Sunday, February 22, 2015

Food Addiction- part 2- Overlap in diagnosis and intuitively knowing- ideas from the Food Junkie book

 Food Addiction- part 2- Overlap in diagnosis and intuitively knowing

 I'm going to talk about food addiction.  Skip this post all together if your sanity is moderation. Although if you seek to understand why people abstain from triggers, then maybe this post is for you. Do what works. Just don't tell a food addict - recovered or not- to eat a cookie or normalize all food. Thanks!

Parts of the Food Junkies book (Vera Tarman, MD, READ THIS BOOK!) really jumped off the page were :

1.  Chapter 5- Are you a food addict? - from the book  Overlap in diagnosis
  • Many diagnoses overlap, 
  • That diagnosing Food Addition can be confusing, that a person can be a food addict and have an eating disorder
  • That the book author Dr. Tarman, and other experts, believe that many people diagnosed with with binge eating disorder are actually food addicts (THIS!) 
My own experience: My counselor caught onto my food using ways and told me that "Sugar and Flour were like allergies, food sensitivities, you should stay off them, many people do." That was in 2002-2003. I was at the counselor for other issues, non-food related.

Thank goodness my counselor gave me some great advice.  Too bad my stinking thinking resulted in me getting to a BMI of 34-35, morbid obesity in 2004-2011. I thank my higher power every day I did not keel over. Many do die. Food Addiction Kills. Good thing I got the heck out of my own way!

I pray that eating disorder counselors and specialists get updated training that is accurate and timely. If I had a dime for well meaning doctors and people telling me to moderate all things... well, I could retire right now! 

I thank people like Dr. Tarman, Dr. Pamela Peeke and others that speak out and bring us the most current research.

2. In Chapter 5- Are you a food addict?  "Make no mistake, food addicts, like other addicts, intuitively know that they are engaging in self-destructive behavior"
  • system of denial becomes more complex and defensive as the addiction progresses
  • bizarre rationalizations = stinking thinking
Weight gain, moderating all foods

My own experience: Oh, my gosh!  I "used" every moderation scheme I could think of. My food addiction disease wanted to RULE my brain. I would attend a WW meeting (2007-2011) and then I would proceed to moderate all the foods that helped my disease fired up and my dopamine receptors full. (2009-20011) SURE!!! I can count those calories. No problem! 

Skinny Cow ice cream, cookies, candy.  H*LL Yeah! I could count those points like a champ, but the result was ALWAYS a binge. Never failed. False Fixes. 100% didn't get me to a normal weight

 Since the counselor told me that I would need to stop... well, I knew.  But I continued to "use" the moderation message to "use" sugar and grains. You can see from the weight graph below just how much moderation didn't work for me!!!   I can't blame WW, Livestrong or anything or anybody else. It's my own dang responsibility. Not my fault that I have the addict brain, but my responsibility to move onto other tools and methods in recovery.

I should have and could have stopped or changed after 2-4 months, but instead I waited years! Hey, better late than never!!!

Here's what is working for me:
1. Choosing medical professionals with updated skills and advice that matches with my goals.
2. Choosing to live in recovery by choosing a Paleo-ish food template that keeps my body AND mind well.

Here's what didn't work for me:
1. Not taking action quickly enough once I was given solid, sensible advice.
 Ummmm I would have been better off taking action within  2-4 months rather than 2-4 years. What the heck was I thinking?  Forgiveness, always. I'm still standing.

2. Irrational, self destructive behavior... okay... weird crap like we've all seen and heard before- yourself, WW meetings, other bloggers, etc. I forgive myself every day so I don't bang my head on the wall...... Sink or Swim!?
  • "I would binge more if I didn't have a skinny cow ice-cream"
  • "Normal people eat whatever they want"  BS!!!
  • "Those ladies at WW in Lifetime, well, I'm just not trying hard enough"
  • "My family would be upset if I didn't eat their traditional sugar/wheat bombs"
  • "My friends and co-workers would be offended if I didn't eat their homemade food"
Readers, what do you think? Anybody ever told you to abstain when you needed to moderate? Misdiagnose you? What weird thinking did you use to keep your stinking thinking alive? What ways have you kicked that thinking to the curb?

2011 vs 2015- Guess which photo was moderation vs abstaining?


  1. Karen, my personal epiphanies are directly in line with yours in so many ways. For me, like you, I cannot moderate sugar, period. It's not an option. I still have one colleague in particular who doesn't understand me, even a little bit. I've declined her treats countless times--and remind her, kindly--after thanking her for the gesture, that I'm abstinent from sugar. Still, she offers the cakes, donuts, the afternoon chocolate break... I recently stopped thanking her for these gestures, hoping my lack of gratitude will discourage her. The truth is, it doesn't matter what she offers, I'm not accepting.
    Excellent book recommendations, Karen. Thank you! Forgiveness--oh my, you're so right. The examples of previously allowed rationalizations--uh, yeah--very familiar... :) When I read your blog, I always feel like--here's someone who totally and completely understands me. Excellent work, my friend!

    1. Thank you Sean! Just knowing we are not alone is key. I happen to know that I carry a double copy of the FTO gene (addiction) and one copy of the "extra ghrelin" gene. The combo of the two is tough, but abstaining from sugars and grains really helps my brain and hormonal system to regulate to a normal body weight.

      Yes, over time I've trained the co-workers. Some are keen to point out I can have their whatever... but I've never once regretted my decision to not take one. The new normal feels too good! Life is too great to get back into the dark head space again.

      Thank you for commenting. We are stronger together!

    2. that should read "cannot have their whatever". I have my sanity, that's more important than any cupcake! Oh, and I like my health insurance discount, too!!!

  2. I'm sure many will identify with what you've written Karen ........ great post.

    All the best Jan

  3. RE: your question. No. No one has ever told me I should abstain when I should moderate. Three MDs (GP, Gi guy, thyroid/diabetes guy) have told me I must abstain from gluten, but I have a real life, you can see it on my skin, condition that only those who cannot process gluten get. No one, I repeat, NO ONE has ever told me I should abstain from sugar. Moderation is sane, all else is...not. I sooooo want to believe them. I have proven that their advice is faulty. :}

    Hey. How would one go about getting that gene test?

    1. Deb, I so wished I had taken my counselors advice. Better late than never. At least I know I'm not alone. I would have wound up with 5-10 prescription meds (GERD, Acne, Migraines, Blood pressure, sinus and ear infections, ) and I would still have obesity. Ugh!

      The test is available at several labs. I'm not affiliated with any of them. I used 23nMe for the DNA info ($99 about $120 with tax and shipping) but paid a private company $5 to run an html report to interpret it. I got ancestry from 23nMe and disease risk from the other company.

      BUT, there's a lot of information in the report. Risks you may not want to know about. Siblings and relatives you may not know you have. (so far no long lost half siblings and only legit 2nd cousins that are very nice) So think carefully before you jump into it. I can see how someone pulling their report might dive straight into a huge cheese cake after seeing they have 10-20 risk factors for obesity and never return. Or fly the the Victim Flag super high. I didn't need the report to know that I'm at high risk for obesity. I just lived it for 40 freaking years! The doctor is not going to change 1 thing with my info. Not one thing. I did make a few slight changes.

      For me, I can forgive myeslf for being a very hated upon obese child. Not my fault, but as an adult I do have the responsibility to deal with my geneotype so my obesity risk phenotype is not expressed. I need to not put foods in my body that signal my binge brain.

    2. Thanks, Karen. I'll f/u on the test info. I understand your warning and I'm okay with knowing hard things. I'm just one of those people who'd rather know than not know. It is what it is whether I know or not, right? Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. :)

  4. You are right Karen, nobody is giving the sane advice. Abstaining seems too harsh. The most common response I heard is "I cannot abstain from grains". They admire my weight loss but quickly add that they cannot do it. People do not realize that the are carbo/sugar addicts.
    I recently read a wonderful new blog "My Zero Carb Life" by Kelly Hogan. A previously obese woman who lost weight on Atkins/Low Carb. She describes the withdrawal symptoms in one of her posts. I still remember my own withdrawal, and I was only moving to Medifast food, which still had artificial sweetener crap and carbs (~85g), and lots of soy protein. Only when you experience life without addiction you can understand that you actually where addicted. I think that the whole population is addicted. I don't think it is possible to moderate. Just some people have different biology. I really got what Dr. B says about how no one will encourage you to use cocaine in moderation, or just this one occasion. I totally adopted her suggestion for internal sense of superiority. Lol :-)
    Great blog.

    1. Rina, I'll have to check out that blog. Oh, yeah! withdrawals... I went through during Medifast (not bad b/c it was not that low carb), but worse when I went from 70% paleo/ 30% medifast to a Whole30. Got the low carb flu. But smart ,because I knew to keep my re introduction choices narrow and not carb it up.

      I had no idea how hard it would be to be on weight maintenance island and watch. I think it's hard because I used to have the same mantras. Love Dr. B.

      Sometimes a photo of a normal dinner will be posted (IG, ) about how "restricted" "unsustainable" "too hard" our meals are when we've photographed a normal sized portion of steak, a salad with veggies and some avocado. So easy, so filling. I could not even think about a binge after a protein/fat/carbs from veggies. Physically, that part of my binge brain- well- there's no way I could access it, even if I were stressed. Plus, it tastes pretty darn good.

      The act of heating up my meal every day is the game changer... what is that.. smells good... hey you eat normal sized meals and don't re-gain your weight... That opens a honest conversation... yes, eat food that you cook at home, not processed... feel full. Walk 5-6 miles. ect. Sigh.

      Thank you for stopping by the blog. I hope others can spend the 2-8 weeks enduring the withdrawals to get to the clear mind and unhooked from the SAD.

  5. Hi Karen, I've never been "moderate" in eating. If I could stop at 12 plain M&Ms, I would have never gained all of that weight. No, it was eating half a family-sized bag of M&Ms at a time that does that. I knew it was bad, and I tried to tell myself that I'd stop at a serving, but that never worked for 15 years of being very overweight. I'm a food addict. Give me a huge slab of cake in a room with me for a day, and the results won't be that I ate a reasonable serving. I generally, either eat lots or nothing of desserts. My best bet has been to get an apple to munch on, or an orange. Candy is downstairs right now, but so are oranges. Oranges keep the weight down, *not* moderate servings of desserts. So I just hum in my mind when people preach to me about moderation. :-)

  6. I do not eat bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fake sugar, processed foods, peanut butter, wine, beer. I don't eat them because I choose not to eat them. I was fat when I did and now (though struggling with a small gain this last 6 months) I am much smaller than I have been in the last 2 decades. My weight loss methods (before discovering hypnosis) were always restrictive, unhealthy. I find that not eating these foods frees me from figuring out HOW to eat without over eating. I don't feel deprived because I myself made this choice to be healthier. It's not a punishment. It's a much nicer way to live. --- I also don't own a scale.... another way to stop the madness!!