EP #98

Alcohol & Sugar: The Craving Connection

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this podcast episode, host Molly Watts explores the journey of transforming relationships with alcohol and sugar, emphasizing the importance of finding peace and balance. She engages in a conversation with Cassie Christopher, a fellow coach, and explores various aspects of coping mechanisms related to food and alcohol. They discuss the complexities of cravings, the impact of substances like sugar and alcohol on the brain’s dopamine system, and the significance of self-compassion in understanding these behaviors. Cassie shares practical tools, including a mindfulness-based self-compassion audio guide, designed to help individuals navigate cravings and make more mindful choices in the moment. The conversation delves into the societal pressures and expectations around consumption, addressing the all-or-nothing mindset and promoting self-trust. The episode underscores the need to embrace life’s challenges and negative emotions, highlighting the power of self-awareness, self-compassion, and mindful decision-making in reshaping one’s relationship with food and alcohol.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got grises I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast. With me your host Molly Watts coming to you from very cold chilly Oregon but it is crystal clear. There is frost on the rooftops this morning and the leaves are gold yellow orange and it is the height of fall height of autumn. And we have been in a dry pattern for the last week. Can you believe it? According to the forecast we’re not predicted for rain for for this week either. I don’t know what’s happening. It don’t know. But it is cold but it is beautiful blue sunny skies in the afternoons and really enjoying this time in the Pacific Northwest. The rains will come I promise they will come they came in October they’ll come again but right now I am enjoying this cold clear crisp time of year. Today on the show I am talking to another fellow Pacific Northwest Turner. Cassie Christopher is a registered dietitian. She is based up out of the Seattle area and is a fellow coach and someone I got connected with through a business mentorship that we both do. Cassie is awesome. And I love her take on working with women who are trying to shed some body weight and also shed some body image ideas. And I wanted to get together with Cassie to talk about sugar. Because the cravings for alcohol and the cravings for sugar are often intermingled and I wanted to get her take on it and kind of how her work and my work are aligned in terms of how we deal with both the physical and the mental aspects of cravings. This is kind of in my series alcohol and alcohol and sugar. It’s not quite the same because I’m not deep. We’re not doing a deep dive into the relationship between alcohol and sugar. We’re doing a dive on cravings and on sugar cravings and on alcohol cravings and how they intermingle and commingle. So you’re gonna get a lot out of this. Cassie has developed an urge meditation, and it’s available and we link it in the show notes. So you’ll hear about that. And I think you’re just going to love hearing our conversation and use some of the work that Cassie has in terms of whether you’re craving sugar because that’s going to be coming right The holidays are around the corner or alcohol. I think all of this is applicable. Make it a great week everyone and enjoy my conversation with Cassie Christopher. Hey, Cassie, thank you so much for joining me today on the alcohol minimalist podcast. This is a conversation that we’ve been talking about having for a while and I know it’s super important right now especially as we head into the holidays. We are talking about sugar, alcohol and sugar and Just how they’re kind of the the cravings of alcohol and the how they kind of relate to the cravings for sugar. So thank you for coming on the show. Thank you so much for having me. I love talking about these topics, and, you know, normalizing and D stigmatizing. And I know you do, too. So I think this will be a lot of fun. Yeah, absolutely. So you are a dietitian by trade. And you talk with women about kind of, really, I know restructuring the way that they’re going about losing weight and things like that. But the real thing that we want to talk about is sugar, because this is something that I hear about all the time, whether or not someone actually and it there has been studies and new and I’ve dug into them a little bit about many people who have alcohol use disorder who are truly being treated in a recovery program. There’s a lot of crossover in terms of high high cravings for sugar. So there’s obviously there’s some sort of biochemical neurotransmitter situation happening there. I mean, that’s that would, right? I mean, you can’t argue with with those with those findings. But I think that I want to, I mean, I want to walk that back to just US average normal people who are turning to alcohol or turning to sugar as a coping strategy. Do you find in your work with people that they that sugar is something that people want to use in terms of soothing themselves? Or you know, is it a physical craving? Or is it just a behavioral type craving? Yes, I love this question. And, you know, first just for everybody listening that the my background here is that I help women who’ve been dieting sometimes for decades and right, you know, they know all the things, and probably are in information overload with everything they know, they don’t actually know what to implement, figure out how to have peace with food and their bodies, because they’re at a place where they’re obsessing over both, and it’s not comfortable anymore. And oftentimes, one of the things that people are obsessing over in my world is sugar. And I have my own story of, you know, being in grad school and being so stressed out because I was the type a perfectionist and didn’t know how to do anything less than a plus, you know, I often think if I could go back and be like, just stop studying a B is okay. But I that was not, you know, I did not understand that. And I use sugar. I used Theo’s dark chocolate for any Pacific Northwesterners. To cope with, with the stress and the pressure I was putting on myself. And this fear of failure and all of the things I would be at the school convenience store buying that artisanal, dark chocolate thinking, well, dark chocolate is good for you. Right now. Oh, yeah. And see, I’m supporting local, and you know what’s bad about that. So I just want to start this off by saying I can relate to a love of sugar. And so what’s happening for people is you’re exactly right. It’s physical, its behavioral, its emotional, that sugar is working on some of these same pathways that alcohol is working on. And in particular, you know, people often talk about dopamine, that real good pleasure chemical in the brain. And there’s a lot of good research to suggest that dopamine is playing a big role in in people wanting to feel good or or wanting to get a break and how I often talk about what sugar you know, what carbs are, even when alcohol is doing for us, is it’s it’s either allowing us to zone out. So we’re not even aware of underlying emotions that may have brought us to this place of needing you know, the substance, I guess we can call it that’s kind of a loaded word itself. Or it comforts us and we feel better. So either we’re, we’re not feeling the discomfort, we’re zoning out, we’re getting that break from the discomfort or we’re feeling better. And that happens from that emotional perspective, that behavioral perspective, that physical, biological brain chemistry perspective. And so it works. And that’s what we have to recognize this here. rikes Right, right. Yeah. I interestingly enough, you know, I’ve been I’m actually I’ve been reading the book, dopamine nation, and I’m actually talking to the author now and, yeah, and one of the things that she talks about is, what are you getting right that we have to be able to understand that we are getting something out of her, that whatever our substance, you know, whether it’s alcohol or sugar, these high dopamine substances, and I agree with you, I mean, the thing of it is, though, it’s can be a behavior too, right? So anything that generates cause, like some people would say, I mean, if you’re overusing any thing that is, is pushing on the dopamine, right? A dopamine, highly concentrated tivities, like video games, that’s something that people talk about to write or exercise or exercise. Yeah, any of the above? If you Yeah, exactly. If you’re over, if you’re over doing something in any of these areas, where you’re really eliciting this dopamine response, then you are going to, you know, that’s it again, it’s, it doesn’t have to be a substance, it could be something right. But the, the idea is that you have to understand that you are getting something out of it, right, you are getting something positive, and we have to be able to say, okay, so this is actually, you know, there is there is something that I’m getting from it. And so especially with sugar, right, because, I don’t know, it seems impractical in this world of ours to, to just cut out sugar altogether. I don’t even know if I would ever want to cut out sugar altogether. That seems kind of, I don’t know. It would be a sad world if I couldn’t eat sugar at all right? Well, in that’s so interesting, because, you know, we’ve talked about some of the research connecting sugar and alcohol, we’ve talked about dopamine. And there’s this really interesting phenomenon called forbidden foods syndrome, where you cut out the forbidden foods and the research shows, then you think about it more. And so what often happens is and I find especially for people who’ve done this again and again, and they they they believe that they can never have this thing again, like it’s really interesting. I was talking to a woman and I suggested she you know, use some protein powder. And as she’s buying it, she’s thinking oh, and I have to be buying this protein powder until I’m 80 years old and living on retirement. I don’t have enough money, right? Like we we get into this all or nothing, right? And really, it’s the all or nothing that is actually the problem because it causes the obsessive thoughts that forbidden foods syndrome and it really disconnects us because we think that the answer is no more sugar no more maybe alcohol no more right ever right? No more exercise just kidding. We think right that the solution is to cut the thing out and so what we lose is that wonderful question you know, what was the benefit you are getting? Essentially what is it that you need? Right What is it that your body that your mind that you personally are needing? Maybe it’s comfort maybe it’s care for some of these emotions? Maybe it’s boundaries maybe it’s you know what I mean like Yeah, but yes, the answer is cutting out the thing you actually are severing your connection with with with your body with what you need, you know this this really sacred connection that many of us you know and back when I was using chocolate in this way I assure was not connected to what I needed or I would have taken a good hard look at what I was doing to myself because I ended up in my second year of grad school you know waking up in the middle of the night I was standing in my bedroom my husband sleeping I was I woke up standing and screaming my nervous system was so activated mess up right like but I was ignoring it I did nothing to care for myself it was all about getting these A’s and so that all or nothing was really the villain and not to say that you can’t you know I know dry January right or you know there’s the there’s times maybe we’re stepping away from things is going to be helpful but I really believe the only way you’re going to be successful in that is if you’re also doing an inventory of what is it that you need just loving the dogs everyone if you can hear the dogs I don’t know. Yeah, I did not hear them but I’m really glad Cassie so Yeah, welcome to the world of real life podcasting everyone’s so this is I love that you brought all that up I love that you said the black the all or nothing because of course here in my world of alcohol this is one of the ongoing perpetuated belief systems for you know, put out there by a in terms of and so people really get into this mindset and there there’s a lot of crossover too with sugar I can see Because in terms of this idea that people can’t, you know, they can’t moderate it, right? So like, if you see somebody who’s maybe who’s really got a high weight problem, right, there could be you could get some judgment there of like, well, they just can’t they, they’re simply not able to control themselves. They’re not able to write same kind of thing. They’re broken, sick, diseased, it’s not. And you have to remember that it’s that there is no that I love what you said, because that being in tune with ourselves and really allowing ourselves to understand that we’re not really, really going for the cookie, or the dark chocolate, or we’re the drink, right, we’re going for what we believe we are getting from that substance. We believe that there is something that it’s solving for us emotionally. And I mean, I think most people do, I mean, some people that’s it’s funny, because there will I will get into this conversation with people. They’re like, No, I just, I really just like wine. I just really like wine. And I’m sure you hear the same thing. No, I just really like cookies. I really like, right? Yeah, it’s like, Oh, yeah. Or it’s just a habit, right? Yeah, exactly. There’s just, it’s just, I just do it. I don’t, I can’t. It’s not something, right. It’s not that I’m really trying to solve for anything emotionally. It’s just that blah, blah, whatever that is. And here’s what I say that it’s just a habit. And I’ll give you this. This is such a weird example. But it’s what I’ve come up with. And I think it makes a lot of sense. Let’s say for some reason, you weren’t supposed to brush your teeth. I think brushing your teeth is the quintessential habit. Hopefully, we all do it twice a day without thinking, right? Let’s say you know, for whatever reason, I remember in college, a friend of mine was in a study of green tea, and he wasn’t allowed to brush his teeth. So let’s say you’re in this study the kind of stupid things you do in college, right? And, and you’re not supposed to brush your teeth. But it’s such a habit you do to do it’s the morning you go into the bathroom, you put your toothpaste on your toothbrush, and you start to stick your toothbrush in your mouth, and you’re halfway there. And you’re like, oh my gosh, no, I’m not supposed to brush my teeth today. How funny. You know, you rinse the toothpaste off, you put it back, you just walk away. And there’s absolutely no emotional attachment to whether or not you brushed your teeth. Okay. Yeah, what often happens, in particular with sugar is imagine that it’s 9pm, you’re watching something on Netflix, you’ve gone into the kitchen kind of scavenging, and you’ve got a bowl full of chocolate chips that you’re sharing. With your partner, you’re sitting on the couch, and you’re eating these chocolate chips, and all of a sudden, you go, Oh, wait, I wasn’t, I was trying not to eat, you know, the sugar I was trying not to eat after dinner, whatever, you realize you’re doing it, if it was a habit, and there was no emotional attachment, you would get up, you would throw chips away, or you’d write whatever, and you’d sit back down and watch the TV and it’d be nothing. But the truth is, there’s biology happening. So you may actually be hungry, I find a lot of people just aren’t eating enough during the day. And that fuels a lot of nighttime cravings. There is you know, stress there. So there’s biology happening with stress hormones that are causing some panic that are leading you to go eat the thing. There’s the emotional release, there’s the you know, the routine, the emotional routine of this is what I do with my partner, yada yada, yada. So it’s not just a habit, actually. The What are you getting? You know, back to that question is you’re getting a lot from these chocolate chips, and they’re raping a function. And what I find often happens, Molly, and I think this is so important to bring up is people go, this is just a habit, and I’m just a loser, because I can’t stop the habit. But wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, it’s not you, you are literally trying to fight all of this biology and this, you know, emotional, you know, I don’t want to say nonsense, but the emotional undertones and everything. There’s actually a lot going on with these Netflix chocolate chips. And so when you can recognize what’s going on, then what I hope that can do. And this is one of my four pillars of my courage to trust method is lead you to self compassion, because really, we experienced so much shame around our behaviors around food and alcohol. And self compassion is you know, one of the ways to heal that so that we can actually instead of blaming ourselves start to problem solve a little bit and go okay, what are the chocolate chips doing for me? And how can I meet these needs in different ways? Yeah. Oh, well, you’re preaching to the choir, Cassie because I we talk all about over here. Compassion and curiosity, right compassion. I use those two phrases together compassion and curiosity. The thing that’s really important in that for rays, I mean, well, they’re both important compassion and but the curiosity because we really want to understand we really want to, again, dive into what is going on here. It isn’t just I love everything you just said, really breaking that down. Because when people just tell you Oh, it’s just a habit, oh, I just like this too much, it’s, you know, we have to be willing to do the work to dive into it a little deeper, because real sustained, at least from my perspective, if you really want to change a relationship, right, because that’s kind of what you talk about, too, right? It’s actually changing the relationship you have with food, changing the relationship you have with sugar, changing the relationship you have with alcohol, it’s going to require more than just simply changing your routine, changing your you know, changing your activities, not not allowing yourself to, to eat the chocolate chips, right? It’s got to be, there’s more to it, if you really want you because everybody can willpower their way through, right? We can willpower our way through for a while, until we’re standing up in the middle of the night screaming because we’re not really actually addressing what’s going on. Yeah, exactly. And what I call this is the courage to trust, you know, in that that idea that it’s something deeper, it’s not about the willpower, it’s not about the distraction techniques, you know, that you might employ, it’s about having the courage to trust that you’re actually doing the best you can in that moment. So you’re not a failure, you’re not a loser, you’re simply using all the tools you have and all the resources, you have to do the best you can. And sometimes the best you can is not the outcome you want. And so then you get to look inside, and you get to trust that you’re going to be able to discover what your needs are, and you’re going to be able to meet those needs. And it takes so much faith. And that’s why the word Trust is in here because you have to trust that you are good and that your body is good. And it’s going to care for you and tell you what you need. And you know, that’s so different from these models of, you know, the word addiction often thrown around, right? That that makes you believe that your body is got something wrong, it’s broken, it’s out to get you but But what I’m saying the solution is here is actually to trust that your body is good. And it’s, it’s, it’s for you and it’s trying to care for you the best it can. And oftentimes, you know, those chocolate chips are your body doing the best it can to care for you. And like we’ve talked about, for many reasons, that is a good job. And so the courage to trust here means that you understand that you’re doing the best you can and if it’s not what you want it to be that you you’re you realize you need some more support that you need some more, you know, something, you need some help. But it doesn’t mean that you’re broken or wrong or screwed up or messed up. But rather that you just need some more resources. Yeah, one of the things that I talked about with my folks, and I’m wondering if this is something that would work for for sugar as well. Okay, let’s just call a spade a spade, the the holidays bring up a lot of sugar opportunities, right. And so, and or overeating opportunities, just unplanned, a celebratory, you know, just food that we may not normally consume, right? Same thing for alcohol, lots of different opportunities for over consuming in in these ways. And so one of the ways that I work with people is I really ask them to plan ahead of time, so that they’re putting a plan in place so that they’re using their eye, you talk about your body, I talk about this, our beautiful, brilliant human brains, and how we have to trust our beautiful, brilliant, you know, know that we have the power within our beautiful, brilliant human brains to to work on these, these relationships. And engaging that prefrontal cortex and really making plans with our long term, you know, that align with our long term goals is and just but I also talked about meeting this meeting myself where I’m at creating a doable plan, because what I see people trying to do is put in a unrealistic plan, right? Okay, I’m not going to drink, I’m going to a party, but I, you know, I don’t want to be I’m, I’m only going to have one drink, because that’s what I really believe that I should be doing. Instead of like, okay, well, I really just have been drinking, like, normally at a party, I’d have three or four. Instead of, you know what I mean? So they’re trying to restrict they come at it from a restriction like, I’m going to do this instead of meeting themselves where they’re at. Okay, I was really long winded, sorry. But yeah, The point being that creating a doable plan ahead of time, and one that they feel 80 to 90% Confident. So does that align with kind of what you would agree with in terms of kind of I mean, we don’t maybe we don’t know what’s going to be a party for for sugar, but we can kind of have a little bit of a plan in place. Yeah, you know what I think of, I mean, I agree with you, I love the 80 90% competent, I mean, how what a gift to feel like you can do something, and I bet many of us aren’t confident about I’m going to eat one sugar cookie, you know, what one drink? What I think of in that scenario is coming out from a little different angle is, the first pillar of my courage to trust method is calming the nervous system. And oftentimes, when I’m talking to people about these holiday parties, there’s a lot of anxiety around it. You know, maybe there’s social anxiety, maybe there’s, I mean, I feel like everyone has social anxiety after the pandemic, I don’t care if you’re an introvert, or you know what I mean? Like, I go in places with a lot of people, and it’s, yeah, you’re just like, Oh, my God, I’m gonna get COVID. You know? Right. So but the point being here, a lot of people are having anxiety about the alcohol, the sugar, the whatever it is, before they even get there. And so this is a charged situation, a loaded situation. And so what I’m often working with people on, is actually calming their nervous systems. Because if you are calm and centered, you can walk in and you can go, you know, you can connect with what you need, what you want, maybe you want to sample a couple cookies, or you know, so and so brought the best thing ever that you never get at any other time of year, you know, maybe it’s somebody special eggnog or you know what I mean? Right? Right, there’s these things that you cannot get it any other time of the year at the holidays that you might be really excited about. And so I talk about with people, you know, when you’re calm, then you can go into that situation and go, Wow, I’m super excited about this thing, I’m gonna enjoy the heck out of it. And you’re able to set healthy boundaries for yourself in a way that doesn’t feel like deprivation, but feels like yeah, I’m gonna have just two glasses of eggnog to your point of, you know, maybe a more realistic goal. And then I’m gonna cap it because that eggnog is very strong. And I’m going to feel terrible tomorrow if I have any more. So you’re setting these boundaries for yourself from a place of care and love and meeting your needs, and savoring and having fun. But you can really only do that when you’re calm. And to your point about the brain, you can only access that prefrontal cortex when you’re calm as well. Because if you’re in fight or flight, that is not the part of your brain you’re accessing. So, you know, I agree with you about making these plans. And I think a lot of it has to do with the spirit of the that you kind of walk into the situation with like, is it a spirit of deprivation? Is it a spirit of empowerment, and meeting your needs and having fun, but also setting these healthy, beautiful boundaries for yourself, because you can trust yourself to honor your boundaries. And I’ll just say one more thing. It takes people a while after working with me before they can trust themselves to honor their boundaries. So you may have been at a place where you couldn’t trust yourself to honor your boundaries to yourself, and it’s been decades of this or however long. And so there’s often some repair that we need to do there and I’m sure this is what you’re doing as well. With you, like you said, your relationship to the alcohol, the sugar your body, like we need to repair that so that you can trust yourself and walk into that situation confidently. Hey, all just a quick break in the show to talk with you for a minute about sunny side. It’s fall and it’s time for tailgaters and holiday parties on the horizon. There is never a better time than right now to put a mindful plan into place. And Sunnyside is my recommendation for how you can really use a tool that provides a way to track your drinks measure your progress and really uses proven behavior change techniques to create lasting habit change. The thing is you can reduce your drinking by 30% in the first 30 days with sunny side and you can save over $50 a month. Cut out 2500 calories out of your diet and these are just based on average results. I know that people that I talk to and people that I work with are using sunny side and getting great results. If you’d like to find out if it will work for you. Go to www.sunnyside.co/mina list to get started on a free 15 day trial today. Hey, Cassie, I have to ask now because you’ve mentioned a couple of them, and I just want to hear all four pillars, please. Okay, okay. I really, because I really see I’m sure that they align whether it’s sugar or alcohol. I betcha there’s they, they. They’re valuable. So yeah, shoot. Thank you. And that’s why I love talking to you, Molly. Because you and I are always like, oh, yeah, uh huh. I talk about that, too. Oh. So yes, the courage to trust method where you’re trusting that you’re doing the best you can. And you may just need some more support that to the best you can looks like your goals. The first pillar is calming your nervous system, we’ve already talked about the importance of that. The second is self compassion. And that’s going to help you, you know, not only be kind to yourself, but actually problem solve without you being the problem, you can problem solve real problems. And then the third is listening to yourself. And so you’ve already heard me talk about what are your needs, meeting those needs, and that can take, you really have to do the other two, first, you have to be calm, you have to be kind before you can listen, because otherwise all you hear is your nervous system, right? Like freaking out and you hear you know, I’m such a loser. And so used to say, or the negative self talk, right? Yeah, that’s right. Before you can listen, you have to do the other pieces. And then the fourth part of this method is, you know, the secret sauce of working with a registered dietitian, which is medical nutritional therapy, where I once people are able to make consistently healthy choices, which is really what we’re looking for, you know, getting off this all or nothing hamster wheel where we’re either eating or drinking none of the things or eating or drinking all of the things right, then we can do some medical nutritional therapy. So we can start to address maybe decreasing risk for diabetes or treating, you know, some high cholesterol or, you know, brain health, like we can actually get really targeted in our nutrition and lifestyle recommendations once somebody in any mentioned weight loss, obesity as well, once someone has these other pieces in place, so it’s they can go to a party and have two sugar cookies and feel okay with that. Yeah. Oh, I love that. I like I said, I knew it was, um, I was sure that it would all kind of aligned that maybe the last one isn’t. But it does in a way. Because one of the things, you know, I just did a distant episode last week on, like, can we separate the numbers? Right? And so the, the numbers out of out of a moderation plan and why? For me, there’s never You mean, alcohol is a chemical substances and known toxin, right. So and just like that, for some of the the nutritional stuff that you’re talking about, there’s, there’s reasons that we want to pay attention to the numbers and to the actual, you know, to the data, right. And so, while the mindset work, and while the calming of the you know, all of that stuff is, is foundational, there’s never a time that we have to be able to be willing to accept that there is there is science here involved, and there is numbers, and there is data, and there is nutritional, I mean, for you know, as in the nutrition world, there’s reasons that we care, right about what we’re ingesting, we need to care about it. Yeah, I mean, a very relevant example that I can think of is alcohol use decreases, your B vitamins. And B vitamins are so critical to not only brain health and the way your brain functions, but your stress management, stress in cortisol decrease and deplete these B vitamins as well. And so if you don’t have the B vitamins you need for your stress management system to be healthy and functioning in your body. You know, obviously, it’s kind of a chicken or the egg, like the system starts to fall apart. And so certainly, these things all go together. And you know, it’s really the art and science, right, like the science piece, but then there’s really the art piece here of your relationship with food and then what feels like a softer skill, but is just as important because oftentimes when we try to approach these things with black and white, like numbers sometimes lend themselves to when we have this black and white thinking this all or nothing thinking it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And so we have to be able to and I know you and I talked about this, sit with some of the gray and you know, this is something that part of the self compassion and listening to yourself is actually sitting with discomfort. You know, what is that thing that you’re trying to avoid with the alcohol or the sugar and you know if it’s the anxiety of a social situation, or if it’s a just not wanting to feel stressed after a long day, you know, with my Netflix and chocolate chips example, whatever it is, and you said, you’ve just been reading dopamine nation, she talks about this as well, that the problem is when we keep trying to get more dopamine with these substances, activities, whatever, right? Our bodies were made to be in homeostasis, or balance between pleasure and pain. And so if we keep hitting the pleasure side of things, that the body is going to ramp up the pain, whether that be emotionally with things like depression, anxiety, that it that or it be physically with, like, actual pain. It’s really interesting. And so part of the solution, and nobody really wants to hear this, I’ll be honest with you. But this is part of self compassion is actually being able to validate and hold space for and experience your own suffering, rather than to get away from it. And I use the S word, and I want everyone to think for a moment. What is the thing you’re suffering with right now? And immediately? I know most of you are saying, I’m not suffering. No, I’m not suffering. That’s, that’s too big of a word. Maybe I’m a little uncomfortable about this, maybe. But the reality is, yes, okay, comparatively, there are people suffering worse than you Sure, right. But that doesn’t mean that you aren’t suffering and I have to, I have to work with my clients sometimes to go, you’re suffering. Shake you by the shoulders, you know, virtually, you are suffering, you are struggling, and that’s okay. And the reason food, alcohol, whatever it is, is working so well is because it’s disconnecting you from your suffering, you don’t have to experience it. But if you want to move forward without the alcohol and the food, you actually have to experience your suffering, which is uncomfortable, there’s ways to do it. I use mindfulness based self compassion, as you know, the theoretical framework I help my clients do this with there’s ways to do it that aren’t as bad as just sitting and feeling bad things. But it’s it’s it’s a prerequisite. It’s, it’s part of the journey. Yeah, for sure. I talk I mean, so I have the behavior map results cycle. And basically, it explains everything that we do in our lives. And it really is a process of understanding how our thoughts create our feelings, and understanding where those thoughts and sometimes those thoughts are unconscious in there. They’re not, we don’t know they’re happening, but we have to be willing to, to deliver and to delve into them. But also to understand that we are and I agree with you completely, we’re, we’re capable, like a feeling where we we run away from big feelings we run away from we don’t want to have to experience you know, boredom and discomfort and stress and anxiety and depression and all these big what we would term negative emotions, right? Instead of just holding space and allowing ourselves to understand that life is going to be 5050, we’re going to have to experience some of this negative stuff. And really, if we allow ourselves to do it, and we really work into understanding what is creating the feeling in the first place. Once I understood how much agency I had, in determining how I felt about things, I used to really run around at the effect of my emotions, like I just was constantly in this state of, of overwhelm. And I joke that I was constantly dramatic, like everything was, you know, it was just, everything was big, everything was like, Oh, my life is so hard. It’s so stressful, blah, blah, blah, right, I have this ongoing story that actually drove the feeling of overwhelm. But I was so disconnected from it, I did not understand how much I was actually fueling it myself. And so that’s when and also feeling the desire, right. I did not understand how some of my simple thoughts and permission giving thought and things that I just were running in the background actually fueled my desire to drink and I’m sure that it is similar. And I know that this work is really paralleled because I use a lot of my own work in my own relationship with food and stuff because I have a long standing habit that I you know, some of this stuff is is old, right? It’s old habits. It’s old things i i I have in my book I share about the fact that I had my I kind of had a long standing habit of coming in the door from elementary school and sitting down with chips and yeah, this chips and a soda. Yes My mom, you know, a plus four, you think me, like, but it regardless, I mean, that habit was very established. And I did not for a long time like, I still to this day like I really have to stay mindful or I will just dive into a bag of chips and it’ll be gone before I realize it. Yeah, yeah. And that speaks to you know, the there’s the old patterns, the old habits, those old pathways in the brain. They don’t seem to actually go away according to the research. They’re no they don’t. And I think yeah, and I think we have to, we have to understand that they’re always going to be their people, you know what I mean, the urge to overeat or the urge to eat a bag of chips is probably always going to be there and I just have to be like, it just has to be okay. Like, that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with me. That just means that oh, that’s a habit that I learned a whole long time ago. I love that, you know, what does healing look like? And oftentimes, again, because people are coming into this with an all or nothing mindset, and they’re being sold, you know, especially around dieting and culture, like, oh, you eliminate cravings, you know, get get rid of these things. You’ll never have them again, you’ll never deal with this again. And the reality is, and I you know, I’ve written whole blog posts about this to show people what, what healing looks like, for me, you know, with sugar. I’ve told you all about my FiOS chocolate obsession in college, of course, I still love the chocolate. And you know, luckily my relationship with that is such that I really can have it around and have a piece now and again, but what will happen is occasionally I will go I need to go to the store I need to get in my car right now and I need to go get a pint of Frankie and Jo’s chocolate tahini super cookie ice cream, which is like ridiculously expensive and so unbelievably good. I need to go get that right this minute. Okay, another artisanal local supplier, something delicious. And when I have to go right this minute, and it’s 830, and it’s raining out, you know what I mean? I stop and go, Wow, isn’t that interesting? You know, to your curiosity, isn’t that a very strong craving that feels like it’s coming out of nowhere? Why don’t I go do the things I need to do to care for myself. And one of the things I do and I’d love to offer this to your audience is I use this audio guide that comes from the mindfulness based self compassion movement, and I’ve adjusted it to have to do with food and you know, strategies that have worked for my clients over the years. And so you can download for free and my website, Cassie christopher.net, forward slash free, this 10 minute audio guide that you can listen to and what’s so amazing about it, I mean, really, I use it myself, when I’m struggling, all of my clients use it, and it gets you from that point of having the cravings so strong that you’re ready to get in the car, you know, in a blizzard to go get the you need right to going now wait a minute, I’m feeling a little calmer, I can think about this and it walks you through those pillars, the calming yourself down to being kind to yourself, the listening to yourself and introspection, to really understand what you need so that by the end of the 10 minutes, you can can access that logical part of your brain again, so that’s available to everyone that offer in your audience again, Cassie Christopher dotnet forward slash free and it’s an audio guide that you listen to in the moment when you’re about to jump in your car to go buy ice cream or you know when you’re going to or when you’re you know this is that’s that craving situation is certainly relevant for for sugar and also for alcohol. So I know that folks please Cassie Christopher dotnet slash free has that audio I can’t wait to listen to that I haven’t gotten a chance to listen, but I know and you know, the the holidays are they are a common and this is a timeframe when when these kinds of things will really these tools and the strategies and all of it will come into play so much more often for everyone and so it is just fantastic to have you here today Cassie to really share this work because I know again, so much of it online it’s alcohol it’s sugar it’s the it’s the gray area kind of thinking that we really want to get people into understanding there is no right or wrong black white good bad choices. There’s only better choices there’s there’s there’s taking care of ourselves being compassionate, curious, and I just love everything that you I love everything. I love talking to you, Cassie, we’re apt to do this again. Yeah, for sure. For sure. So fun. So check it out, folks. Go Go learn more about Cassie and her work her courage to trust program if you’re struggling with your relationship It was food for sure. But just in terms of downloading that audio, because I know that for many of us that this will be a great tool, or navigating these stressful holiday situations, these big parties, these big sugar experiences, alcohol experiences, etc. Yeah, thank you so much for having me. And I guess I hope everyone can give that a listen to get some help in the moment when you’re struggling. And it’s really the most uncomfortable to be in that place where you know, whether you realize it or not, you’re trying to use the food, the alcohol to do something for you. And you’re also trying to resist, and that it creates a feeling of panic in your body. And it’s one of, in my experience, one of the most uncomfortable feelings. And so it makes sense to me why we just dig in. And so, you know, this is my gift to you to have something you can do that actually helps you feel better in that moment. Because a it’s like a skin anyone who’s been there knows it’s like a skin crawling experience. Do you know try to put some distance between the impulse and the the reaction? Awesome. Well, very, very great. And I just really appreciate you taking the time today, Cassie, thank you for having me. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible. You have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com