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)