Maybe it’s just semantics, but I don’t like the term food addiction. Why? Well for one thing, it’s hard to be addicted to something you actually can’t live without. You can’t quit food. It’s little bit like calling an alcoholic a liquid addict in my opinion. While the Luminous Plan is indeed based on 12-step programs for food addiction, I prefer to be a lot more specific when I think about addiction and food.
I am highly sensitive to sugar and flour. When I eat it, I want more, and there have been times when commonsense went out the door when I would consume more and more of it. However, my new way of eating does NOT actually mean I no longer eat sugar. The natural sugars contained in many fruits and vegetables are absolutely not an issue for most people. It’s the powder, people! And by powder I mean added sugar and flour. I often get asked whether this is a low carb diet. In some ways it is, but it is not without fruit or legumes, two food groups that tend to be higher in carbs. What this plan DOES eliminate is the powder. And when you eliminate the powder, or other added sweeteners like honey, agave syrup and many other “natural” (albeit still refined) sweeteners (even the artificial ones), there is a big fat change in the brain.
Removing added sugar and flour allow the brain and the hormonal system to get back on track, which means you are no longer fighting the addictive properties. This is why it helps to think about those powders in the same category as other refined super-concentrated powders like heroine and cocaine. If you were to eat a coca leaf for instance, you might get a subtle “buzz” from it, a feeling more like the effect of having a few sips of alcohol. But refine those coca leaves into a highly concentrated powder and the effect is MUCH more powerful. It becomes cocaine. The same goes for heroine. Heroine is refined from poppies. It’s not until the poppies are refined into a powder that you’d feel any effect, right? Things like sugar cane, agave, maple syrup and the many other names for added sugar are all refined. They have to be removed from something and made into some form of concentrate. And that is where many of us run into trouble.
These distinctions are good to have on hand when you get the naysayers who think you’re just doing the latest fad “diet.” I had someone recently say to me that my way of eating is extreme, that sugar or flour in moderation are a natural part of the human diet. And to that I say absolutely not. Sure, for some people, the effects of sugar and flour don’t hit them in the same way. They can have “just a little,” and it won’t send them down a high speed highway toward non-stop binging. But for the rest of us? These distinctions are critical. We aren’t depriving ourselves of sweet. We are cutting the powder. We aren’t eating unnaturally. We are removing some potentially toxic stuff from our diets and getting back to food that remembers where it came from.
Is it easy? Unfortunately the grocery store isn’t the most friendly place for us powder-free people. At least not yet. But more and more science is pointing to highly processed powders and other sweeteners as the culprit for lots of disease and for the rising obesity rate. In cultures with less processed food, you simply see less disease and a lower obesity rate. What’s more, there is growing evidence that the Big Food industry is well aware of the addictive properties in these processed foods, just like Big Tobacco was aware of the addictive properties of nicotine long before it became public. I personally want to shout this from the mountaintops, because once I figured it out, and saw the results of getting off the stuff, I wanted to walk up to every overweight human and tell them I found the holy grail. But slowly it’s happening and people are changing habits. Not as fast as it should, but it’s happening. We battle years of habits, powder-filled social events, and to some degree a little brainwashing about what we consider “good” food.
Addiction is never easy to kick. And old habits can indeed die hard. But it’s possible. Getting the brain unhooked doesn’t mean you quit food. Once I recognized that I didn’t have to eat lettuce for the rest of my life, and that I could find new ways of preparing really awesome meals, I realized it wasn’t about deprivation. It’s about ditching the stuff that made me ill. And once I did that, the skies parted, and I found my center again.