With all of the new-found publicity around Binge Eating Disorder or B.E.D., people are asking a lot of questions. BED was named to the official guide of psychiatry, the DMS 5, a few years back, but it wasn’t until Shire, the huge Irish drug giant, started running television commercials featuring Monica Seles, that the buzz around BED really took off.
At the risk of dating myself, one of my favorite comedians of all time was Rodney Dangerfield.
Rodney has passed on now but his signature catch phrase was, “No respect, I don’t get any respect from anyone!” For those of you not familiar with Rodney you can only imagine the jokes around that phrase: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iwu-6GxBHN4
With over 29,000 results on YouTube alone, you can still revel in his greatness:
“He was quite simply the greatest stand up comedian there ever was” – Jay Leno
I feel the same about flour and sugar in our diets and in the discussion around BED, weight gain and other eating disorders that Rodney did:
Flour and sugar just get no respect.
It doesn’t matter how many studies, books 100% dedicated to this topic, YouTube videos and full length documentaries explaining the concepts that emerge … most people just do not take the information seriously.
Take what seriously you ask?
Most people refuse to embrace the idea that sugar and flour may be as powerful a psychoactive drug as cocaine. That it affects the exact same centers of the brain that cocaine does. That tests with rats prove they will sacrifice more for sugar than cocaine …even their lives.
More importantly, in the context of BED and other eating disorders – and simple weight gain, people refuse to take seriously the concept of trying abstinence from these two — just for a short period — to see if that has any effect on their desire to binge. They also refuse to believe that they might need help quitting. Again, giving no respect to the power of the two.
Could I be “addicted” to flour and sugar?
For me this question is easy now but it wasn’t always that way. I struggled for years, mostly alone, to prove it to myself.
Could the addiction make me act in ways I would never do “sober”. Like a “real” addict or alcoholic? I threw the “real” addict in there, half as sarcasm and half to make a point. Most people, who struggle with food issues, just won’t let their minds go to that place. The place where we are addicts, addicted to a substance that our bodies just does not process well or that we like so much because it does something, however subtle and “not really like a drug buzz”, to our brains.
I know this is hard information to digest. It’s harder still – to act on.
The only way I was able to understand what the double whammy of flour and sugar were doing to me was to get a bit of abstinence under my belt.
It wasn’t easy.
It took me over two years just to get off sugar.
I would wake up every morning and put two Tylenol in my pocket for the inevitable headache that would occur. I remember one pair of white shorts that had a stain of the two little tables in the pocket area. Still, I would go for a day, two days, maybe a week and fall back. After a while I did stop and then had to tackle flour. Flour seemed more daunting, more food like. Sugar, like drugs and alcohol, I could rationalize was not really necessary. Flour seemed to be in ALL the food I liked at the time.
It took another two years to get off flour. Back and forth I would go, same Tylenol in my pocket. Well not the same two, as I ate two everyday.
Each day the withdrawals hit late in the day. I was OK at breakfast, even lunch, but around four-ish I just started to feel I “needed” some sugar or later some flour. If I got past dinner the evenings were just brutal. I felt alone, even if I wasn’t, and sugar could be my friend.
But with each little success I felt better. Less anxiety, less worry and here’s a big bonus “side” take away – I have not had a headache in over thirty years! Was it the flour and sugar that was giving me headaches? It seems that way to me. (Same process and time period for caffeine BTW – six years total)
Now I know exactly what you’re thinking.
How do I know? Because I’ve been helping people quit these drugs for over 25 years. I’ve heard every fear, worry, concern and rationalization know to man.
What you’re thinking is:
One – This guy is crazy with a capital C.
Two – I can’t do that.
Three – I won’t do that.
Four – All the pleasure will be sucked from my life.
and Five – There is no way I can work for two years to quit something like that.
I can assure you, with the possible exception that I am a little crazy, that none of the above is true.
You can do this and your life will get so much better you won’t even recognize the life you’re living now. It won’t take two years, not even two weeks if you’re willing.
Here are two things that have helped many of the folks I’ve worked with.
- They see themselves as pioneers of sorts
- They want to do this thing so they can then help others.
Is the science 100% available in diagnosing sugar and flour addiction as it is in other modern day maladies like say diabetes? Absolutely not. You can NOT take a diagnostic test for sugar addiction. When we can, at least our ability to rationalize away the idea, will be removed.
You have to believe, because of what you feel in your own body and the things you have read and the folks that you know that have had some success, that if you step out on faith and let someone help you – that you too – might find peace around food.
We wish that for you.
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