THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF YOUR SUGAR ADDICTION

Can you balance unhealthy compulsions without losing your appetite for pleasure? Emma Whitehair wrestles with the demons of alcohol, love, and sugar addiction, and asks herself: “What are you really hungry for?”

“Could I continue to sink my teeth into life with enthusiasm while learning balance around an unhealthy compulsion?”- Emma Whitehair

Ughhhh … Krispy Kremes. Never something I’d choose to put in my body. So why, when a colleague turned up with a box full of them, did my inner werewolf rear its head? A demon who was frothing at the mouth to demolish the lot, while my sensible side tried to argue the case to “go-halves” on one.

The demon won, leaving me to contend with a toxic dose of self-loathing. 

My sweet tooth kicked in with a vengeance when I quit booze over a decade ago, and I felt that this new appetite was part of my continued search for escapism and relief. Love, too, came under this dopamine-inducing umbrella. My hunger for gratification also showed up in romantic fantasies of that one magic person who’d be capable of making me happy forever after …

However, unlike sobriety, going cold turkey on sugar (and love for that matter) didn’t feel like the right approach. Isn’t fruit sugar? Not to mention nutrient rich blackstrap molasses and antibacterial raw manuka honey? Where to draw the line? I’ll admit that my justifications sounded a bit like the arguments I used to have against quitting booze. “I just want to be able to enjoy a nice glass of Rioja with tapas, or champers at a wedding.” I know where those odd glasses can lead me though—the tail end of a two-day bender.

With an addictive personality, could I become moderate in this one area? And how not to lose my wildly passionate side and my appetite for pleasure in the process? I set out to discover if I could continue to sink my teeth into life with enthusiasm while learning balance around an unhealthy compulsion …

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:: BELLY BACTERIA BALANCING ::
My first step was to go into my gut. An overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract can manifest as fatigue, a foggy head, anxiety and, most noticeably, sugar cravings. Overdoing it with alcohol, refined carbohydrates and sugary foods commonly causes this problem. Perhaps this was my werewolf’s lair?

I consulted Nutritional Therapist Claudia le Feuvre, who placed me on a course of Dida supplements and probiotics to tackle any pathogenic bacteria and to re-inoculate my gut with antimicrobials.

A few months later, I noticed my urge to bury my head in a bag of Haribo had disappeared. I now had the confidence that the issues were not tied to gut health. It was time to take my journey even deeper.

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:: IT’S ALL A METAPHOR ::
Claudia prescribed a reading list as a key part of my healing, and I consumed each title with gusto.

After living with the patriarchy for thousands of years, we’ve literally been starved of our divine feminine. The result? We’re now going wild with addictions and disorders as we fill our bellies to fill the emptiness in our hearts. Women Who Run with the Wolves and Eating in the Light of the Moon both have this concept at their core, and show how cravings can be metaphors.

The Gift of Our Compulsions inspired me to meet my compulsions with curiosity rather than resistance in order to get at what lived underneath them. By cultivating detachment from my thoughts, feelings, and sensations, I could witness my cravings.

When I declare ‘I’m hungry,’ I am identified with this experience. Whereas ‘this is hunger’ creates space for me to relate to what’s really happening, and ask if the statement is true. And in most cases, it’s not true at all. It’s more like ‘this is boredom/procrastination/loneliness,’ which I can either try to remedy or simply observe without needing to ‘fix.’

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:: A SESSION WITH THE SPIRITUAL NUTRITIONIST ::
The final part of my work with Claudia involved a 1-2-1 session where she called upon her spirit guide to help us “recode inner conflict” and used kinesiology to identify a potent mantra.

During our session, my arm suddenly gained strength from the words: “I am in tune with my body’s nutritional needs, and have no hunger for food beyond them.” This was then used as a mantra in a kind of Psych-k self-hypnosis meditation, where after about 10 minutes Claudia was shown by her guide, with a shiver through her body, that our work was done.

Although, I didn’t feel a bolt of lightning during the session, it’s like a spell has been broken. I feel relaxed around my usual triggers, and noticeably more tuned in to the intuitive whispering of my body.

Now, when I get the urge to eat when I’m not hungry, I often seem to instinctively know what tactic will help me ride it out. A few deep breaths, a drink of water, or a big stretch is usually all it takes.

Art: Sustici

:: THE FAST OF ENLIGHTENMENT ::
My newfound gut feelings also told me that the next step in this journey was to introduce a fasting practice to help me regain a sense of the true nature of my body’s hunger. Fasting is the most natural way to rest the body, giving it the chance to do the “housework” needed to repair cells and cleanse the itself, while improving immunity.  

When I started losing my appetite for a meal in the evening, I took it as a sign that my body wanted the benefits of some regular light fasting. So from around 5pm to late morning, I often stick to water and herbal tea. And although I sometimes go to bed feeling hungry, intuition tells me my digestive system needs this rest. I’m now sleeping more deeply and I wake feeling light and much less hungry than if I have a meal the night before.

I’m also committed to fasting at least a couple of days per month, usually over the New Moon—my version of the “Lunar Diet.” Near the Full Moon I often crave extra calories because of my cycle, whereas during the New Moon I feel more like hibernating. It’s also the ideal time to go inwards and set intentions for the coming astrological season.

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:: WHAT AM I TRULY HUNGRY FOR? ::
Using tactics to pause when I’m tempted to grab a substitute for what I really need has been a total (third) eye opener!

It’s given me the sense that my appetite is primal. We’re first comforted as babies through sweet breast milk and so sweetness will always be associated with mother love. An absence of that kind of nurturing can show up in dysfunctional relationships with comforting substances like sugar, alcohol, or the dopamine hit you get with the first flush of ‘love’.

So what to do in the present about a void from the past? Some sweet ass self-loving of course! We all have the chance, right now, to be the parent we needed growing up. Allowing feelings that have been buried in the past to move through us is how we evolve …

My epiphany about my constant low-level hunger? There’s fulfillment to be found by relishing my appetite, rather than chasing gratification. It’s summed up in this quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, Take This Waltz: “Life has a gap in it. It just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it like some lunatic.” I simply need to accept, and even celebrate, the fact that there will always be this hunger within me.

So when Krispy Kreme (a.k.a. my Soul Challenge on this journey) announced their new flavor (Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème, in case you were wondering) by sending a truckload to my office, I met my inner wolf with curiosity. I saw that she wasn’t a “demon” at all, and just a part of me wanting to be comforted. “Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance,” says Epicurus. So I enjoyed half a donut. Leaving enough room to still be able to taste the sweetness of life.

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Emma Whitehair is the founder of London based boutique lifestyle PR agency, WHITEHAIR.CO, which specialises in fashion, beauty, and wellbeing communications. 

THE MAGIC INGREDIENT: DREAMY VIBES WITH VELVET BEANS

In the first installment of her new column, Ysanne Spevack shares a creamy faux Cappuccino recipe for you to sample some dreamy velvet beans vibes…

Like Jack’s magic beans in the fairytale, velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens in Latin) truly deliver. They’re one of the strongest herbal ingredients I use, and a favorite for total vibe-change. Pods that grow on trees in India, and used as an Ayurvedic medicine, they’ve been tried and tested over millennia, and are now available as an extract in the US, sold as a brown powder that’s water-soluble.

The main active compounds in velvet bean extract fall into two groups: antioxidants, and amino acids, of which the main one is L-dopa, and another is called trypatmine, for obvious reasons. Together, these phytochemicals work synergistically for neural health, and specifically relieve stress and melt our sense of boundaries. Perfect for Pisces season—the archetypal symbol of ego loss and dreams. There’s some research that links velvet beans to sexual health too, but that’s likely to be a result of their relaxing effect.

L-dopa is a precursor to dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline, which means it has a profound psychoactive effect. You can feel it working, stimulating a sense of dreamy deliciousness and allowing you a peak behind the veil of consciousness. If you’ve ever wanted to feel the grandeur of the Universe while you melt into your pillow, velvet bean extract is the high vibe ingredient for you. I recommend using it sparingly—a little goes a long way. Also if you’re feeling unstable, or if you’re pregnant, it’s best if you pass on this for now, as with anything psychoactive.

Here’s my recipe for a delicious hot ‘faux cappuccino’ that won’t buzz you like caffeine, and will guide you to feel a subtle oneness with the cosmos. It’s not a bedtime drink— the velvet bean stimulates adrenaline production. But it’s a fantastic way to space out with some music on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and swim in cosmic waters of the Milky Way…

The drink is comfortingly sweet, while the bitterness of the velvet bean and umami of the reishi are similar to coffee, hence the name. Nettles soothe the nerves, and keeps the velvet bean from being jarring while it takes you up a notch.

Imbibe to enjoy about a one hour of day-dreams, in a suitably Piscean way…

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Pisces Velvet Bean Cappuccino Recipe
by The Conscious Cook

Makes one serving

Ingredients:

1 coffee mug filled with boiling water
1 nettle tea bag
*1/8 tsp velvet bean extract
*1 tsp powdered reishi mushroom
*1 tsp tocotrienols
1 tsp raw unfiltered honey
1 tbs raw coconut oil

* Denotes ingredients that are available online at Highvibe.com

Method:

Infuse the nettle tea bag in the boiling hot water in a large mug by pouring the hot water onto the tea bag as soon as it’s boiled.

Cover the mug with a saucer or plate, and set aside to infuse for 5 minutes.

Measure the other ingredients into a high-speed blender.

Remove the cover and tea bag, and add the nettle tea to the blender.

Blend on low, bringing the speed up to high, and then switching the blender to the maximum setting.

Blend on high for about 30 seconds, to create froth.

Pour into a large mug, spooning the creamy froth out with a spatula.

Hold the cup with both hands as you take sips, and finish it with a teaspoon to enjoy all of the frothy, creamy goodness.

Finally, relax and allow your dreams to unfold as you swim into the universal cosmos.

Discover more about Ysanne Spevack HERE.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: DOPAMINE BEANS, AND A HAPPY RE-BIRTHDAY!

High on Dopamine beans, reunited with a favorite healer, and lighting a candle for Supreme Abundance this Taurus New Moon…

:: MONDAY ::
I’m all about my dopamine beans! Which sounds like a 1990s rave drug, but is actually a high-grade supplement from “transformational food” company Sun Potion. An extract of Mucuna Puriens (a.k.a. the Velvet Bean, how lush), it’s said to improve brain function, elevate mood and sooth the nervous system (a.k.a. a Retrograde essential!). Containing a naturally occurring Amino acid, that transforms to Dopamine in the brains, Mucuna Puriens is also described in Chinese medicine as a “Jing tonic” – a tonic for the life force. And way more high vibe than a Gin Tonic, one of my old preferred mood enhancers, lol.

:: TUESDAY ::
The Retro also bought amazing Kerri Aab back into my life today, who I first met a few years ago and who creates the MOST potent and perfectly blended custom flower remedies. But I forgot how equally uplifting and supportive the Skype consult alone with Kerri is (which is when you determine the flowers going in your blend). To me, this woman is the definition of LIGHTWORKER—a gifted healer who makes the darkness so much easier to navigate. Book a session: Seedtoblossom.com

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Mercury Retro might have tried to keep it from me, but I finally tracked down my delivery from Mama Moon Candles—an amazing witchy apothecary based in the UK, which I discovered after I connected with founder (whose identity remains a mystery!) on Instagram. Hand poured, 100% vegan, and paraben free, I’ll be lighting up some Supreme Abundance for my New Moon ritual Friday…www.mamamooncandles.com

Supreme Abundance candle, £25 ($36)

:: THURSDAY ::
Doing final preps for our Mercury Rising event at the Standard, High Line this Saturday—including a chat with Ophira from the Astro Twins about our F*ck You Mercury Retro salon (one of three workshops taking place throughout the day). My big realization? Exactly how much I NEED this. Life has been intense this past couple of months, and I can’t wait to spend the day talking it out, soaking up some amazing cosmic wisdom, and doing some much needed emotional healing in the evening breathwork session. See you there!

:: FRIDAY ::
Happy Re-birth Day Jackie O’Shea! One of our beautiful contributors shared with me this week how today’s Taurus New Moon marks one year since she left her old job in banking to pursue her dharma working as a channel and healer (a nicely cosmically aligned move, I might add). Which got me thinking about the concept of a “re-birth day.” Because just like we celebrate our solar return, and have anniversaries for our relationships, or began a new business for example, isn’t there also a date in all our calendars that marks the day we too took that one giant leap? For me, I think it’s February 18 2012 – the day I packed my bags and moved to New York City. Which makes this part of my journey Aquarius, with Gemini Rising and a Capricorn Moon – (OMG, favorite new game). What’s yours?

AFTER THE PARTY: HOW TO HOLD ON TO YOUR SPIRITUAL HIGH

Who says there’s no comedown from a spiritual high? Erin Telford has some advice for rolling out the high vibes even once reality bites.

Illustration: Cate Parr

You know the feeling. You’ve been living in a bikini and cutoffs and braids for a week, meditating and practicing yoga every day, eater cleaner than you’ve ever eaten before and you might even have broken your tech addiction.

You’ve been living off the land, having “paradigm shift” experiences. Who cares about showers? You woke up like this. You’ve got the glow that comes from roaming, discovering, and connecting with wild, uncharted territory ALL DAY.

You’re full of vitality and big plans! Fired up and high on life, your routine is completely revamped before you land back home. You’re totally getting up at 6am every day to move your body. You will finally commit to juicing! Your relationships are going to be so Zen.

And then…wah wah wahhhhh. Reality. Back to the grind. It feels almost like you never left, except for those great photos you keep flipping through on your phone.

We’ve all been there. The post yoga retreat/Burning Man/revolutionary healing session that feels like it will catapult you into a completely new existence. And then you return to “real life” and it feels so hard to hang on to all of those incredible insights.

Illustration: Lauren Albert

What happens when we have new experiences is that we’re flooded with dopamine – a.k.a. the pleasure center chemical, the neurotransmitter of DESIRE. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that chases rewards – and as new things fuel us with perspective and possibility, it’s a thrill and a half to get your mind blown. We thrive on the sensation of every fresh beginning.

So how do we hang onto the high vibes as we return to life as we know it?

Here’s the deal, everything you’ve felt, transformed, and learned is still within you. There’s nowhere for it to go. The ecstatic dance, the peaceful quiet morning, the Reiki session that turned your world around. The after-effects are contained and imprinted into your psyche.

In Chinese medicine, they say every time your heart beats, it’s like a camera click taking a picture of your moment-to-moment existence. Your sweet heart stamps every bit of beauty and love that you move through into your blood!

Routine is a killer and can make us feel complacent and uninspired. Novelty stirs our souls and our creative spirit. So, to keep yourself in the groove, do something you’ve never done before every week! When they say that life begins outside of your comfort zone, they aren’t kidding.

Illustration: Belinda Chen

Grab the most beautiful vegetable you see at the green market and build a meal around it. Round up some friends to watch the leaves change at Storm King. Go all the way up to to Washington Heights to have dinner. Revel in a Gong Bath. Visit the Dream House.

When you decide to look at life through a new lens, this beginner’s mind can apply to literally anything. Can you use your newfound courage and sense of self to share your fears and insecurities with a friend for the first time? Can you translate the feeling of peace in your body into a more harmonious relationship with your parents or partner? Infuse your transformation into your daily life and extend the feelings of bliss indefinitely.

And remember, you also have no idea how different things would be if you’d just stayed home – because you didn’t! And you can apply this theory to every experience, every day of your life.

Every time something shifts one teeny tiny degree in your perspective, even if you only make the most infinitesimal change in your outlook…you will still be walking an entirely different, an entirely NEW path.

Illustration: Kelly Smith

So you really can’t ever go back to the way things were because you are different now. And now. And now…The wisdom you’ve gained about yourself, your desires, your ideals, and your truth will inform every choice you make for the future. It’s impossible for you to go backwards.

In other words, what goes up doesn’t always have to come down.

Erin Telford is the founder of Radiant Heart Acupuncture.

@RadiantHeartNYC