Food addiction is real. And I’m currently not making any headway on breaking mine.
I don’t have what people would normally call an “eating disorder.” But what I’m learning is that most of us truly do have a food addiction. And we can’t help it. In the name of capitalism, our whole food system in the US is stacked against us, from addictive substances being added to packaged foods en masse, to the horrors of massive slaughter houses, to fresh produce being the most costly purchase in a grocery store.
It’s a sad, sorry state of affairs. And my belly pays the price. (Not to mention my self-worth and overall physical health.)
I’ve lost 15 pounds in the last few months, and I still have fifty more to go to put me at a healthy 117 lb weight for a 5’2 woman.
I broke my addiction to wine and vodka (and spiced rum and cinnamon scnapps and buttershots and … the list goes on), so I know I can break this food addiction. It’s just proving very challenging at the moment.
I recently completed a 5-day fast. It wasn’t a pure water fast, but I did well and felt great. Shortly thereafter, I attempted a 6-day fast but broke it on day 4. I cataloged my learnings and decided I would eat a keto diet and do intermittent fasting. But that hasn’t panned out either. I have not conquered my addictions to 3 squares a day plus snacks. My meals are decently healthy, my snacks and the treats I rarely account for…not so much.
An epiphany struck not too long ago about the ties between my mental health struggles and my nutrition. Meaning, I now believe that sugar and processed food have enabled if not caused my depression and drastic mood swings over the years. It’s only been in the last decade that my weight went upwards of 140 pounds, but on my small frame that was more than enough to have a hugely negative impact. I was constantly seeking happiness and stability. I didn’t have a grounding spirituality and I wasn’t following my dreams of becoming a writer. Even at lower weights, I never felt good about myself or the way my body looked. Realizing how much suffering may have been in part caused by wheat or sugar or whatever makes me pretty darn pissed-off.
Last fall, I had a miscarriage and though we’ve not been actively trying to get pregnant again, I believe that fasting will help improve my health enough that we could get pregnant (and deliver a healthy baby) if we so choose. He’s 46 and I’m 42, and we already have a child together and four other children from his previous marriage. I’m not dying to have another baby, but if it happens, it would be wonderful. Even at mid-life, optimum health is totally possible and so is another healthy pregnancy. 100,000 women age 40-45 deliver babies every year.
I believe in the science touted by the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care, which lays out a very prescriptive nutrient-dense diet for conception and healthy pregnancies. I’m talking cod-liver oil, plenty of grass-fed dairy, organ meat, etc. But what I don’t know is if I should be following that diet or fasting or making up my own experimental combination of the two.
Having the means to research and read in-depth is such an awesome benefit of this information age, but it’s also overwhelming and I don’t know who to trust anymore. I don’t completely trust mainstream doctors, and as far as nutrition, we hear about vegan babies dying and yet Sally Fallon, the author of the Nourishing Traditions, book is overweight. Certainly women in ancient times fasted out of forced necessity even while pregnant, but infant mortality rates are the key reasons our age expectancy has increased so much in the last 5,000 years.
There’s so much contradiction. There’s so much money exchanging hands in Big Food, Big Pharma and Big Diet. (I just made that last one up…but seriously!)
What’s an educated woman to do?
I guess the first step is to put a stake in the ground. Start by starting. I trust my inner guidance system–my connection to the divine–more than anything else in the world. I need to go inward. I need to be honest that I’m scared about getting it wrong and about failing.
But I need to ask the important questions. And soon.
Then and only then can I make a plan.
What works for you?