“I’m addicted to sugar. How do I stop?” It’s a question I’m asked a lot lately. When I was struggling with this addiction all I wanted was to follow a plan, kind of like a recipe. I wanted to follow it exactly so I would get a perfect outcome.
The ingredients for beating sugar addiction, however, are not exact. The only thing thing I’m sure of is processed sugar is not one of the ingredients.
For a processed sugar addict, that is like a hard blow to the mid-section. For the one thing an addict never wants to surrender is the source of their addiction.
However, it is the one thing that must be given up. I will try to explain the process I went through, but to put it in a step by step plan is not so easy. Some steps seem to wander in and out of each other blurring the lines.
“I have a problem,” is the first step. For years I accepted I had a problem. I was super morbidly obese. That was one thing I couldn’t ignore. I tried and tried and tried to fix it by myself. After all, I was pretty good at fixing other problems. I ran a household, a business and a ministry. I had a husband, two children and two foster children. I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t fix my issue with extreme weight gain so I could continue to hang on to everything I thought I couldn’t live without.
An important ingredient to beating sugar addiction is the realization there is an answer. The answer didn’t sound appealing when I first heard about it. Actually, it was God who revealed the plan to me. At the time giving up processed sugar sounded impossible. Sugar was the problem, not the solution. I just dismissed what I knew He had told me. I figured surely there must be an easier way.
Through the years, God continued to reveal the same plan to me when I would get frustrated with my situation. It took over three decades for me to come to the end of my rope. After exhausting every other possibility, I finally realized the only way to start to live was to stop eating sugar.
When it was time to surrender sugar I understood one very big thing, I had been going to sugar instead of to God. Sugar had been my go-to resource for anesthetizing any emotion. I had learned this coping mechanism during my growing up years. To undo that I had to let go of emotional attachments to people and things from my past.
I had to reach towards the only One who had always been there to support me. When I reached up to Him, He reached down to me. One important aspect about surrendering sugar I had to understand was that surrender meant laying down my addiction for the rest of my life. It had to be a lifestyle change or it would not be surrender.
The actual moment of surrender didn’t come with bells and whistles, but with just letting go. I let go of sugar to take hold of the hand of the One who had been there all along.
I had been walking one way towards a very unhealthy life. I knew the direction I needed to go. I thought of all the ways through the years that I’d tried to get there. I had taken many circuitous routes that seemed to only take me further away from my destination. Now, I was faced with the truth. To get to health, I had to turn around and go the opposite direction.
I could not carry extras supplies for a relapse. I had to lay everything down. It was an all or nothing proposition. I had been going the wrong way. I admitted my failure. I didn’t just say I was sorry, I repented once and for all.
I turned around and began the journey towards health. I did not look back for to look back would mean I would again turn into a pillar of sugar.
Walking out the journey is where many get scared and run back to the comfort zone of addiction they’ve always relied on. To walk in obedience, there has to be a Higher Power to which obedience is given. For me that Higher Power is God. He is the One who beckoned me on this journey for decades. He is the One to Whom I run to now in obedience.
Walking in obedience ties the hands of the supposed strong man who calls to me in times when I have always run to to my addiction. I stand in the power of God, face him and say, “No, I am a child of obedience. I will no longer listen to you.” When I say this by my lifestyle, he knows he has lost and after some time of continuing to badger he will go bother someone else.
Grace is the operational power of God that brings momentum to my journey. I begin with trepidation and a quiet whisper in my heart telling me, “No, this is the way, walk here,”1
As I walk, I soon begin to pick up speed and before I know it I am running with the wind of grace at my back, almost as if it is a race. My Author is always clearly in sight urging me on.2
There is no possibility of turning back now knowing what He endured so I can run this race. I have surrendered it all to Him and I will not turn back.
The momentum is strong and yet, there are days I feel so weak.3 He runs before me so I know exactly where to go. Because of His direction I don’t fall or falter, but run boldly with courage.4
The transformation I desire is a journey from glory to glory5 to become more and more like the Master. I look at my body after four years of walking this journey and I know a transformation is taking place.
I continue to make decisions not to give in to everything the world tells me. My mind is continually renewed and changed.
Which decisions come first? Which are decisions learned along the journey. I know not. I only know I continue to make the choices necessary for the transformation to continue.6
I am victorious in many aspects. Yet, I do not assume to have won the victory for to do so would be to let my guard down. I still keep my eyes ever on my Author and Guide.
Victory comes only through Christ. For years I knew I needed a victory that could only come through deliverance.7 I cried out to have the chains broken that bound me. What I didn’t understand was I had placed myself in the chains. Only I had the key to set myself free.
Victory comes in surrender. It’s the only place it happens. When I hold on to the things I crave, the things I think I can’t live without I can never be free. There is only one place true, complete victory is found.
It is in the One who overcame all of earth’s temptations. The same power that raised Him from the dead8 is raising me up from the death trap I placed myself in.
The victory comes only by laying everything at the feet of Jesus and keeping it there. There can be nothing held back. There can be nothing retrieved
For years, I thought I was hiding my addiction from Him. I’d say I surrendered it, but I hadn’t. I hadn’t given it totally to Him. He knew it because He knew my heart.
The moment my heart was right, though, in that moment I appropriated the operational power found in grace. I was catapulted forward. I felt it as a blast of love, a door of hope flung wide open.
When along the journey did it happen that I surrendered totally? I know it happened to begin the journey, but it also happens as I continue to daily find myself with my face on the floor before Him, crying out for His strength.
He strengthens me because my heart is now totally His.9 And I know I have found freedom from the things I have been bound to all my life.
Can I turn and pick it back up again? Yes, at any moment because He has given me free will. I have a choice. I can choose bondage or I can choose freedom. I will never go back because nothing tastes as good as freedom feels. Nothing.
Total surrender. Total victory. Total Freedom.
1 Isaiah 30:21
2 Hebrews 12:1-2
3 Hebrews 12:12 and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
4 Hebrews 12:13
5 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
6 Romans 12:2
7 Romans 7:24-25
8 Romans 8:11
9 2 Chronicles 16:9
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.