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How to end the crash and burn cycle of food addiction with Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson

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Like drugs and alcohol, food addiction is real and because we can't just not eat, we have to go about addressing it differently. Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson shows us how in her book, Rezoom: The Powerful Reframe to End the Crash-and Burn Cycle of Food Addiction.

You can find the full show notes at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/519.


Let's Say Hello

[00:03:55.750] – Allan

Ras, how are you doing?

[00:03:58.400] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:04:00.970] – Allan

I'm doing all right. It's been a hectic little week. Last week, I had five interviews. This week, I had Santa Claus duty. Dressing up at Santa Claus at Lula's. And so the kids came in. I think I've got another one on the agenda to do for the Rotary Club. And then both of our daughters got proposed to this week.

[00:04:25.550] – Rachel

Is that right? Congratulations. How exciting.

[00:04:29.950] – Allan

Yeah. One of them just turned 29 and the other is 28, and she'll turn 29 in July. So, yeah, they were getting around that age where I guess you start saying I'm old enough that I'm not a kid anymore. And I'm young enough that I can have kids. So they're right. And I think the sweet spot they should at this point, know themselves pretty well. They seem to like the guys they're with.

[00:04:55.570] – Rachel

Good. That's important. Wow that's so exciting.

[00:05:01.910] – Allan

That'll change.

[00:05:04.850] – Rachel

That's so exciting. What a wonderful time then for both of them. Very exciting. Congratulations to them both.

[00:05:11.330] – Allan

How are you doing?

[00:05:12.680] – Rachel

Great. I'm doing good up here. Enjoying the up and down weather up here in Michigan. Sunny days, a little bit of snow, little bit of rain. You never know what you're going to get. But things are good. I just wrapped up a week of my marathon training plan, had a great week, good runs. It's really been a lot of fun.

[00:05:31.090] – Allan

Well, good. You know, this is also a time of the year where you kind of have to watch your health because the changing weather and everything else kind of beats up your immune system. You're inside a bit more than you normally would be. So we're exposed to a little bit more of this and that. Obviously when those the main virus Corona going around, but cold and flu season and a whole bit. So take care of yourself. Eat well, get plenty of rest and follow the basic protocols.

[00:05:58.820] – Allan

Wash your hands. Avoid sick people.

[00:06:02.270] – Rachel

Yes. Do the best you can.

[00:06:04.910] – Allan

Do the best you can with what you got. All right. Are you ready to have a talk with Susan?

[00:06:10.590] – Rachel



[00:06:50.830] – Allan

Susan, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:06:53.810] – Susan

Allan, so good to be here with you.

[00:06:56.010] – Allan

So your new book, Rezoom: The Powerful Reframe to End the Crash and Burn Cycle of Food Addiction. And while I scored a three out of your range of how really susceptible I am, just a three with food, there's other things that I wouldn't score as well on. I think this is a really important concept because so many people think of food as just eat better, just eat better, eat less. And for a lot of people, their brain just doesn't work that way. And that's what I thought was really cool about your book.

[00:07:34.540] – Allan

It's like, okay, now let's actually call it what it is, even though clinically, I guess the Association and all those folks, they don't want to call it that

[00:07:45.050] – Susan

Yet. They're going to have to because it is. Right.

[00:07:49.370] – Allan

But the whole point is if we don't treat it the way it needs to be treated. We don't get better.

[00:07:55.500] – Susan

That's right. You can't treat a condition that you don't know that you have or that you refuse to believe that you have. So food addiction is very real. And that's one of the big thrusts of this book it's actually the title of chapter two, food addiction is real. If we don't know that by now, sort of, Hello next live. Look around. Right. And the thing is that I think food addiction these days is an intuitive obvious thing for people, right? Either they experience it or they see people they know who experience cravings, who experience repeated attempts to cut back with no lasting success, who experience unintended use this slippery slope where you intended to eat a little bit, and then you find yourself eating more and more and more who experience real consequences.

[00:08:43.710] – Susan

I mean, 130,000 people in the United States this year prior year, right. Had their leg amputated because of the way they were eating 130,000 people. Now, if that's not shocking enough, 55% of them will have their second leg amputated within two years because having one leg amputated wasn't enough of a cue to cut back on sugar with their type two diabetes. Right. So if you don't think that that's sort of hazardous use or using beyond the beyond, it just it is right. Food is so addictive.

[00:09:17.430] – Susan

So that's what this book is about. And it's about a different approach to managing the treatment or the recovery. Or like, how do you lose weight and handle food addiction in a way that actually works and is actually sustainable? So that's what the book is about.

[00:09:33.380] – Allan

And this is not just some textbook. This is how you treat addiction. This is the way we've always treated addiction. You've lived and breathed addiction, not just food, but other things in your life. And that's where you're coming from in this book. And I really appreciate the opening up the vulnerability that you had to have a book like this where you're saying, no, I'm not some hottie taughty PhD that's going to tell you how to beat addiction. I talk from experience of successes and failure.

[00:10:04.850] – Susan

Yeah, totally. And that's I think why food addiction was so obvious to me. I mean, I knew food addiction was real when I was 21 because I had gotten clean from crack cocaine and Crystal meth. I got clean. Finally, at the age of 20, I spent my teenage years doing drugs and progressing to harder and harder and harder drugs, culminating in dropping out of high school, prostitution and just repeated cycles of going out to prostitute and then going into the Crack house to smoke cracks. So living like that without a place to live except the crack house.

[00:10:36.930] – Susan

Is that's a pretty serious case of addiction? And when I got clean, I never went back to drugs or alcohol after that moment, I just got clean. And yet within a year, my weight had started to pack on. And I was eating in a way that just looked felt and was just like my drug addiction. And food was harder to kick, Allan. That's the creepy thing. Food was harder to kick. I was not able to just kick food the way I had drugs. I mean, obviously you have to eat to live.

[00:11:10.210] – Susan

But there were a lot of things that made food harder. And before I knew it, I was obese and really struggling with food. And my weight has been the story of my life. I mean, I could say, in a way, I started using drugs at the age of 14 already to start to manage my food. I already had a weight problem. I already had a food problem, and that's why I turned to stimulants like Crystal meth to manage my food and my weight problem. So it went all the way back for me.

[00:11:34.530] – Susan

So, yeah, I don't come to this. I do have an academic background. I have the PhD and all that. But that's not the high mountain top from which I speak. I speak from the gutters of, like, here I am eating a pint of ice cream with tears streaming down my face. Why am I doing this again? Kind of place. So I get it at a visceral level.

[00:11:51.750] – Allan

Yeah. And as I said, I went through and I looked at your susceptibility chart and took the quiz and I said, okay, I scored a three, which for food

[00:12:03.380] – Allan

That makes sense for me because..

[00:12:05.120] – Susan

Just so people know on a scale from one to ten, ten is highly susceptible to food addiction. So it's a measure of how susceptible your brain is to food addiction. And, Allan, you're just a three, which means food isn't your thing.

[00:12:16.170] – Allan


[00:12:16.420] – Susan

It either means you're not susceptible to addiction at all, or it means you might be susceptible to other addictions. But food isn't your thing.

[00:12:22.660] – Allan

Right. And so, like I said for me, it was okay if I just say I'm not going to eat dessert. I don't eat dessert, and it's not like I leave that table after I said no to dessert and stop by the convenience store and buy some ice cream to eat at home in private. Because I really sugar. I wanted that sugar. I was addicted to that sugar. I just said no because that was the visual of me being at the dinner table and no one else wants dessert.

[00:12:53.150] – Allan

Why is it so hard for us to beat food addiction?

[00:12:57.230] – Susan

Food is the hardest addiction to kick. And I say that both as a hope to die addict in every way. But also clinically speaking, food has some very unique things about it. First of all, it is socially pushed, like no other drug, not just accepted, but pushed and pushed and pushed. Which means when you're trying to, let's say, abstain from sugar, right? Good luck getting through Thanksgiving or Valentine's Day or whatever without people actually pushing it on you. So that's one challenge you have to eat to live, which you have to eat to live.

[00:13:37.900] – Susan

But you don't have to eat Donuts to live, right? This is one of the things that bright line eating does well, is it helps people figure out the line between what you're eating and not eating, right? When you're an alcoholic. When you're a crack addict, the line is really clear. Don't drink, right? Don't smoke crack. It's not ambiguous. Generally speaking, I mean, with alcohol, Benadryl or whatever. There are some slight NyQuil, whatever. But generally speaking, the line is pretty clear with food. It's a minefield. And I spent eight and a half years after I got cleaned from drugs, trying to figure out where the first bite was.

[00:14:16.660] – Susan

I couldn't tell what I was eating. That was tripping me up, right? And finally I came to sugar and flour. That's what it seems to be. Sugar and flour. It's essentially the processed foods. But if you just abstain from sugar and flour, that's a good demarcation point. But, Allan, I could go on, and probably I should. I just don't want to soliloquise here for ten minutes on you. But there are a couple of other really fascinating reasons why food is harder than any other drug. It is the hardest.

[00:14:44.400] – Susan

It's the hardest.

[00:14:45.140] – Allan

Please do. I want to get into this topic because again, I think if you don't recognize the problem, you'll never find a solution. And if you think just forcing yourself to try something, another diet, another thing, and you don't get to the root cause of why this is so hard, then you're never going to solve the problem, particularly not solve it long term.

[00:15:09.960] – Susan

That's right. And here we are, early January, right. All these people have made resolutions to lose weight is always the number one resolution, and we probably have people listening who've made that resolution before. Right. So here's another reason why food is harder than anything else to kick, and it has to do with something that I think most people lump together with food addiction. But if you think about it, it's actually an entirely separate problem. And so to illustrate, I have an analogy that I like to give.

[00:15:43.470] – Susan

I call it the acne analogy. Imagine the universe, this is just a little thought experiment. Imagine a universe in which drinking alcohol over time caused acne to develop all over your skin and not just acne, but really bad disfiguring acne and not just really bad disfiguring acne, but fatal acne. Acne that research suddenly showed would kill you 10,15, maybe even 20 years before your time. So you learn this, you know this and like people will, because alcohol is fun to party with. Right and relax with, you start to drink, so you start to drink.

[00:16:30.780] – Susan

And at first it's not a problem. You start to develop a little bit of acne, but it's not that bad. And over time you drank more, you develop alcoholism, and the acne comes on hard and fast. So years go on. Your body is now covered with really bad acne, and you know it's going to kill you before your time. You try quitting drinking over and over and over again. You finally succeed, you get sober, but the acne persists. You still have it. And now your job is to figure out what to do with this acne because it's terribly unsightly.

[00:17:06.270] – Susan

You don't want to live with it, and it's going to kill you 5, 10, 20 years before your time. So you go to search for a solution to the acne, and you find one. There actually is only one solution to the acne, and you start to adopt this solution. But the problem is, it's got a side effect, and the side effect is powerfully driving urges to drink alcohol. And so in your life, you get stuck in this loop of drinking alcohol, quitting drinking alcohol, trying to solve the acne problem being driven back to drink alcohol.

[00:17:46.110] – Susan

This is the relationship of food addiction and excess weight. The problem with excess weight is the brain fights prolonged weight loss by driving you to eat, even if you're still maintaining 100 or 200 extra pounds on your body. If you've lost weight over any significant period of time, your brain makes hormonal adjustments to force you to regain weight, and it drives you back to your food addiction. So this is the maddening loop that people get stuck in. And that is, in my opinion, the biggest reason that food is the hardest addiction to kick.

[00:18:25.970] – Allan

Yeah, the hormones are really a big part of this because if you're constantly hungry, then you're going to struggle to stay away from food and then staying away from food makes you constantly hungry. It's a bad cycle. Now, one of the things I really liked about your book was you didn't just jump into a diet or a program and say, this is what you eat. These are your because you did talk about lines, but we're going to get to that. But the first thing we have to get into and we're going to talk about this is that selfwork.

[00:18:57.430] – Allan

That self awareness and not just this casual self awareness of. Oh, great. I have a sugar addiction. It's a much deeper awareness of that at points in time. And I don't mean from a schizophrenia perspective, but we're different people in the fact that at some point in time, the voice in our head is telling us, Well, go ahead and have that doughnut. And then there's another voice in our head, it's the controller. It says, no, you shouldn't have that. And they might be going back and forth.

[00:19:30.630] – Allan

And when they are, we find ourselves now obsessed with thoughts of food because we told ourselves no. And we've also told ourselves, yes. Can we talk a little bit about this parts work and how there's different voices and then kind of go into a couple of examples, like the one I just started about how that works dynamically within our brain.

[00:19:50.450] – Susan

Yes. Totally. Well, just to say, first of all, this perspective on human beings is spreading rapidly because it's so effective. It's called internal family systems, or IFS and more easily called parts work. Like you just referred to it as. And what's so helpful about it is that it allows us to create change really rapidly by relating to these different sort of selves that we all seem to embody. And I'm not talking about dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder. I'm talking about every healthy psyche has multiple parts to it.

[00:20:33.330] – Susan

And this notion goes way back there's Egyptian hieroglyphs that have a parts dialogue on ancient tombs. Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato all talked about parts. Socrates said it best. And actually it pertains to the food idea like that you just mentioned Socrates said one mind cannot both want and not want at the same time. Therefore, we are all at least two. And so just bringing up this idea that there's different parts of us. So in bright line eating, we invoke this parts notion to help people heal at really, really deep levels.

[00:21:18.670] – Susan

Anyone really who wants to be healthy. I would wager even a three on the susceptibility scale of food addiction. Like you, Allan will have developed some version of these parts, the food indulger part and the food controller part. The food indulger says some version of, hey, why not? It's a special occasion. It's an important day or I deserve it. Or I feel like eating or whatever and gives us license to indulge a bit, right? Whatever that means to us.

[00:21:50.750] – Allan

It'S the devil on this shoulder and angel on this shoulder, and they're like, oh, come on. No. You said you were going to do this.

[00:21:59.050] – Susan

And the angel is the food controller that's trying to manage it, right? The food manager, and we have different versions of it. Some people just have a healthy version that's like, you don't want to do that because you'll feel a little yucky tomorrow morning. And, you know, you're getting up early for a run, and some people have a really perfectionistic and wickedly critical food controller that's really mean or really sets up a high standard that's almost impossible to live to, right? Super perfectionistic. But anyway, most of us have some version of that angel on the shoulder.

[00:22:36.990] – Susan

That's saying, no. And what we get into in the book Rezoom is we also introduce people to their authentic self, their highest self. I don't mean self like, ego, self. I mean self, as in grounded, centered self. You know, you're there when you're calm, clear, connected, curious, compassionate, like, in that kind of place, you can make decisions for yourself that are really empowered and not really driven by either of those voices. I think that's a really interesting awareness from this perspective is you're not actually trying to create a world where you're always siding with the angel, with the food controller, you're trying to settle into a truer version of yourself that is actually a step back from the control, right.

[00:23:28.230] – Susan

Anyway. Yeah. It's something we get into in the book a lot is what's the inner work you have to do in order to sort of transcend the war, the polarization between the food indulger and the food controller, because for people who are high on the food addiction susceptibility scale, it has become a full on war.

[00:23:46.990] – Allan

Yeah. And I think that's the key. If you do this self awareness work and you really think about it and it blends into your Rezoom process of okay, why did this happen? What were the voices? Who was I talking to when I did this? And why did I react the way then? You know, it's like, oh, well, I was just being a food rebel because I've been so strict on myself for so long and drill sergeanty, if you will. That okay. I just kind of popped a gasket and said, Damn it, I'm having a piece of pizza didn't kill me, didn't really throw me over the edge.

[00:24:18.800] – Allan

But just enough where I said, okay, maybe I just need to be kinder to myself instead of being so mean and rigid and thinking of myself as bad just for thinking about the pizza because it's creating that dynamic in yourself where either the rebel comes out and you have all these different characters

[00:24:37.430] – Susan

sort of archetypes. Yeah.

[00:24:41.090] – Allan

Who was I when I made this decision? Who was I when this happened? And every one of them and I think this is really important that you say in the book, every one of them is actually looking out for your best interests.

[00:24:53.940] – Allan

They're just doing it from their own paradigm.

[00:24:56.460] – Susan

Right. Totally. And Allan, this is the thing. So on the food addiction susceptibility scale, I'm a ten. And that's not surprising. Maybe hearing my addiction background. But here's the thing, Allan, is for people like me who are much higher on that scale, we're talking seven, eight, nine, tens. Once you get into certain territory on that scale, it might actually be true that the best path to peace to food neutrality, where food thoughts aren't dominating your day to physical health and weight loss. The best path to that might actually be a path that involves some form of abstinence.

[00:25:42.050] – Susan

Right. I abstained from sugar and flour, because when I include them in my diet at all, it's the sort of classic example of addiction. It's the same reason I don't try to smoke one cigarette. I tried that experiment again about four years ago and thus started about two years of trying to quit cigarettes. Quitting restarting again. I don't need to run the one cigarette experiment. It goes badly for me, right. And I just got to say the one cookie experiment goes just as badly. So I don't run that experiment anymore.

[00:26:11.790] – Susan

But the key is that I'm not doing it from a punishing food controller place. And so the Genesis of this book was really how do we present a reframe on food recovery for people who've gotten trapped in a Yoyo dieting cycle or in a food addiction recovery cycle? Because there's a lot of twelve step programs that talk about abstinence from certain foods as well. And people often get trapped in a relapse cycle. And I had gotten trapped in that cycle again myself, after many, many years of peace and being in my bright body, which is like what I call sort of a right sized body without carrying around all sorts of excess fat and stuff like that.

[00:26:53.350] – Susan

I've been there for a long time, and then I got trapped again in a relapse cycle. And coming out of that, I've been out of that for a few years now. Coming out of that, I got the awarenesses that I put into this book. It's a reframe on the perfectionistic tendencies that can naturally go along with an abstinence framework. But the kicker is, for some people, the abstinence is still necessary, right? It still doesn't mean that trying to eat the one piece of pizza for some people is going to be the right thing to do, because if you've run that experiment enough times, you know that for you, it might not work.

[00:27:27.500] – Susan

So this book is for people who are in that category and who need a reframe to get out of the crash and burn cycle because it's very painful.

[00:27:36.330] – Allan

Yeah. Because the quicker you get back on the road, the less damage you've done. I don't want to say the easier, but it just makes it you feel more in control because you didn't completely crash. You're sort of easing yourself back into traffic and moving forward.

[00:27:52.310] – Susan

Totally and this book helps people who have brains more like mine to actually avoid the crash before it happens. Coming from a place of more healing, more self compassion. It's really the shame and the self flagellation on the way to picking up the excess food, right? That accelerates the tragedy of it. And so this book is sort of the prescription of getting off of that horrible cycle altogether.

[00:28:23.570] – Allan

Now, one of the things you do in the book, which I think is really important. I'm a big fan of commitment. I would not have been successful in changing my health and fitness if it didn't start with a commitment to myself. You've done something, I think that's pretty special is you're looking at it from making a daily commitment. So when you wake up because you do have that structure, you do have that abstract mindset. You have these bright lines. And so right now, four, probably you have more because there are others.

[00:28:54.970] – Allan

We'll talk about those. But there are at least four base bright lines. And we're not talking about a line in the sand because a line in the sand you can easily miss over and not see you're talking about bright lines for a daily commitment, you actually write out exactly what you're going to eat the next day each day, and then you're able to report back to yourself on your commitment that I follow through with exactly what I told myself I should do today. Can you talk a little bit about bright lines eating and what the four core ones are and then go into some of the others because I think those can be equally as important.

[00:29:32.930] – Susan

Yeah. So in bright line eating, there are four essential bright lines with the food, and two of them have to do with the substance addiction, right? No sugar, no flour. That's keeping the alcohol, the nicotine, the crack cocaine out of our system, no sugar, no flour. The other two handle the process. Addiction, the behavioral addiction to just eating. And they are meals. So eating just meals, no grazing, no snacking. And typically we start people off three meals a day. There are some exceptions, like people who had bariatric surgery recently can't eat that much food at one meal and that sort of thing.

[00:30:10.590] – Susan

But generally speaking, it's three meals a day and then quantities. So we actually bound our food with a digital food scale. Yes. I weigh my food. And it's so funny because I just had a visitor who is a one on the susceptibility scale, literally a one. And he was visiting my house and we ate all our meals together for a few days. And he just kept talking about how he's like, okay, you told me you weighed your food, but you eat more than I do at every meal.

[00:30:38.340] – Susan

This is like a full grown man. Right. So we're weighing our food not to make for tiny quantities, but actually to make sure that we eat enough of a lot of foods, because people who have a history of dieting typically will not eat enough at each meal unless you make them actually account for it. Those are the four bright lines. A bright line is a legal term. Originally, it just means a clear, unambiguous boundary that you just don't cross. Right. So this is like the bright line that the alcoholic puts up for alcohol, right?

[00:31:09.760] – Susan

I'm just not going to drink no matter what. And then the other things I would count more as habits or behaviors or tools or whatever, like writing down your food the night before. That is a practice that people start when they start doing bright line eating. And, yes, committing it right. In some kind of way. I often recommend people even commit it to someone else, which can be very powerful. Like, this is what I'm eating and then circle around the next 24 hours and say, yes, I ate only in exactly that.

[00:31:35.080] – Susan

And here's what I'm eating tomorrow.

[00:31:38.570] – Allan

Well, that's why we have a ceremony. When we get married, we wear a ring when we get married. That's the public commitment. And you're like, okay, here I am. I'm committed to this relationship, and that's deeper meaning than you just saying to yourself before you go to bed. This is all I'm going to eat tomorrow, and no one else on Earth knows. So it does hold you a little bit more accountable to what you're doing, which again, if you need that support is really important.

[00:32:05.210] – Allan

Now, doctor, I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:32:16.910] – Susan

Oh, my gosh. Say it again. You define wellness as being the healthiest,  fittest

[00:32:23.570] – Allan

healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be

[00:32:25.990] – Susan

Healthiest, fittest, happiest.

[00:32:28.170] – Allan

In my mind, you have to have all three.

[00:32:30.710] – Susan

All right. Healthiest, fittest, happiest. So I'll just share from my expertise, right. Because I'm sure people come on here and can say all kinds of things. Anyone can sort of spout off on that. But from my vantage point, one of the big ones is going to be look at and honestly face the amount of food addiction that you actually have on board with the brain you've got right now. Like, assess it like, Allan, you took the quiz, right? People should take the quiz, find out what kind of brain they've got, because if you're a one, two or three, it's a whole different ballgame.

[00:33:08.270] – Susan

Right? You don't need to worry about a little bit of sugar. You can have that recover really quickly. And absolutely. Research shows that being 90% to 95% true to a food plan is enough, right? When you're higher on the scale, that little bit of sugar turns into more and more, and also creates a lot of psychological chatter where you're thinking about what you've eaten or not eating, whether you're on your plan or off your plan, how many miles, how many calories, how many pounds to burn off that thing that you just ate in?

[00:33:37.080] – Susan

That's a state of mind that is not. Well, that's not healthy, right? That's not happy. It may or may not be fit, but it's definitely not healthy and it's not happy. So there's one right there. Like take a look. And if people want to take the quiz, they can go to Foodaddictionquiz.com. Foodaddictionquiz.com. So acknowledge however much food addiction you have on board, because it really does change the landscape of the type of food approach that will work for you. If you're trying to be well, you're trying to be fit and you're trying to be healthy.

[00:34:09.320] – Susan

Everyone who's trying to be fit knows that you can't out exercise a bad diet. Right. And if the diet piece is the piece that keeps slipping in your wellness regimen, take a look at that. And Allan, I don't know if we're going to have time to talk about it, but I just want to say because this is a podcast for people over a certain age, right? Is that sort of theme?

[00:34:29.640] – Allan

over 40. Yes.

[00:34:31.080] – Susan

All right. Well, maybe let me just mention it now, if I may. When you're over 40 and especially over 50, your diet impacts your body differently. And this is true whether you're male or female. And the reason is lowering estrogen. And as your estrogen becomes more probabilistic and lower, this is true for men, too. Don't be fooled. It's not just men have testosterone, women have estrogen, men and women have both. And as your estrogen goes down, you stop getting the synergistic and protective effects it has on your insulin response.

[00:35:10.630] – Susan

And that means that your body now responds very differently to the junk food that you might be eating. You don't get away with it anymore, and that is the source of the weight creep in the middle that people experience past a certain age. Now, we did a research study that we published in a peer reviewed scientific outlet that showed that doing bright line eating, which means eliminating sugar and flour on our program. In the first two months, people at every age category lost an equivalent amount of weight, which means that this type of approach to eating turned a 60 year old woman's body into a 30 or 20 year old woman's body.

[00:35:48.300] – Susan

Which is shocking, but just saying the older you get, the more you need to acknowledge the amount that the degree to which addiction to certain processed foods might be playing. Right. So there's that.

[00:36:02.510] – Susan

The second thing I would say is really note your meal timing in relation to your circadian rhythm. So here's something that I used to experience. I'm a night owl by Constitution like wickedly so. Like, left to my own devices. I'm up till three, four or five in the morning and I'm sleeping past noon every day since I started eating this way, which I did 18 years ago.

[00:36:26.660] – Susan

I've been eating this way now since I was 28 years old. I'm 47 now it's 18 years that I've been eating this way. I now go to bed and I'm like eyes drooping full melatonin at 09:00 p.m. Like last night I went to bed, I went to sleep at 08:39 p.m. And I was up easily at five. But I'm not that way constitutionally. The difference is I started changing my meal time since I started eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. It turns out that the timing of your meal has as big or a bigger impact on your circadian rhythm as light exposure.

[00:37:05.430] – Susan

So don't be fooled. Any calories you're putting into your system after dinner, they're mucking up your circadian rhythm. So really consider returning to breakfast, lunch and dinner, or at least watching your meal timing as it relates to your circadian rhythm. That also had a huge impact on my mood by giving up sugar and flour and changing my meal times the way I have. I used to have clinical depression really badly and I don't have it anymore. And then the third thing I think is make sure that you feel deeply supported and connected in life.

[00:37:43.370] – Susan

I used to teach, so I'm still a professor at the University of Rochester, but I don't teach as much anymore because I do so much research and with this bright line eating thing. But I used to teach positive psychology at the College level. And a few years ago researchers discovered that human connection is more potent for well being than the combination of diet and exercise put together. That's how important it is to not feel lonely. It's so important to be well supported and connected. And if you think you're an introvert, just saying in the book Rezoom, we've got a category or a part called the Isolator, right?

[00:38:23.980] – Susan

Which is different than healthy alone time. Introverts and all people really need a healthy amount of alone time. Isolation is a different thing. Isolation is keeping yourself from support that would actually be helpful. And research shows that introverts and extroverts alike experience the same degree of uplift when they add something to their schedule, like lunch with a good friend once a week. Right. So introverts just need fewer people and fewer superficial connections, but a few deep ones are absolutely necessary. So however you roll, just make sure that you would answer, oh heck yeah.

[00:39:02.010] – Susan

To a question like right now in your life, are you feeling deeply supported and connected? Those are my three.

[00:39:09.510] – Allan

Thank you, Doctor. If someone wanted to learn more about you or learn more about the book, Rezoom or your program bright lines Eating, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:39:20.690] – Susan

I would say probably the first step would be to take that quiz, go to foodaddictionquiz.com, but also Bright Line eating (brightlineeating.com) and you can get started with Bright Line eating for just $20 a month. So if you just want to give it a try and see, you were mentioning hunger earlier. We publish findings in the Journal of Nutrition and Weight Loss. Two years out, people haven't regained any of their weight. It's shocking the results that we're getting around here.

[00:39:54.070] – Susan

But also within the first two months, people's hunger and food cravings have gone away completely on our program. On average, literally hunger and craving levels down to below one and a half out of five. Like little to no hunger or cravings anymore ever. So. Yeah, brightlineeating.com people can give it a try for just $20 a month. It's probably the best deal in weight loss.

[00:40:15.270] – Allan

You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/519. And I'll be sure to have the links there. So, Dr. Thompson, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:40:26.190] – Susan

Thank you so much, Allan. It's been a pleasure.

Post Show/Recap

[00:40:35.950] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:40:37.580] – Rachel

Hey, Allan, what a really fascinating interview you had with Susan. I'm really excited to get the chance to talk about food addiction because it's something a little bit different than your standard dieting type situation.

[00:40:51.850] – Allan

Yeah, I've had people on we've talked about how food can be used as kind of this emotional bridge, if you will, a best friend, something that takes the pain away. And I've never felt that compulsion with food as using food to do that adrenaline absolutely. I'll do something crazy, like jump off a building or something like that.

[00:41:23.050] – Rachel

No, thank you.

[00:41:28.370] – Allan

Select certain number of people that are susceptible to food actually becoming a problem if they're using it for the wrong reasons. And you and I were talking before we got on here, you took the quiz that I took and encouraged people to get out there and try it. I was a three. You were a two, and it's this self awareness thing. What is your relationship with food? And you really have to break that down to a core component of what does food mean to me. Now, I know you and I, we think it's fuel.

[00:42:10.140] – Allan

We're going to go for a run. It's fuel. And there's food that I just love that I know I'll eat more of than I should or that I need, especially when I can't get them all the time and then they're available. I kind of go a little bit overboard on it, but it's not that kind of food. It's pretty much moved away from the sugars and that. But I never really was. I would say I might have been addicted to bread, but the only reason I say that is when I went paleo the first time I would have dreams about bread.

[00:42:54.670] – Rachel

Wow, that's interesting.

[00:42:56.580] – Allan

Like smelling it, like in my sleep someone was cooking bread and I could smell it in the oven and just dreaming about bread. And I thought, this is so weird. I quit bread a week ago and I'm dreaming about bread. So maybe there was a little something there with bread. I don't know, but talk a little bit about from your experience, because again, you're too. So that's not how you look at food?

[00:43:23.980] – Rachel

No. Like you said, I definitely look at food as fuel. And I'm aware of the addictive nature of my personality, and I say potential addictive nature. When I was a kid, my grandmother, who I love and adore and respect and was crushed when she died from breast cancer. She was a smoker. And whenever we went to her house, her curtains and her couches and the blankets on her couch, everything reeked of cigarette smoke. When we drove in a car, she would smoke in the car. And even in the dead of winter, it could be 20 below.

[00:44:03.840] – Rachel

I just needed that little bit of window down so I could get some fresh air to get some relief. That smell was just so overpowering and influential to me that I knew I would never want to smoke ever in all of my life. And to this day, I've never even tried cigarettes or any other thing that you might smoke. I've never done it because I was so repulsed by that. But people who smoke it's an addiction. It's like Susan mentioned, she had a more serious drug addiction than cigarettes, but there is an addictive part to that whole thing.

[00:44:40.170] – Rachel

And I can see how food can become similar, whether you're physically in need of having that sugar rush, because, you know, carbs and sugar can be very addicting. Or is it more of her personality? Like Susan mentioned, she had a drug addiction. She replaced that compulsion with food. So there's something to that personality component as well. But being aware of that, having that self awareness like you mentioned, food never crossed my radar as being something that I was compelled to have. I don't hide food in my pantry and eat it later in the closet.

[00:45:18.560] – Rachel

Although the one thing I will admit to is coffee. If anybody knows me, I am a definite coffee addict. I have it every day. But even with that, I know that I don't have to have it to live. If I woke up tomorrow and was camping, like when I go to Isle Royal next year and I can't have my pureed coffee pot with me. I know I could go a couple of days without having it. I know I'll have some consequences, but it's a different type of addiction than I think sugar or flour is, like Susan had mentioned.

[00:45:52.990] – Allan

And we've had guests on Rosie was on, and the woman Cheryl was Sharon. I've had a couple of guests on that really had emotional, deep issues with food and the way they thought about their body, the way they thought about their food. And it was that relationship with food that was the problem. And so as you go through self awareness of your journey in health and fitness, it's critical for you to have that conversation with yourself and say, what kind of relationship do I have with food?

[00:46:35.010] – Allan

And why would I feel compelled if I went to the grocery store to go down the cookie aisle when I know that the cookie aisle is just not going to serve me in what I need for what I'm trying to do? And so as you look at that, if you feel compelled or take the test to probably give you some information there. But most of us, if we take a moment and we're honest, we can say I am a moderation person or I'm an all or none person.

[00:47:05.760] – Allan

And I can tell you I am an all or none person. Even though I scored very low on that test, it was really because it was just related to food. And I can say no to any food, and I can have a little of something and then not have any more. But there are other things that I'm all or none. And when it's all, I mean all until it's all gone, that kind of thing. And maybe I used to be with that. Like I talked about Girl Scout cookies, and I'd buy the thin ments, and the box would be gone the first day.

[00:47:43.690] – Allan

even if I was trying to be good, I'd go to the grocery store and go to the freezer because we'd put them in the freezer and I would take a serving, which I think was like three cookies and I'd eat a serving. And then I'd go sit down. I'd eat the three cookies. I'd get back up. I'd walk there, I'd get another three cookies and go sit down. And then I'm just standing in the freezer eating the rest of the cookies.

[00:48:05.630] – Rachel

Wrap them up, finish off, can't eat any if they're not there.

[00:48:09.800] – Allan

Yeah. And so I had to come up with some strategies that worked for Girl Scout cookies until it was just a point where I no longer thought of Girl Scout cookies as something that I needed. I actually would give the Girl Scout money and not take the cookies.

[00:48:25.170] – Rachel

Sure, that's wonderful.

[00:48:26.380] – Allan

I just say, okay, you're trying to raise money. I get it. Back then, okay. Again, to kind of date. This is a box of cookies was like 250. Someone's telling me that they're like $5 because I don't stop by the booth anymore if I came out of a grocery store in the United States in February, which I haven't done in three years. But you walk by. They're there and wants cookies here's 250. No, just buy yourself a box or give a box away or whatever. And then I just move on.

[00:48:58.470] – Allan

So this is a very important concept, and that self awareness is critical. Otherwise you're setting yourself up to fail because this stuff is everywhere. It is the flour and the sugar is in every single thing out there. It's just almost impossible to avoid. And there are going to be times when you go in and you're like, okay, I want something to eat. And what's this? How is it prepared? It's breaded. It's like, okay, can you make it not breaded? And sometimes they can. Sometimes they can't.

[00:49:31.030] – Allan

But then even then, there's sugar in the sauce or there's this and that. It's really hard to avoid these foods. And if they trigger you, like, Susan said she tried to smoke a cigarette, just one. And then, boom, she was right back to smoking, and it was just really she knows she can't even have a little bit or she's going to go off. And if that's you, then you have to be honest with yourself. And yes, cold Turkey, you're out. There is no moderation. There is no trying it. There is no detour with this stuff.

[00:50:08.980] – Allan

It's all or none. And you have to get that into your head if you care about your health and fitness.

[00:50:17.230] – Rachel

Susan mentioned the word abstinence, and I just want to keep that word in bold prints right front and center, because for some people, abstinence is absolutely necessary. And for her, with her type of an addiction, personality or physical addiction to food, she cannot allow herself a bite of sugar or a bite of flour because that could send her back down the spiral to where she was overweight and unhappy. And I think that there are a lot of people out there that need to come to terms with that word abstinence.

[00:50:49.870] – Rachel

For people like you or me moderation, we can live with that. We can have a couple of Girl Scout cookies and then wait until next season when Girl Scout cookies are sold again. But for people who have more of an addictive personality or that physical need for food, chips are in the grocery store every day. Cookies are in the grocery store every day. And sometimes abstinence would be the tool, the main tool to break that habit. I just want to keep that front and center.

[00:51:19.770] – Allan

And there's a reason in these grocery stores in these convenience stores that things are where they are. If you want to walk down to the milk aisle, you're probably going to have to walk through an aisle that's going to have sugar laden foods or chips or something. And you're going to turn around when you stop to buy something like bottled water. And there's the chips. And it's literally set up that way you get up to the counter and there's on both sides, candy lining both rows. But it's done on purpose.

[00:51:51.850] – Allan

They study that stuff. They literally studied the traffic flow and optimize their sales. They're putting that stuff in your way. So you see it, and then you buy it. Yeah. So you have to know yourself. You have to go back to your commitment. And if you do that, then yes, abstinence. And it's that point of saying abstinence is the only way. And then you have that relationship with yourself, and you have to say, okay, I'm not going to cheat. And you wouldn't cheat on your relationship and say, oh, that person looks really fine.

[00:52:27.400] – Allan

I'm going to go do that. No, you don't. But you have to have the same self love. You have to have the same self awareness and not put yourself in those situations if you don't need to be. And most of us, if we're trying to lose weight, trying to get more fit, we don't need that stuff.

[00:52:46.150] – Rachel

Absolutely. Yeah. You said the other word that I would like to highlight and bold. And that's commitment. And whether you're committed to moderation or committed to abstinence or whatever it is, just be committed to yourself for sure and make the best choices for you.

[00:53:01.420] – Allan

All right, Rach, I'll talk to you next week.

[00:53:03.750] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:53:04.700] – Allan


[00:53:05.320] – Rachel

Bye now.


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