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ADDICTIVE EATING

MY LONG AND ARDUOUS JOURNEY

I have had a somewhat turbulent relationship with food for a good part of my life. With better eating control for several years now, I can look back with equal parts humor, shame and satisfaction.

Here are most of the steps along the way:

  • Up to age 19 – No problems with weight, since I ate when hungry and stopped eating when full. My “appestat” was working well, though I never thought about it.
  • College years – I began to eat snacks when studying or whenever I felt like it. I gained a few pounds, but with tennis, weight training and intramural sports, I was in good shape
  • Army years – Not much weight gain overseas, but quite a bit stateside. My level of exercise had decreased because I was generally behind a desk and sedentary. Sports involvement had lessened, as had weight training. (ROTC summer camp and basic officers’ course were exceptions).
  • Civilian beginning years – More weight gain, but tennis kept me in decent shape.
  • 40s and 50s – My worst period, though I was still playing tennis and working out. I had no plan to control eating, other than being active to burn off calories.
  • My 60s and 70s – I began to become aware of my mortality and ultimately attained my weight at that of age 18 or 19, which I still maintain.

The woman below seems to be sneaking food late at night while wary of anyone finding out. I have done this, though not so much with dessert food.

MY “DIETS”

I have begun to think of diets as temporary measures only, unless the word is taken to represent a general system of healthy eating. Here are “diets” that I have tried::

  • Slim Fast – this worked okay for a while. The shakes were good, but I began to supplement regular meals with additional shakes. Not a good idea!
  • Dr. Atkins (low carb) – this was effective. I achieved ketosis (using stored body fats as fuel in lieu of carbohydrates). I began to buy lots of pork rinds, which were similar to potato chips, but were perfectly acceptable on Atkins. I never quite understood why I could eat all the protein and fats that I wanted, as long as I limited the carbs. The Atkins diet generally said to eat protein and fats carefully, but that didn’t give me a real method of measuring. Several bags of pork rinds late at night didn’t work for me. I needed calibration
  • Blood Type – I am blood type O. The ancient hunter – gatherers were blood type O. They thrived on intense exercise and animal protein. So do I. I remember that I could eat lots of walnuts and pineapple chunks. I never really got started with a blood type diet, though I bought the book. It is fascinating and I regret that I didn’t study this further. Here is the book, by Dr. Peter J.D’Adamo, “Eat Right for Your Type”.
  • Don’t buy food that you like – this was my idea of a diet at one time. I would only buy food that I didn’t like when I went grocery shopping. You can well imagine how long this plan lasted.
  • Don’t buy addictive food – this was an adaptation of the foregoing “plan”, but a more sensible idea. This is a plan that I still use today, though I still have mishaps. I cannot buy ice cream, other sweets, large bags of nuts or multiple bags of popcorn and expect to avoid binges. I need to stop even trying to do this. It doesn’t work for me. Alcoholics can stay sober by not drinking, but food addicts may have a tougher task – we must eat.

Motivation is a key to any program of self-discipline upon which we embark. It applies to learning a skill, reaching a fitness goal, losing weight or being successful in any endeavor in our sight. See below.

MINDLESS EATING

“Mindless Eating”, by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., is an excellent book that I bought about 10 years ago. Brian Wansink is a food psychologist.

The book is loaded with helpful advice and anecdotes. Here are a couple of excerpts:

  • Why French Women Don’t Get Fat – “….even though they consume cheese, baguettes, wine, pastries and pate. It is because they know when to stop eating. Our own research shows that they pay more attention to internal clues, such as whether they feel full, and less attention to the external clues (like the level of soup in a bowl) that can lead us to overeat”. A test was run, featuring 282 Parisians and Chicagoans. Parisians stopped when they no longer felt hungry. Chicagoans stopped only when their plates were empty or they ran put of beverages.
  • Your Stomach’s Three Settings – in equal thirds, they are starving, could eat more and stuffed

Wansink asks – What are you really hungry for…a Snicker’s bar or a hug? He contrasts physical hunger with emotional hunger, as follows:

PHYSICAL HUNGER

  • Builds gradually
  • Strikes below the neck (growling stomach)
  • Occurs 3.5 hours after a meal
  • Can be temporarily offset by drinking water
  • Goes away when full
  • Is satisfied after eating food

EMOTIONAL HUNGER

  • Develops suddenly
  • Strikes above the neck (taste for ice cream)
  • Occurs at random times
  • Still persists after drinking a glass of water
  • Still persists after much food has been eaten
  • Leads to guilt after eating food

“Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think” is available here from Amazon

SALT, SUGAR AND FAT

I have been aware for some time that salt, sugar and fat are my food addictions. When I shop for groceries, I generally check the nutritional information as closely as I check the prices. Only last week, I threw away a large jar of cashews, peanuts, and chocolates after thinking that I might be able to eat this is small amounts. I should have known better!

The above image speaks of a best-selling book by Michael Moss, which I have not yet read, though I have seen much discussion about it. Moss contends that restaurants, grocery stores and food producers are playing upon our food addictions for profits.

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us is available at Amazon. Click here

CONCLUDING

With my food addiction, I feel quite unburdened by writing about my background and I hope it may be helpful to others.

Here is my current link to Dick’s Sporting Goods’ latest information, including significant discounts across their inventory. Note that golf courses and tennis courts are beginning to open up already. Active athletes and “armchair quarterbacks” are anxious to enjoy spring and summer weather.

Save Up To 50% On This Week’s Deals at Dick’s Sporting Goods

Please leave any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below, or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Have fun, but be prudent!

Richard

8 Comments

  1. Hello Richard, I am only 18 years of age and I have never read something more relatable. It’s always been a struggle of mine, trying to find the best diet for me. Over the years, I have become very health conscious and I am always looking to read up on some good advice! Awesome article! Keep up the good work.

    Joe

    • Thanks for your comments, Joe, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Let me know if this raises any other questions…..Richard

  2. Hi thanks for sharing.  Like many Americans, I have had my challenges with weight.  My problems started when I was 37 and injured my back.  I could no longer move the way I wanted, so the pounds accumulated.  I went up to a size 38 and probably topped out at 230 (i weighed 160 at 26)

    I was in  the Navy and I drank like an alcoholic (joined AA at 26…lol) I was physically active in martial arts, many sports and eventually yoga.  I was into fit for life (Harvey and Marilyn Diamond).  Have you heard of that eating program.  It was about food combining and worked well when I was young.  Tony Robbins directed me there.  I looked great when young.

    So I would not look in the mirror much or allow pictures to be taken of me.  I did not like a fat me.  It didn’t fit the self image I have for myself.  I tried every diet (except atkins) I could not shake it (and supplements).  I became diabetic and really began to search for answers.  I had some success with low carb …paleo(i didn’t follow the rules right) i would not give up oil or fatty meat.. and I ate a lot. 8 eggs for breakfast… My blood sugar shot through the roof (I intend to do a post like this by the way… I have a health blog)  

    I found something that really works for me and many others.  I am not trying to get you to eat this way… I just wanted to share something on the topic where I found results.  

    My health was getting worse beyond diabetes… triglycerides, protein in blood, fatty liver, cholesterol and 300 blood sugar readings.  I just don’t want to go down like that.  I found a new way  to eat and my health turned around quickly in some areas.  My sugars are also improving… and that is hard one to fix.

    I started eating a low fat whole food plant based diet.  Fat was the problem and anything fake (processed food)  I eat all I want.  I have gotten down to 188 lbs and getting slimmer since April 23, 2019.  I can write well passed midnight now.  I have natural energy and can think clearly.  That is how I eat now and would not change it for the world.

    I like the layout of your blog.   It is very appealing to the eye.  lots of visuals and spaced out copy. easy to read.  Your motivation slogans have a link attached to them that goes to eat right for your type.  .  

    Thanks again for sharing 

    many blessing… Brian

    • Brian, I have one of the Fit for Life books by Harvey and Marilyn Diamomd, entitled “Living Health”. I am assuming this must be a series. Most of my more than 100 articles have been on home workouts, but I occasionally venture into related topics. This works well for me. Thanks for your input!

  3. Hello Richard I decided to view your blog. I struggle with weight although since I fell and had a bad sprain this winter I have lost 30 lbs. But I am also type 2 diabetic so I have to watch the carbs which I do. But I have trouble getting to sleep from the effects of cancer drugs I took for 5 years and it seems if I get up and eat I can go back to bed and sleep. I do not keep junk in the house. When I eat it is veggies or fruit and not too much fruit. When I eat last in search of sleep it is usually some crackers and peanut butter or spray cheese. I don’t have much of an appetite but eating at 1 am seems to help me sleep.

  4. Richard. On one very bad day I went to the store and bought all the food I should not eat. Came home and ate it all. Next day my blood sugar sored. Am I bad. But it felt good.

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