Whether it’s overeating, undereating, or making unhealthy food choices, everyone struggles with food from time to time. So many of us have food addictions and even if we don’t technically register as a food addict, we all have a relationship with food that at times gets strained.
When I am treating patients, I always ask them about their relationship with food. Because I am an herbalist, they often want me to prescribe them herbs for whatever it is that’s ailing them. Before I prescribe any herbal medicine, I request a full intake and food journal. I then make the necessary diet and lifestyle suggestions that will help them to optimize their health and wellness and lose the weight if needed. By correcting people’s diets, their illnesses and symptoms often clear up naturally and they don’t need herbs.
I recently had a new patient that was about 35 pounds overweight and had high blood pressure and borderline high blood sugar levels. Because he was a compliant patient, he was willing to change his diet and start exercising regularly. Within 6 months he lost 25 pounds and his blood pressure dropped significantly, and blood sugar returned to normal. He was able to lower his dose of blood pressure meds and his doctor said that if he continues to progress, there is a good chance he will be able to get off the meds all together.
All too often, doctors prescribe heavy pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms that are brought on by poor diet and lifestyle choices. Once on these medications, it is tough to get off. Of course, there are many health situations and diseases that require western medicine and drugs, but things like type II diabetes, high blood sugar, and obesity can often be treated with diet and exercise. Before going off any of your meds, it’s important you consult your primary care provider.
When a patient is informed and educated about what to eat and how to take care of him or herself, but they still can’t make the decision to do it, we have a problem. There is no shame in having food addictions or a challenging relationship with food. From what I see in my practice, more people are addicted to sugar than are not, and if that sugar intake is risking their health and ultimately their lives, yet they still can’t stop, we have a problem that may run deeper than just the surface.
Most of us know what to do and how to eat healthy; more veggies, lean proteins, and fruit. Less breads and refined carbs and sugars. In spite of that knowledge, we often make the unhealthy choice. When we eat sugar it actually lights up the pleasure center of the brain in a very similar manner to the way sex and drugs do. Knowing that may help one realize that the struggle to get off sugar is very real.
When a patient of mine just can’t change their ways, I encourage them to see a therapist or go to an over-eating anonymous group. Countless thousands of people have received help from these groups and if you know what you need to do and you just can’t do it, it’s OK to ask for help. Your life may depend on it.