Lifestyle Transformation co-founder, Stacey B. Thacker, MA, LMFT, shares what food addiction is and why diets can't treat it.
America is fascinated with weight loss! We talk about the promises of the newest diet. We are entertained by shows like TV’s hit The Biggest Loser. We make New Year’s resolutions to diet and exercise. When all else fails and we despair and google statistics on weight loss surgeries.
“The U.S. National Weight Control Registry, which tracks the habits of some 5,000 successful maintainers, cites a study showing only a fifth of dieters with a history of obesity sustain a loss of 10% of their body weight for a year or more.” (Time, 2007). Why is that? Why do some of the winners from The Biggest Loser regain their weight? Some studies show that 20% of people will regain their weight after an initially successful weight loss surgery. What is going on?
Does this meme resonate with you? Most people want to live healthier and more meaningful lives. We try to do so, but just like Cookie Monster, when we feel emptiness instead of connection we reach forsomething to “fill us up”- like food.
If you are tired to the merry-go- round of food addiction and just want to get off, give us a call at 559-323-8484. Help is available.
You too can find joy, confidence and freedom from food addiction.
As a therapist specializing in food-addiction treatment, I have heard the stories. She stayed home from her high school reunion too embarrassed to attend having gained weight after having a couple of kids. He feels mortified on a plane when he realizes his overweight frame takes up part of the seat next to him. She longs to play with her grandchildren but finds it too difficult to get up from the floor. He hates using a C-pap machine but he has sleep apnea and snores so loudly he keeps his wife awake at night. She has Type-2 diabetes and pushes out the images of people with missing limbs, blindness and fear of stroke from her mind. At 23 she sits at home on a Friday night believing that if she could lose weight someone might ask her out on date, might even love her.Read More
If you are like many people struggling with obesity, you probably set a New Year’s Resolution to start exercising. Indeed movement helps to heal the brain from food addiction as well as the innumerable health benefits it brings us. Studies show that regular (not necessarily every day) exercise lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, reduction of knee arthritis and hip fracture. It can decrease anxiety and depression. It helps with fatigue and general feelings of well being!Read More
Mindfulness is one of the COR-Conditions needed for the brain to recover from
food addiction. Meditation is a mindfulness practice that is both simple and easy to
practice. Adrienne Taren, a mindfulness researcher at the University of Pittsburgh
says that “…mindfulness practice increases one’s ability to recruit higher order,
pre-frontal cortex regions in order to down-regulate lower-order brain activity.”
Engaging the pre-frontal cortex regions helps to de-regulate the impulsivity of
This meditation is designed by Jason Stephenson specifically for weight issues.
Set aside 24 minutes in a quiet place and connect with yourself through this
Have you ever noticed when you look into the mirror that we tend to focus on the flaws instead of the beauty that is in each one of us? Some of that may be practical as we don't want to leave the house to discover we forgot to comb our hair or our shirt is on inside-out. But when was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought wow, I have pretty hair, or that is a beautiful smile? Or I look nice in this color? Why is it a multi-billion dollar industry to make our hair better, skin softer, complexion smoother or some other remedy for our flawed looks. Where do the voices that tell us we are not ok come from? Some of them are from the very commercials for the products being sold but others have been around much longer than that. Some of the voices are from childhood, parents and other relatives pointing out our flaws for us. Even peers and childhood friends often seem adept at pointing out flaws. It is amazing how those voices from the past become the rules that we follow. So what would happen if we muted the voices that point out our flaws, what would you see in the mirror? Try it and see. Try looking in the mirror to find someone who is amazing and beautiful. Can't see her yet? Then try again because she is there. So if you are still having trouble try writing a list of the features that you like about you. I imagine it would be easier to write down those things you don't like about how you look so go ahead and do that too. You may notice that some of your features are on both lists. So here is the tricky part, Making peace with how you look including those things you don't like. They aren't going to change in fact the list might even grow as you get older. So maybe you need to redefine your own beauty. Instead of taking away from beauty, let the wrinkles be signs of a life well lived defining love and laughter.. A nose that is too big or small may be your link to a favorite grandparent who had a nose just like yours. You can appreciate the feet that are too big for how well they have carried you through the years. You are as beautiful as you see yourself. So start seeing the beauty that is you.
Kindly shared by: Cheryl Hixson, IMF
Studies show that this generation of kids will not outlive the life-expectancy of their parents. With childhood obesity rates at 17%, one in six children are affected. Before we jump in too quickly to put all the blame on their parents, let’s take a look at this short 1½ -minute video about fast food marketing targeting children.
Like the mom in this video, parents can’t follow their child around and shield them from every bit of advertising thrown at them. But what can they do to minimize the effects of fast food marketing on their kids and promote healthy eating habits?
Here are 9 Simple Ideas to Promote Healthy Eating:
1. Start your child early on fresh vegetables and fruits. This can be difficult with picky eaters but not impossible with consistency. One couple uses a “token” system wherein their young children receive a token for every vegetable eaten with amazing results! The tokens can be exchanged for a small item at a toy or dollar store. Some may call this bribery but I think it’s just creative parenting.
2. Have healthy snacks in the house: Fruit smoothies, salsa and chips, veggies and dip, hummus and crackers, bananas and peanut butter, yogurt without processed sugar (add your own stevia or fruits). Post on Facebook to ask what others are doing and share your ideas and commitment to healthier foods for kids.
3. Limit access to junk food: Keep unhealthy foods out of your home. If it isn’t there, the kids will eventually stop asking for it. Consider fast food and treats as a “sometimes” food and not a regular stop.
4. Plan ahead. If you are going to be carpooling your little soccer players around, plan to have some healthy afterschool snacks available in the car. This will eliminate the excuse to stop for a quick order of fries to tide them over until dinner.
5. Set an example. Every day in America 50,000,000 people eat fast food. How is your fast food intake? If kids know you are eating out they may interpret this as “When I am grown up I am going to eat out whenever I want!” Probably not the message you want to give.
6. Find a reward for good behavior that is not sugar. A trip to the library. A game with mom or dad. A sticker. No chores for a day. Pinterest has over 1000 ideas on how to reward kids.
7. Comfort your child without using food. When comforting a child, talk to them in a loving, nurturing voice. This is how they will learn to self-soothe and regulate as future grownups rather than turning to food for comfort.
8. Eat Dinner as a Family (and without electronics). Research shows children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, commit suicide, get pregnant or develop eating disorders. They also tend to have healthier eating habits. The amount of time children spend eating with their families is the single biggest predictor of academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. 
9. Gear up for the complaints. You may get a push-back from the family at first but don’t give up. Change happens with consistency over time. Be positive, make it fun and they will thank you later (probably in their thirties).
While fast food marketing changes will take time, we as parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbors can all work together to promote better health in our children through providing alternatives to junk food, setting a good example and through legislation. As a grandmother, I am recommitting to healthier snacks when the littles ones are with me. Will you join me?
 Jayne A. Fulkerson, Ph.D.a, , , Mary Story, Ph.D.b, Alison Mellin, Ph.D.b, Nancy Leffert, Ph.D.c,Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D.b, Simone A. French, Ph.D.b Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 39, Issue 3, September 2006, Pages 337–345
Taveras, E. M., Rifas-shiman, S., Berkey, C. S., Rockett, H. R., Field, A. E., Frazier, A. L., . . . Gillman, M. W. (2005). Family dinner and adolescent overweight. Obesity Research, 13(5), 900-906.
If you've been unsuccessful in your weight-loss efforts, you are not alone.
2/3 of Americans are overweight. Studies show that 95% of diets and weight loss programs fail. Recent neuroscience research has shown us that the brain on compulsive eating looks like the brain on drug addiction. It’s not about willpower, it’s about addiction. Diets don’t treat addiction.
Thank you to ABC30 News for showcasing the recent trends in weight-loss efforts and the very real effects of adding treatment for food addiction to these efforts.
Watch us on this special assignment segment “Choosing the Best Weight-loss Method”
With the last heat wave of the summer in full force, it's important to stay hydrated. Don't reach for a can of soda if you're hoping to stay cool.
We all agree that water is very important to our health. However, we think we can replace it with other liquids that contain water, but the exchange is not equal, in many aspects. According to the article indicated below, the water from soda doesn’t even stay in our system. Enjoy a tall glass of cool water and learn from this enlightening article:
I recently heard a story of someone who lives a life of honorable example, until attending a sporting event, where the person’s behavior is less than honorable. When asked about the discrepancy, the person stated that a lot of money is paid to attend the sporting event, and one should be able to behave however one wants at such an event. The person reportedly rationalized the behavior by stating that he “checks his religion at the door.” *
I have thought a lot about this in relation to recovery. While we may gasp at the idea of checking our beliefs or our value system at the door of an event, how often do we “check our recovery at the door?” Do we check our food-addiction recovery at the door of a restaurant? At the door of a cruise ship? At the door of the car on a road trip? At the door of a holiday festivity or party? At the door upon leaving a recovery meeting? At the door of the grocery store? At the door of the kitchen? At the door of the movie theater? How often are we checking our recovery at the door and giving in to slips and relapses that thwart our goals and values of improved health and lasting change in our relationship with food? What would it take to live our goals and values of recovery, not matter what door we approach?
It seems reasonable to expect someone struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism, or compulsive gambling to remain in recovery no matter what door they approach. However, we often think it unreasonable or even impossible to remain in food-addiction recovery when approaching certain doors or events.
It is not only reasonable and possible to stay in food-addiction recovery, it is NECESSARY if we plan to achieve a true transformation in our health and relationship with food. Check the idea of “self-deprivation” at the door, and walk through the door of “self-care and recovery;” LET’S REMAIN IN OUR RECOVERY!
* (Resource: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/06/the-call-to-be-christlike?lang=eng ; Paragraph 24)
We are always looking for ways to cut calories, especially when working toward healthier ways of eating. I came across a helpful article on Yahoo featuring 25 ways we can cut calories from our diets without really missing them, from “Eat This, Not That!” by Dana Leigh Smith. The article is great, but if you are in recovery from a sugar addiction, some of the items featured may be ones you will want to skip; the rest are great!
Feel free to comment on what may have been helpful for you, or share our blog with a friend:
“25 Ways to Cut 250 Calories”
Huh, Who Knew!
When we think about eating healthy or losing weight, we often think of the same ole foods that we are used to implementing or removing from our list of what we can and ‘can’t’ eat. However, there are food choices we may be unaware that can be very helpful and provide more variety than we may realize. Here’s an article with some ‘food for thought’; options that may add some new life to your list. Glean from it what may fit you.
“25 Not-So-Obvious Foods You Should Eat When Trying to Lose Weight,” a Yahoo Health article:
Many of us who struggle to have a healthy relationship with food are addicted to sugar. We find it difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to stop eating sweets. Sometimes I wonder if we are afraid to stop. Yet those who do stop the addiction report feeling better, increased energy, clearer skin, decreased feelings of sluggishness, happier mood, and many other benefits from cutting sweets from their diet. If these accounts are true, what are we waiting for?
I love the actor, John Goodman. As I watched his weight increase on television and in movies, I grew more and more concerned that he wouldn’t be around long for me to enjoy his acting talents on some of my favorite TV shows. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this article about him and his incredible weight loss. Check it out and see how he did it. Then, reconsider your Easter basket contents:
Ok, so we made it through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday goodies, planned some resolutions for the New Year (no doubt including plans to work off those goodies), and now here comes Valentine’s Day!
It seems there is ALWAYS an occasion to eat unhealthily, compulsively, or just simply get derailed from our LifeStyle Transformation progress.
While I contemplated Valentine’s Day approaching and what I could blog during this time, I remembered an interesting event that occurred a few years ago between my husband and I.
My husband often becomes frustrated around certain holidays, because I tend to strengthen my own transformation commitments around holidays. (Honestly, it’s hard not to have those times fall around holidays, as there tends to be a holiday almost every month!) My husband’s frustration stems from not knowing what gift to buy when I’m eating healthy and not eating sweets. Well, one year when Valentine’s Day was approaching, and I had recommitted to healthy eating, his frustration peaked. Once again, he didn’t know what he could get me for Valentine’s Day.
He began pacing the floor, and in his aggravation, he exclaimed, “I have NO IDEA what to get you for Valentine’s Day! You aren’t eating sweets, we can’t really go out to dinner, and you don’t want me to get you flowers because ‘they just die.’”
Having said all that, with a shake of his head, and hands in the air, he declared, “We should just CANCEL Valentine’s Day!!!”
With a chuckle, I responded, “We’re not canceling Valentine’s Day,” as if we had the power to do so! “There are other things we could do.”
“Like what?” He sounded skeptical.
“We could go for a walk and hold hands. We could go see a movie, or stay home and watch one while sitting together. We could go somewhere quiet and talk (I can imagine the guys rolling their eyes on this one, but my husband enjoys doing that as much as I do). We could come up with something that doesn’t revolve around food. After all,Valentine’s Day is about connecting with your special someone; it’s not about See’s or the buffet.” [couple-watching-sunset]
Now, as I think most guys would, my husband responded dubiously, “Yea, like that’s all you’d want for Valentine’s Day. Some day down the road, we’ll get into an argument, and I’ll probably here all about ‘that one Valentine’s Day’ that I didn’t get you anything!”
My husband knows better than that; if I say that’s all I want, that’s honestly all I want. We discussed it and decided that a walk together holding hands, and possibly catching the sunset, sounded like a very lovely evening. My husband, however, was not content with not getting me anything. He surprised me with a box he ordered full of homemade lip gloss of several different flavors, and little wax perfumes of several different scents. That was about two years ago, and I am still enjoying them and the memories of our connection-focused Valentine’s Day.
The sentiment of Valentine’s Day is not about food; it’s about love, connection, togetherness. Take the challenge; make Valentine’s Day about healthy and loving connection. Sweets are NOT required!
(Feel free to print this and give it to your spouse if you need backup!)
“The holidays are upon us and like many women, my mature response often goes like this: panic, stare, shudder and roll over, desperately clutching a tin of Danish butter cookies.” Could any of us say it better?! I love this quote by Connie Sokol in her article, “3 tips to simplify and savor the holiday season.” It depicts the overwhelm that many of us feel during the holidays while shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, providing service, sending cards, preparing for family to visit, and all the other things that we often think we have to accomplish simultaneously with perfection. Such stressors can trigger habits of coping and comforting ourselves with unhealthy food. Let’s take a look at some stress reducers:
First, there is no need for perfection in preparing for holiday fun. It’s called the season of JOY, not the season of ripping your hair out! Expectations of perfection in one’s self is a key stressor any day, let alone during the end-of-the-year festivities. Face it, you won’t get everything perfect! Put that expectation away, and enjoy the many imperfections that lead to laughter and fun memories. Choose to enjoy the spirit of the season.
Second, there is no need to tackle the holidays all by yourself; share the job!Children and adults enjoy participating in the preparations, and their involvement can help alleviate the load (as long as you’re not expecting perfection). A friend of mine is a gifted decorator and party planner. Like many women during the holidays, not only does she decorate, but she also prepares holiday food and plans family activities. A few months ago, she relayed to me an epiphany she had concerning the holidays and her family. While enjoying a conversation with her husband, he shared his excitement for the approaching holidays and the family having fun together, like they do every year. While listening, my friend had many thoughts swirling in her head about the preparations and planning she needed to make for the holidays to run smoothly in their home. Suddenly, she looked at her husband, thought of her children’s excitement during the holidays as well, and said, “Your holidays just happen for you, don’t they.” My friend realized that her family enjoys the fruits of her labors, while she runs around making the holidays “happen” for them. Make preparations for a family event, which can foster connection. If it is difficult for you to let go and share the job, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Am I doing this to create family memories or for show?
2. Am I making this because I love my family or to check it off the list?
3. Am I being present in the moment and enjoying this event or am I thinking ahead to when it will be done, or planning the next thing?
These are key questions that Connie Sokol addresses in her article as ones that can help you experience holiday preparations as being love driven vs. expectation driven. She includes the thought, “Consider how much holiday stress you’ll eliminate by focusing on those who matter most and not on how someone might perceive you or your item, event or décor.” It couldn’t have been said better.Put your feet up and watch the energetic video interview, “Avoiding Holiday Overwhelm,” which contains more enlightening tips from Connie Sokol to handle holiday stressors. It’s worth the 8 minutes!
I wish you JOY and a healthy holiday!