Dr. Vera Tarman: "Overconsumption of food without control"

Note: Free video offer at end of interview

Welcome to another installment of "10 Words or Less," in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and ask for brief responses in return. Today's participant is medical director of Renascent Treatment Group in Toronto; we participated in a discussion about food addiction at the Commonwealth Club of California. The 10-words-or-less thing is an ethic, not a limit, so please, no counting. It's not so easy, and besides, let's see you do it.

Dr. Vera Tarman, Renascent Treatment Group, TorontoName
Vera Tarman
Residence Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Family circumstance “Married, with four pets.”
Occupation Physician
Born when and where? “1957, in Germany.”
Anything notable about the circumstances? “For the first three years of my life, I lived in a convent for children.”
A formative event from childhood “My mother died when I was 14.”
Someone who has influenced your path in life, outside family “An aunt named Inge, who was like a mother to me. She was a nurse with a strong work ethic, and was always very encouraging of me.”

Something that convinces you that food addiction exists? “The overconsumption of food without control.”
In America, 2 of 3 people are overweight. What percentage might be food addicts? “I think, at least 50 percent. Not even just of the obese, but certainly of those. I think it is rampant, and rampantly underdiagnosed.”
Does being an addict mean an escape of personal responsibility? “No, absolutely not. It means they will have no choice over their cravings, but they can choose to give in or not. With support.”
Have you ever had food issues? “Yes. I call myself a food addict, which started in my early 20s.”
How did you get out of it? “Once I was in the field of addiction and saw the parallel patterns, I started to treat food like a drug. To quit smoking I had to stop completely. So to quit eating, I had to quit certain foods completely. and that’s the only way it worked.”
Name a food you’ve given up for your health “Sugar. Sugar. Sugar. Sugar. [pause] Flour. [pause] I could go on.”
When you say sugar, do you include natural sugar, like in fruit? “That one, I’m still debating about. But I think I should say yes.”
Name a food you haven’t given up, but might someday. “Fruit.”
Name something that sustains you “My service. My work.”
What’s something people don’t understand? “Not eating wheat or sugar is possible, without distress. People are so worried about that, that they can’t do it. They can’t believe it’s possible.”
What’s a question I should have asked you? “Something about drug addicts, alcoholics, cocaine addicts, and the link with food. What is the link between one drug and food?
And the answer? “It’s my experience professionally that many addicts ‘solve’ their addiction with food.”
As is that a solution? “No, absolutely not. and it’s the reason why alcoholics or addicts continue to be unhappy, even in sobriety.”
So they switch their addiction, instead of dealing with it? “Yes, it’s just continuing, so they run the risk of relapse to their previous drug, or obesity. And depression. And anxiety, and other mental illnesses. The medical profession responds by medicating the person rather than addressing their diet. That’s my mission, my professional mission, to change that.”
In broadest terms, what must we change first? “That food addiction be an acknowledged entity, rather than being dismissed, because we miss an important piece of the puzzle, of the diagnostic puzzle.”
Dr. Tarman has produced "Food Addiction: Addictions Unplugged," an important video on the science and treatment of food addiction, and she's allowed me to give one away to one of my readers. If you want it, free, send an e-mail to michael@michaelprager.com. (Yes, you may receive rare promotional messages from me as a result. But they are very rare, and you can always opt out.) Dr. Tarman’s website is addictionsunplugged.com. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

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