Avoiding food obsession

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probablybirdie
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Avoiding food obsession

Post by probablybirdie » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:18 pm

Hey all,

So I am prone to food obsession, which is one of the reasons I have avoided adopting a vegan lifestyle. I've been a vegan in the past and it did not turn out well. However, I am determined to make it work this time, so I was wondering if any of you had some advice on how to avoid getting obsessed, particularly with diet. I'm not looking for anything clinical, since I do see a therapist regularly. I guess I'm just looking for practical advice from vegans who have been doing this for awhile. brimstoneSalad has already given me some great tips in my introductory thread (thank you!), and I wanted to get input from other people too.

Thanks in advance!
Hannah

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Post by Lay Vegan » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:53 pm

Hi Hannah,

Sounds like you’ve already made the appreciate steps toward recovery. :)

brimstoneSalad’s advice in the other thread looks sound, and I’ll only add to avoid seeing veganism as a strict diet regimen and instead as a way to live and eat compassionately. Making the connection between sentient animals and our food on the dinner table can actually liberate some people from their “guilt” around food and reduce their need to eat restrictively.

Note: This is not being offered as “treatment” for legitimate eating disorders, (please seek therapy!) but rather advice on a new and unique way for you to perceive the vegan lifestyle.

Don’t obsess about meeting your nutrient needs or checking ingredients’ lists. Try and eat the rainbow, and fall back on supplements for safekeeping (b12 or multivitamin).

Eating plenty of high-protein foods will help you to stay full longer, or as @brimstoneSalad suggested you could make a point to eat freegan to fill in the gaps.

Good luck on your journey!

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:37 pm

Thanks Hannah, I'll quote my other post here just for those who haven't seen it:
brimstoneSalad wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:21 pm
Food obsession tends to be linked with health-based orthorexia, so if you're doing it for the animals this time around that will help a lot in avoiding that.

A couple other tips:

1. When checking ingredients, ONLY look at the allergy part to check for milk/eggs, and the cholesterol (0 cholesterol usually means no meat -- or so little as to be insignificant). If it has 0 cholesterol and doesn't have an allergy warning for milk/eggs then just consider it vegan.
Avoiding the ingredients list will help you a lot.
2. Make a point to eat something freegan every now and then (like once a month). Like go to a shopping mall food court and table surf for some uneaten chicken nuggets. Eating meat that was 100% certain to be thrown in the trash is ethically fine, it's purchasing meat (or it being bought for you) that's the problem.

I believe it's possible to have a diet that's safe for food obsession inclined people that's a vegan/freegan mix and very ethically sound. Maybe you can talk to your therapist about it.

In terms of meal planning to get lots of nutrients and avoid weight loss we'd be glad to help you with suggestions.

This suggestion is also very helpful:
Lay Vegan wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:53 pm
Don’t obsess about meeting your nutrient needs or checking ingredients’ lists. Try and eat the rainbow, and fall back on supplements for safekeeping (b12 or multivitamin).
A multivitamin can be very useful as a safety net so you don't need to worry too much about micronutrients.

Beyond that, you might also benefit from one rich smoothie each day with nuts and protein powder, which can relieve some stress over macro-nutrients.
@Lay Vegan do you remember where Unnatural Vegan talked about that? Did she call it her pregnancy smoothie or something?

I've also seen a lot of ex anorexics (I don't know if that was your problem or not) get into lifting and strength training. The diets they follow often end up being a different kind of orthorexia -- BUT one where the goals are fundamentally healthier (as long as they aren't training to injury).
Sometimes the psychology of addictive behavior is hard to kick and swapping one addiction for a safer one can be the path of least resistance.

I'm not saying that's the case here, but if you find yourself restricting again to the effect of losing weight, maybe a polarity shift like that could help course correct into something more sustainable.
It's a controversial idea in psychology to go for workarounds rather than cures, but it can make sense. See SSC's hair dryer example:
https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/21/t ... ategories/
The Hair Dryer Incident was probably the biggest dispute I’ve seen in the mental hospital where I work. Most of the time all the psychiatrists get along and have pretty much the same opinion about important things, but people were at each other’s throats about the Hair Dryer Incident.

Basically, this one obsessive compulsive woman would drive to work every morning and worry she had left the hair dryer on and it was going to burn down her house. So she’d drive back home to check that the hair dryer was off, then drive back to work, then worry that maybe she hadn’t really checked well enough, then drive back, and so on ten or twenty times a day.

It’s a pretty typical case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it was really interfering with her life. She worked some high-powered job – I think a lawyer – and she was constantly late to everything because of this driving back and forth, to the point where her career was in a downspin and she thought she would have to quit and go on disability. She wasn’t able to go out with friends, she wasn’t even able to go to restaurants because she would keep fretting she left the hair dryer on at home and have to rush back. She’d seen countless psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, she’d done all sorts of therapy, she’d taken every medication in the book, and none of them had helped.

So she came to my hospital and was seen by a colleague of mine, who told her “Hey, have you thought about just bringing the hair dryer with you?”

And it worked.

She would be driving to work in the morning, and she’d start worrying she’d left the hair dryer on and it was going to burn down her house, and so she’d look at the seat next to her, and there would be the hair dryer, right there. And she only had the one hair dryer, which was now accounted for. So she would let out a sigh of relief and keep driving to work.

And approximately half the psychiatrists at my hospital thought this was absolutely scandalous, and This Is Not How One Treats Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and what if it got out to the broader psychiatric community that instead of giving all of these high-tech medications and sophisticated therapies we were just telling people to put their hair dryers on the front seat of their car?

But I think the guy deserved a medal. Here’s someone who was totally untreatable by the normal methods, with a debilitating condition, and a drop-dead simple intervention that nobody else had thought of gave her her life back.
It's something to talk to your therapist about if you're still having trouble.

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Post by probablybirdie » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:57 pm

Lay Vegan wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:53 pm

brimstoneSalad’s advice in the other thread looks sound, and I’ll only add to avoid seeing veganism as a strict diet regimen and instead as a way to live and eat compassionately. Making the connection between sentient animals and our food on the dinner table can actually liberate some people from their “guilt” around food and reduce their need to eat restrictively.
Great advice. I think a mindset shift is a good way to go at this. I'm in it purely for the ethics this time, as I was pretty satisfied with my diet before, at least as far as health. If I keep my focus on the reasons why I'm doing this, I think that will help. I'll talk to my therapist about that next time I see her.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:53 pm
Don’t obsess about meeting your nutrient needs or checking ingredients’ lists. Try and eat the rainbow, and fall back on supplements for safekeeping (b12 or multivitamin).
Another great idea. I have started taking a multi. The trouble I'm having is that I am plugging everything I eat into cronometer to make sure I'm getting enough of everything. This probably isn't healthy, so I think I'm going to try to stop. Thanks for the tip.

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Post by probablybirdie » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:04 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:37 pm
Beyond that, you might also benefit from one rich smoothie each day with nuts and protein powder, which can relieve some stress over macro-nutrients.
This is a great idea. I used to have a smoothie for breakfast every day and I really enjoyed it. I think I'll start that back up again.
brimstoneSalad wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:37 pm
I've also seen a lot of ex anorexics (I don't know if that was your problem or not) get into lifting and strength training. The diets they follow often end up being a different kind of orthorexia -- BUT one where the goals are fundamentally healthier (as long as they aren't training to injury).
Sometimes the psychology of addictive behavior is hard to kick and swapping one addiction for a safer one can be the path of least resistance.

I'm not saying that's the case here, but if you find yourself restricting again to the effect of losing weight, maybe a polarity shift like that could help course correct into something more sustainable.
It's a controversial idea in psychology to go for workarounds rather than cures, but it can make sense. See SSC's hair dryer example:
https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/21/t ... ategories/
What an interesting story and idea. I had never thought of replacement rather than "cure". I tend toward addictive behavior with almost anything, so that idea is very intriguing to me. I'll talk to my therapist about things I can possibly replace food obsession with (if she thinks it's a good idea).

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:38 pm

@probablybirdie I think you could use chronometer if you adjust the settings to hide things like calories. It's very customizable.

Settings -> Display -> Turn off "Show Calories Summary in Diary"

I would also say to only use it one day a week where you're mainly eating at home and have a very typical eating day, and you can just look to make sure you met most of your nutrient needs. (You can add a vitamin into that too)
It can be very useful to check to make sure your eating pattern is sufficient, so I would be wary of giving it up entirely. It does carry risk of triggering obsession, but I think those would be outweighed by the utility.

After a few weeks you probably won't need it anymore, so maybe quit after a couple months?
For short term use as long as you hide calories and you're just checking to see that nutrient needs are met (basically just look at the colors of the bars) then it's hard to to try make that better because more nutrients isn't necessarily better. A green bar is a green bar.

Of course talk to your therapist about it if you're uncertain or have any trouble with it.

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Post by probablybirdie » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:03 pm

@brimstoneSalad Great ideas! I didn't know you could turn the calories off like that. Thank you :)

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:35 am

probablybirdie wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:03 pm
@brimstoneSalad Great ideas! I didn't know you could turn the calories off like that. Thank you :)
No problem. Please update us on what your therapist thinks about these ideas if you get a chance. Always great to have some professional insight!

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