Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Food Exposure is a MAJOR Problem

Lately, I have discovered something about myself. While I *am* much more in control of my actions, and even my thoughts, I still have a serious issue with getting triggered when I am overexposed to food. I dunno if this is normal, or just me, or a binge eating disorder thing, but I want to explain it. And I need to figure out if it is fixable, or how to make it more tolerable.

What I mean by food exposure is any image of food that is planted in my mind. It could be seeing a bag of chips on the counter, or some grated cheese in the fridge. It could be a picture of a food in a shiny magazine ad or in a TV commercial. When I was still eating fast food, I'd get seriously triggered by any Taco Bell or McD's or pizza commercials to the point that I would see the commercial and bolt out the door to get the food, or at least be obsessing about it until I could have it. Sometimes, all it takes is hearing about a food, smelling it, or reading on someone's blog that they ate it, and I'd get triggered into major obsession on THAT PARTICULAR food item. I *had* to have it, and it would bug me for hours or days.

This has been moderated a lot by eating very low carb. I have mentioned before how I can go somewhere and see donuts and they no longer affect me; they may as well be rocks sitting there on the table for all I care. And when the food thoughts enter my mind, I have a much easier time dismissing them and forgetting about them. Usually, even if I see and want a food, if I walk away I have forgotten all about it within 5 minutes. So I guess the major obsession is pretty much gone. I've definitely made progress.

However, once that problem dissipated, a new layer emerged: my low tolerance for food exposure. Let me try to explain.

If I lived alone, and if money were no issue, I think I'd have very few triggers. I would go to a store where they don't have massive amounts of samples or baked goods or other stuff that bothers me. I could just buy my groceries and come home and ONLY have healthy stuff in the house. Every time I opened a cabinet there would be healthy stuff. I could eliminate the TV, magazines, and trips to the mall where I get assaulted by food exposure. I don't think my mind would wader to candy bars and pizzas very often. I am really okay with eating healthy stuff prepared in a yummy way.

But bring in other people who buy groceries, and suddenly I am dealing with a lot more food exposure in my own home. Yes, I have done all the usual suggestions... talking, asking, making a special cabinet for 'their' food... but I still end up seeing and smelling a lot of stuff that is just Food Exposure. People cook pancakes and fry bacon. They bake garlic bread. They leave their frosted coconut bread sitting on the counter. They have bowls of shredded cheese and refried beans in the fridge. It's life. I pretty much deal with it. It doesn't bother me enough to set me off to a binge anymore.

But if you throw in there all the other stuff, sometimes I feel absolutely over the edge. They talk about gooey pizza, and their friend's recipe for lasagna. They leave fast food ads lying around and watch TV with lots of food commercials. And then I go shopping and nearly lose it. Today at the store was one of those times.

I was getting salad stuff which is right next to the bakery stuff and my eyes grazed across the donuts, the brownies, the frosted cookies, the chocolate cake. I got away from there and went to get frozen veggies and saw all the frozen cinnamon rolls, ice cream with candy in it, hot fudge on the end of the aisle, frozen pizzas, and sausage biscuits. I went to get a loaf of whole wheat bread and right next to it was those fried lemon pies, powdered donuts, more cookies, Little Debbie Cakes... oh my gosh, I was about to flip. I went to the CANDY aisle (yeah, not great) because I promised one of my kids I'd pick up some sour gummy things (birthday) and I saw all this freaking chocolate, and chocolate coated nuts, and bags and bags and bags of candy.... and I started losing it. In sheer desperation, I started grabbing bags of "sugar free" candy and reading the labels. Sugar free Almond Joys, Baskin Robbins hard candies, Dove raspberry chocolates... I was grabbing them and holding them like some kind of security blanket, and I felt this desperation, and I could actually SEE myself in the car eating the whole bag of sugar free Almond Joys... and I honestly had to FORCE myself to just drop the bags on the shelf and get away from it. I was telling myself, "you'll be ok, that's just not a good idea." I got in the cracker aisle (because part of the "school supply" list this year is CRACKERS!) and saw all those salty, fatty, crunchy crackers and I wanted them SO bad. I went to the deli for roast turkey and when I saw the macaroni salad for 99 cents I almost cried. I was standing there trying to figure out HOW I could EVER have a binge with ALL those things I wanted. I was thinking, "I'd have to have like one bite of each thing, and then I'd STILL get sick! It would cost me fifty bucks and I'd be throwing away 90% of it because I cannot eat that much volume anymore!" I found myself suddenly distraught that my ability to really BINGE has been taken away from me. And I wondered if I was losing my sanity.

I got out of there and in the car I ate a mini Babybel light cheese (one piece) and a slice of beef salami... totalling about a hundred calories, and no carbs. I sat there and wondered, how am I ever going to be normal? Yeah, sure, I can avoid the binges now really well. Yeah I can usually cope and not obsess. But when I get overexposed to too many foods all in one day, I start flipping and wanting to binge, desperately. Oh so desperately. The only difference now is, I don't actually do it. I guess that is a very significant difference. I guess over time, maybe I won't flip out like this. Eventually, I WILL let myself have a bite of things I want, or incorporate them back into my daily intake in a moderate way. And I hope that quells the crazygirl inside me who is scared she might NEVER get another bite of macaroni salad again, in her whole life.

Not being physically *able* to binge the way I used to is honestly like a dream come true. I never thought it would really happen. But in another way, it is my worst nightmare. It feels like being locked alone in a dark cellar. It's terrifying and feels like someone stole something that was precious to me. But, in fact, it was never taken. I healed myself a bit, somehow, and got my wish. I still am sort of mourning the loss of the binge. The binge was my best friend, my lover, my secret pleasure. But I'll be okay. It gets easier every day and I am better off without it.


screaming fatgirl said...

"If I lived alone, and if money were no issue, I think I'd have very few triggers."

This is something that I've read many women say (and it's only women, not men for some reason). The thing is that this is an important thing to deal with mentally because life is a going to be a series of food cues that you cannot avoid.

I suffered from the same thing for a period of months (it ended pretty much completely after 10 months, but slowly reduced through time), but no longer do. I used mental conditioning to stop this pervasive thinking about food when it was in my view. It was not easy, but it can be done.

You can diffuse the impact food has on you, but I do wonder if the method you use to lose weight plays a role in your issues in this regard. That is NOT a criticism of your method, but rather a reflection of the reality of it. I realize Medifast is working for you (and good for you), but you aren't really eating from the pool of food most people consume so you may have stronger responses to certain foods as a result. It's easier to be hooked by a picture or the smell of pizza when you can't have it than when you know you can have it in moderation.

With any luck, once you have lost all you want to lose using Medifast, you can adopt a more flexible and inclusive maintenance diet and your food cue responses and obsession with having things once you are cued will end. I would recommend starting a mental conditioning routine now though so that you can work out some issues before you reach that point (which may help ease you into "normalizing" your eating once you are finished using Medifast to lose).

It may not help you (because each person is different), but the processes I used are detailed here:

Good luck, and thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Anonymous said...

one of geneen roth's earliest books (can't remember which one) has a pretty novel (and extremely scary) way of trying to normalize one's behavior with food. (by the way, geneen was a binge eater, and I have been, too. I've lost approx 40% of my body weight and have been maintaining plus or minus 5 lbs for almost 10 months now.) there was a story about how she just ate chocolate chip cookies. every day. breakfast, lunch and dinner. for days. until she became sick of them, and actually started to crave healthier food. in another instance, she recommended filling a pillowcase with m&ms and giving permission to a girl struggling with binge eating to carry that pillowcase around with her and eat as much as she wanted, whenever she wanted. I am not recommending this... but it's interesting. the idea is that if you know, really really *know* that nothing is forbidden and you can have as much as you want (and don't have to stuff as much as you can, secretly, into your face, and if you've stopped using food to numb your feelings), then food loses its hold on you... and you don't hear it calling from the kitchen (which was my experience-- not being able to focus because I knew there was a trigger food for me, preoccupying my mind, calling out to me to eat it all. anyway. I lost weight by eating vegetarian meals, with enough protein to keep me from feeling ravenous, and while eating tons and tons of veggies. AND I also keep a pretty well stocked pantry: lots of smallish bars of dark chocolate, trader joe's plain frozen yogurt, high fiber bread, etc. etc. do I still get 'triggered' sometimes? absolutely, yes. but by writing down what I'm feeling, and by focusing on what I want to eat, and by just *knowing* that I have yummy food in the house that I could eat if I feel like it... well, I think this has helped me. sorry to be so long-winded. I"m happy to write you a personal email if you'll post your email address. (only if you're interested). I also wanted to tell you that you've been an inspiration to me.

Lyn said...

screaming fat girl~ (do you live inside my head?? lol... love the name)

Thank you, I am reading your blog post and thinking about what bits and pieces of it I can apply to work for me. I see some helpful stuff in there :)

I know that a lot of people think "dieting" depravation can lead to binges, but for me no matter what my method over the past 20 years I have still had food calling to me. When I was calorie counting (for years) I let myself have candy or ice cream or whatever fit my calories, but the problem is I wanted ten portions of it and would binge on it, AND then want cake afterwards.


Ah yes, I have that Geneen Roth book, and in fact, I started a paragraph about THAT as I was typing this post. I actually DID what she said, and ate chocolate chip cookie dough for dinner and bags of chips for breakfast trying to "listen to my body" and eat what it was asking for. I did this back when the book was new... maybe 8-10 years ago? And guess what, I gained a huge amount of weight over 3-4 months. I think I am broken. I never got tired of cookie dough, never felt satisfied with it, never stopped wanting mroe and more and more. Crazy.

My email addy is on the left side of the blog under Contact Me :)

And thank you for the thoughtful comment.

Anonymous said...

I personally think it is incredibly important for everyone to remember that the sight/sound/smell/thought of food triggers the 1st part of a 2 part insulin response. It PHYSICALLY causes your body to release insulin. A good way to check this is if you are a person who salivates heavily at the thought/smell/sight of food... you can be sure you are pumping out insulin. The insulin makes it impossible for your body to access it's own fat stores for fuel and as a result you feel hunger.

You will find that if you ask friends and family about whether they salivate to a specific commercial or while talking about food, the people who fight their weight are invariably the people who salivate (and thus have a excessive insulin production, "metabolic syndrome", state going on).

And remembering Pavlov's dogs... you can see how you have trained yourself to salivate (release insulin) at so many different triggers. Through time (untraining), you can dimish the insulin response (body's faith that it is going to get food now!).

Part of getting a grip on your binging/struggle with weight is getting your body to have a normal insulin response to food. Part of this is by eating low gycemically / low carb, and part is by untraining that Pavloving response you have developed over years of recreational / binge eating.

I am working on this process myself and find that it will take months or even years to untrain my salivory (insulin) response. It takes a long time to heal and I may never be entirely healed.

Anyway, enjoyed your post. Those food triggers are a bear.

murgatroidgerow said...

Just this morning I heard an interview with the author of this book:"The End of Overeating,Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite." Interestingly it mentioned many of the same things you said. See if can listen to the interview at the Here and Now radio site. Could help.
Your doing great. It's inspirational to read!

spunkysuzi said...

You know i have the same problem and i'm very interested in the comments here! I will definitely be taking some of these suggestions and seeing if they'd work for me.
I really do believe though that binge eating is all about the pleasurable memories we have with certain foods. For me after a few bites i no longer taste the food but he pleasure is there, that is until the next day when i feel downright sick.
You are working on what you need to do to never go back to where you were and i have no doubt you will overcome.

Dinah Soar said...

Gee Lyn, that is hard--having all that food around. Seeing food trigger me too--my husband likes to bake goodies, and I finally got to the point where I decided to assert my need and ask him to please not bake--that if he wanted cookies or cake or whatever, to please go out and buy himself a portion to eat..that it is too hard for me to continue to resist. If he were not willing to do that it would be very hard.

As well, my way of eating allows a bit of junk mini Heath bars, which are my current obsession, taking the place of Dove dark chocolates. Those along with some calorie and fat friendly sweets help me stay in line.

Polar's Mom said...

No matter what diet I happen to be on at the time, I have ALWAYS had a physical response to food-a high. Food is my high, I'd be at work, having a good day, bad day, normal day, and I would think about my special nachos and start salivating and suddenly I would feel high and happy. And I always scheme in my head to justify bad food choices when I'm at the store. I walk down the cheese isle and think "just a small bite, not on a pizza, just by itself", and I see the Ben and Jerry's and think "just a tiny carton not a pint, it will be ok". Still to this minute I crave bad food choices and already have the justification of why it's not so bad a choice in my head. But the state I am in now is due to a compilation of small bad choices that snowballed on me, and my thighs. One big thing that has helped me from becoming a free sample maniac at stores is to go after my L&G meal when I am at my least hungry state of the day. You are not alone, Lyn, and not in the minority to feel this way at the g-store!

Polar's Mom

Lanie Painie said...

Normal is over-rated. Please erase being "normal" off of your mental goal list. It'll save your sanity, I gaurantee it!

Just be the best Lyn you can be. You know now that food is fuel, not fun. You're making good choices, even though they are difficult ones. You can do it, are doing it, will keep doing it!

I do have to agree with the anon poster about diets and forbidden foods making the binge impluse harder to resist though.

i know you can do it! Keep up the good work!

Vee said...

I'm so proud of you. You went through a difficult situation and came through on the other side a better person. You will remember that the next time it hits you and it'll be easier.

I went through a similar situation last sunday in the ice cream aisle and ended up buying a ton of fruit to substitute.

Food is in my thoughts every second of every day. Hubby doesn't get it, and most other people don't get it. I'm constantly thinking about my next morsel, or cooking something just to smell it, etc. It's hard but yes, it's getting a tad easier. ONLY a tad.

Vee at

Moderate Means said...

You know how you hear that men think about sex something like a bazillion times a day? That's how I feel about food. It is always in my head. I think about food regularly. About what I would like to eat, where I could find it, how long would it take to get there, would anyone know, etc. I can do okay with most foods but fast food is my downfall. I simply cannot allow myself to enter a fast food restaurant, or even their parking lot. I can be stronger at a distance and not pull in but once I'm there, I can't stop myself. I could live on fast food if health and weight weren't factors. I think of myself as having a fast food addiction and I have distractors designed to help me pass chatting on the phone and scanning radio stations.

I don't know if it's something you've ever looked into, but for me I've decided, through patterns in my eating and cravings, that I was a good match for candida issues. I have been taking oregano oil (in a capsule) and a probiotic and the cravings so much better. I think my system was craving particular foods because of the effects of a messed-up gut. Just throwing it out there :)

Lisa said...

I am a newcomer to your blog. Not a blogger myself, but your thoughts on food exposure and food triggers today hit a note so I will venture a comment.

I started a journey out of obesity myself quite recently, a month ago. Partly what gave me the mindset to do so was a book a neighbor of mine mentioned. It discussed the neurological drivers behind a person's response to food triggers. Looks like an earlier comment mentions it - The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler. Small world.

The approach recommended in Geneen Roth's book was helpful to un-demonized foods. Years ago I participated in a food support group that, among other strategies, espoused her idea of eating whenever, whatever, and however much you want of forbidden foods. It let to some rather odd eating days, but funny thing it did stop the binge-deprivation cycle and gave me a mental freedom around food for which I am still grateful. However, the approach didn't do much to reduce my weight. I still found myself dealing with newly triggered food cravings, eating more than I need to satisfy hunger alone, and mystified at my inability to understand why.

I find Kessler's book surprisingly helpful with strategies for addressing the latter problems. Somehow knowing the direction my brain wants to go (and why) makes doing a different thing a little easier. I do live alone (though can't say money is no issue...), and home is a relatively safe zone, but work and life outside the home are a whole other matter. Some days my world seems like a minefield of chocolate cake, maple-glazed doughnuts, salty tortilla chips, and breakfast burritos. And don't get me started on what businesses consider appropriate to provide as "lunch".

It is very early days yet, but so far I am doing okay. Some course corrections as I figure out what my own personal triggers are, but all part of the journey.

Lisa said...

"Not being physically *able* to binge the way I used to is honestly like a dream come true."

You have done, on your own, something that people pay thousands of dollars and re-route their intestinal plumbing for.

Anonymous said...

Lyn --

I've been reading your blog for a while, and your honesty and perseverance are truly inspiring, so THANKS!

I just have to respond to Anonymous -- and I want to do this as kindly and as non-flame-war-y as possible -- but you are promoting junk science with the debunked theory that sights/smells/sounds of food trigger an insulin response. This diet myth is irresponsible to recycle because it's factually false. Salivating does not trigger an insulin response. You cannot gain weight by wishing you could be eating a piece of chocolate cake! You are not screwing up your insulin levels by staring at a box of donuts like Homer Simpson with spittle dripping down of the side of your mouth. INGESTING FOOD triggers an insulin response. And the type and quantity of food determine the level of insulin. Period.

I applaud your efforts to eliminate processed carbs -- that's the only way to retrain our bodies and normalize (there's that word!^) our insulin response. Whole, nutrient-dense food in small portions several times a day works for millions of people.

The food triggers will always be there, but I think we're hormonally susceptible sometimes, or just flat-out over-stimulated, I agree, but the food never tastes quite as good as the anticipation, or even my overworked imagination/memory of the binges. It IS like having an affair!

I "experimented" with sugar a while ago for what I thought would be just a weekend, and my "lost weekend" immediately led to months. I was just certain that, after maintaining a 100+ weight loss for 3+ years (by dumping sugar and processed carbs and working out), I was no longer capable of such out-of-control behavior and "Aw, the hell with it!"-type of attitude, but I was wrong, and I'm still paying the price. Yes, some of it tasted good, but that's not why I was eating it. It's just food, but I was using it as a tool to prove something to myself -- that I was "normal," "in control," "not eating because I'm [lonely-angry-depressed-frustrated-etc.]."

The moment I stop using food as anything but fuel (which can definitely be tasty, lovely, and make me salivate!^), it's time for me to put down the fork and pick up a pen, work out, or just sit quietly, breathe deeply, and get a grip. It's not fair and it's probably forever (if I'm going to be honest with myself about it), but it is what it is. And I just need to be a grown-up about it.

I absolutely know that the day will come when I can enjoy some special food without all the head-trips (including worrying if I'll lose control), at which point I will make a rational and happy decision leading to a small, enjoyable treat. It's just that today is not that day.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. FANTASTIC blog, Lyn! Hang in there!

screaming fatgirl said...

I have to respectfully disagree with some of the comments here. I don't think "food as fuel" is a natural or productive way to view life. Food is meant for pleasure as much as it is for fuel. Our brains are wired to enjoy food, and sweet and fatty foods in particular. You can reject your nature, but it won't last forever. I'm not saying people should stick their face in a bowl of M & M's and inhale, but rather that we should enjoy food. It can be the pleasure of a lovely fresh peach, a bite of chocolate, or a well-cooked chicken breast, but there is pleasure to be found in all food. This is our nature as humans. I embrace it, and it helps me lose weight because I eat savoring the experience.

I also have to disagree with the talk about Pavlovian responses. These can't be broken. You can condition your thinking, but not your biology. There is some confusion about the difference between classical and operant conditioning. At any rate, you can learn not to let food push your buttons so easily, but you can't stop your body from reacting to sights, smells, etc. with a biological reaction (like salivation). You can only stop the "I want it" or "I have to have it" thinking.

I was once where everyone is now in terms of having no control and one bite leading to another and another and another. I binged. I couldn't resist. I overate. I also taught myself moderation and control. I wasn't perfect at it, but I got better and better through time. It's a lot of hard work talking to yourself, pushing back your impulses and retraining your brain, and not everyone can manage it because they have far too many other things on their mental plates to devote the mental energy to the process (and it is completely exhausting). However, I don't think most people really try because there is this "all or nothing" mentality that pervades eating and dieting culture and it takes time and, yes, failure and half measures for quite awhile before you start to see consistent success. I only suggest that people be open to the possibility rather than take on a stance of "moderation is impossible", "normal is impossible", or "food is nothing more than fuel". This sort of extreme thinking generally lands people to regaining weight in the future.

I wish everyone well with whatever they do, and hope they find peace with food through whatever their respective processes are.

Nancy said...

I deal with the same issue on a daily basis. Your description of what it was like for you in thre grocery store sounded like me! I wish I had an answer for you... for me... on how to make it go away, but sadly I don't. :-( Thank you for sharing this today because it makes me feel like I'm not crazy and all alone in the ways my mind handles food.

Tammy said...

I could have written this post. When I tell you I understand Lyn, I really mean it. Big Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, I've found it fairly effective personally to have healthy substitutes for anything. Figure out what it is I'm really craving - a texture or a flavor. Like for nachos, I've used low-carb tortillas, baked, with 2% cheese, salsa, jalapenos. It has the gooey, crunchy, spicy combination without the calories. I do a lot of replacing carbs with vegetables - zucchini nachos/ pizza or using protein powder and splenda to make something sweet (ice cream and pancakes). I have triggers like everyone, but a long period of eating well requires that I prefer to eat well when possible. That keeps me motivated to have the choices on hand, take small samples, nibble on the best part and throw the rest away when I'm eating socially. Neuro-linguistic programming is great for this, the way some us grew up thinking about cigarettes as coffin nails, is something you can do with fried potatos and desserts.

NewMe said...

You have written extensively about the psychological abuse you endured as a child as well as the difficulties you have had as an adult.

I'm not trying to make a straight comparison between what you are experiencing and the lives of the people featured in A&E's "Intervention", but almost without exception their addictions (drugs, alcohol, anorexia, etc.) are linked to serious abuse as children. You have not had an easy life (no one's is, but some are harder than others)and clearly, food has played a role in softening the many blows you have been dealt.

I cannot help but think that the power that food has over you (and yes, I know that this power has decreased markedly recently) is so much more due to psychological stressors than the actual food itself.

I don't have any advice. All I can do is urge you to go as far as you can in unravelling the psychological underpinnings of your food obsession as an adjunct to the admirable work you are doing on repairing your relationship with food.

April said...

I've written something very similar in my blog. Like anything else out there, too much of one thing is bad. It is usually called an addiction. Of course most people think of addicitons in the form of drugs. A lot of people can't grasp the idea of being addicted to food, and the struggle to overcome it. But think about it. Does a person addicted to heroin (or whatever the drug of choice is) live without ever taking that drug again? Yes. Does a person addicted to food life without ever eating again. No. A person HAS to eat to survive. A person can easily go the rest of their life without seeing whatever drug they were addicted to. A person addicted to food doesn't have that pleasure. Food is literally everywhere. Which is my opinion makes our battle that much harder. (granted I've never been addicted to any drug before.) Our challenge comes in the way of how we view food. The food we were addicted to was easily killing us. We need to now feed ourselves the food that provides us nutrients. So that we can live.

On another note. I do live alone, and although money is no object, living alone comes with its own uphill battles. Example, if something does "trigger" a WANT to go eat something bad, I can leave and go get it, and nobody would ever know. Having family around I think helps in making your more accountable. Because they see what you eat. And they would know if something was bad.

Anonymous said...

Right there with you Lyn. I was never a binger, but I totally relate to the being suggestible. If I see a potato chip commercial, I instantly want some, even if I had no craving before. Having to shop and cook for others definitely ccontributes to it, "everybody else is having ..., why can't I?". I'm not sure if it's hormonal for women, or we just remember the good old days (ha) when we ate whatever we fancied. I hate to tell you this, but it gets harder the older you get. After 50 it's so hard to lose, even with lots of working out. I'm hanging in there, but I've only lost 22 lbs this year, and I've cut out most carbs and work out 2 hours at a time at least four days a week.

I'd say be strong, but I know you will LOL


The Captain's Daughter said...

Twenty some-odd years ago I noticed that hearing the word, "lunch" would send me right off my diet and into a binge-all-day-all-night session. The word still bothers me, but today I am better able to control the urges to eat. I feel the same way you do about magazines and television ads and those damn signs in the Taco Bell window for their cantina tacos, which call to me every day as I pass them on my way home.

I believe the key for me is to refocus my attention onto something else. Most of the times it works, some of the time it doesn't. I have NO answers, but for me, having more of the "it works" days to the "it doesn't work" days seems to provide me the balance I need (until I get it figured out for good... if that's even possible.)

I'm starting a detox/cleanse on Monday after losing 51 pounds on the CLEAN diet (just 51 pounds of the much MORE I need to lose.) Wish me luck!

luckiest1 said...

I could have written that blog. I see something on Food TV, I have to make it. That's why I usually watch only the healthy cooking shows. I tend to leave the room if commercials come on, or change the channel. If one of my kids brings something unhealthy into the house (chips, cookies, cake, ice cream) I can't stop myself from having a little bit. But it's the 'little bit' that is the difference from where I was a few years ago. I avoid most of the aisles in the grocery store, only walking the perimeter (meat, dairy, fruit, veggies, bread). Unless I have a specific item on my list for a recipe or the kids, and then I struggle to pass by things I know I shouldn't buy. But most of the time I can do it now. I try to do the majority of my food shopping at the farmer's market.

I don't really have any useful advice except keep on doing what you're doing, it's obviously working! None of us are perfect, we just do the best we can under the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Re food as an addiction: I believe that sugar and the sugar in processed carbs are addicting (as are caffeine, etc.), but I don't believe that food itself is addictive, or everyone who eats would become addicted. (In other words, you can't do just a little heroin once in a while and not develop an addiction.) I think the behavior of overeating is COMPULSIVE (and this can possibly lead to a processed-carb addiction), but we can train ourselves out of it with various counter-behaviors and food choices. I love what Dr. Phil said about this, having to do with cognitive behavioral therapy: You have to substitute the negative behavior (overeating) with another behavior that counters or opposes the first (working out, journaling, walking, or whatever doesn't involve EATING).

And I agree with another poster who said that overeating and other compulsive behaviors or addictions can usually be traced back to trauma/abuse. Certain foods can be comforting, and extra pounds provide an armour that says, "Stay away." But while we plumb those psychological depths, working out consistently to achieve those physiological rewards (both short-term and long-term), and making healthy nutritional choices help us psychologically, as well as physically, and help us become stronger to deal with the emotional sources of our weight gain. It will also help with maintenance. But I don't think it can be approached first or only (not that the poster had said this). Otherwise, weight loss would take forever.

I think people who are stuck and having a hard time on their weight-loss path tend to underestimate the physiological and psychological benefits of working out and getting a major sweat on every day. "Feeling good" is not only an emotional response -- it's a physiological one, too.

Polar's Mom said...

Since food is an addiction that I cannot live without, I tried a while back to transfer my addiction (because I have a naturally addictive personality) into something that I did not require in order to survive. So I shopped. Alot. And lost alot of weight. But I spent a LOAD of money so I stopped shopping, and got fat. Now I have worked my shopping addicition into a shopping distraction that hides my eyes from the endless food commercials at night on TV by surfing eBay, but not buying like I used maybe transfering food addiction and obesession to something less life threatening would be helpful? I don't know, it worked for me, but that is just my two cents. Some people turn from food addicts into workout addicts-too bad I hate to sweat. ;-) Since few people ever really and truly break an addicitive personality to where they are not craving their drug of choice, maybe funneling that energy into something more innocuous would help, so that when you see Doritos it makes you want to garden or reorganize your closet?

Polar's Mom

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

I love this post because it demonstrates exactly what I've been through. It sucks. But I have to say, you should be proud of yourself because you did walk away, you got over the desire to binge, and that's all you need, that strength, and faith that you can do it. Don't sweat another minute...because if the day comes and you have that mac salad, or chocolate or chips, you'll reign it in at the next meal, and you'll fit it into your day. Balance Baby, it's all about balance, and it seems that you're doing a pretty excellent job on that high wire!