Friday, March 6, 2015

Food Addiction- part 3 - Abstaining vs Moderation(Chapter 9- food junkies book)

Looking another direction- abstaining vs moderating sugar and grains
Food Addiction- part 3- Moderation vs Abstaining- the big gap

 I'm going to talk about food addiction. As it relates to the book Food Junkies by Vera Tarman, MD. Have you read that book? Please, read that book.

 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!

Chapter 9- Here's what really popped out off the pages in the Food Junkie book.

1. Eating Disorder professionals who agree about food addictions but still go on to recommend moderation and portion control. The lack of suggestion to remove the trigger food.

2. The statistics from a Yale Rudd study that 50% of obese may be food addicted (from How Prevalent is 'Food Addiction'?- Meule-Adrian Frontiers in Psychiatry.   Additionally 20-30 % of overweight, and up to 10% of normal weight. Dr. Tarman believes that up to 10 % of underweight may be food addicted.

This is all my experience. Highly anecdotal. Your mileage may vary

Karen's take away -Intuitively I knew I needed to stop eating sugar and grains

1.  Yeah, I did not go see a eating disorder specialist because I knew I'd be told to moderate Skinny Cow ice-cream.

  • In real life, I was told to stop eating grains and sugars because they are like allergies to me by a licensed counselor in 2002
  • In real life, it took me getting dangerously obese and finally coming to terms with it in 2011-2012
  • I'm still standing
  • Science is catching up, I'm happy and hope the eating disorder specialists will get continuing education
Karen's take away
2. There is a GRAND CANYON Sized gap between the advise to moderate and abstain

  • The number of times I've been told to moderate all the things makes me sad
  • I'm still standing. 
  • What didn't kill me made me stronger.
Alright. That's it for today. I accidentally hit post before I was done writing. So if you see a half baked post, please refresh your reader. Sorry. It happens. :)

What works for me today

1. I abstain from sugars and grains using a Paleo-ish food template of my own making. The OA, FA, and Cognitive Behavioral practices match with my own experience. Grains and sugars being like allergies fit with my genetic expression super well. Hoping for the day that the additional research can offer this option to more treatment plans.

2. I'm tough, not moderate. I abstain and feel freedom, happiness and life away from food addiction. Finally, after 40 years. Feels awesome.

What did not work for me in the past:

1.  Moderating skinny cow ice-cream, sugars and grains. Even oatmeal. I did use oatmeal and frozen yogurt to justify eating my sugar drug!  Oh boy. 100's of binges. Hundreds.... if not thousands. I binge ate for 40 years.

2. The day I got tough is the day I got well. Not eating grains and sugars is tough from a withdrawal stand point. Glad I stopped telling myself that I would "die" without my binge food. I was pretty physically sick with it. Much more so. Ah well, better late than never.

Get this book! I covered up the doughnuts. Food photos can still really trigger me. 

Okay, thoughts, comments, your experience? It's okay to have a different opinion. Plenty of people moderate sugars and grains and are happy in weight maintenance. Everyone is different. There is no one answer, but there are probably 2-3 ways that will fit better to your genetics.


  1. Another good post, Karen. I think what I appreciate here is that you explain that abstaining is necessary for you to maintain (and not gain). However, you realize that not everyone has to eat this way, and that some people can eat grains in their natural state without being doctored up. I followed a Pritkin type diet in college, and I was in the best shape of my life at that time. Knowing what I do now about all the research and how my body has changed hormonally, I do not eat as high carb now as I did back then. But I have found that certain grains do not affect my weight in the same way that white potatoes and sweet potatoes do. Both white and sweet potatoes cause me to gain weight. And I am beginning to realize that limited grains are better for me than unlimited fruit. I am sure my nutritional needs will change as I get older and my body changes, and like you, I want to be a work in progress, always assessing how my diet is working for me!

    1. Ali, thank you! I just had no idea how absolutely great getting off certain foods would be. I totally parroted other people in saying "moderation of all things" but I could never step back and honestly say- "Well this isn't working" or "I'm using the moderation myth to abuse sugary and grain filled foods".

      Yeah! I'd eat white potatoes if I could. I make sweet potatoes for my daughter several days a week. She loves them. I get sugar spikes, so at least I'm aware that they are on the no list.

      Glad you are doing the n=1. It will take you far.

  2. Good post again Karen .... which many may identify with and also find helpful.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thank you, Jan. I believe both Paleo-ish/Primal and Low Carb High Fat are way, way underused for long term good health. So glad you and Eddie are spreading the word on the other side of the pond. :) Have a great weekend.