Is a low-carb diet for life?

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Is a low-carb diet for life? Is it a good idea to use an app to track food? What could you be doing wrong if you’re not losing weight and not feeling good on a keto diet? And can keto help you recover from bulimia?

These questions are answered this week by our food-addiction expert, Bitten Jonsson, RN:

Is this for life?

I’ve been eating low carb for almost two years now. Prior to that, I knew I was a sugar addict as I exhibited a lot of signs that worried me (hiding the extent of my eating, consumed with thoughts about sweet foods, eating more than I planned etc). I was never overweight so people had no idea. But I had other symptoms, including terrible digestive issues.

I discovered low-carb eating and have been a lot better since then. I presumed my addiction was “cured” since I wasn’t eating any actual sugar. But I have been using stevia the entire time and recently I’ve noticed the addictive behaviour re-occurring. I keep thinking about my next sweet treat. Now one a day isn’t enough. I want more. I scoff them down so fast so I’m barely enjoying them anyway. I’m so overwhelmed by this. Obviously I’ve just swapped sugar with stevia with the same addictive outcome.

Does this mean I literally can never eat sweet foods again without triggering a relapse? Do I have to avoid naturally sweet foods like berries and cream in case they also trigger a relapse? I’m so tired of being controlled by food, and yet the thought of giving up my treats has me almost in a panic.

Is this something I will battle for the rest of my life? Once an addict, always an addict?

Sara

Dear Sara,

Congratulation to a great start to a healthier lifestyle. The short answer to your question is, yes, this is for life. I truly believe, and my long experience, my own and thousands of others clearly show that “once an addict, always an addict”. Most (if not all) of us have fallen into the LCHF/keto dessert, substitutes, sweetener trap.

Once our reward center has created the addictive wiring, and that usually happens early in life with sugar because that is the first drug we are exposed to, it is irreversible and anything sweet and/or “lookalike” desserts and or bread will trigger our addiction, and so will other psychoactive drugs such as alcohol and more. Today we talk about Addiction Interaction Disorder, one illness, many outlets. The sensitivity to other outlets is somewhat individual but many of us find that berries (especially with Stevia on) and cream is something that has to go because as you mention, we will eat more and more and many times it will lead to a relapse big time.

Being addicted is not just eating certain things, it is about being preoccupied, obsessing about food, still being controlled by food, what we call “foggy brain”. We are not free and freedom from food, enjoying life to its fullest is our goal.

The way out is knowledge, which gives power to reach that freedom. I suggest you start by joining our support group on Facebook.

The best book to start with is Food Junkies by Dr Vera Tarman, latest edition. Here is a link to several great lectures, this is free from 10th of June to 15th of June.

We can’t do this alone, support, sharing and identification in what it means being addicted is extremely vital for us, that’s what paves the road to freedom.

Welcome onboard,
Bitten


Do you recommend an app to track food?

Do you recommend an app for tracking food? I’m stuck for over a week! I do intermittent fasting every day, eating only between the hours of 12 noon to 5 PM. Try to stay under 20 carbs a day.

Thank you,
Lynne

Hello Lynne.

I do not use it, being a sugar addict in recovery, I do not obsess over food and numbers. Dieting, counting calories, weight etc. were part of my illness. But I know of a 12-step group where some members do use an app as tool. Check this out.

My best,
Bitten


I’m not losing much weight, but I also don’t feel good. What am I doing wrong?

I’ve been doing keto since April 26th. I lost 5 pounds (2 kg) the first month – 2% of my body weight. I don’t feel great. Beyond the initial “keto flu”, I still don’t have a lot of energy. I’m exercising but have had leg cramps at night. I think I need to cut out the dairy (in the past that has been inflammatory for me) and I’m probably eating too many nuts (about ¾ cup a day). I need more guidance on how to modify the plan to reduce inflammation and get moving. I’ve overcome the sugar cravings. I’m open to paying for a consultation with someone.

Thanks,
Joan

Hi Joan,

Congratulations to your start. My experience show’s that some of us have a hard time converting to keto and may need extra help by doing what I call “biochemical repair”. Some bodies need more help. And yes, milk products (usually not butter/ghee) and nuts cause inflammation and swelling in our bodies. I suggest you send me an email and I will direct you to a professional that can help you get over this: bitten.jonsson@bittensaddiction.com.

Bitten


Transitioning from an eating disorder to keto and intermittent fasting

Hi Bitten,

I am a female with bulimia nervosa desperately trying to figure out a way to eat in a healthy way to develop a healthier relationship with food and lose the weight binging and purging have caused me to gain.

Is it possible for someone who is bulimic like me to use intermittent fasting and keto to recover and change? And if so, will they lead to weight gain?

Klara

Klara,

First of all, I do not work with Eating Disorders (ED). I work with sugar/flour/food addiction. It might sound strange that I start pointing this out but I will explain the difference and what I suggest you do.

Eating disorders are, how I have learned, a secondary illness i.e. are caused by something, like psychological problems, PTSD, trauma, etc. and the specialists working with that offer different types of therapy and teaches a moderation eating approach. So it deals with a lot of issues in order to help someone be able to eat “normally”. With addiction it is the other way around. Addiction is a primary illness, not caused by something else. It is physical and biochemical illness. A “wrong wiring” in our reward system. And it is the drugs that are the problem. Sugar/sweeteners, flour, processed food’s, “sugar addiction”.

Sugar addicts have several symptoms of eating disorders, but for us it is ways to try to control food and eating issues, so we binge, overeat, restrict, starve, exercise, and try every diet there is and become obsessed with food, body and weight until we become very ill. As an addiction specialist I distinguish between 1. normal eaters, 2. harmful eaters and 3. sugar addicts.

One way to start to evaluate is to do the screening questionnaire. Normal eaters usually answer no to all six questions or maybe yes on one. Most people overeat sweets some time. Harmful users answer yes to 2-3 of the question and addicts have 4 or more yes. But remember this is only a screening. So if someone really wants to know for sure a certified professional can do a in depth evaluation called SUGAR®. The first thing one will know then is if there is an addiction and if there is, one will have a chronological curve over the progressive illness and based on that we can present at tailored treatment plan. Most of the professionals I have trained work online. Here is a link to the list.

The very best food for us is LCHF/keto but remember that we need to listen to the addiction specialists first since a keto page is not aimed at sugar addicts. Fasting does not work on us at all, it will lead to relapse. Keto substitutes like keto bread, keto desserts does not work either. We need to remove the “drug” first. And most important of all we need so many more tools than focusing on food in order to recover. I suggest you start reading Food Junkies latest edition by Dr. Vera Tarman. The join our support group on Facebook.

To answer your question if it is possible to recover I say a big yes if you learn more about all of this.

I wish you freedom from food,
Bitten

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