Boundaries Keep Us Free from Addiction

Emotional eating and food addiction not only ruin health, but relationships as well, because both addictions have the potential to cause irrational thinking and behaviors. 

  • In the throes of my addictions I stole my children's Easter candies, Halloween treats, Christmas cookies; carefully making it look like nothing was missing, of course. 
  • I ate my husband's leftover birthday pie our first year of marriage, and when he found out he was shocked and furious! I even ate the top tier of our wedding cake that was intended for our first year anniversary celebration.
  • I ate out of the trash can; especially after a party when half-eaten Sloppy Joes and pieces of discarded birthday cake were calling my name. I would wait until the guests had gone home, and my family was sound asleep before the raid.  I loved the paper plates loaded with leftover cake and frosting flowers stuck to them the best.  
  • Besides my favorite, burnt edges of lasagna straight from the pan, one time I even ate salty, hardened hamburger grease that was sitting on the kitchen counter in a container - now that's the humdinger of addiction!

And to be totally honest, the 100 lbs of fat that I’d gained as a result of emotional eating and food addiction wasn’t nearly as painful as the inner turmoil and shame that it created within. The addictions consumed my thoughts, actions and moods; and both ruined precious relationships along the way. However, I overcame them by establishing a clear boundary line and made the steadfast decision to stay within it. Impulsive slip-ups happened from time to time, but I refused to let them derail my decision to stay 100% committed to be free from addiction and get my health back.   

That may sound too simplistic to be true, but it worked. 

Within four days of making the commitment to carefully follow Eat to Live, my teenage son with Type I diabetes ate a 2# bag of M & M’s, and he didn’t inject himself with insulin to cover it.  Suddenly, I was thrust into a tumultuous medical crisis that lasted the better part of three months. I wasn’t able to focus on books or programs to unravel the reasons behind my emotional eating. I didn’t have time to analyze every morsel of food that went into my mouth. During that time of crisis I couldn’t dig up past wounds to contemplate those who had wrongfully hurt me, or that I had hurt. My thoughts were consumed with saving my child’s life, and nothing else mattered.        

Thankfully, I had copied the Six-Week Plan, that’s outlined on p. 216 of Eat to Live, onto several 3x5 cards and had them laminated at an office supply store.  Those cards were my “boundary line” at all times.  I kept one in my purse, one in a book, one in the car, and attached one to the front of the refrigerator with a magnet. Those cards made all decisions for me, regardless of the turmoil that engulfed me.

I also worked on a daily piece of art anytime that I was tempted to eat. I carried 4"x4" squares of Bristol board, and colorful markers and pencils with me everywhere I went. I focused on creating art instead of eating food; and many times it was just doodling with colors in a hospital room. That was a tremendous tool to help divert my frustrations and anguish, and the resulting cravings to eat.

After three months the numbers on the scale were down 40 lbs, but more importantly, both emotional eating and addictive cravings for unhealthy food had significantly subsided.  I actually craved green vegetables instead of bacon, cheese, and peanut butter!

I've had episodes of emotional eating since then, but they have been short lived. For example, the following year during another diabetic crisis involving my son, I was pouring cocoa powder into bowls of oatmeal and banana ice-creams like crazy. (More like I was dumping it on!) Dr. Fuhrman told me to "Stop. Stop immediately, and don't use anymore cocoa powder for two weeks." That was my boundary line. Sure, I still nearly drowned in raging emotions that were all over the place, but I clung to the safety of the boundary line throughout the ordeaI and overcame both emotional eating and addiction to cocoa powder as a result.   

Then this past summer I was extremely sleep deprived and experienced PTSD symptoms from a sudden, tragic event in my life.  I craved dopamine producing, high calorie, low-nutrient, “healthy” foods over high-nutrient choices.  Dr. Fuhrman instructed me to focus on shopping and preparing delicious tasting, high-nutrient foods; and to focus on getting deep sleep every night by darkening my bedroom windows. Again, that was my boundary line. Within a few weeks the PTSD symptoms subsided, I desired high-nutrient foods again, and my sleep cycles were restored.


If we want emotional, psychological and physiological freedom from addictions, we must establish a clear boundary line and stay within it no matter what. 


It may seem scrupulous, but it has to be.

 

Some will think it is extreme, but so is addiction. 

 

Addicts cannot afford compromise. Addicts cannot turn back. If we do, we will be undone, because the addiction will recover strength and take over our lives.  



 You may also be interested in reading The Powerful Snare of Compromise” and

“Food Addiction is Just as Powerful as Drug Addiction”

 

 

image credit: “Death by Dumpster Diving” © 2012 by Emily Boller




 

Sensible boundaries keep us safe

 

For many of us who are former, chronic dieters, restrictive eating may have been a very negative experience. We may have had the euphoric high of shedding a few pounds with artificially sweetened desserts and beverages, processed meal replacements, protein powder drinks, or meticulous counting, measuring and recording rituals; but then ate everything in sight afterwards to make up for the inhumane deprivation of vital nutrients that our bodies so desperately needed for survival. 

We may have lost 10 lbs, but then binged and gained 40.   

However, when we liberally and generously flood our bodies with micronutrients, phytochemicals and rich antioxidants, it turns off the biological necessity for craving addictive, unhealthy foods and overeating. For many, it takes at least 3-6 weeks of total abstinence; replacing standard America diet foods with high-nutrient foods for the taste buds to change and to cross over to that threshold of freedom.   

Eat to Live definitely scores as the only proven program out there that eradicates addictive biological cravings, which removes the strong power-struggle with food.

However, one can’t deny the fact that it is not an all-you-can-eat, no restraints way of eating either.  There are guidelines to follow like eating only when truly hungry and stopping before full.

For those of us who have developed unhealthy habits over the years such as: using food to stuff negative emotions, or to celebrate happy occasions, or to eat according to the clock, or as a recreational hobby, or to socialize with others, there’s an intentional and ongoing diligence that has to be maintained for life

Like all addictions, one can never return to destructive habits, no matter how much the cravings for unhealthy foods have ceased. 

For me personally, I can never eat at the computer while skimming Facebook or the news. For me, food turns into a recreational hobby when I do that and I no longer focus on stopping before full. 

Just like many recovering alcoholics can no longer hang out at bars lest they revert back to unhealthy patterns, I can’t mix food with leisure activities that trigger mindless overeating.  Eating is only to nourish my body. Nothing more. It’s no longer a recreational hobby. 

So for that reason, optimal health requires sensible boundaries to safeguard oneself from past engrained habits, depending upon one’s former lifestyle.   

                                 

Eat to live.  We nourish our bodies with high-nutrient foods; eating only when truly hungry and stopping before full. 

 

Simple. Sensible. Effective. Permanent. 

 

 

 

image credit:  vegetables, flickr by Martin Cathrae   

Food bullies

At Dr. Fuhrman's Weekend Immersion in Princeton, New Jersey last month, sharing scrumptious meals together with others was a highlight for me. That’s when I had the awesome opportunity to step away from my computer screen and interact with so many wonderful people from all over the country! I loved listening to the heartbeat of what’s happening in the day-to-day lives of those who’ve committed to a lifetime of eating for health, and especially those who were making the commitment to eat for health over the holidays. 

Unfortunately, pushy in-laws and overbearing relatives and friends were a topic of discussion for many in overcoming obstacles during the upcoming holidays.

Hmmm, shall I be so bold to call these pushy relatives and friends, “Food bullies?”

Bullies have a strong need to control and dominate, and usually envy and resentment are at the root of their behaviors. 

If a food bully’s intended target exhibits a “defeated attitude” in response to the pushiness, then the bullying is likely to continue. 

However, as in most all cases with bona fide bullies, if the intended target responds with a clear attitude of self-confidence and a strong boundary line, the bully’s attempt to dominate will quickly diminish. 

 

Recently I asked Dr. Fuhrman about food bullies, and the following was his response:

 

"One has to tell relatives and friends now, not later at the dinner table, that he/she is on a special, healthy diet prescribed by Dr. Fuhrman to lose weight and prevent cancer so don’t be offended that conventional foods will not be eaten at the holiday get-togethers. 

Giving into food bullies is just another dysfunctional excuse to continue in food addiction. The inability to speak one’s feelings for fear of a reprimand is also toxic and may be cancer causing. By not addressing it, and by not taking a stand with pushy relatives and friends, giving into food bullies is ill-will and selfish; because one is not giving loved ones a chance to learn what they should be considering for their lives also; whether they do it or not."  

 

How about you? Do you have a tangible plan of action to deal with the food bullies in your life this holiday season?

 

Related post:

Is pleasing Grandma ruining your health?

 

 

 

 

 

 

image credit:  flickr by Dinner Series

What does freedom mean to you?

American flagOn a recent visit to the Henry Ford Museum, I enjoyed perusing the Liberty and Justice for All exhibit; comprised of everything related to the history of American freedoms, including our Nation’s Independence, the Abolition of Slavery, Women’s Suffrage, and the Civil Right’s Movement. As one who is intrigued by mindsets that make a culture tick, I was attracted to a wall full of attendees’ interactive responses to the question, “What does freedom mean to you?”

Although the question was posed in the context of our nation’s freedoms, the majority of answers were related to personal freedoms. By far, the most popular answer went something like this, “Being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever your want, with whoever you want.” Basically, a life without boundaries meant freedom to most.

As I looked around the vast museum and observed the saddened faces of many obese individuals that day, chained to malaise and poor health, I couldn’t help but ask myself if eating whatever one wants truly leads to freedom.

In stark contrast, I've heard the following from the mouth of a wise sage, “In discipline there is freedom.” In other words, by living within the safety of boundaries, there is genuine freedom to do whatever one wants.

For example, eating only when hungry and choosing nutrient-dense foods brings: 

  • Freedom from joint pain and immobility
  • Freedom from bloating, brain fog and drowsiness 
  • Freedom from multiple doctors, expensive meds and surgeries
  • Freedom from invasive and potentially harmful medical interventions
  • Freedom to thoroughly enjoy the pleasure of eating great tasting, whole foods                  
  • Freedom to live at an ideal weight and feel good 
  • Freedom to ride a bike and play ball with the kids and/or grandkids 
  • Freedom to shovel snow without fear of a heart attack
  • Freedom to enjoy life to its fullest

bike riders

What we believe shapes who we are today, and who we become tomorrow.

As we think, so we become. 

What does freedom mean to you? 

 

 

image credits:  American flag, Flickr: by uhuru1701; bike ride, Flickr: by pcopros