Hi, my name is Robert. I am a recovering food addict. No, I am not talking about broccoli addiction or my cravings for a fruit fix. I have never lurked in a dark alley trying to hook up with someone to help me mainline a chicken breast. My pusher had a neon sign out front, was open whenever I needed him, and was 100% legal.
Processed fast food is probably the only addictive drug that is totally legal, always available, and is protected by commercial lobbyists who's only loyalty lies in the worship of the almighty dollar. Don't kid yourself. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars in pursuit of yet another way to crawl inside your head and manipulate you like a trained monkey. Any casual research on this subject will yield disturbing results.
Our self satisfied Western culture does not like to have the boat rocked. This is one subject that cannot be ignored any longer. We are a nation of addicts.
Don't think so?
If the thought of going without any "non life support" essential types of food ie...drive thru, sweets, restaurant food etc... Sends you into a mental frenzy of panic or justification, you are an addict. I can live without drive thru burgers, fries, soft drinks ( yes, even diet ), or restaurant foods indefinitely without any side effects but if I were to exclude any fruits, veggies, whole grains or lean proteins for a long period of time, there will be troubles down the road.
-The mechanics of food addiction:
Our brains are hard wired for survival. Our brains also possess a reward system to ensure survival. In basic terms, when we behave in a certain way that ensures our survival, there is a release of mood enhancing hormones and chemicals that gives us a very satisfied, safe, and well rewarded feeling. During times of stress, our bodies are hard wired to look for "easy calories". Calories that do not require much expenditure to obtain. In business terms, this is how you make a profit. Obtain the highest gain with the least cost. For our bodies, our brains look for and identify those easy calories in the form of sugar and fat. On a smaller scale, we also respond to salt as well but the biggies are sugar and fat.
The food industry has scientists working feverishly to find new ways to find the right combinations of fat, sugar, and salt to tweak your "bliss point" ( their terminology, not mine). Not to be crude, but this is not unlike the bliss point of chemical release found in an orgasm. How else do ultra rich chocolate cakes earn a name such as " better than sex" cake? While not wanting to delve super deep into the facets of these chemical manipulations, it would be worth your while to read the following articles to give you a general idea as to what I am talking about. They are worth taking your time to read if you truly are serious about getting a handle on this.
From the above articles, I didnt have to be a rocket scientist to understand that food is not a neutral substance that i take in, then passes out, and merely takes away the hungry feeling for a little while. Certain food combinations produce reactions in the brain hormonally. I am totally convinced, that in the pursuit of the almighty dollar, food companies, fast food conglomerates, and the industry as a whole has been on a long standing quest to make their product stand out from the rest so that you will buy it, even of it means exploiting your biology to do it. Our sense of food palatability and satisfaction has been severely skewed by years of the food industry persistently raising the bar when it comes to salt, sugar and fat content in the name of profitable flavor enhancement. Like the addict that needs increasingly stronger doses to get the same high, so our tolerances to high fat and high sugar have increased to the point to where "clean food" tastes bland or gross and must be doused with some flavor intensive or high fat dressing or condiment.
Scientists in the food industry work tirelessly to research how the compounds in their food will trigger the response centers in your brain to keep you coming back. Follow the money and you will find the truth.
I was so out of touch with how food tasted. Many times I didn't even think about what was in my mouth, I was only reaching for another handful. The only way that I have found that works for me ( I said works and not worked because I am still a work in progress) is to dry out like any other addict. There is NO other way for me.
So how did I do it?.....I had to lower my satisfaction threshold.
I had become so " tripped out " on the high sugar / fat lifestyle that real food lost out every time I had the chance to choose between the two. Let's face it, what chance does a lean chicken breast and a light spinach salad have against pizza and chicken wings?
There is NO substitution for clean food ....period and I do not mean pre-packaged processed diet meals that are the low fat, high salt facsimiles of their high fat cousins. I am talking about fresh fruit, veggies, leaner cuts of meat, fish and whole grains, all without being doused in high fat / high sugar anything to make it more palatable. There comes a point where we need to shake ourselves and get back in touch as to what REAL food tastes like without all of the enhancement. Sometimes the process was painful with real withdrawal symptoms. If real, un-enhanced food tastes gross to you, then know that you are a victim of the food industries manipulation of your brains sensibilities.
I cleaned up my diet a little at a time, one meal at a time, and had LOTS of indulgent moments along the way because drying out isn't easy.
I rebelled, I kicked, and I had my moments until I experienced the following revelation:
A person who has a serious illness never quibbles with the doctor about finding the time for treatment. Family or not, job or not, hobbies or not, the job gets done. Life's priorities are upended. Every thing revolves around obtaining the necessary treatment. No worries about whats on TV or Facebook. What was so bloody important before our diagnosis is now regarded as a mindless waste of time in the light of the crisis that is now consuming us. When it comes to life saving treatment, everyone knows that it is not done at our convenience and neither is it done in between the commercials. It is a priority and little else matters.
It finally sunk in that I was in deep trouble. This isn't about looking sexy, or a smaller pair of britches. This isn't about fulfilling some crazy dream in the heat of a midlife crisis. This is about saving my life. Obesity is a slow, painful disease that will eat my body alive and destroy my soul.
Liberty and freedom from obesity is something that cannot be legislated through following some restrictive plan, it must be yearned for and pursued from the heart, fueled by the belief that it IS possible to change. I have to want it more than my pet addiction and nothing else will do. When you truly believe that the treasure you have searched for is buried in a certain area, you will stop at nothing, will sell all that you have, pull every string possible until you are standing in that field with a shovel in your hand. Then it becomes a labor of love.
There is the mental addiction of ingrained habit. We are what we repeatedly do. " I ALWAYS get (fill in the blank) on my way to work every morning" Then there is the physical addiction to the stimulation that the desired food delivers to your brain via salt, sugar and fat. It is because of this that I have watched so many journeys crash and burn. They got the fat off the body but never got it out of the head. Once they hit some perceived goal, there is a backing off of the routine because they feel they have "arrived". It is almost an unconscious, involuntary reaction. They slowly return to their version of "normal" because the transformation did not take place in the mind. To them, exercise and a balanced, clean diet was something radical and out of the normal routine. Slowly the old version of normal begins to creep in, the drive thru, the couch, the blowing off of the workout for the flimsiest of reasons.
Why did I reach the measure of success I have so far enjoyed? (I have NOT arrived)...... My version of what is normal has been redefined, both in nutrition and in routine. To do that I had to dry out from my food addictions and introduce a new routine, one thing at a time, slowly. Sometimes VERY slowly.
I broke the addiction by drying out through eating as clean as possible, slowly refining my technique until the results started to come.
Final Part In This Series- Response-ability- choosing your response...
The "Path To The Holy Grail" Series
Intoduction to the Holy Grail
Emotional balance part 1 - journey to the center of the problem
Emotional balance part 2 - Relationship with the scale
Emotional balance part 3 - Self talk
Emotional balance part 4 - Realistic weight loss goals
Emotional balance part 5 - Independence And Passion.
Reprogramming The Reward Center