Food Triggers

Excerpted from Food Triggers: End Your Cravings, Eat Well, and Live Better by Dr. Rhona Epstein (Worthy Publishing, December 2013)

Dr. Rhona has helped thousands of people transform their crazy-making relationships with food over the past twenty-eight years. But her first client was the most pivotal—herself. By age seventeen, Rhona had already developed a complicated history with food, including bingeing, secretive eating, compulsive exercising, and self-loathing. The hope and freedom she finally found also became her career and calling. Food Triggersshares a proven process of physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation for those who abuse food.

There’s an old proverb that there is no shame in not knowing—the shame is in not finding out. So when you hear the term “food addict,” do you think that’s not me? Maybe you’re just trigger sensitive instead? Wouldn’t it be a shame not to know?

Nancy, 53, told me how every time she tried to cut out eating sugar and refined carbohydrates like white bread, she experienced symptoms that mimicked withdrawal from addictive drugs,I asked if she’d ever heard of food addiction.

She hadn’t, but even as we began to look into it, she was sure she was addicted to sugar. By midlife she had been on a dieting rollercoaster more years than not. The ups and downs with food started in her preteen years, when she first became and stayed overweight. She could lose weight, but like so many food addicts, she couldn’t seem to keep it off. She would always go back to overeating and binges on desserts. She read every new diet book, tried every possible means to control her weight, and always ended up heavier than the time before.

Nancy wanted to know how to eat well and be fit. So I suggested a different approach. She started a structured plan of eating, stopped overindulging in the sugar and refined carbohydrates, and began attending 12-step meetings to address addictive issues. Once again, almost immediately, she struggled with the withdrawal symptoms, the cravings and headaches, irritability and tiredness.

Then, after three weeks of sticking to the new approach, something remarkable happened. Life became easier. She began to rarely feel tempted to overindulge. She actually enjoyed eating right. She lost weight again—and the pounds stayed off this time. Best of all, in discovering how she was wired, Nancy found something she had never felt and always sought before—freedom from the overeating-gaining-dieting-overeating-again cycle.

“If I’d known sooner I was addicted to certain foods,” Nancy said, “I could have been successful with weight loss instead of always losing the battle. I would have been better prepared to experience the withdrawals from sugar and bread. I would have been better equipped to handle the bodily and emotional discomfort. Just knowing I’m wired differently made the difference.”.”

Like Nancy, too many people, don’t know that they’re food addicts, blame themselves, and go through life feeling like a failure.