On yesterday’s post, the following exchange happened:
I think this article makes good points and lays out a good plan. Although Presenting it as a 4-week plan is a little unrealistic to me. Identifying sugar-foods and replacing them with healthy foods need to go hand in hand. For example, if I get rid of all my sugar cereal in week 1, but haven’t found a good recipe for the steel cut oats sitting in my pantry, then I am hitting McD’s!
Personally, I approached the change one meal at a time and we started with dinner. We were eating healthy, home cooked, clean dinners for almost a year before I was ready to tackle breakfast.
I am not even sure what “emotional” eating means for me anymore. I don’t think I eat 4 bowls of cereal in a row right after lunch because I need a pick-me-up (yes, I did that this week when my DH indulged in a Kellogg’s sale). I think it is addiction pure and simple. I love clean eating and I am pretty happy in life right now. But the taste of processed sugar makes me lose control.
I think our society is glossing over the pure addictive properties of processed sugars. Like you pointed out, even this article gives it’s stamp of approval to “moderation”. What other addict is told after they kick the habit to go ahead and indulge in moderation?
Then I said:
See, that’s exactly what I said – I don’t like that it’s condensed down into four weeks, but I can appreciate the fact that the steps are outlined in this fashion. So while it might not take your merely four weeks, you at least know what stage you’re in and how far along you have yet to go.
To me, emotional eating is about 99% of eating that has nothing to do with hunger. That’s a really blunt way to put it, but that’s what it is to me. In my mind, they go hand in hand – people are addicted to food, in a lot of ways, because of the way it makes them feel. So while you might not’ve sought out to eat 4 bowls of cereal for a “high,” you sought it out for SOME reason. If it was “bored eating,” that’s a tricky area, but was that what I’d call four bowls? I’own know, y’know?
Then Kaycee, who is not an old lady, followed up with:
I’m confused, so bear with the old lady for a minute. Are you saying once someone conquers their sugar addiction, they are never to have it again? I guess I’m missing what’s wrong with moderation. Why is that a bad word? Is it because an addict can’t be trusted not to backslide? lol
And my answer, obviously, only speaks for myself… but no, there is no such thing as your old habit in moderation.
It depends on whether or not you truly see emotional eating as an addiction. And, while that’s a post for another day, I genuinely believe that you have to approach recovery – and life after rehabilitation – like an addiction.
I’ve campaigned, for a very long time, for the fact that sugar addiction parallels drug addiction and alcohol addiction simply because all three serve in the same fashion: all three create euphoric feelings in the brain, all three can be consumed privately for pleasure’s sake, all three provide escapes from reality, all three create withdrawal symptoms during recovery and all three manage to prevent the sufferer from giving up their addiction even in the face of dire circumstances. All three serve as coping mechanisms.
An alcoholic who becomes an alcoholic because of some traumatic, life-changing event – like the typical TV trope, the job from hell or even losing that job from hell, sitting at a bar top nose-first in a pitcher of beer – may not realize what his addiction is doing to himself or his family, and if he’s fallen far enough down the rabbit hole, he may not care or be emotionally equipped to handle what his life or health has become.
Compare that, if you will, to the following:
A sugarholic who becomes a sugarholic because of some traumatic, life-changing event – like the typical TV trope, the relationship from hell or even losing that relationship from hell, sitting on the couch nose-first in a pint of ice cream – may not realize what her addiction is doing to herself or her family, and if she’s fallen fall enough down the rabbit hole, she may not care or be emotionally equipped to handle what her life or health has become.
To me, they are the exact same.
To quote another comment from yesterday’s post (y’all were really in there, yesterday!), bridgetarlene said:
I thought I didn’t have a sugar problem. I never ate processed foods or any kind of sweet. Then I learned that my binging material of choice, breads and pastas, while they didn’t have added sugar, were still giving my body a sugar high. All that starch gets converted and led to an inevitable “crash” that I had unconsciously been considering as that “bliss” feeling you’ve talked about with emotional eating.
So even though I don’t have a sweet tooth, my body was still addicted to something else that mimics the high. I ultimately had to learn that I could never eat white rice, white pasta, or white bread…which sounds like “duh” for clean eating but I really was stuck for a while on that “I can eat it in moderation” ish until I finally admitted that I can’t.
I know myself. It has been years since I’ve first decided to give this stuff up. And quite frankly, the one time I tried to act like “sugar in moderation” was a successful idea – giving in to what everyone told me about myself (“you can handle it!”), it was a miserable failure. I mean, it was fail city over here. I’m not playing that game anymore.
Is it all sweets? Nope. You know how I know? Because there’s nothing worse than buying your favorite sweet, made the way it’s supposed to be made, and being able to enjoy it without devouring it whole. There’s nothing worse, for an emotional eater, than to be able to eat something – made properly – and not acquire a rush from it. Like… pasta. Like… properly made sourdough bread. Like… wild rices. Like, a cupcake sweetened with sorghum, vanilla and cinnamon with mascarpone topping instead of the other crap.
When I had that moment and backslid, I didn’t rush to a twinkie. I rushed to some greek yogurt with a teaspoon of maple syrup. And no, it did not “work.” As soon as I ate the first bite, I was annoyed, I then laughed at myself, then grabbed a bottle of water and sat my behind down somewhere. It was literally the equivalent of an alcoholic reaching for water to get drunk. My own principles of what I bring into my house protected me – I wasn’t even thinking straight. I grabbed the first sweet thing I saw in the fridge and tried to act up.
I don’t think you ever “unlearn” what it feels like to successfully acquire a “food high.” I don’t think you ever forget that feeling, or the habituation that comes with it. I don’t think you ever unlearn the process of seeking out, obtaining, devouring, getting high off of and crashing from your sugar high. And, because of those, I don’t think you can ever moderately enjoy the foods that were a part of that process ever again. I know what it was like to binge on pasta. That being said, when I go to a cookout and the mister lets me taste the macaroni and cheese he put on his plate? The minute I can taste in the texture that it’s the cheap pasta, I put my hand up and let him know I’m not interested in anymore. Not only because it’s disgusting, but because I don’t want to be bothered with sliding back down into the rabbit hole.
This is why I think “moderation” is a load of crap. To believe in “anything in moderation” is to tacitly dismiss the possibility of food addiction even existing, and is also to dismiss my experiences as an emotional eater. I can swear on my puppies that if I hadn’t overcome my issues as an emotional eater, I wouldn’t be the woman I am now. It’s that simple.