Sunday, August 18, 2019

Food Addictions and Going Vegan

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There are hundreds of reasons why I went and stay vegan. And yet it seems that nearly every day something pops up that is completely unexpected, a happy finding of another reason why going vegan completely changed (and saved) my life.

Up until recently my relationship with food was really hostile. I loved food but I HATED food. Me and food had this really love hate relationship going on. I was addicted to food, I used food as comfort, I used food to punish myself, to reward myself and every thing in between. I did not have a healthy relationship with food. I’d crave bad food, I would be mad at myself for eating something “I wasn’t supposed to”. I would worry about how many times per day I was eating, what I was eating, how much I was eating, how many calories I was eating, how many points, carbs, proteins, I was eating. I was CONSTANTLY thinking about food. And life was miserable. All of the diets I went on just got me thinking about eating more and more and made me angry at the food that got me to the place where I was.

And then I went vegan. I can’t tell you exactly when it all changed for me, but recently I realized that I am no longer in anyway controlled by food, emotionally or physically. I do not crave bad food, I never want to binge or eat something that is ‘bad’ . I don’t count calories or anything else for that matter. I don’t eat till I’m completely stuffed , I don’t eat when I’m sad or anxious. This is a drastic life changing thing for me, because since I was about 11 I’ve used food to self medicate, and now, I’m free of that.

I’ve tried every diet from Atkins to the Zone, I’ve read every single self help book there is, I have been to a ton of support groups, therapists, and have thought I was a complete loser for not being able to figure out my food addictions.

As it turns out, this entire time, it was the food I was eating that was causing my addictions to food. That in turn made me obsess over food even more, which caused a lot of undo hardship, when the answer was really simple: don’t eat foods that have drug like effects. Animal products (ESPECIALLY DAIRY) have a lot of chemicals which cause chemical dependency and addiction. Dairy is the biggest culprit of them all, and I’d say that if you want to go vegan slowly, give up dairy first not last. It’s harder than anything else, and will take the longest (generally) to get yourself off of. I won’t get into all the reasons why you should not eat dairy, but I will say that if you are one of those people who has a bad relationship with food, cut the dairy, and those issues will magically start disappearing. (well not magically, there is a lot of science behind it all).

Let me set something straight here, I’m not just talking about animal products. There are plenty of things that are ‘vegan” that are crappy for you. Diet soda for instance is death in a can. Yep, DEATH in a CAN. If you are drinking or eating anything that has fake sugar – just stop. In fact, go right now and throw it all out. And deal with the bad detox you will have. Just deal with it. There are about 300 or so side effects to fake sugar that should make you wonder why it’s legal, and one day we can get into a really long talk about all off that and you will be even more SICKENED by how people get away with the crap they sell you.. But for now let’s talk about how diet soda makes you fat and diabetic. You drink diet soda, your taste buds say “OOOOH SUGAR!” your body says “Sugar! We need insulin!” your body then pumps out a TON of insulin because your taste buds told your body “HEY BODY SOMETHING REALLY SWEET IS COMING!” and then your brain says “SCREW YOU! I totally tricked you, there is NO sugar!”. But guess what ? Your body doesn’t just put that insulin back where it came from. Nope, it floats out there to do one of 2 things. It will make you really hungry because it needs to attach itself to something, and because diet soda is really sweet to the taste buds there is A LOT of food that you will now need to consume to make that insulin happy. And your body won’t be craving good food, it will be craving more CRAP. OR you don’t eat and the insulin floats out there and do you know what insulin is? Growth hormone in your belly. It MAKES you fat. DIET SODA makes you fat.

Rant over. Kind of, don’t you dare tell me that you are addicted to diet soda and want me to feel bad for you. Get off the crap. End of story, don’t tell me it’s okay in moderation, it’s not, it’s fat and diabetes in a can. Not to mention about 300 other bad things that it causes down the road.

I was once addicted to it, so I know it’s hard, but I know that it’s not impossible. I also know that if you stop eating crappy foods addictions to other things (like diet soda) will be a lot less.

The less chemicals and hormones you consume the less likely you are going to be addicted to other things, the less likely you will be addicted to food. I mean when are you going to binge on kale? And if you do? You’d have to eat a LOT of kale before anything bad happened.

I always thought I’d struggle with food. I thought it was going to be this ongoing hate relationship where I would eat, feel guilty, and then eat more anyway. I thought I would always have to be so strong and full of will power. It was when I went vegan that my life and my addictions started to change. And I now feel like a free person. I’m no longer imprisoned by my addictions to food. I eat when I’m hungry, and I eat what I need to eat. It turns out our bodies tell us what we need and when we need it. There is nothing really tricky about it. I eat lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans and go figure my body feels a lot better. I am no longer attached to food in the ways that I once was.

Not to mention that I sleep better, don’t have heart burn, my energy is always good, and all of that makes my body want more and more HEALTHY and good food. We were never meant to crave bacon cheeseburgers. The only reason why we crave crap is because it’s full of chemicals that cause us to crave it. Even if you have it every so often, it takes your body days to repair and rid yourself of all of the chemicals you have consumed. Simply, it’s just not worth it.

And I will say this a billion times, until you want to smack me. IT IS EASY. Going vegan is the easiest thing I’ve done. I love food now, in a completely different way. I still love to cook and to eat for that matter, but it’s all in a healthy non guilt ridden kind of way. I feel good when I eat now, I feel alive and healthy and light. When you eat you should feel great, nourished, healthy, light and it should give you energy. If eating is not doing that for you, you need to change the way you eat. Eating is to nourish your body, to feed cells, to give you energy, the effect of eating should be just that. And I can tell you that eating animal products has no good effect on your body at all. Our bodies were NEVER meant to consume animal products (after we have stopped nursing from our mothers milk that is). And the more you try to force your body to do something it was not intended to do, the worse it gets. When you go vegan, you aren’t doing anything drastic or revolutionary. You are doing what your body was intended to do, and doing what is NATURAL.

All of those food addictions that you think you are a loser for having? Blame the chemicals, and then get off of them, and know that you will detox for a few weeks. Understand that this detox is because all of those bad foods have chemicals and hormones that your have been forcing on your body have messed with everything including your central nervous system. It will take about 3 weeks before it’s all out of your system. But that’s it. Three weeks, and you will be free of all of it. Not to mention that you will start to reverse and heal a bunch of nasty health problems that staying on an animal based diet will eventually cause.

Every day I’m amazed at my life right now. I’m amazed how healthy and alive I feel, how every thing about me has changed. All of those addictions were causing so much unnecessary hardship in my life including diabetes, obesity, depression, fatigue , hormonal issues, emotional and physical dependencies, and I was miserable. Going on a plant based diet did more than turn my diabetes and weight around, it’s turned my life around, it’s made me a different person, a person that I like a lot more.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Kat

    I am starting to go vegan today because I am now being truthful with myself that I have been addicted to food for over 20 years. I have been following Sophie Jones’ detox retreats and that’s how I found this site and now reading your blog posts Nat I am strongly putting everything I have into starting a raw food vegan diet for at least 21 days to detox my system and then considering staying on a plant based diet for weight loss.

    Thanks so much!
    Kat

  2. meatless mama

    While I am not vegan- I am vegetarian, I think this is a great post! I avoid most processed foods, and try to use very little animal food. I feel good and have been off heartburn meds for over 2 years now. People need to really pay attention to how their body feels after they eat.

  3. fkwan

    I have to disagree with you on this one. I’m a vegan, and I still am a food addict. Last night I couldn’t resist about four pieces of multigrain bread and pumpernickel, mashed potatoes (made with coconut milk and veg margarine), faux cream gravy, and about a quarter pint each of vegan ice cream.

    I ate about 1000 more calories than I needed, in other words, a BINGE. Once I knew I went over my limit, I didn’t want to stop.

    The addicted brain is addicted to sugar or high glycemic carbs, and it doesn’t care whether such things are surrounded by dead animal, lactating animal or plant derived sources.

    The only way to cure an addiction is to make sure that the addict can NEVER get his or hands on the drug in question, and for a food addict, never ever marry a chef. 🙂

    f

  4. Nat

    meatless mama – totally, if people pay attention to their bodies a lot would change

    fkwan – I completely agree – I think that people have to be aware of what foods are triggers for them. I stay away from a lot of high glycemic carbs as well because of the sugar response. I’d say if you feel that you are addicted to something it’s a good thing to cut out – if you feel that you can’t “live with out X” cut out X.
    If it’s a hunger craving really pay attention to what your body is actually craving, if it’s really carbs maybe try going with high impact veggies instead.
    For some it is sugar, but for a lot of non vegans getting off animal products is the first step to fixing the addiction problems. The next step is really figuring out what you are craving and what would be a better substitute.

  5. Elizabeth

    Can I just say that I think your journey is pretty amazing and you’re a great role model for others trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle!

    I am not vegan but I avoid dairy, and eat very little meat or eggs so I feel like I am still qualified to comment ;P

    I’m totally addicted to carbs, however the extent to which I will binge on them depends on how active I am. If I am sitting at home on my butt all day studying (as I am currently) then all I want to do is eat toast or cereal. In contrast, when I worked fulltime (or even when I had a heavy class schedule), I was more active, actually felt hungry, yet ate less. Most of all, I felt a heck of a lot better than I do right now! Acknowledging our addictions, avoiding triggers (bread, o glorious bread!!!) and having positive distractions on our lives (ie exercise) is key to overcoming them. I look forward to returning to fulltime work on Monday and escaping the temptations of my kitchen cupboards!

  6. Nat

    Elizabeth – Thanks!
    On moving and eating better – in the China Study they address that in a really great way. In tests people have a lot more energy and eat less the better they eat. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I have found it to be true for myself. The better I eat the less I need to eat and the more I want to move.

    I would say that I think that the word “carb” has become a bad thing, where I don’t think it is. Highly processed refined sugars are bad, but carbs are good (I know you know that, but just in case someone is thinking that carbs=bad) I do eat bread from time to time, but if I do I load it up with veggies and good stuff. 🙂

    Thanks for the comment 🙂

  7. Eileen

    There’s a lot of good stuff in this post!!
    Gives me hope of eating better, feeling better, etc.
    Of course I still have the guilt in the back of my head, and some shame for good measure lol

    I disagree with “Just stop eating that crap!” because that’s like telling an alcoholic to “Just stop drinking!”.
    (Most) People need to have a psychic change in order to stop an addiction.
    Like a big wake up call like you had, although I know drunks that have gone to jail a few times and that didn’t stop them, it wasn’t until something clicked in their mind that they were able to stop, that psychic change I mentioned.

    I’m lazy, have you already posted all that info (or links to them) for diet sodas and how our bodies weren’t physically made to eat meat, and stuff?

  8. Nat

    ** A side note…
    I’d just like to add that you can eat like crap as a vegan – vegan doesn’t mean healthy all the time. I should say that when I went plant based I also cut out the highly refined every thing. I still eat bread from time to time but only when it’s loaded up with tons of veggies and when it’s a high fiber/grain bread. I try to stay away from processed vegan foods as well… again they have chemicals in them. I try to eat a lot of uncooked veggies and fruits and stay away from things in bags and boxes.
    Going vegan and eliminating animal products is step 1. Step 2 is starting to eliminate the other trigger foods for you. If you feel like you are addicted to something (bread, chips, vegan cookies) stay away from it.
    There were definitely steps in this whole process for me, eliminating animal products was the first step, and it helped me in being able to go onto the other steps, and it helped to eliminate some of the core addictions.

  9. Eileen

    Question I forgot to ask, is tofu considered a processed food?
    I’ve read bad things and I watched a show about how it’s made and I must say there is nothing natural about it lol

  10. Nat

    Eileen – thanks 🙂

    I think that even if you have something really bad happen, in the end you are still deciding to “just stop” sometimes some of us just have much bigger reasons to “just stop”. My hope is that people don’t have to be at deaths door in order to just stop eating crap, but will decide to do it on their own. Being on deaths door is no fun. And not to mention, doesn’t give you much time to ease your way into all of it . That always sucks.

    I’d pick up “The China Study” if you want a really in depth read on why our bodies are not meant to process animal products – basically we are not carnivores at all in anyway. Our acid in our stomachs, the length of our intestines, our bowels, our teeth, our fingernails, our jawlines, our tongue – all herbivore qualities. That’s the really in short list of it though.
    As for diet sodas – there are a few documentaries that are good – Skinny Bitch does a good job explaining it all as well. But in the end fake sugar is one of the most dangerous things to ever be allowed to market. Every single endocronolgist I have been to has heavily warned against it and has warned of the really bad long term health problems it causes.
    I have a few posts on all of it though – but I’m no scientist, I’d go to the pros, they will have all the details. 🙂

  11. Geoffrey

    Good post!
    I agree with everything there.

    I have a different feeling about the rant though.

    When we become vegan or vegetarian, we become filled with information about the bad qualities of bad food, and rightly so. We tend to want to pass this information on, but most times we encounter resistance because of deeply ingrained values, habits, and beliefs, whether right or wrong.But as ego driven individuals, which most everyone on the planet is, including myself, this drives us crazy. Here we are, standing on a soapbox, and not only are we being ignored, but ridiculed as well.
    Welcome to the world of back and forth defensiveness.

    What people can not argue with are facts. There is enough science out there to prove with 99% certainty, that as humans, we are meant to eat a plant based diet and consume foods the closest to their alive state. This is irrefutable.

    Here is the point in this long-winded reply, When we stand with the facts and not point fingers at others we take a righteous approach. When we live by example and dont take a defensive posture against, we further an enlightened way of existing.
    The only thing we can control is our own actions.
    Ranting against others actions only produces defensive posturing, much like the follow up emails you are now receiving.
    It’s hard to argue with something that feels inherently right, like veganism does to me. The only way we will change minds is to present fact and lead by example and let others make up their own minds.

  12. zen

    I agree and disagree. Being vegan has made me so much healthier but I am still addicted to food. I have to stay away from my addictions and it’s hard. I limit my bread, corn chips, vegan chocolate, sugar. And avoid vegan crackers, and vegan chips, as well as bars and such, pretty much stay away from the boxed foods. If I consume just a little bit of my cravings then it’s hard to stop. I still think about food all day! I will agree that after a meal I feel good, really good infact. We have to almost eat like a child, in the sense that we only eat when our body is wanting food. Listen to your body and eat when your hungry.

  13. Ivy

    Great post. Just one thing: diet soda is technically not vegan because saccharine and Equal (can’t remember the technical name) are/were extensively tested on animals.

  14. Nat

    Thanks Geoffrey!
    It’s funny – I get 2 different kinds of responses to when I write and it is more of a rant – There is one group of people that just need an in your face kind of approach to it all, and the other group that needs a science, backed up by lots of facts, followed up by a lot of examples.

    I haven’t found the right blend of both. Some people write and are upset when I present lots of science and examples of my own transformation saying that it’s too hard to understand, they just want a simple and bottom line, like your best friend would tell you something.

    And then I have another group of folks who don’t like at all when I say things like “cheese is addictive” they want a very well backed up scientific post with out emotion. Which I totally understand – I fell into both groups. Which is why I loved Skinny Bitch AND The China Study 🙂

    My intent is never to point fingers (except to those in the food industry that have caused so much of the problem) but instead to try to reach people of all sorts and communicate in anyway I can, sometimes through in your face ranting, sometimes through transformation stories, sometimes with just science. And then let the chips fall where they may really and hope for the best.

  15. Geoffrey

    Well said. The China Study is a great book to point people to if they have questions. I’ve also had luck with Diet for a New America.
    The China Study is good for people who want science like you said, and I think Diet.. is good for those who like a simpler approach.
    I wasn’t trying to admonish you or anything like that, I was just bringing up a point that doesn’t get a lot of thought. It’s kinda like Martin Luther Kings approach with non-violence, or Ghandis Ahimsa produced results without out compromising integrity.

  16. Lara

    Natala, very good post. I agree with everything you mention, even though I haven’t even made it ‘full vegan’ yet. I just finished Skinny Bitch (very good) and am just starting The China Study. I have a 6 year old daughter and you should have seen her face when I told her that milk wasn’t good for us anymore. She says, “Well, we learned in school that milk is very good for our bodies.” Ugh… I just don’t know what I’m going to do about her… one day at a time, I suppose.

    I’ve found your blog inspiring as I, too, have a strong family history of type II diabetes and am currently at that stage the doctors like to call ‘insulin resistant’. I know it’s just all the crap still clogging up my cells and am determined to get healthy by changing my diet.

    One question, in short: how long would you say it took you to complete the transition?

    Keep up the great posts. I look forward to them.

    Lara

  17. Mary

    I never thought about going vegan until I read this post. A friend sent it to me and I was intrigued. I have to say that I don’t understand why anyone would be angry at you for pointing out what you did. You are telling the truth, from your point of view. I am one of the ones who falls into the group of people who just want to be told like it is, I like when my good friends just tell me to get over myself and stop my bitching, and I needed for you to tell me that today. I’ve been addicted to diet soda for a long time. I’ve also been addicted to cheese for a long time, and I know they are bad for me. But in a few paragraphs I am now convinced more than ever that it’s time for me to change and stop the bullshit.

    I’m also curious how long it took you to get to this point!

  18. Eileen

    From the Mayo Clinic’s website – UGH!

    Question
    Diet soda: Is it bad for you?
    I drink diet soda every day. Could this be harmful?

    Answer
    from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

    Drinking a reasonable amount of diet soda a day, such as a can or two, isn’t likely to hurt you. The artificial sweeteners and other chemicals used in diet soda are safe for most people, and there’s no evidence that these ingredients cause cancer. Some types of diet soda are even fortified with vitamins and minerals. But diet soda isn’t a health drink or a cure for weight loss. Although switching from regular soda to diet soda will save you calories, some studies suggest that drinking soda of any type leads to obesity and other health problems. And healthier choices abound. Start your day with a small glass of 100-percent fruit juice. Drink skim milk with meals. Sip water throughout the day. For variety, try sparkling water or enjoy a squirt of lemon or cranberry juice in your water. Save diet soda for an occasional treat.

  19. Nat

    Oh that’s terrible Eileen – mainly because I don’t think it’s something most folks can do just every so often. The truth is that they cause insulin to release, and that insulin has nowhere to go and that causes issues.

    I think it’s also says a lot they are telling people to drink skim milk with meals! It says how behind they are.

  20. Jen

    Yep, I’m another “tell it to me MAMA!” I’ve been reading your blog for a little while, and the posts that resonate with me the most are the ones where you just tell me the truth like it is, and like I need it, no soft and nice for me please. I have friends that hated skinny bitch for the same reason, but different strokes for different folks. I say keep on ranting mama!

  21. Nat

    Lara – thanks ! And that’s awesome about you and your family making changes. There are some great kid friendly vegan cookbooks like “Vegan Lunch Box” that you might want to try.

    And Jen – haha 😉 I’ll try to balance, I’m not mean, I just love people a lot, and want to get through – sometimes the Italian side comes out a bit 😉
    But I’ll tell it like it is always.

  22. Eileen

    It’s one thing to tell it straight, but I shut down when people throw the should word at me, tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing and I’ll go do (or not do) it!!

  23. Nat

    I agree Eileen – I used to do the same thing but for me it almost killed me, I was such a stubborn Italian, but it did me no favors. that was me, I’m hoping that most people are not like me in that way!
    I’d say just do your own research, find out every thing you can about your body and then make a good informed decision.
    For the vegan stuff definitely start with China Study for the science. Become your own researcher and doctor, I tell people a lot not to take my word for it, always take your own well informed research.

  24. VeganMommy

    Skinny Bitch changed my life! It was a book that basically said how I should be eating and I was a moron for eating otherwise, but that’s what worked for me.
    You are right some people like it soft balled and they will rebel as soon as you say “you should do x” like my kids will do all the time. But in the end, I think you just really care about people and don’t want them to see you end up the same way. Back to the post though, I really agree with you! Since going vegan I’ve lost so many of my addictions! There is something to it all, I don’t really get it all, but I don’t need to, I just know my body is feeling and working a lot better!

  25. nat

    Thanks vegan mommy! *have you met vegan mama? 🙂

    Really in the end, I just want to give hope to people, I wanted to convey that I was once addicted to a lot of stuff, I was once over 400 pounds, once a severe on deaths bed diabetic who binged and purged, and now I’m not.. and with out a doubt it’s because I went on a plant based diet.

    I just do not want anyone to fall into the same thing of seriously almost losing their life. It’s like watching people stand on train tracks with a train coming really fast. I could stand on the side and take my time explaining how the trains impact could greatly hurt them, and go on to explain how it will, and all behind the force, and hope they listen. But sometimes, I need to tell people to “GET THE F off the tracks!!!” Not everyone falls into this, some are really far from that train, but others? It’s about to hit.

    And yes, back to the post! I’ve met people who were addicted to smoking who once going plant based were able to more easily give that up as well, I think it definitely does a lot more to our body chemistry than we give it credit for. Thanks again!

  26. Patty

    Diet soda lead to severe eye sight problems for me. People sometimes don’t give up things until it’s too late, I was stubborn, didn’t listen, and now I’m suffering, and will for the rest of my life. Don’t play games with your health.

    Thanks Natala I love your blog and your story!

  27. indetox

    hi,
    how did you know that this was exactly what i needed to read? just as i was starting to stray from the only thing that has made me feel good in a long long time, your blog came along and kicked my ass back into gear. i cut out meat, dairy, eggs about 2 months ago when i found out i had elevated insulin levels and my body had had enough of the constant weight gain and strain that came with it. about a week or two ago i found myself reaching for the temptations instead of the veggies and other foods that had been helping my body recover from the abuse i’d put it through all these years. this entry specifically is giving me the motivation and boost i need to get myself back on track to a wonderful life.

    thanks so much!!

  28. Sweeter

    Funny thing, I’m having my coffee this morning and I realize I am almost out of my very much beloved half and half. Have internal dialogue with myself . . . buy more (and I buy the big cartons @ Costco!) or find a vegan option and try to get on this vegan train? Then I read this post of yours saying give up dairy first. It must be a sign.

    I guess I will hit the grocery today and check out various options. You suggested vanilla soy creamer to me on Twitter. Does that add sweetness? I don’t want sweetness. Just that creamy fat feeling . . . sigh.

    Your story is very inspiring and motivating. Thank you for sharing it.

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on nat@cleanseplan.com

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