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Book Recommendation: “Breaking up with Sugar" by Molly Carmel

Shannon M. Duffy, MFT, LCPC

When a former colleague writes a book, of course it’s exciting and a must read in support. However, this read is so much more and I feel I must share it and recommend it to all. In my private practice I work with disordered eating and eating disorders and this book really focuses in on how to look at your relationship food and find peace with it. It also presents what we all know regarding the truth about sugar and flour and then how to “break up” with it for good.

Here’s a brief overview of the book and the main points that I feel many of my own clients could benefit from. Molly, the author, has a private practice in New York City called The Beacon Program, where she focuses solely on food addictions through her method that is presented in this book. I like how the central point starts by noting that “you are not the problem; sugar is the problem.” Sugar and flour are presented as a substance addiction in addition to a process and behavioral addiction. I feel many of my clients who have binge eating behaviors and those who continue to try and fail every diet, can focus more on how to make changes through an addictions model approach.

Not sure if you have a sugar and flour addiction, there is a section in the book with a quiz to assess your level of food addiction and overall relationship with food. What I find amusing is how Molly compares the relationship with sugar and flour to an abusive relationship. The comparison helps demonstrate how you are not getting anything out of this relationship and that sugar just provides false promises.

Molly bases her method on science, research, personal experience, and provides excerpts from her clients who have adapted this program to their success. The excerpts from her clients are helpful in how you can relate to their struggles or see yourself in them and then note what worked for them. I feel this adds more emphasis towards helping to prove that sugar and flour are not a relationship worth having.

Other areas that were helpful to focus on address your core beliefs about sugar, food, and weight. What you get out of believing those thoughts and how to combat them. Instead of sulking with the “why me” and to work towards “that’s me” of acceptance and then on the road to solutions. She presents an action plan and how to implement it into your daily routine. Actions not thoughts are responsible form forming new neural pathways in your brain. When behaviors start changing then our thoughts follow. We read and heard all the reasons why sugar is “bad,” and our thoughts sabotage us from making changes towards a healthy relationship with food.

One thing I will tell my clients on the regular is that, “sugar is not a coping skill!” The only expectation you can have of a skill is that it helps you to tolerate the moment without making it worse. Your relationship with sugar can be deeply personal. This is a monumental breakup with a mood-altering substance that has given you comfort, relief, and companionship. The book addresses the losses as you breakup and how regulate those feelings through the stages of grief. Molly devotes a part of the book to writing your farewell letter to sugar to declare your commitment to yourself and your new relationship.

The goal is in creating a relationship with food and most importantly with yourself. Molly terms this as the Relationship Rebuild Plan (RRP) in how to meal plan, meal prep, and create positive healthy food choices. Life will get in the way and the challenge is to fight the urges and cravings to soothe with sugar by using your other healthy and more realistic coping and distraction skills.

Hope you will find this book as influential as I have. Thanks for reading and check out Molly’s website for more information on the book:

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