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  • Food addiction or just my body crying for protein/calories?

    Let me preface this by saying: I am not stupid. I am in grad school studying to become a physician assistant (PA-C). I can be disciplined with so many things. Yet I have been unable to overcome food addiction. I don't know what else to do. It's not a weak mind. Although I wouldn't be surprised if someone said it was. I just want some advice and maybe some hope.

    I currently weigh 255 at 5'4." My highest weight was 365 a few years ago. I have been heavy since I was a very young child. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism at 16, but by that time, I was 260+. Meds didn't lower my weight at all, not that I expected them to. I managed to get up to 365 about 5 years ago. I finally decided enough was enough. I started eating "intuitively" and lost down to 300. I actually had a satiety signal then. I got pregnant 2.5 years ago and had a baby. After she was born (21 months ago), I had absolutely no satiety signal. All the hard work I had done to lose weight didn't matter. All I wanted to do was eat. I could eat and eat. Stress of a colicky baby didn't help. Post-partum depression didn't either. Anyway, about 14 months ago, I decided enough was enough and had weight loss surgery (vertical gastric sleeve). So my intestines aren't rerouted, but I can't eat much food. I lost 70 pounds within 7-8 months and haven't lost a thing since. I drink 2-3 coffee drinks a day and get tons of calories. Not good. I am exhausted with full-time school, hours upon hours of studying, and a toddler (and husband). And I have really bad reflux. I know coffee is the last thing I should be drinking, but I keep doing it. The surgery makes reflux more likely and since I'm prone to it, it's bad.

    The point is: I have tried to just stop. I have always tried to stop eating grains. I get so angry with myself that I can't find the willpower. If I could just give up the coffee drinks and grains, I know I would feel so much better. And honestly, the coffee drinks are harder than the grains. I know all about the Primal Blueprint. I have read it and enjoyed it. I think it makes tons of sense. I have also read other primal and low carb books (Gedgaudas, Eades, Bowden, Atkins, Taubes...the list really does go on and on). So it's clearly not a lack of knowledge.

    I don't know what I am trying to say. I'm just wondering if there's anyone out there that can offer advice. I really am not stupid or weak. I eat compulsively like I cannot control it. I am not sure what to do. I don't know if it's my body saying EAT BECAUSE YOU NEED NUTRITION or just being out of whack.

    A question in regard to nutrition: I really can maybe eat 1000 calories a day (of lower carb foods) at most. Should I be adding protein shakes so that I get my calories higher? I am thinking that part of the reason I want to drink so many coffee drinks (other than the caffeine) is that my body is craving protein and calories. Not sure, just a guess.

    Thanks in advance,
    Shannon

  • #2
    Protein shakes to up your calories? Just eat some meat or eggs. Go for real food that is a meal. For me (not in your same situation, true) I crave or graze all day when I don't JUST EAT.

    Coffee drinks? Like factory concoctions? If so, I'd say you're craving sugar, and it's been your habit so it's hard to kick. Drink coffee with HWC cream and a spoonful of coconut oil. I drink 3 large cups in the morning. No problems here.

    I hope others with similar backgrounds can provide you more info.

    (Don't be so hard on yourself!)
    Because if you didn't know, of that is life made: only of moments; Don't lose the now.
    ~Borges

    Comment


    • #3
      Have you ever tried counseling or therapy? Cognitive behavior therapy in particular. It sounds like you honestly do have some food addiction/impulse control problems. Maybe you could benefit from some outside help to help you overcome this issue. Particularly with your kind of workload and stress, it's almost impossible sometimes to discipline yourself to care for your body.

      What do you eat/drink, besides the 'coffee drinks' (which I assume are very sweet)?

      Comment


      • #4
        I've been fat my whole life and until I cut out grains, I was > 70lbs overweight.

        I understand the difficulty of finding the discipline to follow through. You can plan to eat or not eat something all you want, but when push comes to shove, you keep giving yourself an excuse and it becomes "I'll start tomorrow".

        I had to reach a place where I thought enough is enough. That hit me when my doc told me if I don't control my weight, I will probably die by 50 and have a very poor quality of life. I had diabetes, high blood pressure, impaired liver/kidney function, high triglycerides, low HDL, high LDL.... You name it, I had it.

        At the end of the day, you just have to hunker down and just do it.

        But here are some practical tips that helped me tremendously to start off:

        1) Eat enough FAT. Once you attack the fat first, you will not have any appetite left. For example, when you sit down to eat a pice of ribeye, eat the fat first with butter before eating the meat. Eat slowly. Just see for yourself how much less you will eat overall in a meal. The percentage of fat calories in my diet is easily >70%.

        2) Results give motivation. When you cut grains and eat lots of fat and moderate amounts of protein, you WILL see your pants literally drop. When that happens, going to the next step will be much easier. I first started out by cutting half the portion of carbs in my meals. Within a month, I lost 2 inches off my waist. That got me thinking "what would happen if I cut out all and fill up with more good stuff?". Within a year, I lost 10 inches off my waist and no one who hasn't seen me for a while could recognize me.

        3) It takes a while to turn your body into a fat burner instead of a sugar burner. This stage is the hardest. It requires will power. Expect it and face it. Once you make the transition, things will look up.

        4) When you fall, don't throw it all away. Just get up and continue. One slice of birthday cake won't derail your efforts. But letting yourself go mentally, by allowing ice cream and cookies the next meal since you already failed with cake, will.

        5) Don't obsess over calories. I eat 3-4000 calories per day and have lost my weight that way. Most of my calories come from fat. Just eat until you're satisfied but eat the right foods and you will lose weight.

        6) Forget about artificial foods like protein shakes and concentrate on real whole foods. If you eat real whole foods, you will never be able to overeat.

        ** Coffee is totally fine as long as you don't put sugar or sugar replacements in it. Use whole milk (no low fat crap) or cream if you have to.

        Comment


        • #5
          Shannon:
          Mark Sisson did a long, detailed blog entry very recently about compulsive overeating (run a blog search for those keywords). It -- as well as the many comments -- will be very helpful. There is a solution, and you're definitely on the right track by being at MDA.

          ::: hugs :::
          "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates

          Comment


          • #6
            I think this is the one TigerLily is referring to:

            http://www.marksdailyapple.com/compulsive-overeating/

            I second everything said here. Focus on getting your protein and fat intake first, and everything else will fall in line. You will probably have a major sugar flu, and your body will tell you with great vehemence that you just need one more sweet thing and then you'll be okay. You don't need it - it's the addiction talking. If you can get 7-10 days without giving in to that craving, you'll find that it just falls away. But in that 7-10 days, prepare to fight a battle. You'll win, but it might be hard. When I go through those periods, I can stand in front of the fridge or cupboard for hours on end, trying to find something that will satisfy me. I'll get irritable and grouchy. I might even feel weak or sick. If you feel these things, don't give in. Remind yourself that the sugar is JUST THAT POWERFUL and that you don't want it to have that power over you anymore.

            You're in the right place. MDA is the solution, I'm convinced.

            Stats as of 3/1/12:
            5'10" female, 38 y/o
            Currently 140 lbs., approx 25% body fat
            WEIGHT GOAL: lose a bit more body fat and tighten up the rear end...basically, I want to look great naked. Everywhere else is looking great, but my ass/hips/thighs are being a bit stubborn. TMI?
            DAILY MACRO TARGETS: Cal: 1,857. Protein: 100g (400cal). Carb: 75g (300cal). Fat: 128g (1156cal).
            EXERCISE GOAL: incorporate 2-3 strength training sessions and 1 sprint session per week.

            Comment


            • #7
              I just want to add that you sound tired - physically, mentally, emotionally. Is there any way to incorporate "time out" to just....be?
              If it helps, it's taken me a year to get to the point where a bad food choice (I refuse to say "cheat", as "cheat" implies some benefit!) doesn't derail me for a week or more.
              At the minute, a bad choice will knock me off track for one day, maybe two. The valuable lesson being to get up and carry on.
              It's also taken this year to go from wanting and craving sweets and carbs to being able to look at a bar of chocolate (for example), and hesitate long enough to make a conscious decision about it. And usually, putting it back on the shelf!
              Just to let you know that it can be a sloooow process, but progress does happen

              As for the coffee drnks - do you mean coffee, or do you mean the pre-mixed / powdered "cappucino / latte" types?

              Also, for cravings, look into L-glutamine powder. It's an amino acid, and you dissolve half a teaspoon or so just under your tongue. I've only used it a couple of times, but I went from "OMG SUGARRRRR" to "hmm, I'm a bit hungry actually".

              HTH

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by say_rahhh View Post
                Protein shakes to up your calories? Just eat some meat or eggs. Go for real food that is a meal. For me (not in your same situation, true) I crave or graze all day when I don't JUST EAT.

                Coffee drinks? Like factory concoctions? If so, I'd say you're craving sugar, and it's been your habit so it's hard to kick. Drink coffee with HWC cream and a spoonful of coconut oil. I drink 3 large cups in the morning. No problems here.

                (Don't be so hard on yourself!)
                Coffee drinks like vanilla lattes or plain lattes for the most part. From coffee places or made at home.

                The problem with just eating is that I can eat about 10 bites and be stuffed, but hungry an hour later. When I had weight loss surgery, I had read that people lose their hunger. I had friends who had had it and told me this. I never lost my hunger. That's why I'm wondering if my body is just looking for calories -- mainly fat & protein. I thought protein shakes might be a good way to get this.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by animalcule View Post
                  Have you ever tried counseling or therapy? Cognitive behavior therapy in particular. It sounds like you honestly do have some food addiction/impulse control problems. Maybe you could benefit from some outside help to help you overcome this issue. Particularly with your kind of workload and stress, it's almost impossible sometimes to discipline yourself to care for your body.

                  What do you eat/drink, besides the 'coffee drinks' (which I assume are very sweet)?
                  I DO have major food issues. The more I look into it, the more I'm wondering if it's just my body "tricking" me...if that makes sense. Like, really, if my body were balanced, maybe I wouldn't have these issues.

                  I eat eggs cooked in butter, chicken sausages, vegetables, cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts/seeds, fish, lamb & beef occasionally. Sometimes I eat junk like frozen meals when I'm in a bind and didn't have time to pack a lunch. Unfortunately, I drink regular soda once in a while too. That isn't as big of a deal to me; I do it because it's in the house...my husband refuses to give it up. I think I could stop soda. I love iced tea and make my own and don't sweeten it. A typical school day looks like (cringe):
                  B-coffee with half & half, 3 packets sugar -- I have a REALLY hard time eating that early...my tiny stomach feels like it's shriveled up.
                  S- Fage greek yogurt w/ the cherry stuff (I know, I know), KIND bar (nut/fruit bar)
                  L- chicken sausage, vegetables, maybe cheese
                  S- something really unhealthy like a fast food sandwich or panera soup & bread; sometimes a frozen coffee drink.
                  S- iced vanilla latte
                  D- salmon, vegetables, couple roasted potato pieces (like I said, I can't eat much, so starch is usually last)
                  S - Kashi cinnamon harvest shredded wheat with milk (I promised myself I am not buying this anymore)

                  That is really, really unhealthy, I know. Some days are better, but honestly not many. I am really big on coffee drinks (generally sweet) and grains. I know this is not good for me, so yes, I know I have food issues.

                  I listened to a recorded interview by Nora Gedgaudas where she talked about an alcoholic that "recovered" once he stopped eating grains and dairy. I almost feel like that's me. When I think about it, I don't know that it's even the coffee I'm after -- it might be the dairy. I only drink regular coffee once a day and then drown it in half & half. I eat dairy all day long. I never realized that before.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    >> That's why I'm wondering if my body is just looking for calories -- mainly fat & protein. I thought protein shakes might be a good way to get this.

                    To echo the earlier posters, it *does* sound like you need more protein & fat, but fake foods like protein shakes aren't your best choice. The act of chewing takes effort and time, and helps you to feel satiated; drinking, on the other hand, allows you to slurp down a lot of calories very quickly, without necessarily feeling satisfied. Your body wants *real* food -- meat, good fats, non-starchy veggies.

                    I strongly urge you to consume more healthy fats. If you're hungry, be sure you're eating protein and fat! Two fats that I would highly recommend are:

                    Life Extension Super Omega-3 (fish oil caps) -- I take 4-6 of these with each meal, and find that I can eat very little (*healthy* food), and not be hungry again for 5-7 hours
                    http://www.iherb.com/Life-Extension-...els/23722?at=0

                    Now Foods, Virgin Coconut Oil caps
                    http://www.iherb.com/Now-Foods-Virgi...gels/8220?at=0

                    Follow the PB diet, eating plenty of protein and healthy fats (like olive oil), and non-starchy veggies. Take some fish oil caps with each meal. If you *still* feel hungry after all of that, take a few coconut oil caps. I can guarantee that eating whole, real foods and healthy fats is (at least part of) the solution to your problems; forget about quick-fixes like protein shakes. *You* are ultimately in charge of what you put into your mouth. Try cutting out all of the processed food (coffee drinks, etc.) for just one week and see how you feel -- what do you have to lose?

                    Good luck to you! I imagine that your situation must be very challenging, but I admire your desire to improve it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ommmmaggie View Post
                      I think this is the one TigerLily is referring to:

                      http://www.marksdailyapple.com/compulsive-overeating/

                      I second everything said here. Focus on getting your protein and fat intake first, and everything else will fall in line. You will probably have a major sugar flu, and your body will tell you with great vehemence that you just need one more sweet thing and then you'll be okay. You don't need it - it's the addiction talking. If you can get 7-10 days without giving in to that craving, you'll find that it just falls away. But in that 7-10 days, prepare to fight a battle. You'll win, but it might be hard. When I go through those periods, I can stand in front of the fridge or cupboard for hours on end, trying to find something that will satisfy me. I'll get irritable and grouchy. I might even feel weak or sick. If you feel these things, don't give in. Remind yourself that the sugar is JUST THAT POWERFUL and that you don't want it to have that power over you anymore.

                      You're in the right place. MDA is the solution, I'm convinced.
                      For some reason, your post made me cry. Not sure why, but I just wanted to say thank you.

                      I have a 2 week break from school coming up. I am going to quit the sugar and grains then. I'm going to gradually lower my caffeine intake until that break. Really, I am exhausted and don't (can't) sleep enough. So I can't just go cold turkey with that. But I really do think I can deal with this.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hashimotos is often associated with gluten intolerance and such thyroid issues are often the first sign of gluten problems. Always something to look at whenever Hashimotos is evident. Not uncommon for Hashimotos sufferers to progress to other and further autoimmune issues as time passes if gluten is a problem and even very modest gluten consumption continues. Once the autoimmune activity begins, even tiny occasional amounts of gluten seem enough to keep the autoimmune fires burning bright.

                        The essay from Kenneth Fine, MD, a gastroenterological researcher, is worth reading carefully even though it is long . ..

                        https://www.enterolab.com/StaticPage...Diagnosis.aspx

                        Many associate gluten intolerance with a malnourished or emaciated look, since it often causes malabsorption. But it often is associated with overweight folks as well. I suspect what happens with overweight gluten intolerant people may be this: Gluten damages the intestinal tract resulting in selective malabsorption, sugar is still easily absorbed, but essential nutrients less so, the nutrient deficiency leads the sufferer to crave large quantities of food just to obtain the nutrients needed, and lots of sugar is absorbed in the process. It is not a matter of poor self control, just biology. If the person is taking in lots of dairy, it causes high insulin levels, even without adding to glycemic load, and high insulin prevents body fat from being properly used and metabolized. Which leads to carb cravings.

                        Reflux is a common problem with gastric surgery, as it hiatal hernia. But wheat ingestion causes reflux in lots of folks who have any degree of intolerance also.

                        You have a lot of challenges, and the gastric bypass will add to them. That being said, I'll bet that a gluten free and casein free Primal diet, rich in essential nutrients and carefully chosen for essential nutrient density, would be just the ticket. Consumed in small frequent meals. Careful supplementation with Omega 3, regular and trace minerals, and Vitamin D and maybe the right probiotics. You have probably seen the links connecting gastric surgery with a tendency toward low Vitamin D levels. If there is any gluten damage occurring in the GI tract, deficiencies will be just that much worse and cravings will continue.

                        Bet you are busy studying, but if you can do some of it in the sun, this will bypass the GI malabsorption of Vitamin D.

                        The wonderful thing about the challenges you are facing and that I'm confident that you will overcome is that they will equip you so well to deal with the patients that you help in the future. Primary care desperately needs folks like you.
                        Last edited by Paleo Man; 07-31-2010, 12:13 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by healthseekerKate View Post
                          >> That's why I'm wondering if my body is just looking for calories -- mainly fat & protein. I thought protein shakes might be a good way to get this.

                          To echo the earlier posters, it *does* sound like you need more protein & fat, but fake foods like protein shakes aren't your best choice. The act of chewing takes effort and time, and helps you to feel satiated; drinking, on the other hand, allows you to slurp down a lot of calories very quickly, without necessarily feeling satisfied. Your body wants *real* food -- meat, good fats, non-starchy veggies.

                          I strongly urge you to consume more healthy fats. If you're hungry, be sure you're eating protein and fat! Two fats that I would highly recommend are:

                          Life Extension Super Omega-3 (fish oil caps) -- I take 4-6 of these with each meal, and find that I can eat very little (*healthy* food), and not be hungry again for 5-7 hours
                          http://www.iherb.com/Life-Extension-...els/23722?at=0

                          Now Foods, Virgin Coconut Oil caps
                          http://www.iherb.com/Now-Foods-Virgi...gels/8220?at=0

                          Follow the PB diet, eating plenty of protein and healthy fats (like olive oil), and non-starchy veggies. Take some fish oil caps with each meal. If you *still* feel hungry after all of that, take a few coconut oil caps. I can guarantee that eating whole, real foods and healthy fats is (at least part of) the solution to your problems; forget about quick-fixes like protein shakes. *You* are ultimately in charge of what you put into your mouth. Try cutting out all of the processed food (coffee drinks, etc.) for just one week and see how you feel -- what do you have to lose?

                          Good luck to you! I imagine that your situation must be very challenging, but I admire your desire to improve it.
                          Thank you. I just don't know that I can eat enough protein & fat having had weight loss surgery. I seriously struggle with 2 eggs cooked in butter. I might be able to eat half a small steak if I'm lucky. Or 3 oz. of salmon with a few bites of veggies.

                          I realize protein powders are not technically "real." But in my situation, because I've had 2/3 of my stomach removed, I think it might be the only choice. ?? Not sure.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            >> Thank you. I just don't know that I can eat enough protein & fat having had weight loss surgery. I seriously struggle with 2 eggs cooked in butter. I might be able to eat half a small steak if I'm lucky. Or 3 oz. of salmon with a few bites of veggies.

                            I don't know that you have to go for *quantity*, just focus on getting good *quality*. I'm a medium-sized female, and I get *stuffed* if I eat a couple of eggs and some veggies along with my fish oil caps; sometimes I won't feel hungry for the rest of the day after that kind of (relatively small) meal. But every body is different -- if you eat your 2 eggs & veggies & fats, and feel stuffed, and then start feeling hungry again in 2 hours, then.... eat another healthy meal or snack! I'm sure that you're going to have to deal with your body adjusting to not having sweet drinks etc., and that means that you'll have to listen to your own body and not what works for someone else. But the fundamental rule remains: humans are designed to thrive on real food! If you're hungry, eat real food and good fats! It might sound oversimplified, and will definitely take some willpower on your part at the beginning, but please trust me, you'll be happy you followed through with it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Paleo Man,

                              Thank you for your post. I have read Dr Fine's work in the past. I even had a stool gluten test that came back positive. Dairy test was negative. But that was years ago. I knew then I needed to give up gluten/grains...yet I didn't.

                              Vit D levels are good (57) thanks to 10000 units a day.

                              What would you recommend for omega 3 supplementation? WAPF recommends against standard fish oil I thought (although they recommend cod liver oil). I have fermented cod liver oil, but can't seem to make myself consume it. I know it's only 1-2 times a day, but...I guess if I got the pills I'd be able to do it. My daughter takes it every day and asks for it. She is on a primal diet basically (for lunch she had eggs cooked in butter with zucchini and onions, lots of butter). For breakfast she had sardines with almond crackers. She has gut issues (very yeasty/loose stools), but is improving. No grains for her and only hard cheese and full fat Greek yogurt for dairy. Occasionally raw goat milk when our egg lady gives me a quart. But anyway, my point is, I have the knowledge; I just have to find the strength inside.

                              Northern Monkey Girl,

                              I am exhausted, but do have a break in a couple weeks. Although I'll be home with my darling baby, so not really. Although, she is a joy. I think I have l-glutamine powder; I bought it recently for my stomach/reflux. So I will definitely try it.
                              Last edited by ShannonPA-S; 07-31-2010, 12:23 PM.

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