March 18, 2020

Gone Keto and Still Struggle with Food? You're Not Alone.





I have a confession to make, everyone.

I have a problem with food.

I am a compulsive overeater and a food addict.

No, I don’t get into the carbs anymore. My high-carb days are over and done with and have been for a long time. It’s the low-carb foods I overconsume. The foods people think “no one” binges on. You wanna bet they don’t?

I’ve been living with this for a while now, and I’m ready to do something about it. I’ve been afraid. I’ve been ashamed. I’ve lived in a shroud of self-loathing. It’s a dark, scary, and very, very lonely place to be.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed or scared about things in life in general, I know of no more comforting sentence that can be strung together with four words than: you are not alone.

And as awful as dealing with this food “stuff” is, I know I’m not alone. Almost no one is talking about it, but that doesn’t mean many of us aren’t living with it. Living in shame. Living in silence.

Let’s break that silence right now, together. If I thought I was the only one fighting these demons, I wouldn’t have written this post or be creating what I’m about to tell you about. I know I’m not the only one. This conversation is long overdue. We don’t need to hide anymore. They say “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and I agree. Current coronavirus issues aside, when dealing with an emotional issue, rather than an infectious one, I do think that getting things into the open can be very therapeutic. It might even be impossible to move forward without doing that. So let’s do it. Now.



With all that in mind:

Keto is wonderful for regulating appetite. There’s no doubt that once you’re off the blood sugar and insulin rollercoasters, hunger becomes very manageable. Feeling “hangry” (hungry + angry) is a distant memory from your former high-carb life, and now, when hunger strikes, it comes on gently and gradually, and you have no problem waiting an hour or two if you need to before having a meal or snack. (See here for a blog post I wrote about the regulation of hunger and appetite on keto.) And that’s great. Fabulous! If, that is, you only eat when you’re actually hungry. If you are someone who (like me) eats for approximately a bajillion reasons other than true, physiological hunger, then the effect keto has on normalizing hunger and appetite is nice, and it has likely helped you somewhat, but it sure hasn’t completely removed your urge to overeat, to eat foods that don’t suit you, or to eat when you know darn well you’re not hungry and have no reason to be.

So, with all that in mind:

Think everyone else has keto mastered? Think everyone else has it all figured out and you’re the only one who’s a mess with food? THEY DON’T, and YOU’RE NOT. You are not alone. Many, MANY of us still have “stuff” to deal with when it comes to food. Some of us can’t seem to break away from the carbs. Others do fine avoiding carbs but binge or compulsively over-consume low-carb foods. Whatever problems you think you have, I can guarantee you’re not the only one. Whatever dark, shameful-feeling behaviors you engage in with food, you are not alone. I am right there with you, friends. I. AM. RIGHT. THERE. WITH. YOU.

So what are we going to do about it? Can we help each other with this most difficult and uncomfortable of issues? Can we turn our feelings of fear, shame, guilt, and overwhelm into something positive? Something that can lift us all up, collectively, together? I believe we can.

After you finish reading this post, take some time to watch this video for the background on what I'll be doing.

And then please visit my Patreon page for information on the community I’m building for those of us who need a little extra support regarding our behaviors around food. Join me in the NEST – a safe place for us to be honest about what’s going on in our lives, food-wise and in other respects that might be contributing to our problematic food behaviors. 

The NEST will be a refuge. A sanctuary from the ugliness and shaming that permeates so much of social media. It will be a ZERO judgment, zero shame, zero guilt zone. Only understanding, solidarity, support, encouragement, empathy, and understanding. We’re in this together. Let’s start having these difficult conversations. The only thing harder than bringing this all into the open is hiding alone, keeping these things in the dark, and feeling like we have to face these demons by ourselves. WE DON’T. Let's start banding together and helping each other.

Why am I calling this the NEST? It stands for Nighttime Eater Strength and Togetherness. (Believe me, folks, I tried all kinds of acronyms and abbreviations; this is the best one I could come up with without postponing this for another six months.) I have a variety of problems with food, and I’ll share more about those among the group. For now, though, I’ll just say that I am mostly a nighttime eater. I do totally fine during the day. Stellar. And I do fine around other people. But late-night, when I’m at home alone, watch out. It’s like a switch flips. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about nighttime eating. It’s “a thing,” and I know many of you deal with this. There’s probably a slew of underlying reasons why we do this, and while there might be some that are universal among us, there are probably others that are as unique to us as our fingerprints. It doesn’t really matter. The reasons why we do certain things may be disparate; the problems that ensue are the same.

So what is the NEST? It’s a community I’d like you to help me form for our mutual benefit. If there’s a way for me to turn this dark, heavy thing into something positive – for something good to come from it – surely it is this. It’ll be a Zoom call, which you can join from your computer, phone, or whatever other device you prefer to use for such things. You can choose to have your video showing so others can see you, or you can keep your camera off. (You can also join in using a “normal” phone if you prefer audio only.) I plan to have at least two calls per week, most likely one on a Sunday night and maybe the second on a Wednesday, but I will also host calls spontaneously on other days and not always at night. I’m calling this the NEST, but it is most definitely not limited to those of us who are nighttime eaters. If you have any problem with food, you are welcome. If you’re a keto ninja and your liver hasn’t seen exogenous glucose in six years but you overeat keto foods, you’re welcome with me. If you know you “need” keto or “should” do keto but can’t seem to quit the carbs, you’re welcome too. Nighttime, daytime, bingeing, compulsive overeating, feeling out of control with food in a way you can only explain to yourself – WHATEVER your issue or issues, you are welcome in the NEST.

I generally stay up waaaay too late, but this could possibly turn into a good thing for those of you on the West Coast of the US or in other time zones around the world. The regular NEST calls will be scheduled ahead of time, but for the times I pop on spontaneously, if it’s the very wee hours of the night or early morning where I live in the US Eastern time zone, that might be more convenient for those of you elsewhere. But I might also get on unannounced in the middle of the day from time to time just to reach out and connect with you. To be honest, I’m not sure how this will go. All I can do is get it started and see where this takes us. If I do get on unannounced, I’ll post on Patreon before going live, so make sure you arrange your settings so that you’ll get a notification (which will include a link to join the call).

Other relevant info:
If you have keto all figured out, this is not for you. You don’t need this. This is for those of us who do. Please respect this boundary.

Others can keep their opinions to themselves. 
There will be no infiltration of people who are living the absolute perfect keto life and want to provide tips and tricks to the rest of us. We need people like that in our lives and we value their experience and insights (yes, they can help us!), but we can find them elsewhere. Spend four seconds on Twitter, Reddit, or Facebook, and you’ll have no shortage of “experts” only too happy to shove advice down your throat. What there is a shortage of is people who understand. People who can empathize. People with whom you can share your food demons – the bad, the scary, the ugly, and the even uglier – and  be loved and accepted exactly as you are, right now. Not after you’ve lost forty pounds. Not after you’ve gone ten consecutive months without a slice of bread. But right now. 

You’ll see the contribution for this tier is $25 per month. I realize that that is not a small amount of money. It might even be completely out of reach for some of you. If that’s the case, don’t despair. I’ll make occasional “NEST” videos that will be available for free to the general public on my YouTube channel. But there are reasons why I need to put a substantial value on this. The most important one is that this will keep the trolls away. People can spew hatred and ugliness for free on social media all they want (and boy, do they), but it’s my sincere hope that no one would be willing to cough up $25 a month to intrude with negativity and horribleness into a group of people who are communing for mutual strength and encouragement in a safe, supportive environment.

Another reason for me to set the cost at $25 is so that I will take this as seriously as I need to. I’ve been slacking on new blog posts forever, but I make a point to deliver on promises when people are kind enough to send some of their hard-earned dollars my way. (I’ve been doing this for several months now at the $10/month Patreon level: in exchange for $10 each month, I produce a monthly “Research Review” video wherein I dissect a few scientific papers I’ve read that month, and I have not failed to deliver since starting last June.) If I know people are counting on me to show up (literally and figuratively), and that they are giving me a not-at-all-small portion of their own income to do so, then I. Will. Be. There.  

Plus, for $25/month, I’d better get on a few times a week, right? It’s kind of the least I can do.

If you want to learn all about this, please watch this video. It’s about an hour long, but I sincerely hope you’ll take the time. It’s all the background you’ll need to understand why I’m doing this, and why I’d like you to join me.

As you can imagine, I have so much more to say—and yes, resources to share with you that have helped me immensely, even if I still have some problems—but I’ll save it for the first couple of NEST calls.

In the meantime, thanks, everyone, for inhabiting this ball of rock hurling through the universe with me. 





P.S. My thanks to the 2 Keto Dudes, who let me give the talk in the video at Ketofest last year, and to Wendy Moore, organizer of the Ottawa Keto Retreats, who also let me give a test run of this talk last year.


Disclaimer: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician. Links in this post and all others may direct you to amazon.com, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links.

4 comments:

  1. The feelings I have for food are the same ones I had when I quit smoking. Cigarettes take over your life, you need more and more to get that feeling and you want to smoke every chance you get. You do things just to be able to smoke like eat or drink. If you smoke long enough you'll wake up in the middle of the night wanting to smoke. I quit smoking 11 years ago. It was the hardest thing I ever did, not even switching to keto was that hard. But, it took 10 years for the cravings to completely go away. I used to want one so bad I'd have a drag or two off a friend's, of course it would make me sick but didn't stop me from wanting a drag next time. The same has been with sugar and over eating. With keto and fasting my sugar cravings went away but that doesn't stop me from fantasizing about eating candy and sugary chinese food. I have tried and get nauseous right away and can't have more than a bite or two, but I still want it. I still want to binge eat too. I want to and I try so hard not to but have these moments where I go crazy over a bag of nuts and eat them all within a couple hours. I think it will take time for my brain to catch up with my body. I smoked for 10 years and it took 10 years. I've eaten processed foods and high carbs off and on in my life so who knows how long it will take. I agree we do need support. Support has helped me with keto and fasting and getting off my butt so why not this too?

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  2. This is just my experience, and I'm not saying it's the same for anyone else. I've been low carb for over a decade. I found it helped, but it wasn't until I quit eating vegetables that I found freedom. I'm not obsessive about it, I'll still have half an avocado a couple of times a week, and a few mushrooms once in a while, and a glass of wine a couple of times a week, and coffee and chocolate (90%), of course. But other than that, it's just meat and cheese and maybe an egg once in a while. And for the first time in my life (and I'll be 67 in 2 weeks) I'm comfortable about food. I don't have cravings, I don't really think about food until it's time to fix some. Then I eat, and I'm done. It's really wonderful, after a lifetime of fraught interactions, guilt, hiding, all the diets, you all know. I don't think it will work for everyone, but I'm really glad it works for me. So I won't be joining the group, but I heartily wish you all the best!

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    1. Love hearing this, Denise. Yes, a lot of people report that going that last extra step to 100% carnivore or very close to it helped them lose whatever sugar cravings or tendencies to overeat they had in the past. I am going to try carnivore at some point. I definitely know it's an option, and I'm curious to see how it will affect me, but I'm not quite ready for that yet. I'm glad you found something that works so well for you. :)

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  3. I compulsively eat and binge all foods and I'm tired of it. I wish I didn't have to eat at all! I had great success with keto for a five month stretch only to self-sabotage and gain it all back plus more. This is exactly what I need and I just finished watching your YouTube video. I'm off to check out the Patreon info next. Thanks, Amy!

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