Welcome back to my dialogue with Author Rhona Epstein who penned the nutritional self-help book, Food Triggers *End Your Cravings * *Eat Well and Live Better * I appreciate her graciousness in submitting to an interview.
Ellie: Are food triggers something one ever conquers, or is it the equivalent of someone overcoming drugs, alcohol or smoking addiction, which must be faced daily?
Rhona: I think it depends on the person. Some people don’t really have a physical addiction to food and emotional/spiritual help might fix the problem. For a person who really can’t manage certain foods without losing control, it probably is safer to treat it like a chemical addiction which does mean daily careful navigation of food choices. It does get easier with time – once clarity is found on the best plan then it can be a simple routine.
E: You address other issues besides food triggers in your book, such as how to establish lifelong healthy eating habits. As a psychologist, can you explain why most dieters seem to want to place a “beginning and an end” to any health plan rather than thinking in terms of a lifetime commitment?
I’ve seen people who have had wonderful success on various diets and once they start to have a little, it turns to more and more. The only answer I have is that in some cases a person might actually have that physiological predisposition to food addiction and they don’t realize that one cookie could be the beginning of the end of their success because it is just like one drink for an alcoholic.
Once a person understands this, the cookie doesn’t seem worth it anymore. The other possibility is what they are doing might be too restrictive and deprivation can lead to overeating. That’s why I strongly discourage quick weight loss strategies. You can’t stay on them. It’s better to slow down a chose a lifestyle plan you can live on forever.
E: God created each one of us uniquely and there doesn’t seem to be “one size fits all” answer to every patient’s needs. Are your patients surprised to discover there might be a chemical reason rather than merely willpower, when one overeats? If so, how do they react?
R: That’s for sure! If you talk to 10 food addicts in recovery you will hear 10 different eating patterns but all have certain similarities. I think people are generally relieved when they learn there is something chemical about their overeating. It provides an explanation to the insanity they are experiencing. People who are seriously overeating can feel like they’ve lost their minds. When they learn the foods are acting like drugs on the brain it makes sense.
E: I have appreciated your time Rhona and have one last question for you: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a psychologist? As a counselor myself, I have always said it is the satisfaction of seeing that ‘light bulb’ come on when someone finally realizes why they give in. What are some of yours?
R: There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing people transform physically, emotionally and spiritually right before my eyes. I love to be a part of miracles in the making.
E: Absolutely! I agree that it’s truly an honor to make a difference in another’s life and that shows through in your writing. Thank you for the positive inspiration you’ve provided to so many through Food Triggers.
“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)
So many compulsive eaters today struggle with overcoming food trigger challenges, mistakenly believing that it’s simply a matter of willpower. That’s not always the case as psychologist Rhona Epstein details in her new book, Food Triggers. After writing a review for Worthy Press, I was honored when Dr. Epstein agreed to my request for this interview.
Ellie: Congratulations on a very well-written book. Not only is it insightful and practical, but it shows a personal side not usually expressed by psychologists. How did the idea come about and what made you decide to write it?
Rhona: Thank you! Thoughts of writing this book started many years ago. Friends have suggested the idea numerous times as they found my personal testimony an inspiration. So many struggle with overeating. I have been given the gift of a way out and believe God stirred me towards sharing the message of hope so others can find freedom.
E: My favorite passage in the entire book is from page 54, in which you state, “What you need and want most is not in the refrigerator or the cupboard, from a grocery shelf, or on a menu. What you need and want most are often the things that haven’t come to you easily or at all: love, belonging, security, success, fulfilling relationships, meaning.” You go on to discuss how food can never fill your soul or what you are truly longing for. Can you expound upon that truism for our readers?
R: This passage is the heart of food triggers. People turn to food without realizing they are feeding the wrong kind of hunger. It’s like putting olive oil in the gas tank. It’s just not what the car needs. God has many wonderful ways of feeding our hungry hearts if we only would turn to Him and the provisions He has for us to meet our true needs.
E: You are a very accomplished woman and yet even you struggled with food addiction. You’re also very open and honest in the book about that challenge and the steps you took to confront it. I’m sure your story encouraged many. Did you have any second thoughts about revealing your personal history?
R: Yes, as a professional we are trained to minimize self-disclosure unless it would help the client. For many years I tried to put on a professional hat and minimize my story but there is no question that in my office every day my story helps people feel less ashamed of what they’re going through and more and more encouraged that it is possible to recover. When I am real it helps others be real. Addictions counselors tend to be more like this than other mental health professional. If it works to save lives it’s worth the vulnerability.
“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11
Dr. Epstein is truly an advocate of God’s Wisdom and Power to overcome personal challenges.
Part Two of my interview will be posted tomorrow in which we will delve into the psychological aspects of food triggers.
Have you seen the commercials?
Those gorgeous size 2 models dancing all over the beach shaking the weight reduction product called Sensa? According to those happy smiling faces, if you simply use Sensa, you too can indulge in all the decadent, culinary pleasures of deliciously fattening hot dogs, french fries, pizza, cold cuts and huge ice cream servings and still manage to lose weight. Wow!!! I never knew it was so easy, did you?!
Sorry, I know I sound snarky, but I now understand how Jesus felt when he angrily threw the money changers out of the Temple. “What are you doing to my Father’s house?” I realize we live under grace and can eat pretty much as we want, but I don’t believe this is how God wants us to treat our bodily temple, do you? 1 Corinthians 3:17, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” That’s quite a strongly worded command.
According to Sensa:
- A participant will lose up to 30 lbs within a 6 month period, or approximately 1 1/4 pounds a week.
- Sensa consists of chemical flakes: silica, maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate, dyes, etc. which are sprinkled over food.
- Sensa offers many flavors, mimicking mildly salty or sweet tastes.
- It claims to work by tricking your sense of smell.
So it tricks your body into thinking you’re not hungry? Now who was it that tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden, again? Oh right, Satan. He’s still on the prowl today. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” I’d rather let God control my life, not the devil, wouldn’t you?
Those who try Sensa are searching for an easy way out, wanting to literally have their cake and eat it too. Okay, once again, what are my mantras?
- Eat for Nutrients! How many nutrients are in hot dogs? Not many! And . . .
- Anything’s Fine in Moderation. One doesn’t have to give up all their favorite foods; simply make better choices.
Practice self-control. Titus 1:8 “But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”
The majority of overweight people know what to do; eat less, drink water and exercise. Overeating is often due to unconscious, emotional, self-destructive reasons. Until we get to the root of the problem, we’ll only mask it.
Although a few did sing Sensa’s praises, the majority of those who tried it stated that it didn’t work for them. Hmm, wonder why . . .
According to the website, Sensa is recommended to be taken along with a diet and exercise program. Of those who LOST weight on this program, most included routine exercise as well. Exercise and eating less always produce weight loss, but does it produce health? Losing only about 2 lbs a week is what I normally recommend anyway. Of course, when one loses weight without exercise, one loses muscle along with fat. When they gain, they primarily gain fat back. Then it’s harder to lose when they try again.
Oh wait . . . I’ve found was some good news! You’ll definitely lose some weight because your wallet’s going to be lighter. A one month starter kit is $59.95 while a six month kit cost $354. For that, someone could purchase plenty of fruits and vegetables, which creates a more alkaline body, decreasing appetite and improving one’s mood and immune system.
Amazingly, a person can lose 2 lbs a week just by eating right and exercising! Hmmm, I think I’ll purchase a new dance DVD with the savings.
Please don’t be taken in by false diet gurus who promise easy fixes! Honor God by disciplining your body and trusting Him in your Christian walk.