Food Junkies Podcast

Readers of this blog know that I’m a big supporter of the work of Dr. Vera Tarman, author of the book Food Junkies: Recovery from Food Addiction. She runs a Food Addictions Institute called Addictions Unplugged. Her book is on my resources list on this site. I was recently invited to speak on a podcast that she and two other women, Clarissa Kennedy and Molly Painschab, started at the end of 2020. The Podcast is called Food Junkies and can be found wherever you listen to your podcasts. I have been listening to the podcast – there are now 6 of them – and wanted to tell all of you about this informative and wide-ranging broadcast about many different ways to look at and approach food addiction. Many of us have gotten our information by doing years of research of bingeing, vomiting and a multitude of other ways of abusing food. A number of the episodes are focused on how the science of food addiction is catching up with our human experience.

Dr Tarman, Clarissa and Molly, also moderate a FaceBook page called Sugar Free for Life Support Group: I’m Sweet Enough. Is that a great name? I’m Sweet Enough!! Something all of us food addicts have to face in order to truly recover: there is enough, I am enough, you are enough.

Since I wrote my book Saving Sara A Memoir of Food Addiction, I’ve been lucky enough to learn how much is going on in the field of food addiction. They will tell you it is not nearly enough. And they are right. Food Addiction needs to get into the Mental Health bible, the DSM-V, and these three women are on the leading edge of making that happen. To me, however, who retired as a psychotherapist 12 years ago, it’s astounding how much is going on.

Some of you won’t be interested in the science that is backing up what we already know: Food addiction is real; it’s a killer disease, and it is akin to living in hell. But many of you will be interested and the podcast is a great place to start. Besides myself, who has no scientific background, you will hear researchers, nutritionists, Yoga teachers, and addictions specialists. What is really impressive is the patience and open-mindedness of Dr. Tarman who does the majority of the interviewing. I could feel myself get huffy when someone was explaining something that truly felt like old news to me. Give the podcast a listen. Let them know what you think. This is a field that needs to know there is a lot of support and encouragement to know as much as possible.

I do not know the date my episode will be available but stay tuned……

Stay safe and stay healthy. We are still in a pandemic that is very bad. Use this quiet time to reflect on your physical and mental health. You may never get this kind of opportunity again.

Sara

Follow Vera:

Website: https://www.addictionsunplugged.com IG: dr_vera_tarman FB: Sugar-Free for Life Support Group: I’m Sweet Enough Twitter: @addunplug Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drveratarman/

Follow Clarissa: Website: https://foodaddictionhelp.ca Email: crissy_kennedy@hotmail.com IG: @reinventyourblisspoint

Follow Molly: Website: unsugaredyou.com Email: molly@mpainschab.com IG: @mollypainschab

“The content on our show does not supplement or supersede the direction of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, substance use disorder or mental health concern.” Molly and Clarissa

Withdrawal

“Withdrawal occurs once a person stops eating any addictive food. Though abstaining from foods is a contentious subject in the scientific literature, there is no question that it will cause a level of discomfort that often drives addicts back to eating… Feelings of deprivation, obsessions about food, and anxiety arising from unresolved trauma that was being ‘medicated’ by the addictive foods may appear like spectres that linger, worsening before they get better… It may seem that life without one’s comfort foods is simply not worth living. Even problematic eating is seen as better than feeling bereft to the point of suicidal thoughts. But others might find the symptoms so common they are not even recognizable as withdrawal… The good news is that detoxification is not a long process; it only lasts for a relatively short period – between one week and four weeks… Cheating by having a bite here or a spoonful there is also an excellent way to suffer withdrawal in perpetuity. Withdrawal will not end if the substance is constantly being reintroduced back into the brain reward pathway.” 
― Vera Tarman, Food Junkies: Recovery from Food Addiction

Some people who believe they are food addicts and let go of the substances that make us sick: sugar, grains and refined carbos, are completely surprised and shocked by how bad the detoxing and withdrawal process is. Even smart, well educated people with knowledge of food addiction, seem taken by surprise at the discomfort. The discomfort can be great. The physical detoxing can last anywhere from three to twenty-one days. But the emotional withdrawal can last a long time. We know that drug addicts and alcoholics go through bad times. Withdrawal symptoms can include severe anxiety, headaches, sadness, anger, sweating, shaking, disorientation and depression. Why are we so surprised that sugar and grains do the same thing. I think it’s because most of us come from a diet mentality. It’s just food and we go without until we reach our goal weight. Then we are told we can have all those foods back. After all, we’ve earned it! So clearly, they aren’t bad, just give them up for awhile until we get down to a weight we like.

WRONG! That might be true for non-food addicts. They can give up those sugary foods, using willpower, and then not abuse them once they lose the weight. But not us food addicts. Those ingredients are like putting poison in our system. Enough of it for a long time and they will kill us. Strong words I know. The truth is it’s so much easier never to eat those substances than give them up, take them back, give them up, take them back. As Dr. Tarman says “Withdrawal will not end if the substance is constantly being re-introduced back into the brain reward pathway.”

I believe this is why addicts cannot get sober or abstinent on their own. The opposite of addiction is connection. We take away something from our bodies that it is habituated to and it leaves a big hole. We have to fill it with something or we won’t last through the withdrawal. The best (and cheapest) way to fill that hole is to find other recovering food addicts. Talk to them, find out how they got through painful times. They will tell you. They will also tell you to make wonderful meals, to love your food. There is no deprivation in letting go of sugar and grains. When was the last time you felt joyously happy after bingeing on sugar? What’s left without those foods? An abundance of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fish, chicken, beef or, if you are vegan, other proteins.

Look into the Twelve-Step programs. There are a number of food programs. The worse the food addiction, the more structure one needs. Find out what the community of people are like. Are they happy, in recovery and can tell you about it? Do they reach out to you because they know how you are suffering? Because they’ve been there and know what you are going through? Those are the people you want to surround yourself with. People who can say “I did and you can to.” Yes, sometimes the pain gets worse before it gets better. Do you remember pulling a splinter out of your foot? It always hurts more for a short time. There is a hole there and the air is getting in. Soon it will close up and the body, our magnificent bodies, will heal the wound.

Getting rid of the poison we put in our bodies is worth the short time pain. Then you have the possibility for a life full of other things than obsessing about food. And you get to have different problems just like normal people and not the same problem over and over and over–how to stop eating?

Have you been through withdrawal? Write me and let me know how it was for you.

Sara

What Exactly is Withdrawal: https://foodaddictionresearch.org/question-and-answer/what-is-withdrawal/

Is Food withdrawal a real thing?: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-01-03/is-food-withdrawal-a-real-thing

Food Addiction: Consideration of Detox & Withdrawal Symptoms: https://www.addictionhope.com/blog/food-addiction-withdrawal-detox/

Education is always a good idea

Someone e-mailed me at the beginning of the week and told me, “It’s a good thing I’m not compulsively eating. I’d eat everything I had stored for the entire time we are in lockdown. I wouldn’t be able to get away from myself. It would really truly be living hell.” I’ve had similar thoughts of deep gratitude that my disease is not active. Many people are frightened. For food addicts, being frightened or not knowing what is coming around the corner is a reason for bingeing. Bingeing eventually numbs us, pushes the fear and anxiety way down under temporarily. It can seem like a solution. In fact, it is part of the problem. We food addicts do not know how to live with discomfort, any kind of discomfort. So we try to escape into the food. It didn’t work for me. Does it work for you?

My friend I haven’t met yet, Dr. Vera Tarman, wrote to remind me that there is a second edition of her wonderful book: Food Junkies, Recovery from Food Addiction. Dr. Tarman has been a huge supporter of Saving Sara the book. She read it cover to cover and pointed out some inaccuracies. So I need to amend what I have posted. Her first book is the Food Addiction: Truth about Food Addiction. Dr. Tarman works with food addicts on a daily basis. “As founder and spokesperson for Addictions Unplugged, she’s has focused her medical practice over the past 7 years on addiction treatment and recovery. Along with serving the addiction community through her own private practice, she has been the Medical Director at Renascent since 2006 and the Staff physician with Salvation Army Homestead since 2004.”–Linkd In. Of course I want you to buy my book Saving Sara when it comes out May 12, 2020, but educating yourself about food addiction is always a good idea. My book is my story. My story is one of hundreds of stories, all very similar. My story ends with hope and recovery. Dr. Tarman’s book gives you facts from the medical perspective, from her experience of working in the field. Dr. Tarman’s book is a good read.

Last week, I had the honour of being interviewed by Public Radio in Santa, Fe, New Mexico. http://healthywoman.libsyn.com/healthy-woman-march-28-2020-sara-somers-on-food-addiction

Stay inside. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face,