healthy eating

When You Take Away Food From a Food Addict: or I Survived the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

Just a thought: if you start a green smoothie cleanse/detox and you’re a food addict, when you remove the food, your addict will show up and wonder “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

To get the full picture of my experience, you may want to start at the beginning with my posts about my very imperfect start on Day One and continued adventures on Day Two 

Day One and Two completed, I thought things were going pretty good. I had gotten into a routine of making my smoothies for the day in the morning, planning out my snacks, making sure I had boiled eggs, and measured out my three liters of water.

My husband was out of town on business, and that made it easier to make good food choices – I didn’t have to worry about fixing him dinner, I could put away all the food that was tempting me, he wouldn’t bring home anything that would be tempting, and I wouldn’t have to smell anything that he was cooking. Easy-peasy.

As day three went on, the house was quiet. I ran a couple of errands, and realized how often I grab a snack here and there when I’m out and about. I resisted the urge.

I moved to a new town this past summer, and I had just returned from a trip back ‘home’, so I started thinking about how I missed my friends. I started to feel sad, and it was amplified because I knew my husband wouldn’t be home for a few days. I texted a couple of people, but they didn’t text me back. I felt so lonely. And I really wanted to eat sugar.

I hadn’t realized how much I use food as a distraction or comfort. I know that I do that, but I didn’t KNOW how much until I didn’t have that option. Each time I had a craving or really wanted to eat,  I stopped to ask myself WHY?

I wasn’t hungry – the smoothies on the cleanse were very filling, and I had the allowed snacks if I was hungry.

So for two days, day three and four, I became more and more depressed, lonely, distraught. I had to stop and look at what was going on – and realized . . .

This is what happens when you take food away from a food addict.

When you aren’t distracting yourself or comforting yourself with food, guess what? You actually have to FEEL. I had been avoiding feeling for longer than I realized. 

overeating

Photo credit Kirll Yankov – Creative Commons

When I was sharing my experience of the last ten days with someone recently, they asked me if I thought I was really a food addict. I started to back pedal, but then said, “Yes, I really do.” What is a food addict, or what does it mean to have a food addiction? Here are some guidelines found on Web, MD

Researchers at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Science & Policy have developed a questionnaire to identify people with food addictions.

Here’s a sample of questions that can help determine if you have a food addiction. Do these actions apply to you? Do you:

  • End up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods
  • Keep eating certain foods even if you’re no longer hungry
  • Eat to the point of feeling ill
  • Worry about not eating certain types of foods or worry about cutting down on certain types of foods
  • When certain foods aren’t available, go out of your way to obtain them

There are schools of thought regarding the emotional and physical signs of food addiction and it’s relation to eating disorders, but this essay is about my personal experience, so I’m not going to delve into the science and psychology of it. You can google it.

For myself, when I am using food for something other than nourishment, compulsively using food as a distraction from physical or emotional pain, out of boredom, or as a replacement for dealing with stress, loneliness, or anger, then I am acting as a food addict. Other definitions include being unable to stop the compulsive behavior, despite negative consequences. Like weight gain, or health issues, or spending money.

So day three and four ended up to be a 48 hour meltdown. I felt bored and lonely and hopeless. I was ready to tell my husband that I can’t stay in this new town. What was I thinking moving here? Do you know how hard it is to meet people when you don’t have school age children and you aren’t working? I have met some people here, but none I know well enough to call in the middle of a meltdown. I was afraid I’d cry on the phone. It was a tough couple of days. My husband came home and I cried on his shoulder, and then I went to church and cried on the pastor’s shoulder. He promised to connect me with the other two women in the church that are my age (its a small church).

But I stuck to the cleanse. Partly because I didn’t want to fail again, partly because I know it was due to my sugar withdrawals, and most of all, because I want to be healthy. The despair waned, and I made some healthy choices in the middle of it. I talked to my husband about how I was feeling. I found a women’s group at a large local church that is specifically for people who have recently moved to town. (The group had already been meeting for a few weeks, but I told them I was desperate so they let me in.)  I connected with someone I would like to be better friends with and made a date to get together.I texted my friends back home and received their love and support. I asked people to pray for me.

As for the rest of the cleanse, I finished all 10 days. I got a horrible headache on day 8, but I wasn’t hungry and the smoothies tasted so good that once I got past the cravings it was actually pretty easy. Although they say most people lose 10-15 lbs, I lost 8 lbs, but I am fine with that. I find now that I am over 50, I can’t just drink extra water and lose 5 lbs overnight like I used to.

I don’t feel tired, I don’t have a headache, I’m not bloated or gassy, my brain isn’t as foggy, and my joints aren’t as stiff. I haven’t had sugar, processed foods, caffeine, or alcohol for 10 days, and my body is loving it. Also, as someone who had diverticulitis so severe I required a bowel resection, my gut is feeling GREAT!

Now the challenge is what to do next. Today is the first day off the cleanse, so the book suggests adding whole foods gradually over the next three days. My meals today were two green smoothies, two hard-boiled eggs, cashews, and a dinner of spaghetti squash and homemade marinara without meat. (Here is the recipe for the marinara sauce.) It tasted absolutely delicious! I started to go for seconds out of habit but I stopped and asked myself and if I was hungry. I wasn’t, so I chose not to eat seconds. spaghetti

I plan limit my caffeine to one cup of coffee a day, and to stay off sugar, soda, and processed foods and continue to lose weight.

I am really glad I did this cleanse. Not just for the physical detox, but for the emotional detox as well. This was a good re-set for my body and my heart.

Click here to buy the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse book  (I do not receive any compensation, this is just a personal recommendation for this book)smoothie 1

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Confessions of a Food Addict Starting the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

THE DAY BEFORE: Prepping for the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse:

  • Go grocery shopping and buy ingredients for smoothies and snacks as suggested in the book (Click on the book title for more info on the book 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith)
  • Also buy lasagna and bread and ice cream for ‘one last good meal’
  • Eat lasagna for dinner and put away left-overs.
  • Realize that tomorrow you will be in the house alone with leftovers.
  • At 10:30 pm remember that you have a pint of your favorite ice cream in the freezer, and eat it quickly so it won’t tempt you tomorrow.
  • Get nauseated by eating ice cream too fast, put the last 1/4 of the pint in the freezer.
  • Consider wrapping up leftovers and taking them to the neighbors to ask them to guard them from you while you do your cleanse.
  • Too embarrassed to reveal your weakness to the neighbors, devise a plan for the morning to take all food that might be tempting and wrap it in plastic bags, tying it tight, and putting it in the freezer.
  • Consider taking the two partial pints of ice cream and freezing them in a block of ice so they will be that much more difficult to access.
  • Realize the block of ice plan is ridiculous, so back to plan A of wrapping and freezing food items.
  • Set reminders for tomorrow morning to weigh yourself and take a ‘before’ pic of your face so you can see how much less blotchy and bloated you look after the miraculous 10 day cleanse.
  • Decide to spend tomorrow eating all of the food in the house that could be tempting, and then start smoothie cleanse the day after tomorrow.

DAY 1: 10 DAY GREEN SMOOTHIE CLEANSE:

  • Wake up early and lay in bed for one hour, pondering your existence.
  • 0730: Decide that all groceries are here, and if you don’t start today it will be that much harder another day. Decide to go downstairs and put all tempting food into freezer when you make your smoothie.
  • 0745: Step on scale. Go to the bathroom. Step on scale again. Wash face, then step on scale again. Take average of three weights (which are all within ounces of each other).
  • Take mirror selfie as ‘before’ picture, resisting temptation to put on any makeup.
  • Go to the kitchen and gather all ingredients. Arrange them just-so and take picture for Instagram. Blend ingredients per instructions for day one. Take more pics as you go.

smoothie 3 smoothie 2

  • Fill 3 liter pitcher with water for the day.
  • Pour smoothie into glass. Slowly drink. It tastes good.
  • Feel very proud of yourself. You can do this. Don’t worry about putting the food in the freezer, you can do it later.
  • Feel a caffeine headache coming on. Take Excedrin migraine to wean yourself off the caffeine and hopefully avoid the headache. (It contains caffeine but you can avoid the habit of drinking coffee).
  • Boil eggs for snacks, almost burn them (yes, you can burn hard-boiled eggs if you really try).
  • Set out other items for allowed snacks – fruit, unsalted nuts, unsweetened peanut butter.
  • Spend morning drinking lots of water and having an occasional snack. Cut the small brown spots off the egg whites to avoid the charred taste.
  • Record all calories on Fitbit app.
  • Spend much of the morning peeing because of all of the water you’re drinking.
  • Take a nap.
  • Wake up and realize you are hungry. That lasagna in the fridge sure sounds good. Imagine how the lasagna will taste in your mouth.
  • Think about putting food in the freezer, but instead decide to just eat it and then it won’t tempt you anymore.
  • Eat the rest of the lasagna. Remember that there are two partial pints of ice cream in the freezer. You might as well get rid of them, too.

ice cream

  • Justify eating it all now because you’ve heard it’s not good to overeat close to bedtime.
  • Think about how delicious the lasagna and ice cream were. Start to feel bad that you actually ate them, every bite.
  • Sit and wonder what to do next.
  • Consider just starting Day 1 again tomorrow.
  • Feel another headache starting, take another Excedrin.
  • Decide that since there is still 2/3 of a pitcher of green smoothie in the refrigerator, and the tempting food is out of the house, you can just start over RIGHT NOW.
  • Decide not to record all calories eaten today, because the is just too depressing.
  • For the rest of the night, drink the remainder of the green smoothie and drink the rest of the water early so you won’t be peeing all night.
  • Tell your husband about your day of eating, just to keep it real. Be thankful that he loves and supports you no matter what.
  • Write about your shaky start to the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. Write to let others know that you don’t have to be perfect, and to keep yourself accountable for tomorrow, which is a new day.
  • Disable comments on blog to avoid hearing everyone’s opinions and solutions to your weight loss woes. (And don’t message me, either. Thanks. #SorryNotSorry)

Click here to read about Day Two

And here to see what happens during the rest of the cleanse (and what happens when you take food away from a food addict)