Note from Jane: This is the latest in a series by Duffy, who went whole food, plant-based late in 2013 with the goal of losing over 200+ pounds. To see previous posts, click Duffy Chronicles.
Lets talk food addiction. Some whole food plant based experts don’t believe it exists and others do. Among those who do, the definition and specific criterion differ. Here is what I know:
When I eat any fat-sugar-salt combination such as a candy bar or refined carbohydrates such as bread, I experience these symptoms:
- I devour them like a starving person, barely tasting after the first bite.
- I eat way past comfortably full.
- I eat until they’re all gone, however much that is, however painful that is.
- I crave more, more, more… never-endingly.
- The cravings go beyond taste, to a physical need driven by a chemical imbalance in my brain.
I have been “sober” for 3 ½ days at the time of this writing on August 26th. But I know, because I’ve failed in the past, that willpower won’t be enough to keep me on track. Nor will knowledge or testimony alone. I know about the benefits of a Whole Food, Plant Based diet. I have a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I am still driven by food addiction.
Yesterday I met with a counselor who is running an outpatient treatment group for overcoming food addiction. If scheduling works out I will be able to join the next cohort in late September.
Based on my understanding at this time from various articles I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to, I suspect that there are two factors in food addiction. The first is the physical addiction because high calorie density foods like refined carbohydrates, sugar and fat/oil act on the dopamine reward system in the brain, causing an out-of-nature pleasure experience that in susceptible people can be addictive. The second is the emotional aspect: there are needs that are valid needs, that people with food addiction try to meet with food. For instance, the need for connection. I often find myself junk-food eating when lonely or bored.
As a single adult living with a decidedly anti-social cat, I crave human connection. Yet I hesitate to reach out because all of my friends tend to be in the married with kids stage of their lives and consequently busy with their own families. Here is what I want you to know:
When you invite me over to watch a movie and your two year-old treats me like a jungle gym, your four year-old asks me incessantly to play “monster” and your six year-old decides she wants to cuddle with me but her bony elbow finds every soft spot on my torso… I am not inconvenienced. I feel loved and valued.
When you come to visit teach me and we talk for an hour, I couldn’t care less if you remember to give the message or not. I feel loved and valued because you took the time for me.
When you accept an invitation to the park for a play date even though I don’t have kids, I worry about boring you or not being able to think of anything to talk about, but your showing up and spending the time makes me feel loved and valued.
When you let me hold your baby until she starts fussing, I feel loved and valued.
When you sit next to me in Relief Society and put your arm around me, even though I’m not really a hugger, I feel loved and valued.
When you trust me with your needs, however great or small, and let me serve you, I feel loved and valued.
When I feel connected to other humans, I not only feel loved and valued, I feel a decreased need to “medicate” with food.
There is a certain anonymity in blogging that feels safe. However I now have several friends who know my identity and read this blog. So although I’m taking a risk, and although the Duffy Chronicles aren’t the same type of “success story” (yet) that are featured in the other Discovering the Word of Wisdom narratives, I feel like the risk might be worth it. I suspect that there are others like me who may be walking this journey and may someday find hope in the narrative of the “doing” instead of only reading the neatly wrapped up tales of those who are “done”. Of course I do not want to in any way lessen or disparage those stories and I know that there isn’t really ever a “done” state; we’re always continuing on our journeys to progress and improve and learn. I draw tremendous hope from others success stories and it builds my faith and testimony in the Word of Wisdom as well.
Well my friends, as you have probably gathered, I haven’t really had a good year up to this point in terms of eating WFPB. I’ve been on and off the diet, and up and down the scale with the same 20 lbs. But I have no desire to ever go back to eating another diet or even the standard American diet with its health consequences. This is why there haven’t been Duffy posts at regular intervals this year. You can expect another post at year’s end however.
I have had some really wonderful things come into my life as a consequence of the WFPB movement. I’ve gotten to know some amazing women and been able to share this way of eating with others.
Jessica (chapter 9 in Discovering the Word of Wisdom) and her family are in the neighboring ward next to mine and Allison (see her story and review of Discovering the Word of Wisdom) and her family are in my ward. I feel so blessed to be able to associate with these awesome families!
In July Jessica and I hosted a WFPB picnic at our ward building and had some really nice results. About 20-25 people were in attendance, including children, and we had some great food. We learned of others who are interested in our way of eating. A friend that I gave a copy of Jane’s book to subsequently starting eating WFPB while another friend I gave a copy of the book to has since focused on reducing the amount of meat she and her family consume.
In June I was assigned to visit teach a woman in our ward whose husband, unbeknownst to me, had just attended a healthy lifestyle seminar on using a whole food, plant-based diet for reversing his diabetes through his medical provider. They had been oil-free vegans for about 10 days when I met them and over the past few months I’ve been able to share WFPB recipes and even deliver a couple of meals, which has been a mutual blessing.
In September, Jessica and I are going to be hosting our second WFPB Picnic, this one potluck style. Jessica has also had people become interested in our way of eating as a result of her example and testimony. Its pretty exciting to see this idea taking hold in the hearts of Latter-day Saints in our community.
I truly have a testimony that the Lord is pleased when we don’t eat animals except in times of need and that He provided us the abundance of life-giving plants, herbs and yes, as a secondary source in times of winter or famine, animals, to nourish this great gift which we left our Heavenly home to receive: our mortal bodies.
In the word of Chef AJ, “Love & Kale”