Are you the unhealthy kind of food lover? You know, the one who just can’t seem to push her plate away at the end of a meal.
Do you find yourself drawn to bakeries in the street like there’s some secret subliminal control mechanism between you and those pastries?
Or do you find yourself white-knuckling to stay away from sweet baked treats or fried chips or crisps?
Have you tried one diet after another, weighing and measuring portions, or counting calories until you are blue in the face only to be off the wagon again next time there’s some tasty morsel offered up at a social occasion?
Do you VOW that next time you eat it will be slow and conscious and that you’ll only fill your tummy three quarters full, you’ll chew every bite 100 times, only to forget your promises at the very next meal?
This crippling condition resulted in a good 25 to 30 years of my life being wasted in low self-esteem and obsession with body weight.
At its height I was bingeing every day on bread, peanut butter and honey or Nutella, completely life-draining substances that left me craving more and visiting food stores, one after another, looking for the next ‘hit’, only to feel demoralized again after I’d gotten my fix.
The shame I felt…
So many wasted years – so much eating and hiding away. So many failed diets and exercise programs, so many books read, so many promises to myself broken…
Let me give you a glimpse into my world at the time. I remember one trip to India I took when I was 28, the year of Saturn Return.
If you don’t know about it, Saturn Return is astrologically one of the four profound lifecycle shifts in one’s lifetime).
At this time of my life I decided that I would be the great adventurer travelling solo for three months in this amazing country.
But do you know what my strongest memory of being in that pulsing, vibrant country is? I’m so embarrassed to share it, but maybe you can relate…
In Dharamsala (the home of the Dalai Lama), where I had come to learn to meditate and learn about Tibetan Buddhism, I discovered a German bakery that sold brownies and I would go there every day, sometimes a few times a day to get my fix.
When I wasn’t there I would be thinking about those brownies, planning the next trip, hating myself for eating them, and god forbid if I happened to show up at the bakery and they had run out of brownies….
You get the picture. I was miserable. I blamed my eating on the fact that I was lonely, travelling alone, and also was having some issues with my boyfriend back in Australia, and it’s true that those things were real for me.
But I now know some things that could have left me completely free to enjoy everything that trip had to offer me.
At one point during my time in Dharmsala I went trekking with an older woman, a Canadian who I’d met at the meditation centre.
My lasting memory of what should have been an incredible experience of the natural beauty and wonder of the Himalayas was a comment she made on the way down the mountain. She said: “You shouldn’t be carrying so much weight at your age.”
My self-esteem was so low at the time that this was probably the most crushing thing anyone could have ever said to me.
And I vowed to eat nothing but steamed vegetables for the next 3 weeks until I returned home to Australia.
Certainly I got the weight off, but then promptly began to put it all back on again once I started eating again…
This paralysing pattern of behaviour kept me away from people, it wasted precious minutes, hours, days, months of my life and steadily drained the contents of my wallet.
There was simply no room in my mind for my passions to be developed. In fact, I was completely out of touch with my purpose in life.
Looking back, it makes me a little sad that so much of my life was wasted unnecessarily.
But today I’m so grateful that I don’t have to live that way, that my eating is in it’s place and my life and purpose have unfolded like some magical flower blossoming.
Now I get the opportunity to share with others what I’ve learned about recovering from compulsive eating. I get to contribute something important to this obesity-stricken world.
Now I know that…
1) There are two parts to this ‘dis-ease’ – A physical craving and a mental obsession. No diet in the world (including raw) could take away the mental obsession. I needed to find someone who could help me with that part and I’m so lucky that I did.
2) Certain patterns of thinking and acting were causing me to eat compulsively and I needed to clear out the ‘wreckage of my past’ so that I could begin with a fresh slate.
3) I am not a worthless dirtbag.
4) I was starved of nutrients – vitamins, minerals and simple sugars in the form of easily assimilable glucose (from fruit).
5) I was profoundly dehydrated.
6) I was addicted to certain substances in food that, once brought to my lips and taste buds and swallowed made me a slave to those foods until I could eventually break the fascination once more.
Foods with flour and sugar in them, like bread, which would leave me feeling whacked-out half an hour after I ingested them, casein-containing cheeses which deliver opioid-like substances to the brain, and excitotoxins in processed foods which, like the name suggests, compel the eater to not be able to eat ‘just one’.
7) The foods I was eating were devoid of fibre and were so highly concentrated in fats that they were never able to trigger the satiation signal between my stomach and my brain.
8) I simply didn’t know how to eat enough quantities of whole, ripe, raw fruits and vegetables (with a particular focus on fruit) to supply my body with the vitamins, minerals but really importantly, the glucose, it needed for my brain and body to function at optimal levels.
If you’re in a similar dark place then know that you’re not alone and that there is a solution to our problem. Of course, you have to work hard for it but, if you’re willing to do that work, absolute miracles are promised you.
I thought that the most I could ever expect was to be able to control my food and weight. I never expected complete recovery and freedom from compulsive eating, weight and food obsession.
My relationships with both myself and everyone around me has been completely transformed, and I’ve finally found my true calling in life. One of the things I love most in the world is to help others recover from compulsive eating.
If you really want to recover then check out my article about Bright line eating and how I combine Bright line eating with my raw vegan diet.
Anthea Frances is an author, raw food health coach and host of the Raw Life Summit series. Grab a copy of her free Balanced Raw Vegan Nutrition Checklist and start improving your health today!