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Lies I told Myself

I should clarify something before I start this post. Not everyone is in the same situation as I am or I was. I dealt with very severe and life threatening food addictions for a very long time, and still deal with battling them every single day. So this might not apply to everyone, but if you find that you identify with what I’ve gone through, I hope that you can find some peace knowing that you are not alone, and that there is hope.

For years I went through this massive internal battle. Truth be told, sometimes I still fight the battle. I don’t know if it will ever fully go away, all I know is the longer I commit to this way of living, the easier it has become for me. When I was on a chronic diet, I always found myself telling myself the same lies. I don’t know if I knew they were lies, the truth is that I was so good at deceiving myself that  I’m not sure if I truly ever knew the truth. And I still find myself going down some of these dangerous thought patterns. I know where they lead me to. I used to binge, a lot. I used to to start with something innocent, a thought, an idea, and before I knew it I was in a full blown binge. These binges would cause me to become very ill, and caused a lot of long term physical, emotional and mental struggles. For some, eating is just not a huge deal. Some people can have one of something, and that be it. Some people can have a ‘treat’ or even a day off, and that is it for them, they think nothing of it. I have never been one of those people, and I’ve had to set my life up in a way to overcome it.

Much like an alcoholic, for me there is no moderation, there is no “tastes”, that’s just the way it is for me. It’s taken me a very long time to come to peace with that. And I don’t blame myself. I think I come from a very strong line of very strong people, who happened to know how to store fat very well. This was a line of people who were strong, and fought for survival. Just happens to be that in our modern society, we don’t have to fight that much to survive (food wise) and we’re not at risk for starvation (at least in our modern US society), and food is very easy to come by, specifically calorically dense food. If we were in a jungle with very little access to food, this ability to store fat would be a great blessing, however in our modern society it turns out to be troublesome for many people.

For years I went through this battle though, this fight with myself, and it felt constant. Frankly, it was exhausting. If I’m being honest, it still at times can be exhausting. There are days in which I wish I could get a break from thinking about food, or the battles I happen to have with food. So today, in full transparency I thought I’d share some of the lies I tell myself (or more accurately have told myself in the past).

I’ll start on Monday. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how many “Mondays” I’ve had in my life. Mondays in which I promised to start all over again. And this would be the pattern. I’d decide to eat whatever the heck I wanted for the weekend. I’d live it up. I’d intentionally eat EVERY single thing that I thought I’d miss for the rest of my life. I’d binge to the point of throwing up most of the time. And then Monday would come. And I’d feel awful (physically, emotionally, mentally). I’d feel so down about myself for binging all weekend that I’d end up not really wanting to move or even attempt to eat healthy. I’d start maybe with a good breakfast, an ok lunch, and by dinner I was eating the leftovers from the weekend. And promising myself that I’d just start the next Monday. And I’d do the same thing, eat as much as I could until the new start date.

I’ll start on the first. 

This was much like my Monday starts. I’d have this goal. I’ll start on September 1st! That’s it. And I’d get it in my head that I’d start then, and until then maybe I’d just work my way up to being more healthy. This really never happened. I’d get it in my head that I should just eat what I wanted up till the 1st, and then dive right in. It never worked out that way.

I’ll just have a bite. 

I once bought a 5 pound bag of M&M’s with the thought I’d have 5 per day. FIVE M&M’s per day. Has anyone in the history of man had just 5 M&M’s? No. Well, at least not that I have met. Do you know what happened when I bought a 5 pound bag of M&M’s? I ate a 5 pound bag of M&M’s. IN ONE DAY. I mentioned last week that I had to finally listen to Dr. Esselstyn about my eating nut butter and whole grain bread sandwiches. A lot of people wrote to me and were shocked that I thought this was unhealthy. Let me clarify. For me, if I buy a jar of nut butter, I eat a jar of nut butter, and a loaf of bread. Not one a day, or one every few days. That day. I can eat a jar of nut butter and a loaf of whole grain bread in ONE day. Easily. This might shock some people, but yes, I am that talented. And my brain is somehow convinced that if I do not eat said nut butter and bread I will starve in a jungle. So for me? Having a nut butter and whole grain sandwich is not an option. It might not be the case for everyone, but for me, it definitely is. And if I try to just have one? That’s all I think about, the rest of the day. So it is much easier for me to opt out, and not buy it in the first place.

If I don’t treat myself, I will be depriving myself, therefore I will go crazy. 

I can’t tell you how much I’ve struggled with this one. And more so, this is the one line that people tend to tell me, over and over and over. Even recently, a (well-meaning) doctor who found out about my diet. He said “Well that is great, but remember, you have to live and enjoy life, so having a few cheats here and there is important”. I wondered if he would tell the same thing to an alcoholic or a drug addict. For me, having a “treat” is bad news. And lets be honest, we’re not talking healthy treats. We’re talking things that can harm us, not help us. Why can’t treats and foods be one in the same? Why can’t we just enjoy healthy food? Why can’t a piece of delicious fruit or a beautiful, colorful salad be satisfying, delicious and “reward” enough? I have started to drastically change the way I think about food in this regard.

No longer do I see things as “treats” or “cheats”. I just see things as either healthy and nourishing for my body, or not. And while I’d like to try and lie and say that it’s hard to know which is which, the truth is I think most of us know what is good for us, and what could harm our bodies.

I have a different perspective on “cheating”, in that I realized the only person I’m cheating is myself. Perhaps that sounds trite, but that is the truth. Sure I have the right to choose anything I like to eat, but what does that do for me? It’s temporary. It’s a temporary, fleeting taste that lasts a few seconds. And no longer do I feel chained to the need to experience it at the risk of damaging my health. This has taken me a very long time to get to. And maybe you are not in the same boat as I was, but for me this was a huge part of my journey – seeing all (plant-strong) food as something I am fortunate to be able to partake in.

It’s better than X

I played this game with myself, a lot. I still find myself having these thoughts. I think  “I eat a lot better than I did before!” “Before thinking that nut butter on whole grain bread was not the best choice would have been crazy, I was eating McDonalds back then!” “Sure it’s a cookie, but it doesn’t have eggs or dairy in it! It’s better than a “normal” cookie!” This one used to get me in trouble a lot when I started. I’d have these arguments with myself, about my diet currently being better. But the truth was that the only way I’d see improvement is if I kept improving. It didn’t matter that a few years ago I was binging on McDonalds or pizza. It mattered what choices I was making in the moment. I did this a lot eating out as well. I’d say “Well I had a ‘plant-based’ meal, so that is better than steak and french fries” it didn’t matter to me that the meal had lots of oil/saturated fat, even though it was still technically plant-based. And somehow I’d always forget those meals out when I thought about how great I was now eating. The truth is that it doesn’t take a lot to do a lot of damage when it comes to eating. 1 TBS of oil (which is pure fat and completely empty calories) will help you put on about 100 pounds in 8 years, if you only had 1 TBS PER DAY, which is a very small amount if you think about a tiny bit here and there. *There is a little more to that equation, but just based on empty calories, those are the mathematical facts*

Dr. Esselstyn always says that each BITE of health-poor foods is an assault on your endothelial lining. It’s not like my endothelial lining was saying “oh, but she’s doing so well, lets give her a pass”.

And as Rip likes to say “Our bodies do not know moderation, T2 diabetes doesn’t know moderation, heart disease doesn’t know moderation, many cancers don’t know moderation, Alzheimer’s and dementia  don’t know moderation.” Our bodies, when it comes to health can be forgiving for only so long, but they do not know moderation, and they do not make exceptions because you might be eating a little healthier than you were before.

And of course this quote by Dr. Esselstyn is always in the back of my mind “If you eat unhealthy foods in moderation, you will have a moderate heart attack.”

I’ll lose 20 pounds this month. In 5 months I will lose 100 pounds! 

I used to sit down with a calendar and figure out how much weight I could lose every month. I’d even start shopping for new clothes. I would get these really unrealistic goals stuck in my head, and I would have a very hard time letting go of them. This always set me up for failure, and then I’d feel like a failure. My weight loss has been a bit of a roller coaster. And honestly, I’ve stopped caring so much. My life is not about a scale or a number on a scale anymore, it’s about being the healthiest person I can be. It’s about having and maintaining healthy blood sugar, healthy cholesterol, healthy blood pressure. It’s about being able to be physically active and feel energized and alive. When I obsessed over my weight and how much I might lose, I was a miserable person. Now, focusing on health and wellness? I am a more whole person.

Maybe there is another answer. 

As a habitual dieter, my biggest fight when I became plant-strong was to say that this diet was not for everyone. Of course, I had read all of the evidence, and I knew all of the success stories. I’m a big science geek, I love studies, and I love dissecting information. I knew the truth was that for the human population, a plant-strong diet was/is the healthiest. However, that first major plateau, I sat there thinking “maybe this isn’t for me”. I thought that maybe I should try high protein/low carb again, totally ignoring that, it was very clearly how I ended up in the life threatening situation that brought me to the plant-strong lifestyle. I was so obsessed with the weight loss part of my life that I would completely ignore the health part of my life. I always wanted a quick fix, something easier, something that would just show some more significant difference on the scale. Even within the confines of “plant-based” I would find myself looking for gimmicks, tricks and short cuts. The truth was (and is) there are no shortcuts. As much as I want there to be, there is simply living a healthy life, eating a healthy diet, and staying on course. I always wanted a magic bullet, when I gave up that notion, I gained a new sense of peace, one that I wish I had learned many, many years ago.

I recently saw this advertisement:

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The sad thing is that I’m pretty sure that had I been around during that time period, I would have thought “you know, not a bad idea, maybe it will work”. After all, I tried every gimmick and quick fix  there was in regards to my weight, so given the opportunity to try tape worms? I’m pretty sure my former self would have given it a shot, because that is how desperately I wanted to lose weight.

“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” 

Ok, so it wasn’t exactly that. But it would go something like this: “My friend Stacey is thin and healthy, she eats cookies, she eats french fries” or “Well I know this person who lived till they were 100 and they ate whatever they wanted!”. This clearly wasn’t the case for me. I was a sick, obese, T2 diabetic with a slew of health trouble. Yet, I’d find myself saying it just wasn’t fair that I had to do things differently than people born with a different set of genes.

Not everyone who smokes will get lung cancer, but many will. Does that mean everyone should risk smoking because *some* people don’t get lung cancer? No. We have a crisis in our country. Right now a we have a conservative estimate that 1 in 8 people have T2 diabetes, and that is just of the people who know. 1 in 3 people will die of a complications attributable to atherosclerosis. While there are some people who will seemingly eat what they want, and never suffer from their dietary choices, that is not the reality for most Americans, most of us will end up battling a preventable disease, if we do not turn things around. Is it fair? Is not being able to smoke not fair? Maybe to some it seems that way, but for me, I think the far more “unfair” thing is to not be made aware that I have a choice in regards to the way my health turns out (for the most part) from here on out.

I can’t do everything so why do anything? 

I used to get into this trap of thinking all the stars had to perfectly align for me to start eating right. I couldn’t have any stress at work, or school. I had to be doing well financially. I had to have time in my schedule to workout/shop/eat right. So I’d say “well, when I’m done with this semester or this quarter or this stress in my life…” THEN I’d start.

One of my favorite quotes, by one of the people who has helped me the most in my life is by Doug Lisle, PhD, author of  “The Pleasure Trap” he said:

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And that was ultimately what got me going. I just started. And I started to make changes in manageable, maintainable ways. I stopped waiting for the perfect time, I stopped waiting for the perfect date to start, I stopped waiting until I had had everything there was to eat. I finally started, and when that happened, life seemed to open up, and become a lot more peaceful for me.

I’m not sure if anyone has gone through what I have, or has had similar struggles. I will say this – it gets easier the more time that goes by, and that moment when this becomes a lifestyle, rather than a diet? An entire new feeling of peace will  overcome you (at least that is what happened to me).

About the author

NatalaE2
Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

83 Responses to “Lies I told Myself”

  1. Layla says:

    You really need a book. For real. You are the one sane voice that I listen to, and you have been there, and are going through what most of us are going through. I always feel like you breathe fresh air into my soul. Thank you.

  2. Kirsten says:

    Awesome blog as a lot of this hit home for me. Thank you again for always being there at the right moment. You are a beautifully strong person, I admire that!
    Thanks :)

  3. Lynnette says:

    Wonderful blog Natala. You are a true gem and a rock star. As Kirsten said, you pick the right moment and are such a strong person. Stay strong, we support you and you lift us up. Great start to my day.

  4. Cena says:

    I have said all of those same excuses in my head. I think I will take you and Doug’s advice. I will commit a little crime today and start the ball rolling. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. miranda2060 says:

    This is a great testimonial. Congrats, Natala, on taking control! I can totally relate to the five-pound bag of M&Ms…I used to consume an entire bag in one sitting. That’s addiction. Here’s to continued health and vibrancy.

  6. Carla says:

    This post made me cry for some reason. I’ve been battling food addiction for so long, and I feel so lost. I’m going to join the support site – I think I need all the help I can get. You are such a huge blessing in my life, I hope that one day I can meet you and hug you.

  7. Popcornaholic says:

    I could have written this. Thank you for sharing your story, Natala.
    p.s. WOW on your 200 lb weight loss and great health!!

  8. Betsy says:

    I agree with Layla, please, please write a book. No one in this entire movement gets it. They are either too skinny or too afraid to speak the truth, and they haven’t walked this road like you have. I am 420 pounds and diabetic, I don’t need to see pictures of skinny women in bikini’s to make me feel like i need to do something – I KNOW I need to do something, and I also know I’m never going to be a super model. You get it, and you don’t know how much it means to someone like me, who feels at the end of my rope.

    • wendywoo says:

      ditto!!!

    • Nancy says:

      Good luck! YOu can do it! My advice is learn about food (read the China Study) and join a local vegetarian or vegan group. Cooking classes…. anything that introduces new ways of thinking and seeing food. And don’t be afraid to go to a gym or work out. I’m a big girl and I do an intensive bootcamp. I’m the slow one at the back of the pack but its all good. Its all about personal best. And you’ll feel amazing once you introduce exercise. It renews the cells :)

  9. Jean Hayes says:

    I agree with Layla! Write your story. I think it would help SO many people. You have been a great encouragement to me and my family!

  10. Debbie says:

    WOW! It was like I was reading my own mind and looking into a mirror! I have just lost 53lbs,started exercising and still struggle and talk to myself constantly all day to keep myself on track. I have been wandering all over the internet looking for that one “way of eating” thats for me and my body. I have been toying with the idea, in my “head”, of going plant based,but petrified and shaking in my shoes to make the commitment. That is until I tripped onto your blog here. I just need to take a deep breath and jump right in. Thank you for sharing a very personal journey in order to help others!

  11. Sonya says:

    Natala, you have completely changed my life, and to think you are not at your “final goal”. I don’t think that even matters anymore, you inspire people, and you change lives, I hope Rip knows he found a true diamond. Love you girl.

  12. Norah says:

    Awesome post. I recognized myself so many times while reading your post… you aren’t alone and neither am I. Thanks for laying it all out there for the rest of us.

  13. WatermelonPrincess says:

    You have no idea how excited I am to meet you in a few weeks at “plant-stock”!! More than the rest of the speakers, you are the one who has actually and IS actually living this. Thank you, and please be ready for a giant hug from me!

  14. A great admirer says:

    Thank you with all my heart, Natala!

  15. Lee says:

    haha, this is so me. especially the part about nut butters

  16. Rick says:

    Thank you for the open and heartfelt article Natala. I was one of the people who squawked when you last talked about nut butter and whole wheat bread. I understand now what you meant. I would sit down with a bag of cool ranch flavor doritos, eat the whole bag and chase it with a large pepperoni and onion pizza, then wonder why I needed a slug of baking soda and water at 1 AM to calm my heartburn. When I went plant based, I continued binge eating at night, but was smart enough to eat foods that were progressively less calorie dense as the night wore on. I continued to eat until my stomach was bloated. Fortunately I still lost weight. I’ve been on a plant based diet for 1 1/2 years now and now longer feel the need for binge eating. I realize how badly addicted I was and am grateful to have escaped the “pleasure trap”. I’d wish you good luck Natala, but I know you and I don’t need luck with our food problems anymore. We have fought our battles and have now won the war.

  17. Denise Norris says:

    wow I could have written this! I have told myself the same lies and still constantly think about food! I often wonder when the day will come that I won’t be obsessed with food. Congratulations on your journey to health!

  18. jendiggity says:

    <3

  19. Karin Parsons Curran says:

    I wish I could say more than just thanks. My earliest and strongest memories are of reading and eating food I’d snuck from somewhere. I happened to discover food very early and thus never needed booze or cigarettes or drugs. I had my addiction well and truly sorted out before elementary school. Most people have no idea about how some of us use food, and the quantities and strategies that are involved.

    For me it wasn’t a knowledge issue. I’d known about McDougall from the late 1980s – just as I was starting to get really fat. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t until 2009 that I finally decided that staying the way I was hurt more than changing. I lost about 120 pounds. I will never not be attracted to vast quantities of food and to unhealthy food. When people post pics of the worst excesses, like the Double Down or some triple chocolate caramel brownie fudge thing, and most comments are “oh this looks disgusting,” my reaction is “omigod that would taste amazing.” I haven’t eaten meat or cheese in years but the sight and smell still make me salivate. Every hour of every day I have to consciously choose health supporting foods. I love the healthy food, don’t get me wrong, but I love the unhealthy food in a dark and complex and overwhelming way.

    I love your blog. Keep it up.

    • Bridget Habak says:

      Wow, you and me, both! I remember sneaking food. Trying to figure out ways so that my parents wouldn’t notice the food missing. When I was old enough, I would buy things while out on my paper route and eat them before I got home. I had forgotten about those things until seeing your post reminded me. Good luck! Thanks for sharing!

      • Karin Parsons Curran says:

        This was an area that my OCD helped… I was really good at ensuring that things looked untouched. :-) To this day, I believe that my attention to detail was honed through sneaking food.

    • Allison Bergman says:

      I am right there with you. “Every hour of every day I have to consciously choose health supporting foods.” Unhealthy food is always available were as you have to go out of your way to eat vegetables. The main reason I get a salad at work instead of pizza is because I told them that I didn’t eat animal products. There’s never a week that goes by without there being chocolate donuts or cupcakes at the office. Or pie on pi day.

    • Brian says:

      Thanks Karin. I thought I was the only one. It’s like declaring something “gross” is some sort of activism. Thanks to you (and Natala as always!) for sharing.

  20. Abi says:

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story, Natala. Congrats on your progress!

  21. Wendy Woo says:

    Thank you for sharing! Some of us know that being plant strong is the key to our happiness, but for folks like me it is much more of a challenge to make the best choices every day, day after day.

  22. Richard says:

    Natala, I am another of those who can say, “I could have written this.” So much of what you say resonates with my story and with how I am currently changing my life, thanks to the work of Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Fuhrman, et al. Your story of binging and the (emotional) thought process that comes with it is mine. And you are right, once you focus on what is important – being as healthy as you can possibly be – the other things start to matter less and less.

  23. Ursula2007 says:

    Thank you! Great post. I love it when people just say, “You need to lose weight,” like all we need is the desire to do it and it will be done!

  24. Karen Berrish says:

    thanks for telling your story. i have been in the same struggle my whole life. like you, i still am. i know and accept that i will always have to think before i eat; that healthy choices will seldom be natural ones for me. but plant-stron eating has already made me healthier. this outcome is worth the struggle. you and i and all of us here are worth whatever we have to put into our quest to be healthier. we can do it!

  25. Samiam says:

    This is me…..thank you.

  26. Elana Priesman says:

    I think a lot of people struggle with this. It’s just that a lot of people hide it well, because they have fast metabolisms or have major eating disorders to cover them up. If they aren’t struggling with food, it’s alcohol, drugs, sex, work. I have been there, too. I have eaten an entire box of goldfish crackers from costco in one sitting, had my fair share the entire of xtra large meat lovers pizza with breadsticks and butter sauce, and always stuffed my face not even being hungry, and the only way I could enjoy it was with no body watching. That was the old me. I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating large amounts, as long as it’s something like vegetables. Of course that is not what the body always thinks of as party time. Yesterday, I ate asparagus at a vegan ice cream parlor while my friends had sundaes with the works. I know myself…not going to even chance it with one taste- because I want the taste of something I have never had before- health and a body weight I have never been since probably being a child… it sucks and just know that there are so many out there that “get it” and by you being open about it, just helps someone struggling…we have to have healthy minds to have healthy bodies…and letting go of this “shame” by getting it out in the open is detoxifying

  27. JacquiJ says:

    Im 21 and I’ve been struggling with the exact same self arguments that you have. I’m a recovering bulimic (I was a big binge-purge eater and now struggle mostly with binging) and I’ve told myself the same lies you do. Everyone who sees my struggle tells me I have to give myself treats, etc, but like you, one is never enough and I send myself spiraling downward. I am so grateful for your honesty and your story about overcoming your lies to yourself. You have inspired me to start today and not look back. I don’t know if I’ll ever develop a healthy relationship with food where the one cookie doesn’t turn into the whole pan, but I think I am going to just have to give it my best shot. Thanks for sharing your story!

  28. Nancy says:

    Way to go! As someone raised on the ‘meat and potatoes and canned vegetables diet’ who turned vegetarian over 15 years ago, I can say it gets much better. The brain rewires. I dont’ even look at the meat on menus at restaurants. I read every label and put things back without thinking twice. I’m not WFPB yet though. i do have my vices (pop, sweets and some salty once in a while) but that’s the next wiring to get reworked.

  29. Sarah M. says:

    Thank you for this article. I have struggled every day with food addiction since I was a young child. It is EXHAUSTING. The only time I wasn’t obsessed with eating food was when I chose to stop eating. It is a vicious cycle. I hope to someday SOON be able to make rational food choices instead of emotional. It’s been a rough couple of months. Your story is encouraging!

  30. Pam says:

    I’ve said all of these things to myself. I even said one or two of them today. I know I said August 1st a few weeks ago:) You hit the nail on the head Natala. I’m printing this and reading it whenever I’m feeling weak and making excuses. My nutritionist is going to thank you:)

  31. Chocoholic says:

    Natala, thank you. I can absolutely relate to everything you have said.
    For me, I have found a lot of the answers for in a 12-step program (Overeaters Anonymous). OA helped me to get more honest and stop eating my binge foods. Then over time I was able to start eating healthier and give up a lot of the junk food. After reading The China Study and attending Farms 2 Forks, I went plant-based. Now I am about 90% whole foods, plant-based — I still have a way to go and lots to learn — but so far, combining that with OA has been an unbeatable combination!

  32. smita says:

    Awesome blog! Cud u share details ab the study courses that u did..I m so looking for the rite ones..thanks..smita
    Email smitanaru@gmail.com

  33. Marty says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post. After reading many of the other comments, I do recommend that people read “The China Study” for the science behind the benefits of a plant based diet. Let me also suggest “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Furhman. He gives very practical advise on how to break the food addiction. The book is not necessarily about weight loss, but health promotion.

    • HorseLover says:

      Agreed! Once I got Fuhrmanized and decided that I was sticking with this guy, my health and weight began to improve dramatically! Eat To Live and Eat For Health rock! I also read The China Study and the first 75% is just terrific as is Dr.s Campbell and Esselstyn’s documentary, Forks Over Knives.

      Great post Too. Lilly, HealthForMe, linked me to this.

  34. Old timer says:

    I really think that the longer you do this, the more unappealing unhealthy food is. It doesn’t smell good, it doesn’t taste good and it certainly doesn’t make you feel good. I’ve been plant based for over 40 years now and honestly, the smell of oreos makes me gag. :)

  35. Josh LaJaunie says:

    This MY story too! Almost exactly. I have lost 190 lbs in almost exactly the same way, had the same struggles, and found the same life-changing information along the way. Amazing!

  36. Liz Nickel says:

    I can relate to this, especially the part about the peanut butter.

  37. Courtney says:

    Hi Natala! I have a questions about the nerve damage: Were you able to see any recovery? I am on my 5th day of my journey, and I have diabetic nerve damage in my feet. My eyes are fading fast, and all the medications are mind-boggling. I’m hoping beyond hope for a complete recovery with plant-based nutrition for life. I have lost 13 lbs so far (water/bloat), but it’s not really about weight as much as health and life for me. Thank you for the hope.

    • Engine2Team says:

      Hi Courtney – Yes, all of the nerve damage went away. It is something that you have to stick to – this is a life long commitment if you want to see damage from diabetes reverse. Stick with it – that is my biggest advice. Make sure that you follow the guidelines very closely as well – that is a big part of it. Shoot me an e-mail: natala@engine2.com

  38. Kathryn says:

    Hi Natala,
    Even though I have only about 40 pounds to lose, I’ve had those same 40 pounds to lose for about twenty years. I can relate to every point you made. You did a great job of writing about the struggles involved, the psychological tricks we play on ourselves. I too have had many, many Mondays and September 1sts. Wishing you the best in your work toward a degree in nutritional science!

  39. PlantStrongATL says:

    You are so brave, so beautiful, such an inspiration. I saw you speak in Atlanta, and out of all of the speakers, you were the one who spoke to me the most. You changed my life Natala. I know it is not easy all the time for you, but man, you should get major props, what you do is not like anyone else in the plant-strong world, you should get some kind of medal of honor. I really love you as a person, one day I hope to have an ounce of the courage you do.

  40. Penny Jones says:

    I have been plant based, oil and nut free – having had a heart attack – following Dr Caldwell Esselstyn’s diet, since last November. However I still manage to binge, I make flapjacks out of just oats, fruit and ground linseed and will eat them continuously even though they make me feel ill and I know Esselstyn says don’t have too much fruit or desserts. I can’t do moderation, I’m ok if I decide not to eat a certain thing but like you, can never have just a little bit as a treat. I put my problem down to not being fed at all for a while after I was born, hated food and wouldn’t eat as a child then once a teenager discovered good food and then couldn’t stop! Having said all this I have lost a lot of weight, feel generally very healthy and every one says I look great – since doing the Esselstyn diet.

  41. LynnCS says:

    I relate to it ALL! Been there done that and am still having telling myself mental lies. I do commit the crime of throwing things out that I paid perfectly good money for. Maybe, eventually I won’t buy them. Maybe now. Thanks for the great post. Lynn

  42. Peter says:

    Natala you’re amazing :) missing you!

  43. PamM says:

    Your courage is astonishing, Natala, and so is your insight. This post has really helped me see some things clearly that have been very fuzzy to me, and I think will make a huge difference for me. Thank you so much for doing what you do.
    PamM

  44. FatMom says:

    Ditto what others have said, you need your own book. I don’t relate to anyone else, I’m not an athlete, never plan to be one, I’m not a man, never plan to be one, I have struggled with weight since I was 13, no one seems to get it, except for you. Please, help us all out.

  45. runcrissierun says:

    what a wonderful post, and hits so close to home, I wanted to cry. I struggle with binge eating still (yesterday as a matter of fact), and I feel like giving up more often than I like to admit. Congrats on coming to terms and finding a way to stay strong. I hope I can do the same.

  46. Marie Roxanne says:

    Thank you for this as I tell myself those lies too.
    I will start right now, not next Monday, or on the 1st of the month or New Year;s resolution – because they NEVER happen!

  47. katie says:

    excellent post! Thank you for sharing your story and helping me see identify some of the “stories” I’m currently telling myself while resisting making some serious changes in my life. It’s wonderful to hear about the changes you have made and continue to make, thank you for not saying that your challenges have stopped and keeping things honest.

  48. Seria says:

    Hi Natala
    I have had very similar experience as you I have been eating plant strong for 4 wks now and feel great yesterday I went into town and had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant I ordered what I thought would be an ok option but it came cooked in white wrap normally eating something like that would have sent me into a binge because I would have been thinking I have ruined my diet today so I can eat whatever I want and start again tomorrow I can’t recall the no of times I have done that !, but yesterday I had my lunch and that was it I didn’t buy any additional chocolate or crisps or any junk food so I feel I have definitely changed my mindset I am 42 and have been bingeing like this since I was 12
    Thank u

  49. sweetiemuckluck says:

    Have you read The End of Overeating? I just finished it and it really highlighted how the processed/popular food industry manipulates our eating behavior to increase sales and intersects the overeating epidemic with the evolution in “food” production. I’m a plant-based chronic overeater and I relate to every single thing you wrote. I can’t touch processed food and remain in control and I still binge on 100% plant-based healthy food when I’m not totally vigilant. For me this book explains some of the external mechanics of food addiction and compliments the knowledge base that Forks Over Knives and Engine 2 establishes. The End of Overeating is great supplementary reading for anyone who struggles with food addiction.

  50. Jenny says:

    Thanks so much! I have been really struggling with things and love Dr Lyles’ Pleasure Trap talk. (I purchased the DVD) I go from being a strict vegan to eating ice cream and pie. Without any seemingly noticeable trigger. I can see food addiction especially sugar addiction plays a major role in my eating and frequently have obsessional thoughts about food. One has lasted 3 years!! My husband – lets call him “normal” for want of a better word, has absolutely no idea how someone can want to eat something for that long, and it is so nice to read about your experience, that it can be dealt with and overcome. Just got to stick with it … for me everyday is Monday right now. Start new each day instead of waiting for a “special” day. Each day is it.

    • Kathy Joachim Lonergan says:

      I totally get everything you’ve said, my husband is “normal” too and doesn’t understand my obsession, but he is amazingly supportive, so that helps.

  51. thia says:

    This Ia exactly what I needed today. I was telling myself some of those lies just this morning!

  52. ghouliegrrrl says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am finally facing the severity of my food addiction and admitting to its reality. I can’t tell you what it means to read that others have the same issues, that I am not such a “freak”. As a child I would eat an entire bag of double stuff oreos then hide the package in my drawers. Today I can eat three milky way bars and three 20 oz cokes and still crave more, but I always make sure to hide the package or throw them away before I get home so my husband doesn’t see. And *then* I find myself complaining about my weight and wondering why I can’t lose it. We play these incredible mind games with ourselves, don’t we? Anyway, your putting this out there for the world to see made a huge impact on me, and I am so glad to know that I am not alone. I will be following your lead.

  53. Dora Marie says:

    wow, this article is right on! smh, i have said all these same things to myself….

  54. blondie715 says:

    Thank you Natala!! I love everything I have read. Thank you for being real and sharing your life and heart. I have struggled most of my life, turning to food while many family members turned to alcohol. There are many things in my life that I can honestly say contributed to my binge eating. I began my plant strong journey 2 yrs ago…and still stumble (sometimes quite hard). But I take it day by day and and trying to teach my kids to do the same. My 14 yr old (VERY picky eater) is showing some signs of wanting to change…I hope and pray that she continues to make changes (she is the most like me of my 4 kids). I like many others would sneak food…most of it done while an adult after the kids went to bed.

    Thank you for all your work! I am hoping to take the Plant Based nutrition class through Cornell someday soon! Keep up your great work….you are beautiful!!

  55. DC says:

    Thanks for sharing and I smile knowing you’ve found your way. You are not alone. Many people (including me) struggle(d) with this and have the same internal thoughts, no matter if they have 20 pounds to lose or 200 pounds to lose. Your last few paragraph drove home the bottom line. We have to stop striving for perfection when it comes to this subject. We just have to stop staring at the marshmallow and shoot for commitment, effort, and progress. The payoff will be more than just outward appearances. When the driver is something bigger than fitting into a pant size (for example, to run a specific marathon or be able to play a game of basketball with my child) it will be the fuel that keeps you going.

    For me, that moment came at the gym when I saw a girl on the treadmill running so fast for what seemed like forever. I could barely jog 4 m.p.h. then and wanted to run 8 m.p.h. and for as long as she could run. It became my focus and everything else (the food I ate, the “exercise” I needed to do, etc.) was secondary. At the time, I could barely walk 4 m.p.h. but week after week I improved and eventually could run for an hour or longer at 6.5 – 7.5 m.p.h. At that point it didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t as fast as her. I was just happy with my progress! Meanwhile I was surprised and confused that my jeans “were getting bigger”. I realized I had lost the excess pounds, I was shrinking! My diet had changed in preference of healthier fares and there I was – a healthier me.

  56. kimannmen says:

    Perhaps one of the best food blog posts ever. Kudos to you for sharing so honestly. It helps more than you will ever know.

  57. Terri says:

    Thank you.

  58. Kathy Joachim Lonergan says:

    I absolutely relate to it all, In fact I got a few laughs, like with the M&Ms! OMIGOSH, my boss keeps a candy dish on his counter and when he found out I liked York peppermint patties he’d always keep it stocked with those along with other candies. When he wasn’t around, I’d go where his stash was and take the whole bag of Yorks and eat them in one afternoon! So finally, one day I begged him to not buy those anymore. I said I could handle all the other candies but had no self control over those. He thought I was kidding at first. But he did stop buying them, and I never buy them at the store. You mentioned alcoholism. I’m a recovering alcoholic, 18 years sober, and food still has a hold of me. It’s tough because I have to eat! I can live without booze, but not food. Reading things like this help, but it’s so easy to just grab something unhealthy and gobble it down without even thinking. Progress not perfection, right? What a battle! But thanks for the blog, it has really motivated me.

  59. DeniDee says:

    Wow, I saw SO much of myself in this blog post! I’ve done it all, too…the binging, the throwing up, the “I’ll start on Monday”. To the list I will add that before I was veggie (over 20 years ago) I would binge on fast food by taking a written list (so they would think it wasn’t all for me) and be sure to order 3 small fries instead of one large (again, so I could fool them into thinking I was buying for other people). Even after becoming a vegetarian, I still found ways to binge. I also went through two cycles of rapid, extreme weight loss (150+ in less than a year, TWICE) by starving myself and working out like crazy, all while feeling so deprived.

    I went completely vegan last year, but a junk food vegan, so still needed help changing my ways. Right now I belong to “Get Waisted” a national program that has local groups. It’s for people who want to transition to a plant-based diet OR are already vegan but need help losing weight and learning proper nutrition. I’ve been on the program since late June, and have lost 17 pounds so far, without counting calories, deprivation, or anything. I’ve got a long ways to go, but the weekly meetings & the other group members keep me grounded and progressing.

    Anyway, thank you for this blog post!

  60. Adrian Ireland says:

    I’m trying to get the message out there, Natala’s story convinces me more that it’s the right thing

  61. nurse4angels says:

    Natala, you wrote a wonderful article about your struggles and kudos for being able to recognize your dilemma. Every paragraph was read very intently. I would dissect your words and just reminence. Gosh, she hurt just like I hurt. Although I did exactly what you were doing, ‘start Monday/start next month/after my stressful week/absolutely after I eat all the things I like/ etc…/etc…” always on my mind like a hamster on his wheel, going nowhere. So very sad! I had never been obese, fat just a bit heavy. I carried my weight good. But inside of me the struggles of binging on food were totally out of control since I was 18 and I am now 56. Never happy with me, never seeing the real me in the mirror, never accepting compliments, depression, alienation towards my peers. Wow. My poor stomach has suffered many diets, lots of hunger time, tight close I could not breathe and so forth. But the very worst and after all these years of self abuse, I resoluted myself to eating 3 king size Hershey bars with tons of water Monday thru Friday, eat a toast with peanut butter on Saturday and Sunday have chicken and a vegetable. That was my food intake for 11 years. Can you believe that???!!! I became one day approx. 4 years ago very very sick. I was losing my hair leaving patches on my scalp, my skin was full of itchy sores, I barely could move, massive amount of diarrhea. My physician thought I had aids??? all tests were negative and blood work ok! odd!! I was going mad, crying all the time, but still eating those chocolates as much as I could and never depriving me of this one food. Eventually I developed gluten sensitivity due to the chocolate and how it had damaged the vili in the lining of my stomach. Gosh the amount of money I spent on doctors, blood work, medication, pills, creams, shampoos, detergents, new clothes, thinking of some sort of allergies but no one could pin point it. I had ct scans, mri’s, gosh you name it, even an endoscopy and a colonoscopy and skin biopsies. Nobody could find the problem. I became emanciated of which,(sickening to think of this…) I loved the look. OMGOD, this is just not right. I would not divulge my insanity with chocolates. No way no how. One day I heard of a dvd called: Forks over knives. I got it and it was like an epiphany I could heal myself with food. Bingo! I began the slow process, hard-headed I was, fighting it all the way. But kept it up. Then I incorporated a little bit of 20 minutes at home work out videos. That was invigorating although I detest exercising. I kept looking at my tummy and said: it’s ok, we will do. I promise I will make you better!” So now it is one day at a time. Bought the Happy Herbivore. Making some recipes. I exercise on and off, I don’t stress about it. G-d willing, he will allow me to live an old life without complications and when he is ready to take me, he shall do it in my sleep, peacefully!

  62. Mandy says:

    Brilliant. Inspiring. Exactly the reminder that I needed. Thanks Natala.

  63. jon says:

    The whole time I was reading this blog , I kept thinking over and over , ” how could she know me !! I could identify with every thing you said !! I thought I was the only person that kept promising myself , Monday, come Monday I’ll start to eat different and get rid of this fat !! I also thought I was the only person to compare my eating to an alcoholic , no such thing as a taste , I either ate to I felt sick or didn’t touch it because I knew I couldn’t just have a little !! You give me hope !! I found I have put on about 150 pounds and didn’t know how or if I could get rid of it !! I have heart trouble and can’t walk far because I become short of breathe , but I decided I could begin by not stuffing a bag of chips down with two or three cokes and then getting rid of the salt taste by eating half bag of cookies !! So I have ‘Just ” started to eat plant base food for health and pray I will continue this habit for the rest of my days so I will be able to live without pain, medicine and disease !! Thanks for your honesty and knowing if you did it maybe I can too !!

  64. Lani Strom says:

    Nat, thank you for elucidating what has been the thoughts of millions of us. I printed it out so that I can read it again although I wish I could” pin” it.I can’t begin to add more than what others have stated, but hope at plant stock to thank you personally for one of the most meaningful blogs which will resonate with me forever..

  65. Guest says:

    Wow! I completely related to this article. I have used almost all of the same excuses, and reasoning’s. Right now I’m currently at the following stage “No longer do I see things as “treats” or “cheats”. I just see things as either healthy and nourishing for my body, or not.” I’m almost at the next stage: “I have a different perspective on “cheating”, in that I realized the only person I’m cheating is myself. Perhaps that sounds trite, but that is the truth. Sure I have the right to choose anything I like to eat, but what does that do for me? It’s temporary. It’s a temporary, fleeting taste that lasts a few seconds. And no longer do I feel chained to the need to experience it at the risk of damaging my health.” I’ve been through all of the reasoning’s from the “I’ll start Monday” to the “it’s not fair”. I even have the option that maybe it’s not for me out there, while at the same time hoping that that’s not true. I just started the plant based diet this year. It’s really nice to know that other people are going through the same thought process. Thank you for posting this article. I really like your perspective that cheating is a temporary feeling, it only lasts a second. I’ll keep working on telling myself that the next time I want to go for a craving.

  66. Allison Bergman says:

    Wow! I completely related to this article. It was almost as if I wrote it myself. I have used almost all of the same excuses, and reasoning’s. Right now I’m currently at the following stage “No longer do I see things as “treats” or “cheats”. I just see things as either healthy and nourishing for my body, or not.” I’m almost at the next stage: “I have a different perspective on “cheating”, in that I realized the only person I’m cheating is myself. Perhaps that sounds trite, but that is the truth. Sure I have the right to choose anything I like to eat, but what does that do for me? It’s temporary. It’s a temporary, fleeting taste that lasts a few seconds. And no longer do I feel chained to the need to experience it at the risk of damaging my health.” I’ve been through all of the reasoning’s from the “I’ll start Monday” to the “it’s not fair”. I even have the option that maybe it’s not for me out there, while at the same time hoping that that’s not true. I just started the plant based diet this year. It’s really nice to know that other people are going through the same thought process. Thank you for posting this article. I really like your perspective that cheating is a temporary feeling, it only lasts a second. I’ll keep working on telling myself that the next time I want to go for a craving.

  67. Chef Aj says:

    Thank you for writing this, Natala. Many of the experts in the plant based movement don’t even believe that food addiction or emotional eating is real because they never struggled with it. I can relate to the peanut butter. It’s a real “pleasure trap” food and was harder for me to give up than even chocolate! Moderation just does not work for an addict.

    Love & Kale,
    Chef AJ

  68. Diane says:

    I read this when it first came out in August, and thanks to Lindsay Nixon I was able to find it when I went looking for it today. I too am addicted to nut butter. I have been eating 2 pounds of nut butter every week on everything – apples, waffles, sweet potatoes, the list goes on and on. But I still thought I was different and that that was okay for me to do. Why? I’m 5’6′, a little under 140 lbs, size 10. So what’s the problem? Yesterday I had my body fat measured. 40.1% fat. I was shocked. My “little” self is almost HALF FAT. Another reminder that things are not always as they seem.

    • Marie Roxanne says:

      Diane, what made you decide to measure your body fat? I am 5’1″ and close to 145 lbs size 10-11 – And how is this done? I am interested to know. Thanks

      • Diane says:

        Although I fit in the clothes, I was not happy with the WAY they fit. things were spilling out here and there. I knew about body fat percentage and decided to check into it. i had it done at the gym I go to, which I now realize was a mistake. i only know the numbers i was told and although I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, their agenda IS to sell personal training packages. the worst part was as soon as i said i didn’t eat meat this guy literally went OFF on me about how NOBODY could live without meat and went downhill from there. it ended when i told him the only expert on me was ME and walking out on him. I am now searching the web for other ways to do it. there are home methods that are not extremely accurate but free, more accurate methods that are quite expensive, and in some cases the writers advocate particular diets that i am not open to. so – am doing some combinations of taking my measurements and pictures about once a month to see how things change. good luck to us both!

  69. Helen says:

    I can’t believe it their is some one who knows how I feel! It has been a big struggle for me to become plant strong. I have some many days that I failed. I have managed to lose 35 pounds only to see my self slowly putting back on. This is just what I needed. I have prayed and prayed for help and your message this morning has helped me so much. I needed to know I was not alone. I love your honesty and stength. Thank you.

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