Vegan Confession: I am Addicted to Overeating

This is my secret…

Being a vegan keeps my addiction of overeating in check. I can’t trust myself with eating animal products. And I shouldn’t.

I’ve overeaten my entire life. Before and since becoming a vegan.

Vegan Confession: I am Addicted to Overeating

As a kid, I got away with it because I had a high metabolism. As a 4th grader, I remember how I would get the Double Whopper combo meal and finish it all.  I would eat at buffets, consuming more food that most adults; and I know this because adults would tell me.

In my mind, if I wasn’t overeating, I wasn’t really eating.

As a teen and young adult, I would be the guy who would eat the most pizza or the most fried chicken at gatherings.

My metabolism finally caught up with me full swing by the time I got married, at age 27. That’s when my health problems came in full swing, as well. Even though my metabolism slowed down, my desire to overeat never did.

Vegan Confession: I am Addicted to Overeating

As you know by now, committing to the vegan lifestyle over 3 years ago has eliminated and kept my former health issues in remission; including eczema (dyshidrosis), constant sinusitis, pet allergies, and sinus pressure.

I’ve realized that one of the many benefits of being a vegan is that, for the most part, I can pretty much each as much as I want of the food I am able to eat.

Now granted, eating oily tater tots and sugary vegan chocolate bars did cause me to gain 7 pounds in the past year while I was “sympathy eating” with my pregnant wife.

But when I stick with my normal regimen of veggies, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, I’ve learned that I can get away with “overeating”. Ultimately, I just don’t have to worry about counting calories or portion control.

Vegan Confession: I am Addicted to Overeating

The reason for this is because by sticking with those 6 food groups, I am eating food solely for nutrition, including my daily allowance of protein and good fats; yet with 0% of my daily allowance of cholesterol.

I overeat simply because it’s fun. I openly admit this.

I’m not overeating because of some traumatic event in my life, nor because I feel incomplete in some way. I just simply like eating more food that I need to.

It’s fun.

Vegan Confession: I am Addicted to Overeating

If I ever went back to eating meat, eggs, and dairy, I would go so far the other way with it. I know it. I would be visiting the Wendy’s drive-thru on a daily basis.

Eating food is something I can’t be trusted with. I have no control when it comes to food.

Therefore, I keep myself safe behind the electric fence of veganism.

I am not addicted to alcohol. I have never used drugs.

But when it comes to food, I rely on the strict limitations of veganism in order to keep myself from getting out of control… because I am an addict of overeating.

Vegan Confession: I am Addicted to Overeating

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The Shell Diet: Fiber from Whole Grains, Fruits, Veggies, and Much Less Meat

Build your meals on fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains, not meat or carbohydrates.

1) Eat less meat: Most of us have grown accustomed to building our meals based on meat.  We’re accustomed to “getting full” instead of “staying regular”.  By eating more than 4 to 6 ounces of meat per day (the size of a deck of cards, or your hand not including your fingers), if nothing else we’re giving our bodies too much sodium and making ourselves at least a little constipated.  (Ideally, you should be “going #2″ at least once a day”.)  I make it a daily goal to only eat meat in one meal of the day, typically either lunch or breakfast.

2) Replace meat with vegetables and whole grains:For breakfast, here is what I eat (click here).  For my other meatless meal, I make sure it’s filled whole grain (wheat) rice, pasta, or bread and vegetables or fruit.

3) Whenever you’re hungry (not bored), eat. If you get hungry in between meals or after a meal, it means your body is craving and needing more fruit, veggies, or whole grains.  Not processed snacks, ever.

4) Don’t eat too much at once. By putting your two hands together to make a bowl, that gives you an idea of the amount of food you should eat in a meal.  Any more than that, and there’s a good chance of you’re overeating, and that means you won’t poop at least once a day.

*But wait, there’s more…Go back to the main page of the The Shell Diet by clicking right here.

Open Mouth, Insert Fruit by the Foot: Oral Fixation and How the Mouth is a Pleasure Zone

The psychology behind making mouths happy.

In 1905, Jewish neurologist Sigmund Freud presented his theory on what he called “oral fixation”.  It basically said that if an infant was weaned too early or too late, when they became an adult, they would be “hungry” for activities involving the mouth: smoking, overeating, being extremely talkative, being addicted to sugar, alcoholism, biting, chewing on toothpicks…(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_fixation#Oral_fixation).

However, tests on Freud’s theory have never produced any significant evidence proving it to be valid.  Therefore, if anything, his theory on oral fixation is interesting, but not compelling.

And while I, along with pretty much anyone else in the history of the world who has heard about it, definitely don’t take Freud’s theory of oral fixation seriously, the theory has caused me to dwell a little bit on the human obsession of stimulating our senses by what we put in or near our mouths.

Even people who pretty much have never been around babies all that much (I’d almost say I qualify for that description) recognize that babies explore and test their surroundings by putting objects in their mouths.  Not just food, but toys, live animals, clothes- it doesn’t matter.

I could see how as adults, we fall back on this behavior.  After all, what is so enjoyable about swallowing a delicious food or drink?  Not much.  It’s all about the sensation of bringing that food item up to our mouths, tasting it, and chewing it.  So in theory, the only real difference between eating a piece of red licorice and chewing a piece of bubble gum is that we swallow one, but not the other.

Of course, a piece of candy will “fill us up” more than a 5 calorie piece of gum.  But when we eat sweets, we’re typically not eating to “get full”.  Maybe as a snack to tide us over or as a way to top off a meal.  The reason we eat sugary snacks is because it’s fun.  And having fun makes us happy.

Even contrasting that example to the joy of eating a good juicy, homemade burger- I eat a burger on occasion not only because it tastes good, but also because it fills me up.  Because if I simply wanted to be filled up with food, I could eat an endless list of other things, including a huge salad topped with beans and rice, instead of the burger.  But eating a burger typically is more likely to release more pheromones in my body, causing me to feel happy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheromones).

So what does all this mean to me personally?  What do I walk away learning from this?

Anyone who has ever read a few of my “healthnutshell” posts knows that I think sugar is the devil (unless it is eaten in whole fruit form, not juiced).  But sometimes, I give in to a little bit of sugary awesomeness.  For the next two weeks, Starbucks is doing a happy hour promotion where their Frappuccino’s are half off from 3:00 to 5:00 PM.

So this past Sunday afternoon, at 4:47 PM, my wife and I strolled in the Starbucks right down the road from our house.  Because I had already drank coffee that morning and didn’t want to overdue it on the caffeine, I told the barista, “Make me the manliest drink you sell: a tall Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino”.

As my wife and I sat there enjoying our sugary Frappuccino’s there in the coffee shop, discussing our individual roles in my side of the family (“my dad is the mechanic/carpenter, my brother-in-law is the computer whiz, so what am I?…”) , I consciously focused on the happiness that my Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino was bringing me.

The worst way to drink a sugary drink is to just simply chug it like water.  The best way is to let it roll all over your tongue to the point you don’t really taste the sugar, then slowly swallow it.

Here is the most important thing to remember when choosing the size of any food item:  You are buying the amount of time you will enjoy the product.  You pay more money for a large, so it takes long to consume.  If you order a small size, you have less time to enjoy it.  Unless you eat or drink it slowly.  Like I do.

Slowly enjoying a Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino is most comparable to smoking a sweet cigar.  When smoking a cigar, the smoke isn’t intended to enter the lungs.  The smoke is meant to be tasted and enjoyed in the mouth.  It’s not the same as smoking cigarettes , where the smoke hitting the lungs is the whole point- or so I’ve read, on Wikipedia.

So while I laugh at Freud’s theory on oral fixation (the idea that incorrectly weaned infants become overeating, smoking, habit-forming adults), I do recognize that there is a connection between a person’s physical health and how much they give in to oral stimulation- specifically when it comes to eating, drinking, and smoking.

Each time I deny my mouth its “oral fixation” on juicy burgers and Frappuccino’s and honey berry flavored cigars, it is an absolute fact that I am always doing my body a favor, but not my mind.  I just have to remind myself, those things are for special few-and-far between occasions.  Because the truth is, I can get by most days with green salads, salmon, fruit, oatmeal, water, and chewing gum.  I admit though; it’s not easy trying to fix my oral fixations.