Duffy’s WFPB Journey — August 2015

handcuffed to donutsNote 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.

Dear friends,

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”



  1. You amaze me with your tenderness and courage. I’m proud of you for not giving up. As many times as you fall, you get back up again. I know with that track record, you’ll eventually succeed…and be in a position to help many others! Go, Duffy!

  2. Loved this. I am struggling with a food addiction too, even though I have gotten down to the ideal weight in the past by eating this way. Gained it all back plus some when I had my fourth baby and now have a problem with food addiction/binge eating and am back where I started. Poo. It’s discouraging but I guess the first step is recognizing the problem. It is totally emotional and I’m working on reaching out when I feel isolated to get through the sugar/fat cravings. One day at a time. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable.

  3. Thank you for this post. Sounds like my wonderful husband’s food addiction is a lot like yours. I, however, am not blessed with that trial and so I find myself getting frustrated and angry (angry because I don’t want him to die early due to poor health…) that he just “won’t stick” to the healthy eating plan that we know we need to be eating. That’s neither helpful nor supportive; the exact opposite of what I want him to feel from me!
    Thank you for trying to put into words what you go through. I found myself feeling more empathic, less frustration, towards my husband’s trials.

  4. Duffy, thank you for your posts. I admire your courage and encouragement for others. I love this community. As you said we are never “done”. Though I’m eating well and feeling great today. I know that I need to beware. I’ve known that I need to eat whole plant foods for thirty years now but even though I knew better I made myself seriously ill twice by what I put into my mouth. I think that we all probably need to find out what will work best for us. For me ,at least now, it seems to be hanging out with you fine folks here and talking about my addictions and the delicious foods that I’m eating.

    Thank you all.

  5. Duffy, I asked Jane today how you were doing because the last post in the Chronicles was in December 2014. I somehow missed this post. I am so glad to see someone who is willing to open up and talk about her struggles. I think these struggles are common to many people and I plan on sharing this with my RS President. I am sure she would love to read this, too. I am also sharing this with my sister because she suffers horribly with food addictions and she is on the McDougall rapid weight loss program and she is having a lot of fun making up new recipes and sharing them with me. She has already lost over 20 pounds in the last three weeks. I am hopeful. I want to share your story with her so she doesn’t feel all alone. Maybe you feel like you’re struggling and so many didn’t have to. I know sometimes it makes me upset when I realize I could have done this many years ago, but didn’t know what I know today. I have struggled with horrible physical illnesses that are improving now with the new way of eating. I do eat a few things from time to time that are definitely not on my diet — mostly some kind of fat — not tempted by meat at all and rarely have a sprinkle of cheese on something at a restaurant, but I remember the days of horrible food addiction, too…. I don’t know why it happened, but I lost that somewhere along the way, for which I am grateful. Prayers for you dear Duffy. We do care about you and hopefully we can support you however we can. I am very grateful, also, for your honest sharing of your feelings. It will be helpful to many people I know. =) You are NOT failing — you are succeeding big time — one step at a time. It’s how we ALL grow. Some of us just don’t like to admit when we don’t live up to what we think we should be doing. You just keep it real and honest. You will get through this. I know here in our area, the church as a food addiction program run by he same people who are doing other addictions. It is a serious problem for many people — many who don’t understand the nature of addiction. They think that just because they don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or tee or smoke, they are not addicted. God bless you, Duffy. I think He really already is!!!

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