On Life, Death, and Fighting Food Cravings

I want to talk a bit today about my father, who passed away about a week ago. I have been thinking a lot about him in conjunction with this blog, as his major illness was diabetes- the disease of chronic, lifetime overeating. It mostly goes hand in hand with food addiction and cravings.

Now as a child and young adult, I never knew of the profound link between diabetes and food cravings or food addiction. In fact, I never knew there was such a thing as food addiction. And my dad and I used to have a grand old time, sharing food and laughs. We liked ice-cream, cookies, donuts, and soda, and there was always a treat involved in a trip to the store with my dad.

My dad and I both loved to eat, and it was one of the ways in which we bonded.

But as I watched my dad in the last years of his life, I remember thinking so frequently "What a price pleasure in food can exact." As time went by my father could hardly walk due to his diabetes. He couldn't see very well. Food began to have no flavor at all and he had a hard time swallowing. He spent his days dozing listlessly in a chair, and was sad beyond measure at the loss of all that he had ever enjoyed in life.

And the odd irony was that toward the end my father couldn't even eat from the havoc to his body. And one might even say that in the end he died of starvation.

So what is there to say about all of this? I know for me I lived a full seven years with no traces of sugar, wheat, or flour in my body- as well as a whole host of other ingredients. And it took a lot of work because in truth there is hardly a box, can, or jar on a grocery store shelf that does not contain at least one of these ingredients, and usually they have a lot more than one. Now I live mostly craving- free, perhaps because it also takes seven years for the cells in a human body to replace themselves. Considering that the cells in your body literally become addicted to those substances, I probably don't have any addicted cells left.

During the week after my dad's death I did partake in some of the typical no-nos. I had some ketchup, which contains sugar. I had a few onion rings. My family, now used to a whole new me, was shocked. I feel that perhaps it was just my yearning to once again feel some comfort in food, as if my dad were back with me. But I know I tread on dangerous waters, and I don't suggest you try it- especially if you still have most of your old, addicted cells.

So where does that leave us, as masses of us still experience cravings that seem almost debilitating and as we step closer and closer to a slow, dehumanizing decline like the one my dad experienced. The first step is to learn about food addiction and how it operates, one person at a time. And we hope that the more people that learn about it, the more we will be able to find healthy, tasty, and non-addicting foods in the grocery store. Right now, it seems to be a bit of an uphill climb to find and eat non-addicting foods. But today I feel healthy, and vibrant, and fully alive- which is more than I can say for all of the years when I ate all that stuff. And I honor my dad's love by not going down the road that he did. And my father was an amazingly loving man, so I am sure he would have wanted that for me.

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