A thought about processed and ultra-processed food

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  • This topic has 13 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 3 months ago by Maggie C.
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    • #14619

      A couple of recent threads here about modern food, got me thinking about the subject of “cross addiction” which is something very well known in addiction research. I became aware of this in my smoking cessation work, where smokers quit and cross-addict by eating food in place of cigarettes. And, of course, they may well have smoked cigarettes in place of eating food in the first place. This is cross addiction at work: the addictive desire is satisfied one way or another.

      I doubt there’s research to back this up, but I wonder if people can become addicted to UPF (BTW, sugar itself, and all of the ‘vegetable’ oils are ultra-processed) and when they start to get off that and eat in more healthy ways, they cross-addict in that they are continuing to satisfy their addictive desire. And so they are overeating the healthy food.

      This may well apply to some of you? Do you see yourself here?

    • #14621
      Sally G

      I find that if I end an ultra processed meal, I crave more ultra processed food.

      My cross-addiction has always been shopping. So, in control of food? Shopping out of control. In control of spending? Food out of control. Have worked hard to get more balance and am leaning in to the addictive desires in both areas!

    • #14622

      Brilliant, Sally.

      Yes, I didn’t say that, but of course leaning into addictive desire is the solution to it all. Then (and only then) it transforms itself and evaporates.

    • #14623

      Yes, I’d say so. I’ve recently made myself ‘healthier’ alternatives to biscuits etc, the rationale to myself being that it avoids feeling of deprivation, and my alternatives do have nutrients and don’t have sugar or gluten (or any other grains), or vegetable oils. However, the result is that I eat more than I need, all the same- I could get the nutrients in other ways. So I was just thinking earlier today that this maybe isn’t the best idea.

    • #14624

      Interesting that you mention avoiding feeling deprived, Elizabeth. I’d like to say something about that on Sunday.

      May I ask, if you don’t have any biscuits etc (home-made or otherwise) in the house and you feel deprived, do you think of that as an addictive desire and use the Working Through technique?

    • #14626
      Cyndi B.

      Gillian, Now that you mention it, I can definitely feel a leap-frog line across the years of dealing with addiction/desire : cigarettes, more food, “successful” spans of dieting / much healthier eating.. and all without an understanding of CHOICE, true agency, that is making a real difference now.
      I was doing the best I could with what I knew… but the decades of unnecessary and constant strain!

      • #14639

        Yes, I do now recognise it as addictive desire, although it also feels tangled up in my struggle to really believe/ embrace choice. Feeling deprived but not having anything available has not really come up very recently. My internal dialogue tends to go along the lines of ‘You can have … if you really want it- but as you’re not really hungry you might enjoy it more later/ you’ve got (something tasty) for dinner- if you eat this now you won’t enjoy dinner as much/ I prefer to choose reduced inflammation. Is this cheating? Am I just avoiding sitting with/ working through the feelings? It has an undercurrent of ‘well, yes, you could choose to eat it, but given the circumstances I’ve just described, only an idiot with no self-control would make the choice to eat it’, and I end up a bit disappointed, and not really feeling I’ve made a choice.
        I think I am also somewhat addicted to playing spider solitaire. No money is involved, but I do waste time. I would see it as a parallel rather than cross-over addiction, but I do use it to distract myself from an inappropriate desire for food.
        Your comment about eating before leaving the house in case you got hungry sparked the train of thought. I think I eat in case I feel deprived!!
        I hope this makes sense. I have listened to the MP3, and I do need to use the technique more.

      • #14640

        The way forward for you will be to give it a try to see what happens. Just an experiment. You don’t have to stick with any change you make, you’re just curious to see what you can learn in your own experience when you use the mp3 to work through desire.

        Yes, you are correct that addictive desire and feeling deprived are tangled up together. The question is whether you will always eat those inflammatory foods rather than feel deprived. OR will you challenge the feeling of deprivation when it happens by “Working Through” your addictive desire and thereby changing the way you think.

        My guess is that leaving some kinds of food in the shops will be part of the solution for you and I’ll speak about that in today’s webinar.

    • #14630

      I certainly went through a phase of buying large amounts of very expensive, high-quality ingredients – think truffle oil, pink Himalayan salt, albacore tuna etc. – and buying far too much fresh food, such as salad veg and fruit, which would go off before I could use it all. Buying these things was exciting, and felt like compensation for not eating my favourite binge foods. There was something similar to addictive desire when I saw those expensive foods, but I didn’t overeat the stuff I bought.

      Eventually I calmed down! I have a better sense of how much fresh food to buy, and although I still buy good-quality ingredients, organic veg etc., I don’t get carried away – I just buy and eat the really expensive stuff very occasionally. I actually spend less overall, now that I don’t snack in junk food.

    • #14643
      Sophia G.

      Gillian, could you say more about ‘leaning into’ addictive desire, which is mentioned above, please? I’ve got the general idea which must be welcoming the desire as an opportunity to heal and finish with it, but it’s such a very inspiring phrase.

      • #14657

        I think it’s often used to mean stepping up to a challenge, perhaps like a surfer might lean into a huge wave.

    • #14658

      Coffee is my greatest addiction – cross addiction.
      But for now, I just told myself today that I chose to continue to drink as much coffee as I currently do, and that this is my choice now and I’m OK with it for now, while dealing with working through the addictive desire for food, experimenting with Times, eating slower and mindfully.
      How does this sound, Gillian?

      My addictive desire is much much less, although I traveled last week and I had a very emotionally intense week, which usually triggers overeating, but it didn’t.

      • #14670


        Excellent to read that you experienced less addictive desire even though you had an intense week. That’s very good news and I think reflects how much you’ve engaged, powerfully, with this course.

        Your plan with the coffee sounds great. Absolutely no need to get everything sorted at once – and really best not to for a perfectionist!

    • #14857
      Maggie C

      I have always struggled with cross addictions – definitely alcohol and cigarettes – both of which I chose not to do several years ago and am really not interested in any more.
      Excessive spending and spontaneous decisions have gone hand in hand with my eating, when it spirals – and have friends with eating issues who are the same.

      Corina – your coffee plan resonated with me. I am now making genuine choices on food but have chosen to keep eating some foods just for the moment, as you have with coffee. I find it makes me feel more relaxed and stops me feeling anxious and perfectionist. I am taking things slowly and find using times and plans so useful. I am learning to sit with feelings … and they do vanish after a while – who knew!!

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