For most of my life I was overweight. Actually, I spent a significant portion of that as Super Morbidly Obese which is is defined as a person with a BMI or Body Mass Index of at or above 45. At my heaviest weight of 425lbs my BMI was 70.
I’ve always encountered the well-intentioned person who sought to help me out with this simple suggestion:
Eat three small, responsible meals a day. Can’t you do that? It’s that simple.
It’s that simple? Perhaps in the technical sense of of it all that’s true. Yes, if I ate three small responsible meals a day then certainly weight loss will follow.
However, for many people it really isn’t that simple. Even if you toss aside the myriad of physiological, medical, and hormonal issues that can complicate weight loss there’s another layer to weight loss that is just now receiving more understanding. So if we move past Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome, Thyroid disorders, and a host of medications that complicate weight loss there’s still something remaining: ADDICTION.
Please note: Not all overweight people are food addicts AND, conversely, not all food addicts are overweight.
Taking the simple understanding of drug and alcohol addiction, you see that when substances are taken the brain releases the “happy chemicals” that make you feel good. Did you know that food does the exact same thing?
Now, take the simple answer to weight loss above and change it slightly.
Just take three, small responsible hits of heroin everyday. Can’t you do that? It’s really that simple.
No one on earth would ever tell that to an addict! Yet people dealing with food addiction are told this constantly.
There’s another major difference between food and substance abuse: a heroin addict can feasibly go the rest of their lives without using heroin. It will be a challenge every single day but it can be done. A food addict must learn to manage food. To shift their relationship with food. To learn how to responsibly handle food. It can’t be put down and never picked up. Food is also legal, wildly available, delivered to your door, and often cheap!
When people see the diet that I’ve followed since surgery they often ask why did I have the surgery if I could follow that plan. Good question!
The answer is because the surgery was a tool to assist me in getting my brain together. It gave my body a head start by restricting my past behaviors for a few months. During that time I had to really work hard at understanding my food behaviors and working on a plan that I could follow. Having a major surgery that permanently alters your internal plumbing does serve as inspiration to keep going! At least, it really should! If I didn’t have surgery I knew that I would have the opportunity to go back to my normal patterns and I didn’t want to risk that. That’s why handling my patterns of behavior and food addiction would sharply reduce that risk.
That behavioral risk was also the major reason why I chose RNY Gastric Bypass over Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. In simple terms, the RNY procedure involves re-routing your intestines where the VSG removes most of your stomach. RNY changes your ability to absorb calories and physically changes the amount of fat and sugar you can consume. The VSG only limits the amount of food you can take in, not the types. I originally wanted the VSG but after a couple of meetings and research and looking into my own patterns of behavior I knew that RNY was right for me and I don’t regret that decision at all.
Food addiction is lifelong issue and it was from learning about my own food addiction that I started doing the Ten Second Rule I posted about yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I frequently dream of ice cream and wanting to dive in a chocolate fountain but the reality is that is no longer my life. Do I miss it? Yes! And probably will forever. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Often we feel we have to make trade offs in life. This time I’m trading the temporary joy of ice cream for the long term joy of better health and overall wellness.
I just hope this sheds a little light on how sometimes what is seemingly simple may not be simple at all. Any behavior that you’ve done for 30 years will never be undone easily. It takes an understanding of your behaviors, a plan for working through those behaviors, and often requires treatment and/or meetings.
For resources on Food Addiction go here.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, psychologist, or heath care professional. I’m a woman who spent 30 years feeling trapped in my body and found my way out by working out my issues with food and opting for weight loss surgery.