By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
Dec 12, 2020
I used to have an addiction.
I used to fight it every day of my life.
It was the very first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning. Even before my eyes opened, I was making plans for how and when to get it. Most days, I felt so physically bad or so mentally overwhelmed with life that I’d use my addiction as a bargaining chip to get myself out of bed.
I have stolen for it, hidden it, and lied about it.
Counselors, therapists, doctors, 12-Step meetings, outpatient programs, and a library of self-help books focused on it.
It cost me money, relationships, jobs, and it almost cost me my life.
One hot summer day in 2014, I needed it.
I was anxious, depressed, hurting, and so tired of fighting with myself. There was no way I could keep going about my day without it. I needed a fix, and quickly, before I came completely undone.
I was anxious, depressed, hurting, and so tired of fighting with myself.
My body ached, cells screamed, pulse hammered, eyes teared, and my mind raced as it urged me forward. To that place when time would stop, and I could just be. To that brief moment when everything around me was OK, and I could breathe.
Nothing else mattered, nothing.
My wallet opened as I got fix after fix after fix until my mind calmed down and my body relaxed. With my addiction fed, I was horrified to realize what I had done.
I’d gone to every fast food drive-through I could find, and within 45 minutes, I had inhaled the following:
Three double-cheeseburgers, fries, Coke
Spicy Chicken Sandwich, large Frosty
Whopper, Jr. with cheese, onion rings, Dr. Pepper
Burrito Supreme with extra sour cream, two chicken soft tacos
Onion rings, jalapeno poppers, Reese’s Pieces milkshake
Yes, I ate every bite of that within an hour.
When I was done, I went to the grocery store and bought more food: sour cream & onion potato chips, Oreos, candy bars, and stuff to make dinner. I then went home, grilled some steaks, baked two fluffy potatoes, loaded them with butter and sour cream, and sat down to eat dinner with my wife. She had no idea about my pre-dinner binge.
In less than 45 minutes, I had spent over $100 of hard-earned money to get my feel-good-fix. Money that I didn’t really have to spend. Money that should’ve gone towards paying bills.
That morning, around 2 am, I wound up in the emergency room with heart palpitations, soaring blood pressure, and a migraine headache. After several hours of testing to rule out a stroke or heart attack, they sent me home.
That was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that I used food to stuff down and/or soothe every emotion I had in order to get through my day. Eating my emotions, quieting the rollercoaster of heavy feelings, ignoring my body’s needs and signals was a way of life for me.
Using food was my way of coping with everyday stress.
I was a fast food and junk food addict, and I didn’t know what to do. This secret addiction of eating huge amounts of highly processed foods laden with sugar, fat, and salt had me mentally and physically sick with hopelessness and overwhelming despair.
I felt alone and full of shame.
On my search for something, anything, to help me feel better, I came across Clean Food Dirty Girl, and in July of 2017, I subscribed to the Plant Fueled Meal Plans. I was blown away. I learned that healthy eating doesn’t have to be bland or boring, that it can be joyful and invigorating, and downright delicious!
Initially, I lost over 50 lbs (23 kilos) and found relief from severe IBS symptoms, migraine headaches, and joint pain. I never thought that eating would be the thing that made me feel so good.
But then… After I had found so much success with the Meal Plans, I allowed bad habits, cravings, and processed food back into my life. I started binge eating again, and the whole thing came crumbling down around me as I regained most of the weight, and depression set in. Once again, for the umpteenth time in my life, I was back on the yo-yo diet cycle of losing and gaining and losing and gaining.
It was infuriating and so unbelievably frustrating.
The problem was clear. I had changed what I was eating with great success, and eating plants was a game-changer, but I had not fully resolved the deeper issues I struggled with around food.
So I got to work.
And as I started working on those deeper issues, something unexpected happened.
Without even trying, I developed a three-step process that helped me “catch” myself before I had the chance to fall off the binge and emotional eating wagon. It was hard work, and it took time, but after four decades of allowing my emotions and addiction to food control my life, I was finally free.
Without even trying, I developed a three-step process that helped me “catch” myself before I had the chance to fall off the binge and emotional eating wagon.
Free from the nagging, non-stop conversation in my head about weight.
Free to lose all the excess weight and to keep it off, once and for all.
Free to have the space to find out who I was and what I wanted from life.
Free to stop overthinking, overcomplicating, and overeating.
I will never say I’m “cured” or “fixed” or a “brand new person,” but I now have the tools to live my life without letting emotions, other people, or life events knock me on my ass and dive headfirst into junk food.
I’ve learned there doesn’t have to be shame or judgment on this path.
I’ve learned to look inward and feel the feels, instead of silencing them with food.
I’ve learned how to speak up and speak out.
I’ve learned how to celebrate my body.
I’ve learned to do things differently, laugh, be brave, smile, and keep moving forward.
Earlier this year, I had a phone call with Molly and Luanne, and I told them that I wanted to connect with people looking to find their own freedom from food and who wanted to lose excess weight and keep it off. I wanted folks to know that they’re not alone and that there is a way up and out. I wanted to lay down everything that I had been through and share the process that lifted me up and out. They were totally supportive, and told me to go for it. After many months, it is finally ready for you.
Click here to learn everything I wish I had known during my 40 years of fighting with food.
This is for you.
- ⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (160 ml)
- ¼ cup 100% pure maple syrup (60 ml)
- 2 tablespoons date sugar
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (AKA arrowroot starch)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 cups carrots, sliced (¼" thick / cut on the diagonal) (650 g)
For Serving (optional)
- Pomegranate seeds
- Raw pistachios, shelled and chopped
- Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C) and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the orange juice, maple syrup, date sugar, arrowroot powder, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the sliced carrots and toss until the carrots are evenly coated.
- Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the carrot slices (but not the orange juice mixture in the bottom of the bowl) to the baking sheets and spread them out in a single layer. Set aside the remaining orange juice mixture for now.
- Place the carrots into the oven and roast for 15 minutes, until tender.
- While the carrots are roasting, transfer the remaining orange juice mixture to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring often, until it thickens, about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Set aside until you plate up your dinner.
- When the carrots are done, remove them from the oven and stir, then transfer to a serving bowl.
- To serve, place a generous serving of carrots onto your plate and top with some pomegranate seeds and a sprinkle of pistachios. Drizzle the orange glaze over your carrots and dive in!
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with lifting yourself up and out.