Sugar – My Untreated Cross Addiction

I moved to Thailand to retire and this is where eventually I met Brett.  As a retiree and no longer tied to the tight scheduling of a full-time job it took a while to become aware that I was increasing in body weight and as a 5 foot, 66 year old woman, knew that this couldn’t be good for me. Brett told me that he was a counsellor and hypnotherapist and we agreed to try hypnotherapy on my ‘problem area’.


As a recovering alcoholic I recognised that my weight gain was probably an emotional problem as many people in recovery have difficulties in learning to adjust to their ‘new’ lives. Brett and I began working together and it became obvious that I had simply shifted my addiction for alcohol to an addiction to sugar. Sugar was having the same effect on me as alcohol used to have and Brett soon identified that I was using chocolate and sweets as a ‘reward system’ for not having alcohol.  We initially endeavoured to work on a simple schedule to identify what food I ate, when and why was I eating it – was it lunch, dinner, or was I just gorging myself as boredom set in during a quiet evening at home.  (It took a while for me to admit to the gorging, as I am also addicted to denial or lying!).


Brett and I continued to work together and during this time we began to notice other issues.  I had very strong ‘people pleasing’ traits and not only did this cause me further emotional issues but in an effort to ‘people please’ I’d find myself in cafes stuffing down large cheesecakes (which were frankly poorly made but full of sugar) with friends who were also stuffing sugar down them.  Out of addiction and habit I would eat an enormous cake and find myself overwhelmed with guilt and emotional distress.   I would think little of this until I’d go and have my weekly counselling sessions with Brett and during our discussions I’d slowly begin to understand, and link my behaviour towards eating as addiction behaviour.


I’d met Brett just at the right time in my life as I was becoming physically ill and finally had to see a Doctor who declared that I was in fact pre-diabetic which really came as a shock.  I was told to completely change my life style urgently, and sugar had to be got rid of and quickly.


I continued working with Brett who by using hypnotherapy and counselling looked at both the physical and emotional issues and helped guide me on an ‘anti-addiction’ path.  I had no idea that sugar could get such a grip on me.  He gave me some literature detailing research done into sugar addiction and the effect sugar has on the brain.  When the ‘penny dropped’ that I would have to control my sugar intake I was amazed at how quickly anger and irrationality gripped and controlled me.   When I considered the possibility of no longer happily wandering through the chocolate and sweet shelves in the supermarkets and filling my basket with treats, a deep feeling of sadness hit me.  My uncontrollable anger triggered unpleasant memories of when I first had to give up alcohol, drugs and cigarettes – very difficult times in my life. With Brett’s help we have now been working on ways to jettison my tendency to addictive behaviours by analysing and understanding the emotional issues that control me.  The counselling provided has not only resulted in making me feel immensely emotionally fitter but also physically fitter.  Counselling has helped me learn to recognise ‘people pleasing’ and how I allow myself to be controlled by others. He has directed my thinking so that I can recognise my sugar addiction and how it needs to be approached.


As my counsellor Brett has helped to identify the fundamentals that are required to keep my pre-diabetic condition under control, but also, to recognise how to deal with life becoming positive again on the journey going forward.  I was surprised to learn how positivity can be just as difficult as negativity and to recognise that sugar is neither a treat nor an emotional pillar to lean on.  At Christmas when all the tins of biscuits and chocolates started materialising and literally being pushed under my nose, I felt quite at ease saying ‘no thanks’. I was surprised how easy it was.  With the counselling sessions I have had with Brett it allows me to find ways to approve of myself and the treat of looking healthy and happy has far outweighed the mouthfuls and mouthfuls of biscuits I was quite capable of stuffing down me (I could never have one biscuit!)


I now exercise each day and when Brett and I have our meeting we share our personal exercise regimes.  My weight is more under control; the texture of my skin and hair much improved, and I am feeling so much happier with my lifestyle.   I now look forward to filling out my food schedule.  My cost of living expenses have also improved – eating all the wrong types of food is so expensive – and because it’s addictive – I kept buying more and more of it. I was beginning to spend so much money on getting fatter and fatter and the more I spent, the more unwell I became.


I was surprised how easy it was to fall back into unhealthy ways of living and thinking. How easy it was to say ‘I really don’t need to look after myself anymore’.   I was surprised how much I needed the help of a counsellor who totally understood addictions and recognised very quickly what was happening to me and identified that my chosen lifestyle was not the best way for me going forward.  I have every intention of enjoying my life, being healthy physically and mentally, and my gratitude to being able to work with an understanding and empathetic counsellor has been a real joy to me.


Stevie B (Thailand)