March 13, 2015

Sweet, Sweet Detox


Recently, over the last year, I have been focused on research relating to food addiction.  I am in the final stages of my MA in clinical psychology and want to pursue a focus on this as a clinical therapist.  I have read many books and papers focused on the physiology of food addiction but nothing impacted me more than my recent read.  Tarman and Werdell's book, "Food Junkies: The Truth About Food Addiction" not only provided a better understanding of this type of addiction, but offered story after story about people in the throws of binge eating and the pain and suffering this causes long term. 
So it got me thinking about my own food addiction.  After a long and tiring week, I have been known to come home, pour a glass of something red (you fill in the blanks here), grab a bowl of something golden brown (again, do the math), and continue searching for more and more of that comfort food for the rest of the night. I know I'm doing it, I hate it when I'm doing it, but I feel like all hope is lost in trying to control it. So I wake up the next day with a carbohydrate food-baby, fingers the size of sausages, and the feeling of disgust, hopeless, and...I'll admit it...shame.  I can't believe I did that again.
"Carbs" also produce sugar in the bloodstream as does sugar.  This gives you an idea of the cycle of destruction.  You can see that eating sugar will leave you craving more sugar.  If one is able to kick the sugar habit, you no longer have the sugar / carb cravings.  Unfortunately, our North American diet rich in processed food keeps up addicted without even knowing it.  The key is to read the ingredients list (forget the nutritional means nothing).
So after reading this book, along with Brownell and Gold's "Food and Addiction: A Comprehensive Handbook" coupled with a ton of books on sugar and processed foods, I decided to try the unthinkable. I had reached a point of final readiness....I was going to detox from sugar.  It made perfect sense after my extensive research and preparation for a presentation I now give on sugar.  Based upon "Food Junkies" it is the primary source of addiction to food and the root to our cravings.  Any dietary change (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and those that allow you to eat anything you want one day a week) that "allows" you to eat sugar will not work in keeping weight off long term.  Why? Because you are still on the drug that leads to overeating.  If you think about it, we don't ask the alcohol or drug addicted person to reduce their drug until that one day where they can drink all they want.  Why would we do it with sugar; a substance that is as addicting as heroine or cocaine?

Of all the books out there, I do recomend this one for the ease of read, personal stories, and suggestions made.  However, the authors do not include step by step programs to help one reduce sugar. They also make mention of "positive" addictions, which I disagree with.  Addiction is addiction...there is not "good" or "bad" addiction.  Otherwise, it offers the food addict some relief in knowing you are not alone. 

So, as of last Sunday, I got off the sugar.  That meant making my own sauces, soups, and choosing plain Greek yogurt and old fashioned nut butters.  It meant reading every single ingredient list.  If it had a trace of sugar in it, I either made my own at home or eliminated it from my diet.  The only sugar I am eating is that you find in fruit, but in small amounts.  Oh...and I will never (even if it is the end of days and I have to trade it to get into heaven) give up red wine. Call me a cheat, call me a phony baloney, but I have my limits.  For the record, I only enjoy a glass on Friday and Saturday night...and nothing over 2 glasses. I have promised myself if I cannot limit my consumption, I'm off the booze entirely.
This was a good book, but the read was a little heavy with the science behind everything.  The authors did attend to food addiction and discussed the influences of society and culture. Kelly Brownell has been one of the leading researchers and spokes people on food and obesity for a while now.

Now, I'm not going to give you the same statements you hear from people saying they have never felt more energetic, alive, and radiant. I'm not going to say that I am thinking clearly and sleep better.  To be honest, I haven't felt much different.  However, I didn't eat much sugar in the beginning so maybe that's why.  The trick to this is educating yourself on the hidden sugars in the foods you are purchasing, grocery shop weekly, and get used to spending a little more time making your own everything.  Some of the meals I made this week were awesome!

They included:
1. Breakfast smoothies: leafy greens, tomato, yogurt, berries, banana, peanut butter, coconut oil
2. Lunch: roasted chicken breast (the store bought), humus and veggies, cheese
3. Dinners: spaghetti squash with veggies and seafood in a homemade pesto sauce, cauliflower pizza, quinoa with veggies and goat cheese, and veggies and tofu on a bed of cauliflower rice.

I literally ate like royalty without sugar or flour (except a little in the sauce...but it was like a pinch). I got every recipe idea from searching Pintrest and have a great collection of them on my board.  Every Sunday I sit with my coffee, IPad, and pen and review Pintrest for ideas to make my weekly grocery list.  It's become a habit and one I look forward to every week.

I am now reading this book and, so far, I can't put it down.  The author pulls no punches and is honest, open, direct, and not representing any food companies, diet programs, or other gimmicks.  You can see a lot of him and his work if you search for him on YouTube.  He is one of the pioneers of the "war on sugar".

The research is screaming at us to limit our sugar intake and is starting to examine the relationships with chronic disease.  Dementia, cancer, cardiac, and other diseases are being related to a high consumption of sugar.  In fact, there some pretty interesting YouTube clips on dementia and sugar I highly recommend.  Cancer feeds on sugar. If you have cancer, don't eat sugar! If you don't want it, don't eat sugar! Although I have heard some suggestions substantiated this fact, I think it is interesting that rates of chronic disease have gone up with the rates of sugar consumption. 

That's all I'm sayin'.


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