Break the addiction

"But, doc, I can't lose my cereal! Pretzels--you've got to be kidding me! I eat 'em every night! I can't do it. I'll be hungry all the time!"

This is a discussion I have every day. The usual suspect: A 50-some year old with HDL in the 30s or 40s, small LDL, borderline high blood sugar approaching the pre-diabetic cut-off, highish blood pressure, excess tummy. They usually struggle with energy, feelings of sleepiness, use lots of caffeine to stay alert even in the middle of the day after a sufficient night's sleep.

Not as obvious as the tremulous, pinopint-pupil drug addict, but I recognize it nonetheless: The processed food addict.

Breaking this addiction can be as difficult for some people as breaking a smoking addiction. Instead of nicotine cravings, they get insatiable hunger. Just 3 or 4 hours without their processed food "fix," and they are ravenous to satiate their impulse. Most give in and go right back to the vicious cycle.

But break the cycle--eliminate processed foods like breakfast cereals, whole wheat crackers, pretzels, cookies, granola bars, fruit drinks, low-fat salad dressings, bran muffins . . .70+% of the foods in your supermarket---and you will make an interesting discovery:

You no longer crave these foods.

Just think about it: The addictive properties of processed foods are a food manufacturer's dream. What other product besides cigarettes has an addictive quality that ensures you come back for more... and more and more.

It it just too creepy that much of the processed food industry is, in reality, owned by the tobacco industry (Altria, previously known as Phillip Morris) and RJ Reynolds. Perhaps that is the modus operandi of these corporations: Identify products that have an edge, foods or other products that possess an addictive quality. This is not true of cucumbers, for instance. What a lousy investment a cucumber grower would make!

Be smarter than Phillip Morris. Outsmart the people looking to empty your pocket and corrupt your health. Break the addiction.

Hang around the produce aisle of your grocery and use the farmer's market or your local equivalent. Look for locally grown foods. Try to keep your food as unprocessed as possible.

You will be impressed with the results.

Comments (8) -

  • BarbaraW

    7/28/2007 2:32:00 PM |

    You no longer crave these foods.

    It's true!  We've done it.  My husband and I stopped eating all grains and sugar in February.  At this point, we really don't miss them any more.  It was a huge change, but it's worth the effort.  I've lost over 20 pounds (10 to go)and my husband has lost 45 pounds (20 to go).  On top of it, our body shapes have changed drastically. It is really amazing.   I've got my waist back (and a whole wardrobe of clothes) - I'm thrilled.

    I'm also very happy to be eating foods that I always loved like eggs, avocados, and meats - without feeling guilty that they're not good for me.

    With the extremely hot weather this week in our area, we thought we'd "treat" ourselves to small ice cream cones.  To our surprise, it wasn't  that much of a treat. Didn't even taste as good as we'd anticipated. I know I would have been much more satisfied with a snack of smoked salmon with fresh dill, capers, chopped onion and drizzled with lemon juice.

    Aside from weight changes, we both feel so much better in general - feel much more alert and move around with much greater flexibility, sleep well, never have any indigestion.  We're really enjoying this.  It's like feeling younger.  

    It's not a diet for us.  This will be the way we eat from now on.  Actually, we think our food has become more interesting and varied since giving up all the "white stuff". I guess we felt compelled to get a little more creative.  

    Eating out (or at other peoples' places) has probably been the hardest part of this adjustment.  But now we're getting pretty comfortable saying what we won't eat.  I'm starting to enjoy the reactions it produces.

    Just wanted to share our experience with your readers.

    BTW, Dr. Davis, we got the Carlson Vitamin D3 softgel caps and are each taking 4000 units a day.

  • Dr. Davis

    7/28/2007 2:57:00 PM |

    That's fabulous!

    Your post was so interesting that I read it to my two teenagers, who are both encountering great skepticism from their friends and grandparents and other relatives when they bring up this topic.

  • BarbaraW

    7/28/2007 3:49:00 PM |

    I hope it helps give them some perspective!  

    One of my husband's favorite comments to people is "Grains are for birds". That slows them down a bit.  

    I also just remembered a conversation I had a few months ago  with a neighbor who had invited us to dinner.  She asked if we had any food allergies or things we couldn't eat. She knew we were on some kind of diet.  I told her no food allergies to worry about and the diet is really simple: no grains, no potatoes and no sugars.  She was quiet for a minute and then replied "My goodness, that's just about our whole diet!"  It was hilarious.

  • JT

    7/28/2007 4:40:00 PM |

    It really is interesting that tobacco companies Phillip Morris & RJ Reynolds also sell processed foods that are responsible for so many life style disease problems effecting western society. My grandfather passed away undoubtedly by his life time of smoking.  Even after he had a heart attack he couldn't stop smoking for any length of time.  As soon as a stressful situation occurred, he was back using his pacifier, as we called his pipe.  I'm guessing the same reaction occurs with high glycemic, processed food.  

    Another addiction that is worth mentioning is convenience.  In sales there is a saying that simply says "people are lazy."  It means, the more work a salesman does for a customer the less likely he/she will say no.  Fast, processed, food sellers are master salesmen at promoting their products such that it is hard to say no.  

    I'm doing my part to promote healthy eating when outside the house.  A relative owns an award winning restaurant in St. Louis.  Talking to him about my new heart healthy diet, he mentioned that next time I'm in town he would like me to meet the chef.  The two of us will then create a couple heart healthy, TYP inspired, meals to be placed onto the menu.  I’m looking forward to this.  It will not only be fun to work in the kitchen with an accomplished chef but to also  have an easy place to visit for a healthy meal.

  • Dr. Davis

    7/28/2007 6:12:00 PM |

    I agree.

    Howeever, I do believe that we can maintain the convenience factor to some degree without too much sacrifice of health.

    My kids and I were in a hurry recently to make a movie time. There wasn't enough time to squeeze in a healthy lunch, so we ended up at Trader Joe's and bought a bag of unsalted, dry roasted pistachios and mixed nuts (not roasted in oils). Not a perfectly well rounded meal, but lacking many of the negative effects of the overly processed, addictive foods.

    Keep us posted on how your St. Louis menu turns out!

  • Stan

    7/29/2007 2:55:00 AM |


    Keep it up, it's worth it and you won't look back!  I and my wife   went low carb high animal fat  (the "Optimal Diet") 8 years ago and we never felt better!

      Many things will improve, not just weight reduction:  you will think clearer, your reflexes will improve, your breathing rate will go down, your blood pressure will normalize.  You will never or rarely have a fever or viral infections like cold or flu.  You will become more resistant to cold temperature and you will rarely feel tired, ever!

  • Dr. Davis

    7/29/2007 12:35:00 PM |

    Great results, Stan.

    But let me make clear that I do NOT advocate high animal fat.

    In my view, despite the results you've enjoyed, there are adverse health--and social--consequences of high intake of animal fat, including dramatic escalation of cancer risk.

    There is no doubt that carbohydrate reduction alone achieves dramatic improvement in health and weight reduction. We've witnessed that on the Atkins' diet, for instance, a diet that is eminently effective for weight loss but is without question an unhealthy approach if followed for any more than a few weeks. (Bladder infections, constipation, higher colon cancer and other cancer risk, etc.)

    So, in my view, please do not follow an unlimited animal fat approach.

  • BarbaraW

    7/29/2007 3:48:00 PM |

    Hi Stan and Dr. Davis,

    We've been following the Eades' Protein Power plan for the most part and I don't think they advocate high fat. But we're not trying to go low fat, either. In any case, we've gravitated lately to eating more poultry and fish instead of red meats.  I think that has helped our weight loss a bit, along with cutting down on nuts and cheese.  We love red meat and do have it a couple of times a week, since we're fortunate to be in an area where we can easily get locally raised (grass-fed) beef and lamb, as well as free-range chickens and wonderful eggs. Quite different from what's typically sold in the grocery stores. Tastes much better.

    On another note, over the last 6 months, we've noticed our meal portions have become somewhat smaller.  We're not consciously trying to cut them down, it's just happened.  I think because we're eating more satisfying food we don't need quite as much. We find a less frequent urge to snack in between meals, too.

    We've already experienced a number of changes you mention, Stan, like blood pressure magically settling into perfect range and no colds/flu this past winter.

    It's all quite amazing, isn't it!