Disordered eating can range from mild to severe and from intermittent to constant, but its core characteristic is eating in response to something other than physical hunger. Like drugs and alcohol, food can be an escape from uncomfortable emotions. In particular, foods such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, and dairy are known to have properties which affect the reward centers of our brains. This also numbs our feelings, enabling us to go about our daily lives without ever acknowledging or addressing how we really feel. Crazy, right?
If you are like me and the idea of being an emotional eater, compulsive overeater, or binge eater resonates even a little bit, you’ve probably tried every diet in the book — twice. The problem is that diets don’t work, at least not in the longterm. This is why I and so many others have lost hundreds of pounds, only to regain them. Diets create an environment of emotional and physical deprivation, which inevitably results in binge eating.
This is one of my favorite hikes at Mount Tamalpais. Whenever I have the time to escape the city for a few hours, this loop is my first choice. There are spectacular views at every turn as the trail meanders through dense forest, flowering hillsides, and a lush fern grove along a creek. Hiking this trail takes about three hours and covers 6.6 miles with about 900′ elevation change.
Meet Meredith, from @bear_gets_skinny. She has lost an impressive 105 pounds over the last year. At 29, she was pushing 300 and her doctor recommended bariatric surgery. Instead, she started making changes in her daily habits and transformed her life. After watching her reach the 100-pound milestone, I was inspired to learn more about her story. Graciously, Meredith openly answered my questions, sharing her history and hopes for the future. I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
Let's talk about fitness habits! In 2012, I started wearing a fitbit to track my acitivy. I think y'all know I am a huge fan of Fitbit. That tiny little device has had a huge impact on my recovery from obesity and disordered behavior around food and body. The simple concept of 10,000 steps per day gives me a marker of what is considered “active” and has allowed me to set a healthy baseline of activity for me.
The statistics are grim when it comes to weightloss. We all think we are different, that we are the exception. I know I did. I lost the weight through good ‘ole willpower – dieting and exercising, the traditional “eat less, move more” mantra of restriction and punishment. I wore a size 6 but I hated myself. Even though I was outwardly thin, I was mentally obese. I was miserable and ill equipped to deal with life. I needed food to cope with stress and anxiety and this fed my depression. I was hardly in that body for 30 seconds before I promptly started gaining the weight back – and then some. Ask anyone who's ever found themselves in this position and they'll tell you the same – they're not quite sure how it happened. It's insidious, obesity. Don't take it lightly and don't let your guard down.
A year ago, I moved to San Francisco on a whim. I felt like I was spinning my wheels in Los Angeles and I knew something needed to change. It was terrifying to walk away and start over, but it was also exhilarating because I knew in my heart it was what I was meant to do. I never could have imagined how amazing the last year would be. Like truly amazing, and it's only because I continued to say “yes” to things that scared the heck out of me. Obesity, disordered eating, body image – the solution is ultimately about learning to show up, love ourselves, put down the food, and trust the still, small voice that continually nudges us to face our fears and chase our dreams.
Frittata's are one of my favorite egg dishes and this Pizza Frittata is one of the most tasty I've ever concocted. Although a bit more complicated than a simple scramble or omelette, the results are far more impressive. Fritter's are also a great way to use miscellaneous scraps from your refrigerator so get creative. I came up with this recipe to satify my craving for pizza and it's absolutely worth the effort.
I hypothesize that foods containing starch and sugar create an addictive response and that overconsumption of these foods creates an an inflammatory response in the body. This inflammation manifests differently across populations, is almost certainly influenced by genetics, and remains the root of all major modern disease and epidemics, particuarly obesity.
The elephant in the room here is that ‘Obesity' is simply a fancy name for food addiction. We don't really want to see it or believe it. We want to find a way to have our cake and look good too. But we can't. I mean, I know I can't. I have been trying to find a way to moderate these substances for years, but it's too much work and I'm not very good at it. Science shows that we are able to regulate our energy intake and expenditure naturally without thought or struggle. If we aren't already doing this naturally – which, let's be honest. why would you be reading this if you could – you are addicted and any attempts to moderate will only stress your willpower and abilities further.
I personally would rather be using my mind to think of cool solutions to help myself and others change their behavior to be happier, healthier, and more productive. I think it's important to have a creative and empowered population and that means finding ways to overcome the everyday addictions that make us miserable.
My Obesity Hypothesis experiment is as follows:
My attempt to adhere to strong dietary changes to support my recovery from food addiction and cure my lifelong struggle with obesity will be documented to for the period of 1 year – from August 26, 2015 through August 25, 2016.
This includes the following food-related changes:
- Completely abstain from sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates).
- Replace with copious non-starchy vegetables at every meal. This should be primarily from the leaves, stems and flowers, and fruit categories. Root vegetables contain excess starch and will be excluded for this period to assist in physiological addiction recovery.
I enjoy desserts or starchy meals in the same way that I used to enjoy a cigarette. Sure, it tastes delicious and that gives me a hit of dopamine, serotonin,and delight, but in the end, I feel bad – physically and mentally. It upsets my digestion and I carry around shame and feelings of failure. I want to be free from the battle with food choices and obesity. I know from experience that the most effective way to overcome addiction is complete abstinence.