Using Mindfulness for Self Awareness and Diabetes Sugar Cravings Release

Shelly Young, LPC Health Guide
  • Once upon a time, I walked up and down the colorful streets of Berkeley, California. It was Telegraph Avenue that attracted me most of all. The atmosphere was so bizarre that I was easily distracted from the agonizing feelings of self-loathing, self-pity, hopelessness, fear, and despair.


    There, on Telegraph Avenue, I could forget my swollen ankles, hands and legs - swollen from the massive amounts of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. In Berkeley I could lose myself within unusual forms of creative expressions, some of which seemed pathological. You have to know the Telegraph Avenue of the '70s to understand what I mean. Day after day, hour upon hour, I was utterly consumed, obsessed, and tormented by a sugar and food obsession. Sugar was my complete ruination.

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    Before the Berkeley era, I had abstained from bingeing for seven months while attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings. After relocating to California I fell off the wagon once again and gained fifty pounds in three months. I plunged into a clinical depression as I approached a semi-functional existence. I went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with a mood disorder, but I refused to take medication. I awoke one morning and groggily opened my change purse to find only one penny. That was a most memorable morning!


    It was welfare or a psych hospital. I chose welfare and could barely get myself to the office. Along with the welfare came food stamps, a month's worth binged away in three days. I had been accepted into a drug treatment program, but got cold feet at the last minute.


    Luckily, I could sing well and also played guitar. I phoned a café and got hired, but I binged the money away immediately. If I was lucky enough to stop eating, I would start chewing. Transformed into a sorbitol junkie, I chewed 20 to 30 packs of sugarless gum per day, and had chewing gum wrappers strewn all over my room. The sorbitol triggered incessant bouts of bouts of daily diarrhea. Berkeley was the place I walked aimlessly every day, sometimes trying to make the most out of a quarter.


    In 1980 I desperately searched The Bay Guardian, a small San Francisco newspaper, longing for an answer to my living Hell. I saw an advertisement for mindfulness and phoned the teacher immediately. When he answered the phone I asked, "Do you have peace of mind?" He said "yes" in a way that was truly genuine. I made an appointment and was on his doorstep the next day. As he opened the door I sensed a true peacefulness about him.


    I had met lots of people in my life that smiled a lot, were energetic, charismatic, vivacious, and friendly. But I had never met anyone with what I considered to be true peace of mind. I wanted what he had and knew that I would do anything for it. It was on February 24, 1980 - my 29th birthday - that my mindfulness journey began.


    Since then, I have spent years assisting clients and students in transforming their lives using simple mindfulness techniques. I have witnessed seemingly hopeless individuals attain peace and freedom in the midst of significant personal challenges. Since I am one of those people, I can share my experience and hope for anyone who is seeking relief from the inevitable sufferings of life and especially sugar and food addiction. 


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    The passion I have for my work as a mindfulness-based psychotherapist stems not only from my personal transformation and that of clients, but also a deep belief in every person's ability to discover their own inherent place of internal peace and harmony.


    Diabetes and sugar addiction are a lethal combo. This can hopefully contribute to the necessary motivation to pursue a sugar-free life. Of course, a sugar-free life is easier said than done, even if you are not a sugar addict or have diabetes.   Here are some tips for starting a mindfulness practice and setting the stage for freedom from sugar addiction:

    1. Receive instruction in a mindfulness method from a qualified teacher and practice it daily. 


    2. Become a person who lives in the now. When you find yourself caught up in the past and future, bring your awareness back to your present moment experience.


    3. When you have cravings for sugar, find out what your cravings really are. Do they arise within yourself as thoughts or emotions?


    4. Especially pay attention to your body sensations. Cravings often arise as emotional body sensations.


    5. If you notice emotional sensations in your body associated with the cravings, bring a gentle awareness to your body until the cravings disappear. 


    6. If you can't stay with the cravings until they disappear, then stay with them as long as possible with a gentle and open attitude.  If you choose to eat sugar, then eat it mindfully. 

    I personally have come to a place where refined sugar, carbohydrates, and all junk food is no problem at all and in no way a part of my life. It feels as though it never existed as a problem for me. I have worked for this, dedicating myself to a life of consistent mindfulness practice and the application of mindfulness methods to the negative urges for the destructive drug, sugar. 


    Breaking out of the sugar prison has led me to a life of joy and hope for anyone who wants to share the gift of a sugar-free life.  






Published On: January 20, 2010