The pain of feeling caught in sugar
It's painful to be caught in a compulsive sugar habit - especially when you feel like you 'should' know better.
You may be someone who really cares about health and wellness.
You may be versed in mindfulness and self care and know all the tools. You may even be a health coach, meditation teacher, or a therapist.
But when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or in pain, despite your knowledge, your good heart, and your sincere intentions, you regularly find yourself turning to sugar to self soothe, to self nurture, and to help you feel calm, connected, and content.
Sugar may feel like your secret shame, a place of stuckness that creeps up over and over again.
Ugh, it's so frustrating, especially when you long to do differently!
The anxiety of feeling stuck
Your struggles with sugar can lead to a heightened space of alarm, where you feel anxious about food in general.
You may feel scared or overwhelmed, especially when your cravings feel out of control.
You may dread get togethers, birthdays, celebrations, and parties.
You long to feel peaceful with sugar and to feel more present, and more connected, filled with those things that feed you.
But when stress takes over, and you find yourself in sugar again, you start to feel hopeless, like you'll never change.
Why change can feel so hard
Being stuck in sugar can feel so painful.
I hear from so many people who talk about the toll sugar has taken on them - they feel like a fraud in their own work because of their sugar habit. They feel self conscious about their weight and bodies. They feel caught between the 'good' part of them that wants to heal and the stuck part that aches for the temporary comfort of sugar.
When we're in this space, we may start to feel broken, or damaged.
In our pain, we may feel like the only thing that will work is a drastic detox. Or we may feel like the only way we'll change is if we eat perfectly, as 'good' or clean as possible.
We can get frustrated and turn harsh and critical, where we're really hard on ourselves.
But punishment and perfectionism don't work. Fixating on food or eating 'clean' creates its own stress, and we often end up feeling more anxious, and more hopeless - a loop that leads us back into self blame, and back into sugar.
There's nothing wrong with you
It's not your fault that sugar has such a hold on you.
When we use sugar to comfort ourselves when we're under stress, we're following a wise impulse to nurture ourselves.
But when our own internal resources are depleted are malnourished, this impulse gets directed outwards, to sugar. This is probably a really old coping strategy - most of us learned to cope on our own because of the culture we're raised in.
So looking for sugar for comfort is not a personal flaw, but a sign that somehow, we learned to rely on sugar when we were hurting.
You don't have to eat perfectly to get relief
The good news - this pattern can shift. You don't have to do it on your own, and you don't have to be perfect to heal.
Changing our patterns of self care can be messy. It's normal, and how we learn! When we make room for this mess, healing becomes joyful, fillled with greater ease, and an opportunity for intimacy and connection.
But most of us have an idealized image in our heads of what we think our sugar journey should look like.
When our lives don't match this ideal, we panic, thinking there's something wrong with us. We compare ourselves against this ideal and fall short.
This feeling that 'something's wrong with me' or that 'I'm falling short' fills us with stress, anxiety and inner tension that worsens the very sugar habits we're trying to change.
This can show up in a number of ways:
- trying to do everything perfectly or be in control
- panicking or beating yourself up when you make a mistake
- getting easily thrown off course when you hit an obstacle
- feelings of hopelessness about changing
- and lots of worry about 'doing it right'
There's something really tender underneath the sugar
Change is possible. And it's not true that you're falling short. You merely need a different approach.
It starts with the ground floor - what's behind eating too much sugar. There's something so tender underneath this habit that's driving you nuts.
We all have times when we feel stressed, overwhelmed or like we don't have what we need. We can feel lost, uncertain, and insecure.
And many of us carry pain from past experiences in our bodies. This pain gets pricked in our daily life and stirs us up, physically and emotionally.
When we feel overwhelmed, when our pain gets pricked, or when we feel exhausted and stressed, we may reach for warmth and nurturing – like sugar – to help us feel better.
Then, when this morphs into a habit, and we get more and more stuck in it, we don't like ourselves. We feel bad for our 'bad habit.'
What will help you eat less sugar
This is where compassion steps in.
Compassion helps you eat less sugar by fostering gentleness and bringing in crucial emotional support. This helps you replace the refuge of sugar with true refuge, the refuge you nurture whenever you practice self compassion.
These particular forms of self compassion are especially helpful when you want to eat less sugar:
- Gentleness, ease and patience for the healing journey – unwinding a habit is a process, and one that takes time, kindness, and presence. When you understand and make room for this process, you feel less stressed and less driven to get it right – and right away. This, paradoxically, helps you change and grow.
- Gentleness, ease and patience for yourself – in addition to unwinding the habit itself, you're also building new habits, new ways of caring for your feelings and needs. This also takes time, patience, and kindness. When we acknowledge this, we support ourselves and bolster our courage rather than criticizing ourselves.
- Emotional support. When you're moving through the growth process, you'll have times when you'll panic, when you'll feel like nothing's changing, when you feel bored, when you get scared, and when you feel resistant, when you don't feel like doing the things that help you feel nourished and cared for. During these times, you need emotional support to care for these emotions without getting stuck in them. This helps you navigate the ups and downs of the journey with resilience, trust, and strength – an internal sense of, “I can handle this.”
In teaching thousands of students and listening to their sugar stories, these three things are what I see over and over that lay the foundation for change. Emotional support is especially crucial. Nearly everyone needs more of it.
That's why I created this course for you.
In Emerge you'll receive support, tools, practices, and understanding to give you greater confidence and competence in helping yourself through the process of changing your habits with sugar.
This course is designed to help you compassionately reframe your experience with sugar so that you can honor your body's natural limits.
This is not a diet (you won't find information on what to eat) nor a bootcamp, nor a course on what or how to eat. Rather, it's a course to nourish, support and grow the internal resilience, strength and levity that helps you make external changes with sugar or other painful habits.
You'll receive daily emotional support to help you when you feel panicked, overwhelmed, like "f** it!" or frustrated.
You'll learn how to apply self compassion to the process of habit change, so you can create more nourishing self talk and build resilience , the inner confidence of, “I trust myself to move through this.”
And you'll receive help to reframe how you see the growth process, so that you can relax and settle in to your healing rather than feeling like you have to try really hard and make it happen on your own.
This course is especially designed for highly sensitive people and those who want a gentle approach. Step by step, with gentle persistence, change is possible.
How the course works
Emerge is a do at home course and is available any time.
Each day for 30 days you'll receive an audio lesson to build the mindset that helps you make changes with sugar.
You can listen to this audio as you start your day, in your commute, or while running errands or cooking dinner.
You'll learn how to use self compassion in the daily, nitty gritty of your relationship with sugar so you can eat less sugar without being overwhelmed by perfectionism, stress, and trying too hard.
Examples of what you'll learn:
- How to soften perfectionism and taking on too much
- How to embrace rather than resist limits
- And how to care for mistakes so they don't derail you
There's also a special bonus section with help for cravings and sticky feelings like boredom, resistance, and hopelessness.
After the course ends, you'll receive a zip download of the course materials so you can continue to use and reference them.
You can learn more about the course curriculum below.
PreviewLesson 1 - Opening to the journey of change
StartLesson 2 - Willingness, not will power
StartLesson 3 - Neediness and nourishment
PreviewLesson 4 - Meet your strongest self
StartLesson 5 - Naming your commitment
StartLesson 6 - Softening the pressure to do it 'right'
StartLesson 7 - Creating a supportive environment
StartLesson 8 - Courage and the fuel for change
StartLesson 9 - Deepening rest by receiving the love you need
StartLesson 10 - Letting it be
PreviewLesson 11 - Growth, not perfection
StartLesson 12 - Finding comfort when it's uncomfortable
StartLesson 13 - Opening to receive help
PreviewLesson 14 - Caring for the seeds of growth
How do I know if this course is not for me?
I appreciate how nerve racking it can feel to try a new program, or to spend money on something all the while wondering, "Will this really help me?"
So while I've talked a lot about what Emerge is, I think it's equally
important to talk about what Emerge is
not. This information can help you feel more confident in your decision in knowing whether Emerge is the right fit for you.
- Emerge is not a sugar detox or food plan. It doesn't offer advice on what to eat, food plans, meal choices, or whether to abstain from sugar or eat sugar moderately.
- Emerge is not designed to heal trauma. If you're needing help for trauma, my heart is so with you - and I encourage you to find a trauma trained therapist or healer for support, as I'm not a trained therapist. ( IFS, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing are all great modalities for healing trauma.)
- Emerge is not designed to heal an eating disorder or heal the childhood wounds that can contribute to a complex relationship with food. That kind of work is important and dear to my heart - and is something deeper than what a 30 day course can cover.
- Emerge is not a 12 step group or substitute for therapy. Therapy and addiction support are great - but this course isn't that.
Compassionate, gentle, mindfulness based tools to reframe your struggles with sugar so you can build your internal resilience and soften the feelings (like shame, anxiety, judgment, self doubt, and self blame) that make it harder to make positive changes in your self care.
I understand why this feels hard
My name is Karly Randolph Pitman, the steward of Emerge. Growing human(kind)ness, the name of my website, means to soften self criticism and shame, and claim the wholeness that is our birthright.
This work arose from two things - from my own experience with decades of multiple eating disorders, chronic depression and anxiety and from bearing witness to others' stories of heartbreak and rebirth.
I first created this course seven years ago as The 30 Day Lift, and thousands have been touched and moved by it. Now we've folded all of their collective wisdom into a new, updated course.
One fundamental insight in Emerge is about how you settle into the healing process rather than force it.
'Settling in' to the healing process is how you:
- feel comfortable asking for and receiving lots of help
- soften shame, guilt, and “I should've known better”
- break patterns of isolation
- soften anxiety about needing to 'do this right' or perfectly
- heal the ping pong of being 'really, really good' followed by 'really, really bad'
- and help yourself during your trickiest times
Be filled with compassion and strength
I want you to feel whole – to feel empathy for the places where you've gotten stuck in sugar, knowing you did the best you could, while also feeling empowered to change.
I want you to know in your bones that your self worth is not tied to your habits , and to feel relief from needing 'to get it right all the time.' I want you to feel courage when facing difficult emotions or situations, knowing you can handle it, and knowing that you're not alone.
And I want you to live from your wholeness, to know that your hardships and challenges are not who you are - that you can care for them without being them.
This creates ease and a space where you can genuinely connect with
softening the pain of isolation that often accompanies bad
habits, and welcoming in
greater connection and intimacy.
These are the deeper reasons why Emerge was created, and how it aims to serve you and our broader world.
"This course blew me away, reaching depths that I longed to touch but didn't know how to.
"For so long I have struggled with living in two different worlds- one that genuinely likes, values and practices health and well-being and one that is secretly plagued by emotional and binge eating.
"As I know many in this course have done, I feverishly searched for answers trying to find understanding, relief and change. And I found bits and pieces here and there, but it lacked the depth and comprehensiveness that I was yearning for.
"Today that has changed and therefore I have changed. This course facilitated so many aha and breakthrough moments.
"I was finally able to see and tap into the shame train that I was on since a traumatic incidence in my childhood. That incident connected me to shame which grew deeper and wider through the years and over many life experiences. I also saw with clarity that I gripped to shame because, while it was destructive, it also protected and served me, giving me a reliable entity to lean on.
"Through this course I came to a place where I could look behind with gratitude and understanding while looking ahead with optimism and excitement and chose to step OFF the shame train and wave goodbye. With this massive shift, I was also able to begin practicing self-worth which I think was previously tied to perfectionism but I loosened that grip.
"I am no longer obsessed with finding the right diet, model, lifestyle, etc because I have found the right model ...staying connected to my power, my light, my true self, my worth though compassion and a fierce yet tender love.
"I am not eating perfectly nor am I my ideal weight but I am no longer wrapped tightly around trying to force that. I have confidence, courage and compassion in a new way. And I believe that this is the platform for all other change that needs to take place.
"THANK YOU for bringing so much wisdom, so much intelligence, care and love to this program. It's truly helped me to break free."
- Jenn Urso, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
"[The course] has worked in me to lower defenses, shame and alarm...I also have approached limits with food in a much healthier way without trying or forcing...it seems like an inner shift has taken place outside of conscious effort on my part!
"The beauty of working with Karly for me has been the experience of being accepted and supported unconditionally in the most nurturing way I have ever experienced.
"[It creates the]...most incredible experience with every course I have taken with her -- 4 in total now!"
- Mary, New York, USA
"Karly's approach to habit change through caring for the tender wounds behind a painful habit immediately attracted me to the...course.
"I felt so engaged and supported that I was willing to loosen my tight hold on food, and instead to focus on developing a caring and attuned relationship with myself. Thank you Karly and team for this life-changing experience!"
- Paula, Boulder, CO
My time with Karly's kind, encouraging, humorous and loving voice was very healing for me. She gave me practical tools, planted phrases for showing myself support, lent tips for building a supportive environment around me, and led me in a very inviting and non-threatening way through a kinder re-framing of my developmental wounds.
After my fabulous experience with the [course] I signed up for Oprah and Deepak Chopra's "Shedding the Weight" meditation course and it is astonishing how much more helpful I find Karly's work to be.
I found that [Karly's] combination of maternal warmth, self-kindness, down-to-earth humor, and theoretically-grounded cognitive behavioral approach delivers a rather holistic and intelligent healing experience, whereas [Oprah's] course seems to gloss over attention-starved psychic wounds with repressive positive thinking and irritating generalizations.
Karly's focus on integrative thinking, embracing ambivalence, acknowledging pain, caressing neglected parts of my psyche, and "being the adult in the room" provided an encompassing platform that helped me immensely. I'm really sad that it is over! Honestly, if I could do a 365 [day course] I would!
- Jenn Lindsey
"The biggest benefit for me in (this course) has been allowing myself to slow down, rest, and play...The course materials have created more of a sense of spaciousness and rest in my life...It was a wonderful experience and I'm so grateful for Karly's work and support. THANK YOU!
"I was afraid that I would have to stop eating sugar altogether. I feel that maybe that's not necessary anymore -- I can eat some sugar sometimes and that's ok."
- Josephine, Massachusetts, US
Your course has helped me tremendously. I was bingeing out of control on sugar and baked goods for 3-4 months before your course due to crazy premenopausal hormones.
I have now been sugar-free for 39 days and I feel wonderful. Your teaching about being sensitive and learning to be kind and compassionate to ourselves was very key for me.
- Diana Morgan, United States
"I want to tell you how much the [course] has done for me. I’m 63 years old with a lifelong sugar addiction, and so far this is the only course that has REALLY helped.
Your spiritual and caring approach makes all the difference in the world to one who has tried to punish and criticize herself out of the suffering. Your course is brilliant."
- Carol Heffler, United States
I’m 28 and I’ve been on this 'food journey' now for as long as I can remember. Not only do I have food issues, but I have a digestive condition to throw into the mix, which tends to make everything more confusing.
I really want to thank you for your work, Karly. I freaking love your vulnerability. It helps me to remember the beauty of sharing my own 'dark sides,' because we all have them. And we can all heal faster and with more grace when we're all committed to the honesty and love it takes to allow ourselves to be seen.
This [course] is helping me with food stuff as well as just softening all of my compulsive behaviors. The concept of self-compassion has come into my life in so many ways over the years, but you have had the most genuine impact. Thank you from the depths of my heart."
- Lauren Godlove, United States
"I had been suffering from terrible cycles of overeating and compensatory dieting, and for years I couldn't figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me. Karly introduced me to the radical idea of self-love, which has changed the way I feel and act about essentially every aspect of my life.
By learning to accept and care for myself one moment at a time, I have been able to shift one after another of my painful patterns, in far-reaching and lasting ways. I no longer binge on sugar, or any food. I have come to feel entirely comfortable and beautiful in my body, which has responded to my new self-care by evolving into its most effortless, strong, lithe, and joyful shape.
By letting go of my obsessions with self-mastery and perfection, through Karly’s practices, I have freed up energy for more interesting and important pursuits, like my writing and my family.
I never thought I could be a flexible, intuitive person, who feels safe and comfortable flowing with the ups and downs of life – but now I absolutely am, thanks to the inspired work of this remarkable teacher.
You will never be the same, and you will never look back!"
- MHP, United Kingdom
"Karly is a pioneer, with what I consider to be a holistic, grounded and complete program for sugar sensitives like myself. Until I found Karly, I did not use the phrase sugar sensitive. Karly has helped me to grow and blossom and heal in a natural, organic healthy way.
I have been inspired by her courage in sharing her strengths and her weaknesses. She has shown me by example that I do not need to be "Perfect" to live a full, successful life.
Karly has taught me that becoming binge free is a process and I find that my desire to sooth myself with food has diminished and been replaced with loving self care most of the time."
- Rhianne NewLahnd, Arizona, United States
I just wanted to thank you Karly, with so much love, for the work you are bringing forth. I and am now doing the [course]. For the first time in my life, I am opening, shifting – and I truly thought I had done it all. I’ve done retreats with Geneen Roth, studied with many “experts,” and this is the first time I really feel something changing within me – it is terrifying and fantastic!! Last night my son was having ice cream, and my go-to thought was, “Oh, it’s Friday night, I “deserve” some too”…..AND I felt the desire, AND also my integrity, that not eating the sugar and staying true to the loving promise I made to myself was so important to me. OMG!!! Just SO much gratitude to you.
- Liz Murray, United States
I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying the [course]! WOW!!! It is so comforting hearing your voice every day and having that encouragement each day. I am on day 3 of my container of "sugar free." I am basically remaining sugar free in all my meals.
I am keeping a journal throughout and doing my best at following through with all my tasks. It has been so awesome, I really love this format!
I actually had a very stressful moment at work today and I thought I need to eat something. But I actually told myself "It is ok dear one, you can handle this" and voila, no sugar consumed!!
- Lizanne Miskelly, North Carolina, USA
Frequently Asked Questions
"My experience in using the [course] – particularly on round 2 (I’m using it to change other behaviors beyond food as I found it so helpful the 1st time around) – is that all the safety that Karly has built into the beginning of the process is making it safer and safer for me to give up my self sabotaging behavior. Karly has shown me that giving up these foods (and ways of behavior) is really about growing my self love and kindness."
- Char Brooks, United States
About Karly, the course creator
Hello! I'm so glad you're here. I’m Karly, your guide through the course. I help highly sensitive people who struggle with shame, sugar, overdoing and perfectionism and who yearn to create a kinder, more compassionate relationship with themselves.
There's a deeper story that lives underneath the surface story of your struggle, and this story is both more true and more merciful. It's this story that I help midwife into being. There is so much beauty - and so much tenderness - that lives in and underneath your struggles.
Growing human(kind)ness, the name of my website, means to soften self criticism and shame, and to claim the wholeness that is our birthright. This work arose from two things - from my own experience with 20 years of multiple eating disorders, chronic depression and anxiety, and from bearing witness to others' stories of challenge, growth and rebirth.
I teach classes, write books and courses, and speak to groups.
I offer this teaching in service to all who feel the shame of human stumbling and who yearn for wholeness, and a desire for a more compassionate and connected world. Underneath all my work you'll find a love for the human heart.
I live in Austin, Texas with my husband Patrick and our family, two dogs, a very frisky cat, lots of dust bunnies, and beautiful oak trees. I love good stories, good music, good food, good words, lifting heavy things, and long walks.