“For us, one is too many and a thousand is never enough. Once I start, I cannot teach myself to eat sugar in moderation. I just can’t do it. You know, I’ve never been successful at it, and I know many people that aren’t successful at it either. And I think, you know, using the term sugar addiction is quite like a broad term and I don’t think everybody becomes addicted to sugar but I think there are those individuals who really are at risk.” – Karen Thomson
In this episode of Pursuing Health, I sit down with the founder of the Sugar Free Revolution, Karen Thomson. Karen grew up in South Africa and battled addiction to multiple substances from an early age. She found help through an inpatient rehab center, but several years into recovery, she came to realize she still had one lingering addiction: sugar.
Using knowledge from her own journey to recovery, Karen partnered with other rehabilitation professionals to develop a one-of-a-kind approach, treating sugar addiction with an inpatient program using the abstinence model. She paid special attention to the underlying issues leading to sugar and carbohydrate addiction, and identified the need for a support network for those trying to kick an addiction.
She went on to write a book, Sugar Free: 8 Weeks to Freedom from Sugar and Carb Addiction, and also began sharing her message at conferences. It was at one of those conferences that she met CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, and they developed a friendship that resulted in the creation of the CrossFit Health Conference.
Karen and her family recently moved to Palm Springs, CA, where she is focused on opening another rehabilitation clinic to help others recover from addiction and live their healthiest life.
I caught up with Karen in Madison, WI, at the 2017 CrossFit Games to talk about how she made the choice to seek help, overcame her own addictions, and why she now uses her own experiences to help others do the same.
In this episode we discuss:
- Karen’s story of addiction, and how it was rooted in childhood
- How her experience as a young model led to an eating disorder
- What it was like to hit her breaking point
- How Karen treated and overcame her addiction
- Starting The Sugar Free Revolution
- Why Karen’s model for inpatient treatment of sugar addiction is unique
- Finding CrossFit and the importance of a health-minded community
- Meeting Greg Glassman and partnering with him to help end chronic disease
- How teaching at conferences led to creating the CrossFit Health Conference
- Some of the differences between the United States and South Africa
- How her passion for helping people with addiction and particularly sugar addiction drives her work
- What Karen eats in a typical day
- How she keeps her family on board with her healthy lifestyle
- Three things Karen does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
- One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
- What a healthy life looks like to Karen
- Sugar Free: 8 Weeks to Freedom from Sugar and Carb Addiction
- Tim Noakes
- The New Atkins for a New You
- CrossFit Health Conference
If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.
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Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.