake of your favorite?  Are you ready to surrender – are you willing to give up the drug to find your way back to life?

A drug, no matter which, can really put its claws in you and take over your life completely. That sugar, being a socially accepted foodproduct, can do it is not something everyone thinks about, but if you are addicted to sugar, you know exactly what we are talking about.

I, Frida, met my D-day when I realized that I would quit my job with one year of full payment, and thus be able to go home and pull the doors of the cubboard without any restrictions a whole year. First of all, i realized that I would gain a lot of weight, and that I would simply never be able to resist singlehanded. I then chose to attend a sugar detox with Bitten jonsson and in that process i got a shock when I realized that my loss of control was not only with sugar, but also alcohol. That insight hit me hard attending the course. Today I am SO grateful that I decided to go and do that initial detox and sample of knowledge. Even though I had reached my point of no return, i also needed the knowledge and tools to move forward.

We see a clear correlation with our clients. If they have not “capitulated” they also have difficulty staying sober. They have simply left the back door open, and with that door open it is difficult to stay motivated and wave goodbye to your (up until now) best friend in the world.

Have you reached your D-day, the point of no return? If you have, consider what’s next for you that supports your plan and health going forward. 

If not, you are probably not ready for change – and your red dog is happily confirming this. 

Do your loved ones support you and believe that you, with their support, can change?

No man is an island, alone is not strong and other similar clichés say a lot about this resilience factor

A sugar addict (or any addict) is busy managing his/her shit and needs support from the environment, that this does not become an additional complicating factor.

The sugar addict is good at beating him/herself and doesn’t need others to add to the burden.

Do you have relatives? – family, friends, living in the same household or other constellations with people who mean something to you. Would their support and understanding of your challenges be helpful?

Have you told them what challenges you have?

Do they know that you need support from them?

Do you think they would show understanding if you told them?

If you can not answer yes to these 3 questions regarding your loved ones – then think about what would happen if you told. And if you cannot get the support you need from them – How can you get the support from others.

Is the relationship so negative that you would actually have to break it – if not forever, then at least for the moment?

Daring to tell usually gives positive surprises. We are very good at thinking catastrophic thoughts in our heads and we are also very good at making decisions on behalf of others, without giving them the chance to actually become part of the solution.

Dare to tell and show yourself vulnerable – shame is usually what holds back, but if you dare to let it go, you can also let others in. Others you need to get external support to lean on. An extra armor, which will help you resist if your own motivation dips for the moment.

If you can say that you have people around you who support you in your challenges and choices, and that your loved ones do not oppose to your choices – you can check this one off as support in your healing.

If you are missing a flock that understands you – go find it – Find sugar sisters and brothers in the community. You can e.g. find it here at LevaSockerfri – in our groups on social media or as part of our treatment community, but there are also others all around the world – if you venture into 12 step groups or apply to some of our sugar therapist colleagues.

Do you have the ability to remove harmful elements in your environment and surroundings (situations and people)?

A prerequisite for recovery is that you know how to avoid or mitigate your triggers. Otherwise, you easily end up with monster cravings without ability to defend yourself. Knowing your triggers makes you able to mitigate and act before it is too late and you absentminded have eaten something you did not want. We can be triggered by many different things such as:

Events – these can be situations where you have previously eaten as part of that event, such as driving a car or riding a train that is common for many. Or travelling in general, one of the many excuses for celbration or comfort. It can also be going out for dinners that you have not given som thought in advance. You may come ravenously hungry to your friend’s dinner only to realize that you can not eat the Lasagne served. Uou still choose to do it because you are hungry and do not want to seem rude. To avoid a trigger here could as example have been, to have eaten something nourishing before attending the dinner or discussing the dinner beforehand ensuring that your friend will serve somehting that you can eat, or worst case – even bring your own food.

Emotions – here we of course have lots of triggers. Why have you been eating sugary/ultraprocessed food all these years? You have probably silenced some unwelcome feeling in a very effective way. Sugar is extremely analgesic. Emotions come in a huge variety, like sadness and pain but also joy and happiness. Emotions are not dangerous, so try to allow them to be seen istead of being sealed of.  A feeling lasts just under a minute, so let it exist and it will release soon if you do not put any greater value on it.

Condition – of course we can also eat when we are tired, hungry, bored or stressed. Here it is beneficial to actually find which of these you are eating at and make a plan for how to handle these the next time it comes up. If you know you are going to have a stressful day, it is especially important to have a plan for what you are going to eat. If you get bored – what can you do to break that state? Here it is great to have a dopamine raising activity list and choose an activity that you feel good about.

You can work with mapping of your triggers in Chapter 5 of the workbook. Keeping track of your triggers can really help you move forward!

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Have you found other “suitable” outlets instead? What do you do instead of eating, which can give you the “same” results?

Here you have factor number 6 which is important to keep an eye on for the self-healing person. Finding other  SUITABLE  outlets

Many people with sugar addiction (or other addictions for that matter) express to us that they have an “all or nothing” personality.

If so, It is difficult to find moderation in the things we do – because when something is interesting or exciting, you put all the focus into it and go “all in”. Often, however, the inner requirements for results also become huge and harsh, and we fall harder when the inner demands for success are not met to at least 110%. Really a completely impossible equation….

The all-in focus is also pushed by the reward-thirsty brain that is hungry for its rewards and has difficulty achieving it excercising moderation. You experience that you constrain yourself and frankly – it feels a bit boring.

Unfortunately, this is the (sugar) addicts everyday and also one of the reasons that it is so difficult to stay on the path of sobriety.

Being sober often gets boring if you do not make sure to fill your life with adequate outlets that still give you small doses of the coveted dopamine/endorphines/serotonine.

Here, feel-good lists that are easy to perform in everyday life become extra important. We usually call it dopamine / serotonin lists or even things that you put on your WANT list.

If you want to work more with it, we can recommend you to work with chapter three of the  workbook . If you need more help we work a lot with this both in our primary treatment and our relapse prevention.

If you do not attend to this, it will be easy to completely unknowingly change outlets, from sugar to screen time, work, alcohol, sex, exercise or games. The list can be made long – and everything can be exercised in a way that becomes harmful. When that happens we see that it is never far to relapse with the favorite drug.

So get started –

  • What do you feel good about?
  • What makes you happy and curious?
  • What gives you peace and security?
  • What or who makes it tickle in your stomach and what makes you laugh?
  • What increases your creativity?

When you feel that you have a balanced everyday life and experience that it does not  always  have to be all or nothing, that you can actually sometimes find joy in the small things and that everything does not have to be so big – then you have a sense of security in other appropriate outlets and can tick off this factor number 6 as support for you as a self-healing human being

Do you make sure you have external boundaries that prevent you from taking drugs?

Another prerequisite for handling your sugar monster on your own, is to make sure to build fences that keep you away from use, when your inner drive for sobriety is weak.  Only YOU know what YOUR fence needs to consists of, but I thought I would tell you about mine (Fridas).

My very best fence is my clients. I talk daily with people who walk the path I have also walked for almost 7 years. I am constantly reminded of how I felt before and that is definitely not a life I want to return to. So contact with others doing the same journey is an extremely effective fence for me and one we often tend to forget. We do not want to be a nuisence and disturb others being busy with their own lives. That assumption is really stupid i can tell you and even though – Way too often we all sit and think just that. Give yourself the gift of reaching out to a sugar sister or brother. I promise – it will help you both.

I ahve also made sure to build a very good fence at home. My husband knows exactly how I become if i eat things that are not good for me, so he would protest loudly if he saw me eating drug food, and even greay area food. Even the 10-year-old would be so shocked that she would have an outburst. I tell you – these are good fences!

I have also chosen to be very public with my addiction. This means that there is a good probability that someone would react if I sit at a café in my hometown and eat drugfood. 

Going public is often a very scary thing – but something many of us need to do. If we don’t – we keep the backdoor open. If no one else knows your problem, they will not notice if you would fall into relapse, and would would not need to feel ashamed for not being able to stick to your choices. In our experience, open back doors sooner or later lead to relapse. So my recommendation to you – close the door by telling your surroundings how it is. It’s healing, and those who do not understand or say something nasty probably have no knowledge or even more often – bigger problems than you have. The classic denial.

So give some thought to your your fence! What obstacles can you put between you and your favorite drug?

Do you break your eating patterns and have stopped trying to find a replacement for the drug through substitues?

If it looks like your favorite, smells like your favorite or tastes like your favorite – what is it? and what does it do to you if you eat it? – even though it only resembles and is not your actual favorite.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of working with substitutes. If your favorite drug is sandwiches, you might start baking LCHF bread without flour to eat instead. Instead of pancakes, you make a variation without flour, but with lots of cream and topping with strawberries or raspberries. On the plate, it looks like a delight to the eye and the brain takes a shot of joy. Wohoo here comes good stuff.

What though happens, is that you preserve old behaviors but replace the drug food with something that is “OK” according to your own rules – the label you have put on the food you eat. Many people find the base in LCHF / Paleo / Keto based food and use it as a measure of what is OK or not.

The fact that we have a label on our diet also makes it easier for us to scan our surroundings and check if what we see fits under that label.

Then we can suddenly find pastries and desserts with our label on recipe pages, and your innervoice, the red dog, finds good reason to tell you that this is OK to eat, because it is xxxx diet (insert which you use).

BUT – just because it has the right label that you have chosen to use, it does not actually mean that it works for you as a sugar addict.

Everyone has different things that triggers spinning thoughts and cravings, which means that the diet one can eat does not work for another. If we use common labels such as keto, lchf etc., we will miss this.

Within LCHF you can find that for many it is OK with sugar-free sweets, sugar-free chocolate and red wine as long as it is below 5g Kh per 100g, but eating a carrot is associated with “deathpenalty” because it is NOT allowed (7gKH / 100g).

What we instead talk to our clients about here at LevaSockerfri is that everyone instead have their own diet.

I eat Charlotte food, Frida eats Frida food… .I’m sure you understand what I mean. If I have that label on the food I can eat, it will also be the one I scan my world with.

Does what I see fit into Charlotte food? Then it suddenly becomes much easier inner dialogue. This way it cannot hide substitute drug food behind different permitted recipes within different diets.

When you stop looking for compensation for what you feel you have “lost” and are grounded in a safe diet that primarily takes into account the addiction, you can check that you have the self-healing person’s factor 8 in place, and that your food works as a health factor for you instead of letting you cinctantly balance dangerously on the edge of relapse.

If you need tips for cooking where you skip the idea of ​​replacement and substitute thinking, we can only recommend a few different cookbooks, as most of what you can find is really risky out there. Most cookbook writers are not aware of the challenges with sugar addiction and tempt with various desserts, fatty pancakes with cream and berries, pies, “pasta”, “bread”, smoothies that look like desserts, waffles and other things that get a sugar/flour-addicted brain going bananas.

The recipes you find here at LevaSockerfri are sugar-free and gluten-free and a great deal also dairy-free, with focus on food – not resemblance of desserts and juicy snacks.

No whatter what you find there – always bear in mind if this is food for you. If we should present a guaranteed triggerfree cookbook for everyone, it would be very short. If you trigger on tomatoes – skip those, trigger on crunch – skip the seed crackers, and so on

Do you make sure to do things now that you know are incompatible with maintaining dependence?

This is of utmost importance to avoid falling back into old patterns and habits. For example, we see surprisingly often how our clients bake for children and party without eating for themselves. This can be related to a co-dependence but is also a way of not closing the backdoor to the drug. Why invite others to feast on something you do not want to eat yourself? 

For sure, just because you will not, others are entitled to their choices, but do you really need to be the provider of it? 

We advocate that you simply let your family eat what they want, but that you let them fix drug food themselves if they want it. 

My (Fridas) foremost thing incompatible with upholding the drug is amazingly strong! I talk to clients daily which means they are a great reminder for not to relapse. How can i guide them if i myself munch on chocolate? That does not work at all. 

A good way for you if you also want to help others, is to do the 12-step program in for example OA, FAA, AA, NA, Al-Anon (does not matter where) and then sponsor new ones. A fantastic journey in personal development that everyone can benefit from, with or without addiction.

So feel free to find ways that are incompatible with eating junk for you.

Let’s look at your recovery factors to get there. 

What makes you feel really good in life? We see that this is an area that our clients often struggle with. Therefore, we usually sit down and make serotonin and dopamine activity lists, to make things clearer. The Dopamine activity list shall be filled with activities that really makes you happy and feel alive. some mixed examples of this could be

  • Skiing
  • Meet other people
  • Learn new things
  • Refurnish at home
  • Or whatever gives you joy and makes you curious in live

On the Serotonin activity list things that make you calm and relaxed finds their place. This can be very different for different people. In general, watching TV should not be on this list, even if you may feel that you are relaxing. But here your brain feels best when it is allowed to find true rest. Some examples of that could be:

  • Quiet walks
  • Cuddling with pets
  • Meditation, yoga and mindfulness
  • Massage
  • To cuddle up in the couch with a good book

Yes, the lists can be made long but the interesting thing is what YOU put on them. It is worth sitting down and thinking about these, so that you get a lot of recovery to work with. In addition, it becomes an activity to do instead of eating when you need distraction.

So sit down and make your lists, and you’re one step ahead of the craving.

So now we have come to the tenth health factor that defines your opportunities and ability to get free from your sugar addiction, that you can become FREE for real.

This is:

Are you compassionate with yourself. Do you treat yourself as you treat your best friend, compassionate without punishing or shaming yourself?

This is the last but certainly not the least. Rather the opposite. This is often where we cut the branch we are sitting on. That we tell ourselves that we are not good enough, that we cannot, are not worthy of feeling good. We talk to ourselves and judge ourselves on a scale that is much tougher than the one we deal with our fellow human beings with.

To be free, you need to see yourself as worthy. Worthy of a good life, Worthy of having health, Worthy of feeling good. You need to hug yourself and feel that you are good as you are.

Try closing your eyes and focusing on something you have accomplished today. What are you grateful for on this day?

Feel free to write a list that focuses on what you succeed at instead of focusing on the things you did not have time for or that did not turn out exactly as you intended. It helps to create satisfaction and gratitude that helps you stay free from cravings and avoiding eating on negative emotions.

Below youtube clip is reflections on shame. This can also give some perspective on self-compassion

If you can honestly say that you are compassionate with yourself and support yourself instead of always being your own worst enemy you can also tick this one off as something that works for you instead of against you.

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