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Interviewee Bio:

Joan Ifland, PhD, MBA

Dr. Ifland has been creating breakthroughs in recovery from food addiction from 1999 with her first popular book to 2018 when her textbook, Processed Food Addiction: Foundations, Assessment, and Recovery was released by CRC Press.
She founded the online Addiction Reset Community (ARC) in 2016, www.foodaddictionreset.com. The Facebook group, ‘Food Addiction Education’ (2014) and www.foodaddictionresources.com (2014) provide free support. Reset Week is the first online live video program for withdrawal (2018). ARC Manager Training is a program training future Addiction Reset Community leaders (2020).
Dr. Ifland is the lead author of the first scholarly description of processed food addiction and definition of addictive foods.
Dr. Ifland earned her PhD in addictive nutrition at Union Institute and University (2010); her MBA at Stanford Business School (1978) and her BA in Economics and Political Science at Oberlin College (1974). She currently resides in Seattle.

Transcript:

Carole Freeman:

Hello, hello. Hey. I’m going to be here. Joan’s going to be showing up here shortly. I apologize. I sent her the wrong link a few minutes ago, and so I just sent her the right link. So, hopefully she gets that in time and isn’t waiting in the other room. Welcome, welcome, everyone to our 20 must-haves for recovery from processed food addiction. Again, just hanging out here, entertaining you all as we wait for our guest. Again, that’s my fault. I sent her the wrong link. So, let me know if you’re here. I wish I had the Jeopardy music here to play for you all here. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All right. So, again, we’re hanging out, just waiting. There she is. She’s coming! She’s coming! Hi, Joan. I’m so sorry. Can you hear me okay, Joan?

Joan Ifland:

Hi there!

Carole Freeman:

Hello. I’m so sorry. My primary assistant quit a couple weeks ago and-

Joan Ifland:

No worries.

Carole Freeman:

… I sent you the wrong link, because there was … Yeah. Anyway. So, I’m so glad you’re here! Yay. Welcome.

Joan Ifland:

Yay! I’m so glad to see you.

Carole Freeman:

How are you?

Joan Ifland:

I miss our dinners so much.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah. Yes. Oh, hopefully by next year we’ll be able to get back together again and see each other at conferences and things like that.

Joan Ifland:

But you’re not in Seattle anymore.

Carole Freeman:

Nope. Moved to Phoenix nine months ago. Had to get some sun and some heat. Probably next year I think is when the conferences may be resuming. I’ll see you at those things. Plus, my son’s still up in Seattle, so I’ll be back up in Seattle several times a year.

Joan Ifland:

Oh, good. Okay. Well, let us know when you’re coming.

Carole Freeman:

Okay. For sure, yeah. Well, at the end of August for sure. That’ll be the next time. That’s five months away though.

Joan Ifland:

All right.

Carole Freeman:

Well, today you have for us the 20 must-haves for recovery from processed food addiction.

Joan Ifland:

Yes.

Carole Freeman:

Very excited to talk about this. Just to start with, Joan, will you give … So, we may have some people popping in live, but also this will be … It’s going to be a recording that our members can watch at a later time as well. So, we may or may not have actual live questions here. And then also it’s going to be eventually an interview that’s going to be up on my YouTube channel for the public eventually.

Joan Ifland:

Great. Great.

Carole Freeman:

So, just so you have some context who’s going to be watching this here. So, just to start-

Joan Ifland:

Do you …

Carole Freeman:

Oh, go ahead.

Joan Ifland:

Do you want to use slides or do you me to just speak?

Carole Freeman:

Oh, if you can do slides, yeah. If you’ve got that …

Joan Ifland:

Let me just double-check here on the …

Carole Freeman:

Does it allow you to do that or …

Joan Ifland:

Let me just double-check that I’ve got the right ones. I might not have the right ones.

Carole Freeman:

I don’t know if only I can or if it’s going to let you share them on this.

Joan Ifland:

Oh, I might have to send them to you? Okay. That’s all right. Let me just find them first.

Carole Freeman:

Okay. And I might have somebody watching … Kristen, if you’re there, I got your message here that you were looking for it. I think you found it. So, Kristen, if you’re there, if you comment I’ll get an email notification, because there are several different places people can be watching. So, Kristen, if you comment, let us know you’re there. I will get an email notification, so I’ll keep an eye on my emails. If you have any questions for Joan, please go ahead and type your comments or questions below where you’re watching it there. And when you’re ready, Joan, I would just love to start with just sharing a little bit of your background and your training and just to give some people context of why you’re an expert of what you do.

Joan Ifland:

Okay. All right. I do have slides, and I can send you the link to the slides or you can tell me that I can share them.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah, I don’t know that I can let you do that, but if you send the email I can be your technical … What is that, the audio visual, the AV tech for you.

Joan Ifland:

Okay. Okay. So, I am going over to email. I’m going to hit the return. And here’s the link to the slides. All right. It is sent.

Carole Freeman:

Let’s refresh and see if we can … It might take a minute through the internet land.

Joan Ifland:

Yes, it’s a big file. It’s a lot of slides.

Carole Freeman:

There it is. There it is. Excellent. And is your bio in here or …

Joan Ifland:

No, no. If you want to introduce me, I can send you a bio, or I could just-

Carole Freeman:

Well, let’s just have you … Yeah, we’re already live, so let’s just have you share your background with us, please.

Joan Ifland:

Super. Hi, everybody I am Dr. Joan Ifland. My PhD is in addictive nutrition, of all things. There are only two of us in the world. I just really started out in this field at conception. I mean, I’m the daughter of two people who were using processed foods among alcohol and nicotine and caffeine. I was born addicted. We know that cells are replicating in an addictive fashion. So, from the moment of conception, I started struggling with food. I had cravings as a child, really intense cravings, which research shows us children have more intense cravings than adults actually.

Joan Ifland:

I didn’t really develop a weight problem until I had my two children. I was 31 and 32 when I had those two kids. And then I started yo-yo dieting and getting sick and sicker and sicker. I had a really prestigious degree. I have an undergraduate degree in economics and political science from Oberlin College, and I have an MBA from Stanford. And I worked in the corporate world for five years before I had my kids, and I was too sick to go back to work. I was constantly sneezing, constant sinus infections, running eyes, red eyes, just disgusting. And I was yo-yo dieting.

Joan Ifland:

So, because of the back to back pregnancies and just eating too much and not exactly the right things, I developed a more severe food addiction. I can trace food addiction by the diagnostic criteria for adults to my childhood. I was severely addicted as a small child. I had the symptoms. I had the signs. But it really accelerated through my pregnancies.

Joan Ifland:

I was also suffering from a rotten personality. I was raging and angry and irritable and critical. I was not nice to be around, and I didn’t want to be. So, I was doing therapy, and I did a women’s group, and I did a 12-step group, and none of it was helping. I would just erupt into these rages and then be just so ashamed of myself afterwards. I couldn’t help it. It would just come from my feet and out my mouth before I could stop it. Well, finally somebody in one of the support groups asked me if I might consider joining a group called Food Addicts in Recovery, and I said, “Why?” I was kind of at a thin phase. And she said she could hear the sugar running my behavior. She could hear the sugar running the rage.

Joan Ifland:

So, I tried it, and the miracle really started January 1st, 1996. I made my first clean meals. I was sure it wouldn’t work, because there’s way too much food there. But by Thursday, I knew that something huge was happening. Cravings stopped. I didn’t know I had cravings, because I’d never not had them. The fatigue stopped. The brain fog stopped. And then I’d lost two pounds by the end of the week, eating all of this food, not being hungry. I was just like, “What? That doesn’t happen.” The allergies started clearing up, and the lifelong sinus infection cleared up. And then in the third week, I realized I hadn’t yelled at anybody in three weeks. And that was the moment in which I really started on this career.

Joan Ifland:

I wrote a book about it. It took me three years to write a book about how do you do a clean food plan in this culture. And then I tried getting on TV, and that worked, and the book did well. I just kept thinking, the only problem is people don’t know about this. So, that was my first major mistake. It’s not what is required to get off of processed foods. And then a TV producer wouldn’t let me come on their big, national talk show, because I didn’t have a degree in my field. So, I went back. I went back to Union Institute, which is a school for new fields, and earned my PhD in three years and came out and said, “Okay. Well, now I’m going to write articles and teach the teachers,” and that didn’t work.

Joan Ifland:

I didn’t fully know what it meant to have a severe addiction. You cannot teach a severe addict, a severely addicted person. You can’t teach them out of an addiction. But I kept trying. I started a prepared meal company. It was just like saying to somebody, a severe alcoholic, “Look, I’m going to tell you about water, and I’m going to make sure you have plenty of water. And it’s really wonderful water, and you’re going to full so much better after you start using water in place of the alcohol.” That was how naïve that approach is. You can’t just give somebody who has these really severe brain alterations information or availability. It’s not enough.

Carole Freeman:

I love that analogy. That’s so funny.

Joan Ifland:

Then my dad died in 2014, and CRC Press came along. And they said, “Would you write the textbook for us?” And I knew I needed to go back to Cincinnati where I grew up to make sure that my stepmom got through, the end of her life was okay. And it just coincided with this textbook. And my dad left me enough money that I could support myself, and I spent the next three years writing the textbook. This is 240,000 words. It’s got 2,000 citations, which means it’s really built from the research.

Joan Ifland:

Well, in the course of writing the textbook came two major, major breakthroughs. One is we’re typically severely addicted. The American Psychiatric Association publishes addiction diagnostic criteria and there are 11 of them, and if you’re experiencing six or more, you have a severe case. I wrote a chapter on each one of those 11 criteria so people could see how the addiction appeared in overeating. I got to the end of chapter six … Chapter one, well, everybody’s got that. Chapter two, everybody’s got that. Chapter three, chapter four, chapter five, chapter six. Oh my goodness. This is a severe addiction. The other thing that came out of the textbook … And that explained why nothing I had done to that point had worked. I needed a reliable method to get people off these addictive substances, the sugars and flours and dairy, et cetera, and stay off them for a lifetime, because you don’t want to put them back. They’re toxic.

Joan Ifland:

Then the other really big epiphany is that people are typically deeply traumatized when they come into this. If they were heavy as children, they could have been rejected by their parents. If they were using as children, they never developed any life skills, because they would just reach for the food. If they were in relationships, 30% of obese people are being physically abused. The health system unknowingly abuses them. Surgery for an addiction? What? I don’t think so. Pharmaceuticals that leave you with heart disease? No. And residential stays that are quite traumatic because they’re digging around in your past without cleaning up your food? No. So, we’ve really endured a lot of trauma, plus the bullying, typical bullying and traumatizing that goes on around people with a particular body shape, and that was the other big piece.

Joan Ifland:

So, three years ago, and just as soon as I turned in the manuscript, I started developing teaching materials, and a daily phone call was not enough. This is a severe addiction. It means you either go for residential treatment for two years, and we have hundreds of millions of people who are addicted. That is not going to happen. The next level of treatment is intensive outpatient where you go to the hospital five days a week from 9:00 to 4:00, and we don’t have the facilities for that either. Plus, a lot of the worst cases are immobile. Their addiction has eroded their bones and joints, and they’re in wheelchairs, or it’s given them such deep depression that they really can’t leave their house. Or their body shape attracts traumatizing bullying and stigmatization and they just don’t want to leave their house anymore.

Joan Ifland:

So, what we did figure out is that we could bring recovery to them in their homes via Zoom. And my first Zoom meeting in December of 2017, I just thought, “Oh, this is it.” And then we had our first week-long program on Zoom the first week of January 2017. And for the first time in 22 years, everybody was eating clean by the end of the first day. And they were as shocked as I was. “I’ve been trying to get a clean day in for 20 years. Today I did it.” Which led to all the knowledge and discovery of mirror neurons, conformance drive, social circle adaptation, and that’s what we captured. That’s how the food industry got us addicted in the first place, and that’s what we have turned around to use for our own good, is this conformance drive. Yeah. So, here I am.

Carole Freeman:

[inaudible 00:17:17]

Joan Ifland:

We are three years into the ARC, the Addiction Reset Community. We counted up last year. We made 20 innovations in how the ARC works. We’re still adding, growing, strengthening. And now, after 25 years, I have a reliable method.

Carole Freeman:

That’s great. I love it.

Joan Ifland:

That’s exciting.

Carole Freeman:

You knew that there was a problem and then you’ve worked to come up with a solution. So, I love it.

Joan Ifland:

25 years later.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah. Yeah. Oh my gosh. It takes time. Yeah. I can see we’ve got three people watching. I can’t see who you are until you comment though. So, go ahead and give us a little comment. Let us know you’re here. This was meant to be interactive for the people that are here live. Give us a comment, let us know you’re here. Any questions you’ve got for Joan, go ahead and just comment as we go along too. So, Joan, are you ready to switch over to the slides now?

Joan Ifland:

Sure. Sure.

Carole Freeman:

Okay. You’ll have to let me know when you’re ready to … Let’s see. I think I can do … Let’s see. We’ll do that. Oops, sorry. There we go. I think we’ll do it that way. How’s that?

Joan Ifland:

Great.

Carole Freeman:

Because I think if we go this, I don’t know how it looks on your side, because then I can’t see anything. So, anyways. Hopefully that’s okay just going it that way. So, let me know when you’re ready for the next slide.

Joan Ifland:

Okay. So, today we’re going to talk about what does it take to get off of these very, very addictive substances. What does it take to recover from a severe addiction? This is severe, because it starts in early childhood. No other addiction has ever started in early childhood. And it involves a lot of different substances. Sugars and flour and gluten and dairy and excessive salt and processed fats and caffeine and food additives are all addictive, very addictive. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine. So, this is a severe addiction, and this is why nobody recovers from overeating. They lose the weight, and then they gain it back. And they lose it, and then they gain it back. And it gets worse and worse over time.

Joan Ifland:

Well, it’s because, if that happened to you, it’s because you needed a different program. And these are the must-haves. I call them the must-haves that need to be present in your program. And we’re just going to whip through them so we have plenty of time for questions, and you will see why. Why do you have to have this in your program? All right, Carole. Let’s do this.

Carole Freeman:

All right. And we’ve got Rita has commented that she’s watching. So, welcome, Rita. Glad you’re here.

Joan Ifland:

Thank you, Rita. So, if you have the right support, you can have success. If you’ve never had success at controlling your weight, controlling your eating, being at peace with your food, it’s because you’ve been in the wrong program. Programs are generally incomplete and inadequate. So, we’re going to go through what constitutes a complete program.

Carole Freeman:

Is that a cue for next of …

Joan Ifland:

Yeah.

Carole Freeman:

Okay.

Joan Ifland:

I’ll give you a next.

Carole Freeman:

Okay. Okay. I’ll go back.

Joan Ifland:

Okay. Next.

Carole Freeman:

I’m not going to read your mind.

Joan Ifland:

Next.

Carole Freeman:

Oh, okay.

Joan Ifland:

Okay. All right. So, we divided these into five categories. You have to have knowledge of the research. You have to have knowledge and experience with meal management, with lapse management, with meeting stress. A lot of support group meetings are stressful, which is actually triggering the addiction. And you have to have the right leadership and resources. Next. So, when I talk about knowledge of research, I mean it’s got to be the basis of the guidance that’s given. It’s got to include information about how Big Tobacco came into processed foods. It’s got to include how conformance drive works, and then it’s got to be for a lifetime. Next.

Joan Ifland:

If your support is based on research, then you are getting advice that’s going to work. The problem with a lot of problems is they are based on one individual’s experience, and the probability that that one individual’s experience is going to be a match for what you need is zero. You need the studies that show a big population tended in this direction, so when I give you advice based on that study, it is much more likely to work. I mean, my personal experience is not going to be a match for what you need. So, then you’re more likely to actually use the experience and use the advice, because you come to see that it starts to work. So, you’re more motivated to make changes. Yeah. Next.

Joan Ifland:

And this piece, your program has got to recognize the role of Big Tobacco, the role of corporations in deliberately creating the addiction. Otherwise, you don’t know how to defend against that. They use very specific techniques, and you need very specific skills in order to counteract and defend against those techniques. Plus, they caused this. We have the evidence in documents that they submitted in their court proceedings. They deliberately went after creating addiction in children. So, if you don’t have this piece, you’re going to blame yourself, and then you’re going to be looking in the wrong direction. If you blame yourself, you’re going to be looking at childhood issues and just therapy and things like that. This is a straight-up very bad addiction, and it needs very specific addiction-related actions. And if you continue to blame yourself, you’re not going to take those actions. This is essential, the role of Big Tobacco be recognized in your program. Next.

Joan Ifland:

And conformance drive engagement. We know from the research that the teaching, the learning, the memory part of the brain is not working in an addiction. So, you’ve got to go to a different system in the brain, which is conformance drive engagement. You have a really strong conformance drive from seven million years of human evolution, when, if you were conforming to a small group of people, 7 to 12 people, you would live, because you would find food, find shelter. Your children would be protected, and predators would be fought off. If you didn’t have conformance drive and you were not sticking with your troop, if you were wandering off, well, giant hyenas were waiting for you for lunch, and you would not live long enough to send on your genes.

Joan Ifland:

So, because the addiction is really occupying the brain, you have to rely on this very powerful, primitive, survival instinct, which is I am going to do what I see people doing. And that means that you have to have enough frequency of meetings through the day, 365 days a year, to actually identify with that troop. Okay. And it’s very hard to maintain any progress you’re making if everybody you see is eating processed foods. Your conformance drive is then going to pull you in the wrong direction. All right. Next.

Joan Ifland:

The program has to be for a lifetime because of that … Conformance drive is a double-edged sword. If you’re around healthy people, it’s your saving grace. But if you’re around unhealthy people, it will kill you. So, you need to be around healthy people for a lifetime, which means your program has got to be affordable, it’s got to be easily accessed, and it’s just got to become kind of just gently woven into the fabric of your life so that it becomes normal. All right. Next.

Joan Ifland:

Now meal management, this is not easy. And if you’re in a program that expects you somehow, by magic or a miracle, to have meal management skills on day one, like you’re not allowed to talk until your meals are somebody else’s weird idea of perfect, then you’re in the wrong program. So, what you need is very slow skill management, development. You need to be free of judgment. You need to definitely be around people who are not judging what you’re eating. You need to not be required to eat specific foods, and you need to have a broad vision of your victories. So, let’s run through those. Next.

Joan Ifland:

You need lots of times to organize your food. And this is very traumatic to be giving up such a long list of foods. It might take a couple years before you are really comfortable giving up the next food, giving up the next food, giving up the next food. And if you’re under pressure to do that and somebody is telling you that you have to do that or you’re a bad person or you’re not a member of the in crowd or you can’t speak before you have done this list, you’re in the wrong program. They’re judging you.

Joan Ifland:

And we have been so traumatized by diets. If we’re pressured to do something like this too quickly, you will trigger the trauma of dieting. The trauma of dieting is you don’t have enough food, and you’re waking up the food-seeking part of your brain, which is going to protect you from dying of starvation. So, you need lots of slow time to get your food organized. It’s a must-have. If you’re being pressured to do things too quickly or you’re being judged because you haven’t done things, you’re in the wrong program, and the program is hurting you. All right. Next.

Joan Ifland:

If you’re in a program that doesn’t let you talk or ostracizes you or keeps you on the periphery because of something that you have eaten, that program is stressing you out and it’s actually making the addiction worse. So, people lapse. And if you’re in a program that understands that and lifts you up, you’re okay. You can keep building and keep making progress. But if you’re in a program that says, “Oh, you’re a failure,” that’s not true. Lapsing is normal. We’ve got that in the research. And it’s something called gaslighting. They’re trying to get you to believe something that’s not true, and of course that then translates into “I’m a failure, I hate myself, I quit,” when you need to be there in the very long haul. Yep. Okay, Carole.

Carole Freeman:

Can I ask a question here? How do you balance lapses are normal but also you shouldn’t lapse?

Joan Ifland:

Yes.

Carole Freeman:

How do you [inaudible 00:29:25]

Joan Ifland:

Yes. This is a super excellent question. You take the judgment out of the equation entirely, and you go straight from lapse to pain. So, lapses hurt. You have a headache, and your stomach hurts, and you’re tired and you’re crabby. Everything gets inflamed, and your joints hurt and your feet hurt. Lapses hurt. But when you are focused on somebody else who’s judging you for it, you have the additional pain of the shame, and then you want to go into isolation, then you want to hide, then you want to quit the program, anything so that you don’t have to face the pain.

Joan Ifland:

But if you come in and you have lapsed and you get compassion for it, that just makes you compassionate towards yourself. And what I say when people come in and they’ve lapsed, I say, “This is really hard. What you’re doing is really hard.” But we’re going to come to a slide about cuing, and usually when people have lapsed, they already know what happened. They already know that they were exposed to too much stimulation of stress, relationship, food, whatever, and it ignited. It set on fire the addicted brain cells. So, we just say, “I’m sorry that happened. I know this is painful. You might not feel well for four days, but we will be there with you.” That makes you not want to lapse again. Okay? This is painful.

Joan Ifland:

And then you can get the corrective associative cuing. So, you look at the food and you feel the pain. You look at the food, you feel the pain. You look at the food, you feel the pain. After a while, you develop something called natural aversion. But if you look at the food and you feel shame, you’re going to try to eat to alleviate the pain of the shame. So, you’ve got a triangle. You’ve got a detour there that is keeping you in the lapse. Yeah.

Carole Freeman:

Love it. And this is along the lines of … That’s actually a hypnotic process in the brain, is if you associate that addictive food substance with the pain, that will actually be what makes you averse to it, which is what you said, whereas if you … So, this is where people always get stuck, right? Because they turn to food for comfort, and then they feel bad about what they eat, and then they want to eat more of that.

Joan Ifland:

Yes. Yes.

Carole Freeman:

Okay. [inaudible 00:31:59]

Joan Ifland:

The shame will keep you in the lapse.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah.

Joan Ifland:

The shame will keep you in the lapse, but if you associate it with “oh my gosh, my feet are going to hurt like heck,” then you will avoid. Then you’ll get out of it. This is actually one of the most powerful recovery tools out there, this index card, because you could put the name of the tempting food on one side, and you can put all the different kinds of pain on the other side. And then you can use it like a vocabulary card. When I see this food, I want to think about the pain in my joints, or I want to think about the headache, or I want to think about screaming at my kids, all of which are painful consequences of a lapse. This is Pavlovian conditioning of brain cells, the same technique you would use to learn a foreign language.

Carole Freeman:

Are you guys getting this? I love this. Okay. Everyone watching this, your foods that you struggle with, this is so powerful. This post-it note, an index card, whatever you’ve got. The foods that you feel the most like you’re missing out on or that call your name the most, write them on a card and then write all the pain on the other side. Ugh, I love this. It’s so great.

Joan Ifland:

Associative cuing.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah.

Joan Ifland:

Yep. All right. Let’s do another one. This is so good, Carole.

Carole Freeman:

I think this is the one … You haven’t talked about this one yet.

Joan Ifland:

Nope. This is you’re not what you’ve eaten. If you’ve had a lapse, you’re still a wonderful person. Yeah. And this is so important. This just makes me crazy when I hear about programs that require people to eat food that they’re allergic to or that they just don’t like. If you are in that program, move on. Those people don’t understand what’s going on with you. Yeah. It’s just astonishing. Yeah. All right. Let’s do another one.

Joan Ifland:

Then all kinds of victories are celebrated. This is something else that is so short-sighted. There are plenty of groups out there that only celebrate abstinence and body shape. Well, there are 141 diseases associated with processed foods, according to Nancy Appleton who actually keeps track of this. She’s got a study, 141 studies linking processed foods to various degrees. So, I know from 25 years of experience that body shape and abstinence are not enough of a motivation to keep you from picking up something. It’s just not.

Joan Ifland:

But if you know it’s cancer and diabetes, amputations, kidney failure, blindness, stroke, paralysis; if you know that it’s irritability and depression and anxiety and chemically-induced shame; if you know it’s Alzheimer’s, if you’re headed towards dementia, which processed foods contribute to; if you know that your attention deficit and your learning disorder and your inability to make decisions and your memory loss and your poor impulse control are all chemically driven by processed foods; if you know your joint pain and your fatigue and your brain fog are all related to processed foods; and you have it firmly associated in your head, gosh, you’re not going to pick it up.

Carole Freeman:

We’re getting there.

Joan Ifland:

Your motivation is just so much greater.

Carole Freeman:

We’re getting a big “yes!” I think this is from Kristen. So, yeah!

Joan Ifland:

Yeah. All right. What’s next? Lapse prevention and rebound. This is so crucial. I don’t know of any other program, maybe Carole’s got this going on, that treats lapses accurately, appropriately. They all think lapsing is a failure. It is not a failure. So, you have to be in a program that has correct expectations. You have to be in a program that’s going to teach you cue management, because cues are the reason we lapse. And you have to just stop, stop, stop. The skill of not blaming yourself has to be taught. All right, Carole. Let’s look at this.

Carole Freeman:

I’ve already got two pages of notes already, so good.

Joan Ifland:

But you will keep the slides. Keep the slides.

Carole Freeman:

Oh, okay.

Joan Ifland:

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Your program must recognize that it takes years for lapses to stop. We have a tremendous researcher at Harvard whose name is John F. Kelly. This has been his life work, to show what is the reasonable course of recovery from an addiction five years for drug and alcohol addiction, for the drug or alcohol addicted person to stop lapsing. Five years. And ours is much, much more deeply embedded, because it starts in childhood. It’s so many different substances. It’s so heavily triggered by the processed food industry. Our social circles are all eating it. Blah, blah, blah. So, you might never stop lapsing. And these substances are hidden in food. You go to a restaurant, they make claims about the food, they’re not accurate. You walk out of there, your joints hurt and you know that they lied about what’s in the food or they just don’t know. And that’s a lapse. It’s not an intentional lapse, but your program needs to train you on how to recover from that. We live in a treacherous culture.

Joan Ifland:

So, if you’re in a program where you’re going to get traumatized over a lapse … There are programs that fire people if they have a lapse. That is 180 degrees the wrong direction. You need tremendous compassion, reassurance, and encouragement. Now, a lapse is not the end of the world. Just think of it like a skinned knee. Yeah, it hurts like heck. But now you know where you tripped to get your skinned knee, and you’re going to be just a little bit more careful the next time you walk that path. You know where that tree root is now. You’re not going to trip over it, and you’re not going to skin your knee again because of that training, training, training, training in how to do a lapse compassionately.

Joan Ifland:

I am sorry that happened. It really hurts. I’m sorry you have this addiction. You didn’t ask for it. I’m sorry nobody controls the tobacco industry all dressed up like processed foods. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. But you’re smarter now. In our program, there are no failures. You either learn or you win. And learning is a win. So, you win-win all the time. You’re stronger. You’re smarter. You’re more experienced. You’re more motivated. You’re clearer about what happened. That person needs a tremendous amount of encouragement to pop out of the lapse and keep building. That’s the way to handle a lapse. If your program doesn’t handle a lapse, if you have to take a new chip and get in front of the room and confess and sit in the back of the room for 90 days, you can’t talk, if you’re being punished and humiliated for lapses, your program is traumatizing you. All right. Next.

Joan Ifland:

Training in cue management. This just tears me up inside. These programs, which are humiliating people over lapsing, but they’re not teaching them how to avoid the lapse in the first place. Lapses are cued. Lapses are stimulated. You have these highly sensitized, addicted brain cells in your reward system. That’s all that’s wrong. And the food industry is incredibly good at provoking them, stimulating them until they release enough neurochemicals to control your behavior and then, like a robot or a zombie, you’re walking over to get something while your frontal lobe is screaming, “No, no, no!” No, no, no is not strong enough to overcome addicted brain cells. So, you’ve got to back it up and teach people how to avoid this stimulation.

Carole Freeman:

I’ll just insert here, this is a problem we’ve got right now in the keto world, because the food manufacturers are starting to make all these keto treat foods. And they’re using the same techniques that got you hooked on all your former carby, non-keto foods that you used to eat and with the fantasy of like, “Well, but can I just have a bar or a shake, a snack food?” These things again, because they’re keto. But as I’ve worked through with a lot of you, it can cue the exact same cravings and food obsession and overeating. SlimFast coming out with their keto dessert things is not because they’re trying to do you any favors; they’re trying to get you to buy their products and overeat.

Joan Ifland:

Yeah. Yeah. These are very deeply embedded memories of using these addictive foods. If you’re eating something that’s keto formulated but it looks like a candy, for example, your brain is going to react to it like it’s candy.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah. I had one of my clients early on. So, one of my rules for people to start out is stop looking at pictures of food and food videos.

Joan Ifland:

Yes! Thank you! That’s cue management. Yep.

Carole Freeman:

Yes. Yes. So, she was still following certain people on Instagram and saw some picture of a … I try to avoid specific names of food. A keto version recipe for a carby food, like a pseudo carby food. Right?

Joan Ifland:

A facsimile.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah. Basically she didn’t even recognize the pattern of what had happened. She just told me, “I don’t know what happened. I was in the grocery store craving this carby good, and I feel really good, because I found a frozen version of this that was a keto version,” even though it really wasn’t. It wasn’t really on program. Right? So, we traced it back. I was like, “So, where did you start to crave this food? Were you looking at photos of this?”

Joan Ifland:

It’s so hard.

Carole Freeman:

And she says, “Oh my gosh. I was looking at Instagram photos, and somebody posted a recipe of this type of food.” And your brain can’t tell the difference. It looks like the regular carby version. Your brain doesn’t go, “Oh, wait. That’s the keto version. It’s definitely different than the former one.”

Joan Ifland:

No. No.

Carole Freeman:

You can’t tell the difference.

Joan Ifland:

Carole, that was brilliant. That was brilliant. Yes. We recommend, and people will do it, now they want to do it, just get out of all those food groups.

Carole Freeman:

Yes. Yes. Unfollow-

Joan Ifland:

Stop looking at pictures of food. Yeah.

Carole Freeman:

I used to love to watch cooking shows, and to this day I can’t, because-

Joan Ifland:

No. No.

Carole Freeman:

… as soon as I start to watch it, I start to get really hungry. And it’s just like, “Nope, it’s just easier not to get in a place of craving than it is to try to resist the craving.”

Joan Ifland:

You don’t want any kind of excitement.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah.

Joan Ifland:

No excitement. No excitement. No. That’s deadly. Yeah. All right. The release from self-blame is crucial. Remember our very first must-have is it must be based in research. Research shows us exactly what the brain does when it’s been addicted by these corporations. And when it’s been stimulated, it pulls the blood flow away from the frontal lobe where your breaking system is, where your rational thought is. Those brain cells stop firing, and the only brain cells that are firing are either your stress brain cells or your addicted brain cells or your food-seeking brain cells, because they’ve been activated by dieting and not enough food.

Joan Ifland:

So, when your brain is in that condition, you don’t have control. The control is up here in this little teeny tiny 2% of the brain frontal lobe. And yet, everybody teaches us “oh, well, you should have control, you should have willpower. Just push away from the table.” That is totally ridiculous in an addicted brain. You need years of training to keep those addicted brain cells calm, keep the stress brain cells calm, keep your frontal lobe really, really active, and keep those food-seeking brain cells calm. That takes a lot of brain conditioning. And until you have that, there’s no way you can stop lapsing. Yeah. All right. So, no more self-blame, okay?

Carole Freeman:

Yes. Grace. Give yourself grace.

Joan Ifland:

Indeed. All right. The meetings have to be very specifically structured, according to research. They have to be online. They have to be very frequent. They have to cover the weekends. You have to be able to reach somebody between meetings, and you have to be able to talk in the meetings, no matter what. And you need to be able to control when you go to the meetings. Okay.

Joan Ifland:

So, why do the meetings have to be online? It’s because you need to get to them frequently. Your conformance drive will just latch onto whatever’s most frequent. It will latch onto the people it sees the most. That is just how conformance drive works. If it only sees people in your household who eat processed foods all the time or people at work who eat processed foods or eating disordered actors and actresses on TV, stressful programming, then it is not going to let you give up the processed foods. Your conformance drive controls everything. I know that sounds over the top, but it is true.

Joan Ifland:

So, if you are in a meeting a lot of the day or you’re listening to programming from your tribe, then your conformance drive will helplessly switch over. It’s got radar going on all the time. Who’s here? Who’s here? Who’s here? What are they doing? Should we copy them? Nope, they’re not in our tribe. You’ve got to get them to the point where “should we copy them? Yes. We see them all the time. They’re our tribe. They’re our social circle. They’re out community, and we need to fit in if we are going to live.” You cannot do that in the physical world, but the amazing thing is you can do it in the virtual world.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah. So, for those of you crew members here, play the recordings of the meetings. Have them going in the background. Like you’ve said, use the power of … What the food manufacturers do is put those commercials so that they’re constantly programming us. You all have the power to have your own commercials for your keto group. Have those playing in the background or listen to them frequently.

Joan Ifland:

Yes. That is how you do it. That is exactly how you do it. And, Carole, you probably have presenters whom you like. You can play those presenter interviews. If you have people that are on your page, play their interviews. Just constant reinforcement. This is messaging, messaging, messaging. Yep. All right. Let’s go on.

Joan Ifland:

The meetings have to happen frequently through the day, because stress is a major trigger. If you can get into a meeting and talk through the stressful event, it takes the power out of it. It’s amazing. The mechanics is you’re replacing a dopamine deficit with an oxytocin rush. So, oxytocin is released in community. And when you have oxytocin running through your system, you don’t need the dopamine and the serotonin from the processed foods. It will take away the power of a stressful event to get you to lapse.

Joan Ifland:

So, they’ve got to happen like … Our meetings happen every couple of hours. But like Carole says, you can play a recording of a meeting. Only the frontal lobe in the brain understands screens. The other 98% of the brain just thinks, if it’s seeing a person, the person is there. Screens are unbelievably effective, which is why you really have to carefully manage what you’re exposing your brain to on a screen. Yeah. Okay. Next.

Joan Ifland:

So, weekends and holidays. It’s got to be 365 days a year, but if you’ve got an archive of meetings, of course you can access that archive of recorded meetings on weekends and holidays. The cuing changes on weekends and holidays. The routines and the cue response routines that you’ve set up through the week typically fall apart on the weekends and holidays. So, you need reinforcement 365 days a year. Okay.

Joan Ifland:

And make sure that there’s somebody kind of on-call between meetings. We’re using private messenger groups for this function. We’re putting 7 to 12 members in a private messenger group with a trained person so that I can get into a private messenger group. And we’re organizing those by time zones. So, somebody’s likely to be awake.

Carole Freeman:

So, you all have your personal peer mentor that you can reach out to at any time, and also some of you are in pods. For us, they’re optional, but similar thing, either text or messenger-based that’s led by one of our peer mentors as well. So, you all have those two options for immediate outreach.

Joan Ifland:

Brilliant. Brilliant. Carole, I am so glad you are doing that. You can save yourself from a painful lapse if you can just get in a pod. Somebody’s awake in there. Or you have a private Facebook group is another place to go. “I can’t believe this. My husband just told me that blah, blah, blah,” something awful. And five people come back and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry that happened. But we believe in you. We see you. We see how wonderful you are. Do you remember the other day you did this thing and it was so cool?” Just pull them out of their stress brain and back into the security of the recovery brain through stimulation, through reminders.

Joan Ifland:

Brain management is very cool once you get the hang of it. Just make sure that you have safe stimulation. You have a recording or you have a private messenger group that you can always stimulate the recovery part of the brain back into action, back into releasing the most neurochemicals in the brain, back into control. And with modern technology, it’s really doable. All right, Carole. Next.

Joan Ifland:

This is something that just makes me crazy, when in a lot of groups if you lapse, you can’t speak for 90 days.

Carole Freeman:

Oh, wow. I didn’t know that.

Joan Ifland:

Yeah. Some of the-

Carole Freeman:

Ooh, that’s …

Joan Ifland:

Yeah.

Carole Freeman:

Wouldn’t that just encourage lying then? Right? Wouldn’t that just-

Joan Ifland:

Totally. Totally. Totally. You can’t speak in a meeting. You could speak to people outside of the meeting, but you can’t speak up in a meeting. So, you don’t have access to that group support and that group encouragement and the group compassion, which is incredibly powerful. So, a must-have is you must be able to speak, no matter what the heck you’ve eaten. It just makes me crazy. All right. What else do we have?

Joan Ifland:

The time commitment. Once you tell somebody they have to do something, it immediately creates a stress response, which activates the addiction. We have a big rule. There are things that we don’t talk about in our meetings. We don’t talk about religion, sex, politics, medications, medical procedures, body shape, or specific foods, because we don’t want to trigger anybody and we don’t want to divide the community. But other than that, you don’t have to do anything. You can come to a meeting and not talk. You can come to a meeting and talk. You can come to a meeting and turn off your camera or turn on your camera. You can come to a conference call and you mute your microphone.

Joan Ifland:

The individual member has to have control over the pace and depth of engagement, because that’s just cruel to say, “You have to.” “You have to call these three people today.” Well, what if they’ve been traumatized and they’re isolating because they’ve been traumatized? Forcing somebody to talk to another person could make them quit and justifiably so. I’m not ready to do that. Don’t ever do anything until you’re ready. The little voice in the back of your head, your head says, “I think I’d like to try that.” That keeps you calm, and that keeps the stress at bay. The stress activates lapsing. So, you’ve got to be in a group that gives you control over how you interface with the group.

Joan Ifland:

All right, Carole. Let’s see if we have another one. Oh, we have a bunch. Okay. Let me go through these pretty quick. Let’s just whip these, Carole, because I’d like to give people time for questions.

Carole Freeman:

Okay.

Joan Ifland:

Go ahead. Leadership and resources. The leader has to be trained. They have to be trained in the research. They have to be trained in the very particular language of compassion, because that is what’s going to lift you up time and again as the addiction trips you up. All right. Next.

Joan Ifland:

And the leaders have to be focused on your strengths. They have to be talking all the time about your strengths. “Oh my goodness, your resilience is terrific. Oh my goodness, you are so strong.” And keep the milestones in mind. “Two weeks ago you wouldn’t have been able to walk through that, but today you walked straight through it and you came out without lapsing.” Just constant focus on the strengths. There are programs that focus on the defects. It’s just like, that is not the part of your brain you want to be in. You will fix those defects naturally by building your strengths. You don’t need to build a whole part of your brain that’s just constantly thinking about defects. No. So, that’s that one. Go ahead.

Joan Ifland:

The environments have to be stress-free. So, we don’t talk about stressful topics. We have plenty of other stuff to talk about. And you cannot be with somebody who ever judges you. This is a horrible disease. It’s very hard to work out of it. It takes years. It takes tremendous skill-building. And somebody who thinks that you ought to be further along than where you are, that person is hurting you. They’re abusing you. So, it’s got to be stress-free, your environment. If you go to your meetings and you feel stressed when you come out, that meeting is hurting you. All right. Next.

Joan Ifland:

Oh, yes, and goal-setting. Goal-setting is automatically stressing. It’s stressful. As soon as somebody sets a goal, they start panicking about whether they’re going to meet it or whether they’re going to fail. So, we don’t do any goal-setting. We don’t have any schedules. We don’t have any agendas. We do a lot of education, but we also give people a lot of opportunity to vision, and that is a completely different idea. We do a lot of exercises to retrain the brain to think positively, and often at the end of the various exercises there will be a question of “this is the person I want to be, or this is the person I became.” And your brain will accept that. “Oh, that’s what kind of person we are? Okay. Well, we’ll start acting that way.” That’s easy. It’s beautiful. It’s fun. It’s strengthening. It’s uplifting. That’s not goal-setting but visioning. Yeah. Yeah. All right. What’s next?

Joan Ifland:

Cognitive restoration. So, remember we were talking about how the addicted brain cells pull the blood supply away from the frontal lobe? That means those brain cells have to deliberately be stimulated to start working really strongly, not just start working again, but work strongly enough to counteract the addicted brain cells, so where we’re encouraging attention, learning, decision-making, memory, and impulse control. And there are very specific things that your program should be doing to help you with that. I think that’s it. Is that it?

Carole Freeman:

Yeah. There’s your …

Joan Ifland:

Yep. There’s my closing slide.

Carole Freeman:

Your final there. Oh, that was wonderful.

Joan Ifland:

Thank you.

Carole Freeman:

It makes me so excited. The first time I met you a couple of years ago I think in Florida was where we met. The work that I’m doing is all just pieced together myself. Kind of like you, it was like, I know there’s a problem. I’ve studied as much as I possibly can and pulled the best of everything I’ve ever studied about, the way the brain works for cravings and appetite and behavior change and mashed it all together in a program. So, meeting you and hearing you speak, and every time I hear you present information, I’m like, “Oh, that’s why what I’m doing is working,” or “That’s why we find that people get better results with that.” So, it’s so validating, but it’s also so exciting to know that there are other people out there helping with this really serious problem. We still have most of the population that denies that this is even-

Joan Ifland:

Even exists.

Carole Freeman:

… an issue. So, thank you so much for-

Joan Ifland:

Yeah. Carole, I have to tell you that I talk to a lot of people and I talk to a lot of practitioners. You are one of the few practitioners who listens and implements. So, I really appreciate you a lot.

Carole Freeman:

Yeah. So, those of you watching, we’ve got a few people watching, if you’ve got questions for Joan, go ahead and type them in now. I’ve got an eye on my email, and I’ve got the comment section here. So, go ahead and type those in now. We’ll get some questions.

Carole Freeman:

While we’re waiting for some questions to possibly pop in here, can you talk a little bit more about the mirror neurons? Because that was something that was a really big light bulb moment for me, because I’d found that, as part of my program, I’ve got course material they go through, but then we’ve got these live, in-person Zoom meetings. And I’d always found that people that came to those meetings, they had the best results. I thought it was because they just had a lot of buy-in, they were engaged in the process. But once I heard you talk about mirror neurons, I was like, “Ah, no, actually is essential that they come on and see other people.” The phrase that was new for me today was the conformance drive engagement. That’s a new phrase too as well. That’s along those lines. So, can you talk a little bit about what are mirror neurons, why it’s important that see other people that have the habits we want?

Joan Ifland:

I’m just going to tell this story again, because I think, if you get this story, you will get control of your food. Humans kind of appeared on the earth, the earliest humans I think, seven million years ago. And those humans survived to procreate and pass on their genes by getting into small groups, 7 to 12 people. The anthropologists think it was 7 to 12 people. And twice a year, those small groups would gather as a nation, because they can see there are places where there were more than 7 to 12 people. So, why did those people live? Why did they grow up enough to actually procreate, create children who created children?

Joan Ifland:

It’s because they conformed, because their instincts, their conformance drive in those very early primitive brains were strong enough to say just to watch the other people in that small group and do what they were doing. If they were going to look for food, you didn’t hesitate. You got up, you went and looked for food with them. If they were looking for shelter, you’d absolutely followed along. You looked for trees or caves or burrows, and you were totally dedicated to looking for shelter. If there were children in the tribe, everybody protected those children. You protected those children too. If there was a predator in the neighborhood, you’d band together. Everybody fought off the predator. Those people lived.

Joan Ifland:

So, the people who did not have that conformance drive to really stick with that group, those people who wandered off, well, there were plenty of wild animals who ate humans as just another animal, and you would die. You would die. Actually at the Museum of American History in New York, one of their displays is of a human standing under a tree, and on this edge of the display is a giant hyena coming. And the description is we know that giant hyenas hate humans, because we’ve been in the caves of these prehistoric animals, and there are human bones in their bone piles.

Joan Ifland:

So, this is the A, number one, driving force in a human brain today, because this is the single survival instinct that let people survive, if you just did what your tribe was doing. There was somebody in that tribe who knew where the food was. You followed that person. There was somebody in the tribe who remembered from the last time a year ago that they were here that there’s a cave over there. You would follow that person. You wouldn’t go off on your own ever. And that conformance drive is still very much alive and well and functioning today, and it’s how the food industry got us addicted in the first place. You would drive past the fast food place, and there would be a line of cars, and your car would just naturally follow those cars. Or you would see people eating this on television, and you would be driven to eat it too.

Joan Ifland:

Also eating disorders. You see people on television who are too thin, which all TV producers, all media producers require thin actors and actresses. And you would either think, “Oh, there’s a famine coming. I better to look for food,” or you would think, “Oh, all of those people are doing extremely stupid things with their food, so we better do extremely stupid things with our food.” It’s either your conformance drive or a fear of famine. People think, “Oh, if I just don’t watch the commercials on TV, I’ll be okay.” No. All the people that you’re watching are eating disordered, and then we see their stories. So, you just want to stop watching TV and start listening to Carole’s meeting tapes. It’s a huge shift.

Carole Freeman:

It happens for men too, right? I mean, I’m primarily working with women and mostly women are going to be watching this, but that reminds me of back in grad school I did a group project presentation about how the media has influenced men’s body perception as well. Because back in the ’50s and ’60s, the men in the movies or on TV, they didn’t have six-packs. A six-pack abs in men is actually not a natural state.

Joan Ifland:

No.

Carole Freeman:

But you’ve got every man now that has this ideal that like, well, I’m never going to be good enough until I can have six-pack abs.

Joan Ifland:

It’s just so destructive, so destructive.

Carole Freeman:

And even women, that’s a completely unnatural state for most women. I mean, there are some body types that maybe that is normal for them-

Joan Ifland:

It’s pretty rare.

Carole Freeman:

… but for all the rest of us women it’s not a natural state to have your abs showing.

Joan Ifland:

No. No. And the body is not comfortable being thin.

Carole Freeman:

Right.

Joan Ifland:

Yeah. It’s actually very, very anxiety-inducing to be thin, because for those seven million years, famine was the leading cause of death. Famine was the leading cause of death. So, your food-seeking function in your tribe was crucial for survival. Yeah. I mean, I know this is science, and some people just don’t believe in science. They have alternative understandings of how and why we got here. But according to science, every one of our predecessors was really good at finding food, especially at times of famine. So, they have really strong food-seeking brains, and they have really strong conformance drives.

Carole Freeman:

All right. Rita had to go for another meeting. She’s not here. I don’t see any other questions popping up here. So, we’ll go ahead and wrap this up. I thank you so much for all your time and sharing all this information.

Joan Ifland:

Thank you.

Carole Freeman:

It’s so important. Do you have any last words or anything else you were hoping I would ask about?

Joan Ifland:

Yeah. Just my closing thought is self-kindness is the pathway to control over food. The kindness of your group will determine everything.

Carole Freeman:

That’s wonderful. Love it.

Joan Ifland:

All right.

Carole Freeman:

Thank you again, Dr. Joan Ifland. Thank you for being here, and thank you for the work that you’re doing.

Joan Ifland:

Thanks for having me here. I’m so glad I got to see you. Take care.

Carole Freeman:

Thanks everyone for watching. We’ll see you all next time.

Joan Ifland:

Yay. Bye-bye.

Carole Freeman:

Bye!

 

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