We made it to number 1 of the top 5 mistakes I see women making in the pursuit of creating a body they love (aka weight loss) and keeping it off (ah, the elusive “lifestyle”).
#5. Believing will power and goal setting is the answer. (Find the full post HERE!)
#4. Believing the right diet or exercise program is the answer. (find the full post HERE!)
#3. Not eating (or believing you are eating) enough protein. (Find the full post HERE!)
#2. Using nuts and nut butters as a protein source. (Find the full post HERE!)
Well here we are at the number 1 mistake I see women making when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. I am sure it is going to come at no surprise that I am going to tackle carbohydrates this post.
#1. The power of food addiction and its link to carbohydrates.
If you have been following this series I touched on carbohydrates HERE and the role they play in manipulating your body composition. I also cleared up some confusion over what is a carbohydrate vs what is a protein. Both of these points are incredibly important if you are trying to lose weight and I have seen radical transformations when the E.A.T! method is applied to categorizing foods. Portions matter and it is not just about how much you are eating but also an understanding of what you are eating and the role each food group plays.
Allow me to get on my soap box for a moment because I want to make a few other points about carbohydrates worth mentioning before I move on to food addiction.
Not everyone needs to avoid wheat and gluten.
Before you start tossing the baby out with the bath water, clean up all your foods and THEN determine how and IF you need to do an elimination diet. Only then will you be able to properly assess which foods may be bothering you.
Doing an elimination diet without understanding what else you can eat is TORTURE and few people are actually able to do this without breaking down. Once you learn how to E.A.T! an elimination diet becomes easy because you will understand and feel confident in your choices (yes, there is a huge abundance of foods you can eat beyond wheat, dairy and nuts. These are the 3 biggest culprits when it comes to food sensitivities.)
Secondly, just because a food is gluten and wheat free does not mean it is good for you, will create better health or help you have a rock’n body you love. This gluten free movement reminds me of the days when the grocery store shelves were filled with low carb crap.
IF you are gluten and wheat sensitive then it doesn’t mean you replace it with manufactured alternatives. It means you get serious about looking at foods from the earth that will enhance your health.
“Lead, Uranium and Cocaine are also gluten free.
Be aware of healthy “buzz” words.”
Stepping down from my soap box now… onto the points I really want to make in this post….
Carbohydrates are deeply linked to emotions. They are the foods we crave after we have had a fight with our spouse, if we are exhausted from the kids tugging at us and to celebrate EVERYTHING (seriously when was the last time you remember celebrating anything that didn’t involve food or alcohol??).
Everything these days is linked to food, and in North America this has reached out of control levels.
Your kids do well on an exam or at a sporting event and you go out for treats. Beautiful summer day deserves a scoop of ice cream. Christmas, Halloween, Easter, a new job, a new baby, heck you may even celebrate a workout or run with your running group with a reward at Starbucks.
Rewards, feeling deserving, entitled and a “because I want it” attitude is running the show when it comes to making food choices.
Consider for a moment that you gave into your toddler every time he or she pitched a fit. Holy hell what a nightmare that would be. You would end up with a child who didn’t understand or have any respect for boundaries and chaos would ensue.
Are you willing to accept your behaviours with food are creating chaos in your own life?
Carbohydrates require boundaries and respect.
This allows you to get the most out of them AND to get the most out of your body. If you want a body that looks and feels its best then you can’t just let this grab and go, rewards system, feed your feelings attitude continue to run the show.
Again let me stress this is NOT about deprivation or saying NO all the time.
This means learning to check in with yourself, question your intent and make a conscious decision about the food you are about to put in your mouth.
We live in an abundant world and if you say no to that ice cream today I promise you will have an opportunity to say yes OR no on another day. Ice cream isn’t about to go extinct anytime soon! The food industry is heavily invested in making sure that the grocery store shelves are lined with foods that will bring us back for more… and more… and more.
Now that I have established why boundaries are important and have shed some light onto why doing so can be difficult, lets really talk about the power these foods hold over some of us.
“One is too many, and a thousand is never enough”
This is a well known phrase in any recovery program and it illustrates the powerful nature of addiction.
Addiction is a disease that is hard wired into many of us. It doesn’t discriminate, is compulsive in nature and overrides the rational part of our brains that knows the negative consequences.
Have you ever caught yourself eating while at the same time thinking “why can’t I stop eating this and how come I have no willpower?”.
Addiction can’t be controlled by willpower and if you hop back over to reason # 5 HERE I talk about why that is.
Processed carbohydrates (yes, even the healthy ones) can turn on this addictive pathway in your brain and studies have now verified that some carbohydrate foods have the same powerful effect as cocaine and heroin on your brain chemistry.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off ” Gloria Steimen
Carbohydrate addiction is tossed around like a joke when talking to our friends. “Oh yeah, I am a total carb addict” but very few of you TRULY understand what this means or what is required to unravel the hold they have on you.
It requires a consciousness and acceptance that you are powerless over some foods and a commitment to break free of your addictive patterns. It means you need to learn, have a plan (insert E.A.T! personal blueprint) and do the emotional work to understand yourself and support your emotional patterns without the use of food to try to mood alter your way around them.
It has been theorized that people prone to addiction may have abnormally low levels of endorphin metabolism within their brain. When these endorphins are low you are on edge and are potentially at risk for substances that can artificially soothe your brains chemistry and make you feel better.
This artificial way of “feeling better” is the foundation of all addictions. Some carbohydrate foods facilitate the release of Serotonin (also known as our calming or happy hormone) which helps to relieve stress and ease tension.
This quickly establishes the link between emotions and eating. You feel crappy, and you insert your carbohydrate “fix” of choice. Momentarily you will feel better and then you will realize that a 4 litre tub of Ben and Jerry’s will never truly eliminate what is really going on for you. Now you feel crappy for eating the tub of Ben and Jerry’s, and go back to the familiar habit of committing to using more willpower next time only to get taken out at the knee’s by your overwhelming cravings.
Dieting feeds the destructive patterns of a food addict and only YOU can stop the cycle.
So how does an addict find clean living and freedom from compulsive eating and cravings?
Connection, community and having a PLAN to follow that allows them to step into their true power over being powerless.
When I developed the E.A.T! program I did not have the level of knowledge or understanding of addiction that I do now. I did not even understand that I was building was a recovery program for food addicts and not just clients wanting to lose weight or learn more about food. I can still remember a time when I would wonder why clients couldn’t just follow and stick to a plan. I remember a time when I believed willpower was the way to go and you either had it or you didn’t.
My own personal journey and life path created a new awareness and understanding and that I am deeply grateful for. The coaching I do today and the perspective I have regarding addiction has been a game changer in my life both personally and professionally.
For the food addicts I have worked with this program has changed their lives. It doesn’t mean that they don’t still have up’s and down’s and wrestling matches with food and themselves BUT they have a new way and a new feeling of empowerment and support. They now are in the drivers seat of their relationship with food and have a new respect for the importance of maintaining their boundaries. It is no longer about trying to diet and has become a way of living that provides peace and understanding. They no longer feel helpless.
I hope that this 5 part series has given you some take aways and new perspective that you take action on. Each of us are responsible for finding our way and creating the relationship we want with food and more importantly the relationship with want to have with ourselves.
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What has been your biggest take away from this article or the 5 part series? Share how it has impacted you and if it has changed how you think about food in the comments below. I love connecting with my audience so please don’t be shy!