A year ago, I stopped eating sugar. Every time I ate something that either had sugar in it or turned into sugar during the digestion process, I felt sick. And so I completely eliminated it for an entire year: no sugar, no wheat, no fruit, no anything that remotely resembled sugar. And I did start to feel better. My stomach was very happy with me, and I figured I would just continue for the rest of my life this way. And maybe I would have if Halloween hadn’t come around.
We got candy for the trick-or-treaters, and I decided that I would get some chocolate for myself. I figured I would just have a piece or two and that would be that.
Except it wasn’t. It was so good. It melted in my mouth. While eating it, I remembered how good it felt to derive pleasure from food. How in that moment of eating it, everything lined up exactly right in my world. Everything made sense. And everything was absolutely perfect. And I wanted to keep this feeling going, so I did what anyone who has deprived themselves of something for so long: I ate more and more and more.
And here’s the thing: I think I had starved myself from this food pleasure for so long that I had a deficit that yearned to be filled. I felt great for an entire month of scarfing down these chocolate candies every day.
And just yesterday I started to feel like I was finally full. And in that moment, I realized that this decision to walk through life in such a rigid way wasn’t working for me any longer. It only caused me to yearn and to ache for what was missing and to wish for something that I didn’t have.
I realized that if I hadn’t completely deprived myself of sugar, I wouldn’t have craved it so deeply and binged on it when I finally brought it back into my life.
I realized that, like so many other areas in my life, what I needed most was moderation – a word that I’m just learning to introduce into my vocabulary.
For most of my life, I’ve been an “all in” or a “don’t do it at all” type of person. If I commit to something, I put everything I have toward making sure I do it well – the best – perfectly. And this has served me really well in some ways – I have accomplished many wonderful things. But it has also hindered me because living this way has created a life of black and white, when all I really long for is to live in the gray.
A black and white life for me means that you either eat sugar or you don’t. You either push yourself until you’re absolutely exhausted or you don’t do anything at all. A gray life means you limit your sugar intake because you know that you feel better when you do, but you also give yourself the pleasure of eating something sweet every once in a while. A gray life means you work hard and continue to accomplish great things, but you also enjoy having downtime where you can relax and enjoy simply being.
A black and white life leaves no room for “humanness.” It leaves no room for compassion and softness and love. A gray life invites all of this softness in – it’s like a warm hug that you continue giving yourself because your actions are loving rather than regimented.
I know that living in moderation isn’t where I’m most comfortable. But I also know that it’s time to give it a try. I am more than ready to embrace this more balanced lifestyle, and I welcome you to join me.
If you’re also feeling like you’ve gotten into the habit of living your life in a regimented way, I invite you to give “gray living” a try, too. The way I see it, the worst that can happen is that you’ll ease up on yourself and slow down a bit. And really, how bad can that be?
Have a piece of chocolate. Take a break when you’re tired. Remember that you don’t have to keep pushing so hard. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Life is meant to be filled with pleasure. And it’s up to us to decide to embrace it in whatever way feels best for us.
So while I won’t be gorging on chocolate any longer, I will continue to have a piece or two each day as a reminder of offering a sweetness to my life that I definitely long for and definitely deserve. We all deserve that.
Jodi Chapman is a bestselling author, an award-winning blogger, and a soulful community builder. She lives her life with love and faith in the driver’s seat, and she hopes to leave a trail of inspiration wherever she goes. She believes that we each have the ability to hear our soul’s whisper and create our best lives. She would love to connect with you!