One of my favorite radio programs is a syndicated talk show called New Life Live. it’s four psychiatrists on Christian radio, they get all kinds of questions and give great advice. Until the other day.
A mother called in, concerned about her young, very overweight daughter. Her description of the problem goes like this: she’s athletic, involved in sports, is very, very heavy, eats fast, eats often, and eats more than her parents or her brothers, now she’s being teased at school and is feeling very sad about it.
Their advice: get her to eat more slowly, it’s all about portion control, put down her fork between mouthfuls, chew more, and convince her to verbally express her feelings over the teasing and the weight.
O.M.Gosh. Portion control? Chew more? Fork placement?? Oh, and how does she feel? That’s easy: embarrassed, heavy, humiliated, starving, can’t control herself around food, wishes she looked like the skinny girls in class; doesn’t take a mind reader.
Their advice was very well-meaning, they wanted to help; but it was horrible advice that doesn’t work, ever, for food addicts. Food addicts are compulsively driven to eat food: when they’re full; when they don’t need it; when they’re so stuffed they feel sick. Telling a food addict to use portion control to lose weight and feel better about themselves is a joke. Even the catchy buzz word “Mindfullness”, which is a practice I totally agree with and am trying to work on, is meaningless to an addict. Mindfullness is impossible when the mind is full of buzzing neurons and hormones driving you to eat – fast,.. now,.. as much as possible. The addicts brain isn’t “right”, and trite advice that really doesn’t work for anyone, makes them feel even worse about themselves when they can’t do it.
The Counselors didn’t spend one second examining the food situation in the house. Not a second. Like food doesn’t matter!
Here’s the facts: if you’re eating processed foods, foods full of refined sugars and grains, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals, you’re eating foods that’s been chemically created in a laboratory to STIMULATE your BRAIN and MAKE YOU WANT MORE. Honest! Read Sugar, Fat and Salt, by Michael Moss, read The End of Overeating, by Dr. David Kessler. These are just two books about the science and marketing behind the Food Industry. It’s shocking and amazing, and it’s the truth: processed food ( that includes fast food and chain restaurant food) is DESIGNED to make you want it BAD. If they’re a regular part of your food habits, there will be no “managing” your intake.
There is no “portion control” with Doritos, Lays potato chips, commercial ice cream, fast food french fries, Keelbler cookies or CapN Crunch cereal. If there was, they’d remake the formula. Big Food is big, serious business; mistakes and failures are quickly corrected. If processed food is part of your diet, even a little tiny part like just a little cereal, a few cheese crackers, or a bagel every day, then you’re stimulating your brain with substances that keep you enslaved and coming back. Ending food addiction means 2 things: (1) giving up processed foods, it just has too. ( Yes, breads, pastas and grain flours are “processed foods”, 100%), and (2) eating a diet of nutrient dense foods. In other words, you have to quit eating foods that stimulate addictive neural behaviors and have bad hormonal affects, and load up on foods that don’t stimulate your brain, cause the right hormones (satiety hormones) to be released, and satisfy your bodies demand for necessary nutrients.
Are you thinking that you’ve lost weight before on Processed Foods, like frozen diet meals, diet drinks, diet candy bars, and diet ice cream? Did you keep it off forever, or did you gain it back? There’s almost a 100% chance you’ve gained it back. You didn’t CHANGE YOUR BRAIN, you just white-knuckled/will powered through a period of dieting. When your will power was gone, it ended. Studies show that your period of dieting probably created even worse neural patterns than you had before, something called “famine brain”: neural and hormonal patterns that make you compulsively seek out and eat food.
I’m telling you that if you change your diet to one of Real Whole Foods, and figure out how to make that work for you all the time (through work, weekends, nights out, vacations, and STRESS), your compulsive eating will end. If you need help with this, work with me. It’s only effort til it’s habit!
There’s so many great books out there on this, but two I recommend time after time are the Diet Cure and the Mood Cure by Julia Ross. They’re fantastic. Trust me, if you’re anywhere on the spectrum from full-blown addict to annoying food habits you can’t break, you’re going to need help. These books and my blog are a great place to start:)
What should these counselors have said to this mom? Time to change your kitchen and your pantry. You’re going to have to use Real Whole Foods to make your breakfast, lunches, and dinners. Everyone’ll have to get on board. Processed bags of cereal, chips, and cookies will have to go. You can’t control your kid’s whole world, but you can control your house.
(umm, actually, the other day I went upstairs and Shelby – who’s 17 – had bought crackers and candy, and had hidden it behind a chair! I tossed it; it happens in my house too!! )
If your child was addicted to cigarettes, would you smoke around them? If your child had a drinking problem, would you keep alcohol in the house? It’s the same with food. We all have to eat – food makes our body. But we DON’T have to have foods in the house that cause addiction, stomach issues, bad skin, headaches, attention disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and cancer. We don’t. Seriously. Fill your kitchen with meats, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, good full fat dairy; foods that have to be cooked and prepared, not just munched right out of the box. Real Whole Foods. Will your kids complain, whine, cry, and rebel? Yes……Learn to tune it out. They’ll live; and you’ll live through those first weeks of negativity flying off them and onto you. Persevere. Nothing is easy in the beginning, but everything gets better when it becomes the norm. If they don’t eat, they don’t eat. Again, they’ll live. Take control of your own and your children’s health. Be a leader, a role model and an example. Don’t let your kids go down the path of obesity and poor health that’s plaguing our country and shows no signs of slowing down. Processed foods are killing people. Don’t let this happen to your family. Be a Real Whole Foodie.