Photo credit Kandy M. Christensen Worn Stairs at Union Station, Chicago

Er my gawd food. I love food. I adore cooking for people and having people over. I really like finding an amazing restaurant and having a magical evening filled with laughter and good food. I think that food brings people together and can help create awesome experiences.

And yet, I have treated food as if it were my enemy. Trying to go through life with those two conflicting views kind of makes you crazy. I've struggled with my weight and body image issues for the last 25 years of my life. I have a food addiction and my drug of choice is sugar. My therapist once told me that she was surprised that I wasn't an alcoholic since sugar addiction can lead to that. 

I've done Weight Watchers and the South Beach Diet and god knows what else (I kind of choose not to remember). About five years ago I started to take a different approach and learned how to eat properly in order to fuel my body and be a happy sane human being. I started working out more and I made that a priority in my life. I started running, which was a very foreign and yet liberating experience. Doing that I lost 90 pounds. That's a lot of weight. 

In 2010 I moved to Iraq which was stressful and crazy, and yet, I didn't gain weight. Ok, I did gain a couple of pounds, but my staff let me know and so I started working out again. It was 110 degrees out and so we did exercise videos inside. When it got cooler (80 degrees was cooler!) we would play soccer outside with my staff. 

Then in 2011 everything in my life was turned upside down. I lost my job, which at that point in time was my identity, and then shortly after I came home my grandfather passed away. I was set adrift and the only consolation I knew was food. I went from a size 12 to a size 18 and I gained back 70 pounds. I gradually lost ten so my net gain is 60 pounds. 

It didn't help that I hit a huge patch of depression this winter that lasted into spring. I'm finally climbing out of it and I am finally feeling like I can start moving and eating healthy again. Let's just say when you are in the midst of a deep dark pit of despair depression that those things are not possible. I totally get that exercise makes you feel better and gets your woo hoo feelings going again, but when you are depressed it's hard to just get out of bed. 

Because I have a food addiction and because deprivation triggers my out of control eating I have to be careful when I pick a program. I had done the Clean Program Cleanse a couple of years ago and let's just say worked while I was doing it, but it put me in deprivation mode and any good it did was undone within the next week. 

I have been trying to move more, eat less and incorporate more healthy food into my diet. I try really hard not to look at food as good or bad because I then feel ashamed if I eat something 'bad'. I am not sure how but I found Sprout Health Lifestyle and I really liked what she said about food. 

I signed up for the Seven Day Shift and I received a great informational packet, plus a full seven day meal plan with a grocery list. 

So, what makes this different from the other things I've done? First there is an 80/20 guideline (I don't want to call it a rule) that recognizes that sometimes life happens. I deliberately chose to have my morning coffee with organic cream and sugar. When I did the Clean thing I found that not having my morning coffee knocked me straight into deprivation mode. I have one cup of coffee a day so I do not feel like I am a coffee addict. It is more about the morning routine and especially since I hate mornings- don't mess with that. 

The food is really good and I don't feel hungry. I do not feel like I have cut back drastically on the amount of food that I eat, but instead I am filling my body with tasty and nutritious food. It also helps that the meals are all planned out and I don't have to think about what is for dinner. 

Here are the downsides: eating healthy is expensive. It also takes time to grocery shop (I had to go twice in one week) and cook dinner, then prep breakfast and lunch for the next day. She mentions in the packet that you may feel fatigued because your body is kicking out all of those processed food toxins and oh yeah that definitely happened. 

Overall I feel better. I made it through the seven days and I can see incorporating eating dairy and gluten free more in my life. I will admit that Saturday night I totally had some flatbread and it was good. 

Originally published 9/4/14

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