Friday, June 8, 2012
The Holy Grail - Drying Out From Food Addiction
Hello, my name is Kristin and I am a recovering food addict. No, this is not a broccoli addiction or a craving for my fruit fix. I have never lurked in a dark alley trying to hook up with someone who could help me mainline a chicken breast. My pusher had a neon sign out front, was open whenever I needed him, and was 100% legal.
Processed fast food is probably the only addictive drug that is totally legal, always available, and is protected by commercial lobbyists whose only loyalty lies in the worship of the almighty dollar. Don't kid yourself. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars in pursuit of yet another way to crawl inside your head and manipulate you like a trained monkey. Any casual research on this will yield disturbing results.
Our self satisfied Western culture does not like to have the boat rocked. This is one subject that cannot be ignored any longer. We are a nation of addicts.
Don't think so?
If the thought of going without any "non life support" essential type food ie....... soda, drive thru, sweets, restaurant foods etc ........sends you into frenzy of panic or justification, you are an addict. I can live without burgers and fries and soda (yes even diet) or any candy, cake or pies, or restaurant food indefinitely without any side effects but if I were to exclude any fruits, vegetables, whole grains or lean proteins, their would be troubles down the road.
The mechanics of food addiction -
Our brains are hard wired for survival. Our brains also possess a reward system to ensure survival. In basic terms, when we behave in a certain way that ensures our survival, there is a release of mood enhancing hormones and chemicals that gives us a very, satisfied, safe, and well rewarded feeling. During times of stress, our bodies are hard wired to look for "easy calories". Calories that do not require much expenditure to acquire. In business terms, this is how you make a profit. Obtain the highest gain with the least cost. For our bodies, our brains look for and identify those easy calories in the form of sugar and fat. On a smaller scale, we also respond to salt as well, but the biggies are sugar and fat.
The food industry has scientists who are paid handsomely to feverishly work to find new ways to find the right combinations of sugar, fat and salt to tweak your "bliss point" ( their terminology not mine). Not to be crude, but this is similar to the bliss point in the chemical release found in an orgasm. How else do ultra rich chocolate cakes earn the name "better than sex" cake? I will not delve deep into this but if you are serious about getting a handle on your own addiction, then I highly recommend that you take time to read the below articles.
When I read the above articles I did not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that food is not a neutral substance that I take in, then pass out, that merely takes away the hunger feeling for a little while. Certain food combinations produce reactions in the brain hormonally. I am totally convinced, that in the pursuit of the almighty dollar, fast food conglomerates, and food companies and the industry as a whole has been on a long standing quest to make their product stand out from the rest so that you will buy it, even if it means exploiting your biology to do it. Our sense of food palatability and satisfaction has been severely skewed by years of the food industry persistently raising the bar when it comes to sugar, fat and salt content in the name of profitable flavor enhancement. Like the addict who needs higher and higher doses to get the same high, so our tolerances to high fat and high sugar have increased to the point where "clean food" tastes bland or gross and must be doused with some flavor intensive or high fat dressing or condiment.
Scientists in the food industry work tirelessly to research how the compounds in their food will trigger the response centers in your brain to keep you coming back. Follow the money and you will find the truth.
My Recovery -
I was so out of touch with how food tasted. Many times I did not even think about what was in my mouth, I was only reaching for another handful. The only way that I have found that works for me ( notice I did not say worked as I am a work in progress) is to dry out like any other addict. There is NO other way for me.
So how did I do it?......I had to lower my satisfaction threshold.
I had to become so "tripped out" on the high sugar/fat lifestyle, that real food lost out every time I had the chance to choose between the two. Let's face it what chance does a lean chicken breast and light spinach salad have against pizza and chicken wings?
There is no substitution for clean food.....and I do not mean processed prepackaged diet meals that are low fat, high salt facsimiles of their high fat cousins. I am talking about fresh fruit, veggies, leaner cuts of meat, fish and whole grains, all without being doused in high fat/high sugar anything to make it more palatable. There comes a time when we need to shake ourselves and get back to what REAL food tastes like without all of the enhancement. Sometimes the process was painful with real withdrawal symptoms. If real un-enhanced food tastes gross to you, then you know you are a victim of the food industries manipulation of your brains sensibilities. I cleaned up my diet, one meal at a time, in the beginning before the band. When the band was placed. I followed the rules religiously for the first 15 months or so. I did have some indulgence moments during that time, because drying out is not easy.
I rebelled, and I kicked and I had my moments until I experienced the following revelation:
A person with a serious illness never quibbles with the Dr. about finding time for treatment. Family or not, job or not, hobbies or not, the job gets done. Life's priorities are upended. Everything evolves around obtaining the necessary treatment. No worries about what is on TV or Face book. What was so bloody important before our diagnoses is now regarded as a waste of time in the light of the crisis that is now consuming us. When it comes to life saving treatment everyone knows it is not done at our convenience and neither is it done between the commercials. It is a priority and little else matters.
It finally sunk in that I was in deep trouble. This isn't about looking sexy, or a smaller pair of britches. This isn't about fulfilling some dream in the middle of some midlife crisis. This is about saving my life. Obesity is a slow, painful disease that will eat my body alive and destroy my soul.
Liberty and freedom from obesity is something that cannot be legislated through following some restrictive plan, it must be yearned for and pursued from the heart, fueled by the belief that it IS possible to change. I have to want it more than my pet addiction and nothing else will do. When you truly believe that the treasure that you have searched for is buried in a certain area, you will stop at nothing, sell all that you have, pull every string possible until you are standing in that field with a shovel in your hand. Then it becomes a labor of love.
There is the mental addiction of ingrained habit. We are what we repeatedly do. "I always get _______ (fill in the blank) every morning on my way to work". Then there is the physical addiction to the stimulation that the desired food delivers to your brain via salt, sugar and fat. It is because of this that I have watched so many journeys crash and burn. They got the fat off the body but not out of the head. Once they reached some perceived goal they backed off the routine because they feel they have arrived. It is almost and unconscious involuntary reaction. They slowly return to "normal" because the transformation did not take place in the mind. To them, exercise and a balanced, clean diet, was something radical and out of the normal routine. Slowly the old version of normal creeps back in, the drive-thru, the couch, the blowing off working out for the flimsiest of reasons.
Why did I reach the measure of success that I have so far enjoyed? ( I have not arrived)......my version of normal has been redefined, both in nutrition and in routine. To do that I had to dry out from my food addictions and introduce a new routine, one thing at a time, slowly. Sometimes VERY slowly.
I broke the addiction by eating as cleanly as possible, refining my technique until the results started coming.
Next.....The final blog series.......Holy Grail - Mastering Response-ability.