With all the signs of food addiction (as investigated in my last article) and its contribution to obesity, the reasons are clear why obesity is a common problem in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2 out of 3 American adults are overweight, more than 1 in 3 are obese, and 1 in 3 American kids are overweight.
Many people find weight loss difficult because deprivation is not easy. For food addicts, losing weight is even harder when they have constant cravings. But there are inspiring people like Heather Goodwin who have tried everything and finally won the fight with food addiction by her sheer determination and conversion to a plant-based whole food diet.
“Severe Food Addict”
Heather is a mother of two from Oregon, Portland. She has been overweight since she was young, and at school she was bullied and teased for being fat. She went on her first diet when she was 11 years old.
However, she continued to gain weight. In her teens her weight was in the 100s; in her twenties, the 200s; in her thirties, the 300s, and in her forties—well, yes you guessed it—it went up to the 400s. Heather peaked at 436 pounds on her 5 feet 2 inch frame. As she would say, she was rounder than she was tall.
It all started when she was in her childhood with comfort and convenience food. She called herself a “severe food addict.”
For someone who is addicted to food, their brain is especially sensitive to sugars and simple carbohydrates. In the interview with Plant Yourself Podcast Heather said, “It was a constant fight against a very powerful addiction. It almost killed me.”
She called the voice in her head the “inner brat” that would say something like, “It’s ok. It’s just one. Go ahead and do it. You’re already screwed up for the day. You know you’re going to get back on track tomorrow. You gotta get into all your treats now. ” This was the addiction talking.
Lifelong Yo-yo Dieter
It was this addiction to food that made it very difficult for Heather to lose weight. She lost 100 pounds three times and took off 40-80 pounds at least 20 times. However, whenever a crisis occurred, the stress would drive her back to her comfort foods.
This heavy weight came with a host of health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, asthma, apnea, migraines, acne, and eczema. She had debilitating pain at all times, especially in her hips, back, knees and feet. She didn’t have a good night’s sleep in over 5 years, and she could not stand more than 5 minutes or walk more than 50 meters. She felt like a prisoner in her own body and that she was dying.
A ‘Promise’ Changed It All
She continued to explain in the interview about her journey of transformation. One day in 2014, her mom pulled her aside and said to her, “When I go, I do not want you to fall apart. I want you to take care of this. Promise me.”
Heather made and kept that promise to her mother. It was this promise that made a huge difference and was the final turning point for her.
That defining moment of her life made her realize that it’s up to herself to change. It’s not surgery or anyone else, it needed to be her own choice to make the change.
In order to make it work, she started a YouTube channel in March 2015 to lose weight in front of everyone. At that time she was at 350 pounds. She thought that it would keep her accountable and she would not fail again.
Then one day, one of the viewers of her YouTube channel sent Heather a video of Chef AJ’s “Easy meals to make you thin.” Finding Chef AJ was like finding the missing piece. After watching the video, she took Chef AJ’s advice to stop eating sugar, salt, oil and flour, and it worked for her. This is because by not eating such highly palatable food, her brain was not stimulated to crave more food.
Heather’s Battle With Food Addiction
In an article she wrote for Forks Over Knives, Heather attributed her success in winning over food addiction to focusing on the behavior she needed to achieve her goals rather than the outcomes.
Heather advises people that controlling the environment is the best thing you can do in order to fight food addiction. In her household, her supportive family will make sure that they do not bring food home that’s not healthy.
“If you don’t want to slip, stay off the ice,” she said.
She was so determined to make it work this time that she even changed location of her job so that she was not tempted. She explained, “Being a food addict is like being an alcoholic who lives in a bar.” This is because as she said there are temptations at every corner and on all the advertising you see.
Her Tips For Success
Roasted roots: potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, and carrots
Heather now eats very simply. She eats a strictly plant-based whole food diet, without meat, dairy, or eggs. She eats a lot of salad, leafy greens, fruit and healthy starches like beans, brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes. She also follows Chef AJ’s advice to “get off the SOFAS” which stands for no sugar (or sugar substitutes), oil, flour, alcohol, or salt.
These are the tips for success she gives to people:
- She prepares food ahead of time
- She eats simply
- She stays away from places that are too tempting for her
- She doesn’t go out to restaurants often, which helps keep her on track and helps save money too
- If she is feeling vulnerable, she doesn’t feel the need to attend every social function or party
Her Final Victory
So far Heather has lost over 304 pounds without medication or other treatment. She also got rid of all those health problems from the past. She can now walk pain-free and can sleep easily. She even took a trip and hiked all around Crater Lake, which would not have been possible in the past.
Heather likes to share her story and tips with other people on her Facebook group and YouTube channel, and she hope more people who are struggling with food addiction and obesity can learn from her experience.