Why Can't I Stop Eating - Part 2
It’s 10:00 PM. I want sugar and I want it NOW.
I’ve spent the past three nights white-knuckling my way through intense cravings as I try to stop myself from eating junk. Why is this not working? Why are the cravings not going away? Why am I so hungry? A couple of Oreos won’t hurt, right? Just two...okay, maybe three.
Half a gallon of milk and 27 Oreos later, I’m disgusted with myself. Why couldn’t I just have two Oreos and be satisfied? Do I just lack willpower?
Ugh. I'm such a fat pig.
Why can’t I JUST STOP EATING?
Does the story above resonate with you? It isn’t a made-up tale. I used to go through this at least twice per week. Maybe for you it’s Cheetos or Pringles. For me it was Oreos, and I could never figure out why I couldn’t have just one or two. Despite my intentions to eat a “moderate” serving, I always ended up eating at least half the bag…sometimes the whole bag. The regret and self-loathing that inevitably followed was awful. I blamed myself because I didn’t understand what was happening to me.
I was an addict. And I was heavy, sick, miserable…and I thought it was my fault.
“Just as with any other addictive drug, sugar and processed foods cause a temporary high followed by a crash, leading to a vicious cycle of abuse. Food addicts, the research shows, are no different from alcoholics or cocaine addicts…Despite wanting to change or stop, those with food addiction cannot resist – even in the face of significant emotional or physical harm to themselves and those they love. They hide their addiction, they worry and obsess about cutting down, all against a backdrop of shame, embarrassment, and denial.”
“The last few decades have seen the emergence of…”food scientists”. Their job is to invent addictive, hyperpalatable processed junk foods to ensure that their employers (Big Food) get the biggest market share…Food scientists focus on creating foods that maximally trigger the “bliss point”, that addictive reward pathway in the brain that keeps us coming back for more.”
~Mark Hyman, MD
If you are reading this and screaming “YES! This is ME!”, make sure to take my food addiction quiz posted in last week’s blog, and read more about how your brain and physiology have been hijacked by processed food...and then read on...
So how do you overcome food addiction?
The same way a person overcomes drug addiction.
I could sit here and write about some bullshit tactics to “reduce” or “wean” yourself off of sugar and processed foods. But I’m not going to do that because it doesn’t work if you’re an addict.
Go cold turkey
The best way to kick your addiction and get your life, health, and body back? Go "cold turkey". I can personally attest that this works. It’s not pleasant, but it works. In less than two weeks you can reset your hormones, get your energy back, completely rid yourself of cravings….and as a bonus of creating health in your body, you’ll probably lose weight too. Some people can lose as much as 10 pounds in 14 days as their body begins to cool inflammation and release excess fat, toxins, and water.
You can essentially unclog your own drain! You will be amazed at how quickly your body will get healthy when you give it the right information.
Pick a date
Look at your calendar. Are there any important dates coming up? Birthdays? Holidays? Vacations? A big presentation at work?
Planning to detox from processed foods and sugar when you have big events on the calendar is a recipe for failure. Wait until you have 14 relatively quiet days so you can plan, focus, and not feel like killing your neighbors, co-workers, friends, or family members.
If the date you have chosen is a month or more in the future, don’t wait! THIS is the one and only time I will recommend you begin to wean yourself off of sodas, caffeine, and sugars. Anything you can do to reduce your consumption before you start your detox will help you overcome the withdrawal process that much easier...but you'll still eventually need to fully eliminate all of it to get the benefits I'm talking about.
Eliminate ALL processed foods and ALL forms of sugar
Yes, even fruit, artificial sweeteners, and so-called natural calorie-free sweeteners like Stevia must go. The idea is to eliminate not just sugar calories, but the taste of sugar. It’s the taste that lights up the reward centers of the brain.
To stop craving sugar and processed foods, you need to stop triggering the pleasure center in your brain! This means you need to stop eating and tasting sugar in ALL its forms. And if you think because Cheetos and Chips are salty that they’re not full of sugar, think again. The hyper-salty nature of these processed carbohydrates still trips your brain’s reward center, and they still turn into sugar about 15 seconds after they enter your stomach.
What will I eat!?!
Lots and lots of fibrous vegetables in all of their glorious colors and forms! Healthy fats are another big key component, as is plenty of healthy protein. You will literally infuse your body with the nutrients that will change your hormones and TURN OFF cravings and hunger!
Be prepared for a rough few days
Headaches, body aches, intense cravings and hunger, irritability, dizziness, fatigue, brain fog…in essence, you may feel like you’ve come down with the flu for three to five days. When I help women detox in this way I often recommend they take a few days off of work and make sure someone is there to help with the kids if at all possible.
I know this sounds awful, and it truly can be. But if you understand that this is a normal part of detoxing from these foods, and if you prepare yourself with the right nutrition protocol, you can get through the few tough days at the beginning. And when you come out the other side, you’ll be like a new person.
Studies show that the biggest predictor of success and adherence to the detox process is your support network. More specifically, you need the support of peers who are going through the same thing. Detoxing off of sugar and processed foods, or any drug for that matter, is not an easy process. Finding a group of like-minded individuals will increase your motivation and adherence…and you might even have a little fun in the process!
The other crucial component of getting support for a processed food/sugar detox is aligning with a knowledgeable person who knows what steps you should take and what foods you should eat to nourish your body correctly, especially through the first week. The right supplements and stress reduction techniques, all coupled with a smart nutrition plan, could mean the difference between feeling completely awful during the first few days and giving up, or experiencing mild discomfort as you transition to success.