I grew up on a farm. My dad always planted a large garden every spring. It produced a bountiful harvest, and my parents preserved green beans, tomato juice, tomatoes, cabbages, beets, carrots, corn, and pickles . . . enough to feed a family of seven through the winter months.
Many farmhouses had a “summer kitchen.” It was a second kitchen—a large room away from the main part of the house—that was used for the hot process of canning jars of fresh produce. An old, gas stove sat in the corner of the room. My mom taught me from an early age to respect the hidden pilot light underneath the burner that remained continuously lit. As in all gas stoves, the pilot light could instantly ignite powerful flames in order to cook food.
My mom would strike a small, wooden match and hold it near the burner. As she carefully released gas, that tiny flame would explode into a large, circular flame, thanks to the hidden pilot light.
Getting out, and staying out of addiction to the Standard American Diet (highly processed, low-nutrient food and animal products)—has a lot of similarities to pilot lights, matches, and flames.
It is much easier and simpler to keep the pilot light of addictive cravings completely extinguished—by not compromising—than to be continually fighting obsessive compulsions that are brewing beneath the surface of one’s food addiction.
In fact, keeping a craving from becoming an all-consuming monster is a next-to-impossible feat to accomplish. It only takes the tiniest spark to ignite the pilot light of cravings to full power again, and that’s the most dangerous place to live.
Just one bite of an addictive substance activates the dopamine reward system, causing the brain to demand more.
“The science on food addiction has now established that highly palatable foods (low-nutrient, high-calorie, intensely sweet, salty, and/or fatty food) produce the exact biochemical effects in the brain that are characteristic of substance abuse.” (1)
In order to get free—and stay free—we literally have to flood our body’s depleted nutritional stores with high-nutrient foods.
Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating at least one pound of raw vegetables and one pound of cooked vegetables; one serving of cooked, starchy vegetables or whole grains; at least one cup of beans; at least four fresh fruits; 1 T. of ground flax seeds; and one ounce of raw nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower, pumpkin, or seasame seeds every day. (We may eat more if we are maintaining weight or need to gain weight.)
Eating this kind of food will naturally suppress our appetite for unhealthy food. (2)
At the same time we are flooding our bodies with this nutrient-rich food, we also need to completely abstain from eating processed and addictive food . . . the low-nutrient food groups, such as bagels, chips, fries, hamburgers, subs, cheese, pizza, soda, sweets, diet food and drinks, cottage cheese, processed cereal, and pasta.
It is much easier to keep the pilot light completely turned off than to continually fight the carvings.
If you are struggling with addiction to the Standard American Diet, reach out for assistance from like-minded friends for ongoing support to help you keep the flames extinguished.
Here’s to ongoing freedom to all!
1. Deana Ferreri, Ph.D. "Why 'just one bite' doesn't work," December 21, 2001, http://www.followhealthlife.com/1/archives/2011/12/
2. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., Eat to Live, (New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, Revised edition, 2011), 311.