Wednesday, March 7, 2012
In my last post I talked about a friend who has been diagnosed with diabetes and her struggles to change her lifestyle & diet. I got a few comments from people acknowledging how difficult it is to try to gain control over addictive behaviors & food.
One person commented about a friend she has who also has diabetes and how she has tried to be an example for her.
“..maybe now, she should try eating the way I do (plant-based diet, vegan) and see if it will help her with some of her problems. She said she usually woke up in the morning with her sugar level at 200..high...The GOOD news is that one day, she DID not eat nearly any meat during the day, her hubby fixed her more vegetables and whole-grains and I think some fruit...over the next few days after that, she woke up with levels of 80, 85 and 90. Woo-hoo...much better. So, it can be done and I told her that she should continue tweaking her meals...She has seen the transformation I've had since May of last year. I have now lost 56.5 pounds and still want to lose about another 25 to 30.”
Being an example for friends like ours is a great thing, but for me it’s about survival. I want to be the one in control of my health and well-being. I want to respect my body and treat it with respect by choosing healthy nourishing foods. Unfortunately, most people aren’t even aware that they have addictive tendencies. They consider the unhealthy food they are eating as “normal” and continue on. They have no clue that they are literally eating themselves to death.
One thing I’ve noticed is that most people look to food to fill a void in their life, whatever that might be. They consider themselves happiest when they are eating. There seems to be a very strong psychological attachment to the foods they eat. For example, you’ve probably heard the term “comfort food” or “guilty pleasure” and the likes. People seem to associate certain foods with whatever emotion they want to feel and the memories surrounding it. Conversely, people also associate certain foods with their bad memories and what they want to avoid.
Looking back into my own childhood, I can remember my grandmother’s fried chicken and cornbread--and just now my mouth watered thinking of them. What a strong emotional reaction! On other hand, I can also remember my grandmother’s chocolate covered cherries and how I ate one too many and got sick. To this day, I can’t look at the picture on a box of chocolate covered cherries or smell them without feeling sick to my stomach! Yuk! The emotional attachments are still in place, even now that I eat a plant-based vegan diet.
I know this about myself. When I first started making changes to my diet (pre-vegetarian, pre-vegan) one of the things I realized was that I had emotional and physical addictions to certain foods. I began my journey by identifying the foods that were problematic. Next, I made a plan on how to avoid those foods altogether so that I could gain control over them.
This meant sacrifice on many levels. At the time, one of my favorite things to do was meet my friends for dinner several times a week. Well this had to end. So, I called them and let each of them know that I wouldn’t be going out for dinner any more. Not because I was mad, but because I was starting to make different food choices for my health. Instead, I suggested we go to the grocery store, buy something there and come back to one of our places and cook dinner. We could still have an enjoyable dinner and spend time together. This was one way for me to gain control over the food I ate, the way it was cooked, and avoid temptation.
It worked--on many levels. First, it sent a message to my friends that I was serious about taking control of my health. Second, the friends who did go to the grocery store with me also appreciated what we were doing. Third, it got the focus off of food and back on our friendship. Fourth, I began to gain control over my addictive behavior and foods.
This was my process. You will have to find a process that works for you. I know first hand how difficult it is to gain control over the emotional and addictive aspects of eating.