From 3 Bags of Sugar-Free Candy a Night to…Lard.

Here’s what my evenings used to look like:

I’d be wrapping up a full day of work, 8-10 hours of calls, emails, clients and building websites. Priding myself in “working hard” and thinking that the more time I put in, the more admirable it was…I’d work all day trying to feel better about myself. (This is part of my over-achiever nature where my self-esteem was directly proportionate to the success and achievements I was making in life.)candy

An introvert by nature, by the end of a full day of interacting with people online and offline, I’d be wiped out. So I’d wind down by having dinner, then sinking into the couch for an hour before going to bed.

That became the Hour of 1000+ Calories ritual that was a fundamental part of my day for over 3 years. Whether I was home or traveling, in a relationship or single, having a profitable month or feeling stretched…I always looked forward to this time of the evening to relax and treat myself with sweets. Perhaps it was part of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies…I had to have the sweets in order to feel satisfied and complete with the day.

I knew better than to sit and eat bags of sugary candy and chips. (I’d already been through my bulimic phase of eating a half gallon of ice cream and purging. I couldn’t take purging for long. It was just too rough.) So I figured eating sugar-free candy was like having my cake and eating it too: sweet flavor, less calories, what’s not to like?

Maybe a chocolate or two wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’d eat a bag or three of the chocolates in every sitting. I loved stretching it out by freezing the candy first, and I loved the way the chocolate melted in my mouth. I’d suck on piece after piece, feeling myself not being able to stop and simply surrendering to that.

I knew if I fought those urges to open another bag and keep eating, the obsessive thoughts to eat more would only get louder. So I’d just accept it, have my usual 3 bags or so and call it a night.

From bags of candy to tubs of topping…

Then I moved into the fat-free-whipped-topping-and-chocolate-pudding phase. I’d take a tub of fat-free whipped topping (harmless, right?) and mix in a box of sugar-free chocolate pudding (again, harmless, right?). I’d eat the entire bowl…and sometimes make two. If my boyfriend at the time wanted some, I’d definitely make two because I knew I had to at least have one complete bowl to feel satisfied.

I remember my boyfriend playfully joking with me about my obsession with whipped topping…I’d buy 4-6 tubs of it at a time when I’d shop, so I’d have enough for 2 or 3 days.

Ah, yes. Those were the days.

Meanwhile, I was eating mostly well during the day, so I thought. I’d sometimes skip breakfast, or I’d have an omelet with veggies. I was eating a lot of salad in the afternoons…all the while thinking that since my calories for the day were low, surely these sweet nightly indulgences would be fine.

Logical, right?

Skip forward to this past weekend, when I was shopping at a local farm to purchase grass-fed hamburger meat, eggs and a quart of lard for the week.Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 10.47.00 AM


I was with my mother at the time, who laughed at how things have changed over the years as she’s watched me wrestle with myself and food.

If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be buying LARD, meat and eggs from a farm, I would have laughed in your face and hated you for being so completely dumb.

Yet little did I realize then how my eating habits were fueling my cravings for sugar, which led to caving into eating the sweets at night, which quickly became a habit after a week or so of doing the same thing.

It gets a little more complicated…

I had NO idea that eating healthy fats would kill the cravings for sugar…or that the processed foods and sugary (or sugar-free) stuff was what was actually helping my brain to become dependent on the “chemical high” from the release of hormones each time I ate it.

Not only was I getting a “pleasure hit” of endorphins from giving myself a treat at the end of the day (which could have been created from anything from sugary food to exercise to meditation to a bubble bath), I was also stimulating a part of my brain that reacts to sugar in the same way it reacts to drugs like heroin or cocaine.

So I was creating a habit around creating the nightly “pleasure hit,” combined with an addictive tendency around the sugar and sugar-free foods reacting in my brain.


Hence, it was nearly impossible for me to break my sugar addiction and binge eating. I was up against multiple forces in my brain. I couldn’t resist the urges that were coming at me every evening.

Until, of course, I stumbled onto articles about the addictive nature of processed foods, including all sugar and sugar-free foods. I started to study and read books about addiction…and realized that I was dealing with an addicted brain, not just a weakness for “junk food.”

Always passionate about learning, I dug deeper into learning about psychology, neuroscience, habits and motivation…which led to me writing the book, Binge Eating Breakthrough.

From getting control over my urges and figuring out how to form new habits, I broke through my nightly habit and was able to stop binge eating completely by learning how to manage any urges to cave into junk foods.

However, I was curious about these urges. Why did I still have urges to eat the sweet stuff? I knew how to manage them at this point, so I wasn’t indulging nightly. But I had to really be conscious and work with myself to get through those urges and form new habits.

I decided there had to be a reason why I still had the urges to eat sweet stuff. I had friends that didn’t have the need to eat sweet stuff every night.

I heard some of them saying that they didn’t really even enjoy sweet stuff, they preferred a good steak any day. I still thought that would be impossible for me to ever say that, because I knew I was only a step away from melting into my urges if I wasn’t on my game.

So back to studying and learning I went, this time specifically on sugar cravings.

Behold, every article, study and expert presentation I was finding were all pointing to the way processed foods trigger our brains in the same way drugs can.

Now I started to get it…

A lightbulb went off in my head. I realized that a good part of my diet still included some diet soda, spaghetti sauces, ketchup, and other hidden processed foods that all had sugar in them. This was continuing to keep me craving more.

Never one to go gradually, I made the decision to stop eating all processed foods and sugar, including fruits, honey and agave. My plan was to try it for 2 weeks and see what happened. If I didn’t notice anything significant, fine. I’d go back to fruits, honey and other healthier sugars in my diet.

This seemed extreme enough to me that I figured I’d learn quickly if there was validity to this stuff. I could hardly imagine not eating anything sugary at all, including fruit.

Holy bananas.

I’d lived so many years of my life eating low fat, fat-free and sugar-free foods that I had always stayed away from things like coconut oil, virgin olive oil, avocados, pasteurized eggs, steak, etc. Instead, I’d eat yogurt, salads, egg whites, chicken breasts…and then cave into monstrous binges at night after a day of being “good.”farm

Shifting into whole, unprocessed foods and increasing consumption of healthy fats seemed to dissolve my urges to eat sugar. I had never experienced not being itchy to have something sweet at night until I had been eating whole foods, healthy fats and no sugar for 3 days.

The cravings were gone.

Now using what I knew about resisting urges and programming new habits became MASSIVELY easier because I wasn’t battling cravings every day. I finally started feeling normal instead of like a vacuum with a bottomless pit.

That being said…

My intention with writing this to you now, with writing books or with creating any programs is to share what’s worked for me…and to also help you with finding your own freedom with food, whether it’s a dietary overhaul and switching the kinds of foods you eat or simply feeling better about the way you eat the foods you already are eating.

I believe there are two parts to achieving success: the inside and the outside.

On the inside, it means feeling content and optimistic. On the outside, it means achieving something and making things happen in your life. If we only work on one and not the other, results don’t last and more frustration takes the place of initial progress.

Part of the internal feeling of contentment and optimism comes from feeling like we’re in control of our own lives, including our desires, behaviors and outcomes. If we don’t feel in control, it’s nearly impossible to feel successful.

All of these discoveries have led me straight to writing Binge Eating Revolution, which I’ll have in a month or two. For the meantime, I’d love to hear if you can relate to this or have a story you’d like to share about your own experience with cravings , feeling out of control or dissatisfied with your relationship with food.

If you want to learn how to break through your habit of overeating or binge eating, my Binge Eating Breakthrough ebook is for you. You'll learn powerful tools and distinctions to be able to understand and overcome your urges to eat more than you want. You'll also learn step-by-step strategies for managing your cravings and feeling control with food.

If you want to explore deeper, my Feel Free Around Food program builds upon the foundation outlined in Binge Eating Breakthrough by helping you to increase your understanding and awareness of your motivations, get past your personal barriers to achieving your goals and how to "get leverage on yourself" rather than beating yourself up with guilt and shame.


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