> I've tried fasting and I was able to do 18h fasts daily with no problem and even go over a week without eating, just on water and herbal tea. But that completely messed up my habits, metabolism and relationship with food, and I'm now struggling to follow a schedule and any kind of diet.
This is called restricting, and it's classic eating disorder behavior.
> I'd love to know if anyone has been able to completely replace food with protein powders and vitamins, hospital liquid diet, or any other alternative. The idea here is to abstain from food for a full year and then restart eating normally with a light balanced diet with a nutritionist's help.
This is incredibly dangerous. Don't do this.
Get a nutritionist, and seek professional help to recover from your food addiction/eating disorder. Most importantly, do what they say.
The internet is rife with people who have active eating disorders and will make yours worse in an effort to justify their own unhealthy behavior. It's almost never a good idea to take the internet's advice on psychiatric matters, but in this area it is especially dangerous.
OP is right. A recent trend in the last 2 decades is people obsessing about nutritious and healthy food (See - https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/what-is... ). (Probably because of the fear-mongering type marketing by the "health food" industry) Note: I don't claim you have Orthorexia and just mentioned it as an example to point out how something we consider as a good habit (being mindful of what we eat) can also become unhealthy and stressful for us when we do it in excess. ("Everything in moderation, including moderation" is a good principle to keep in mind).
> This is called restricting, and it's classic eating disorder behavior.
Most people would recognize this as intermittent fasting by itself, but with the rest of it this sounds problematic. I’m not sure you can just replace one addiction with another without looking to the root of the issue.
Generally you can't white-knuckle your way out of obsession disorders. A common strategy for overcoming obsession disorders is to reduce the power they have by not giving into them, by acknowledging them honestly and observing them with curiosity but not engaging. If you drastically rework your eating habits to indulge your obsession, that can give it much more power and make things much worse.
So the "simple" solution is to just eat normally and try not to worry about it. Unfortunately that can be much, much harder said than done. In your case it seems like you are already in crisis, having already done a week-long water and tea fast and now actively considering a year-long liquid and vitamin diet. These are huge red flags. They may seem reasonable to you in your current mental state but they are major warning signs.
I strongly encourage you to seek professional mental help as soon as you can. I discourage you from trying to be your own therapist, unfortunately that can turn into an obsession on its own.
Disregard all comments here that focus on food instead of mental health.
Your problem doesn't lie in to what you're currently addicted to but the addiction and obessiveness as a whole. I have the same problem and when I stop myself from consuming something it just turns out that I have switched it with something else. I've been able to stop drinking, smoking, etc. but I've found other alternative sources of addiction in their place. I don't know how to solve the problem of addiction as a whole yet but you should focus on that in my opinion.
Disclaimer: I'm not a dietitian, although I do have a B.S. in Nutritional Science with a didactic focus.
What you are describing has all the hallmarks of a psychological condition (eating disorder) and not a physical condition (poor diet).
You should not attempt to treat this yourself, and you should especially not attempt to treat it by changing your eating habits. Changing you eating habits will not treat a psychological disorder. Eat a healthy balanced diet, and seek medical care if you are having trouble with that.
Otherwise it's like trying to fix a flat tire by changing your oil.
Did you actual address your addictions or did you just fill that hole with something new and so moderation became easy? I would suggest stop focusing on the symptoms and focus on the underlying problem that is driving your addictions, whether that is unhappiness or persistent habit triggers or whatever it might be. If you "quit food" will you just be writing this same post next year but with a new addiction?
- Identify why you need an "escape valve". Understand that having an escape valve that dominates your life negatively is the problem, not the shape that valve takes
- Identify the triggers that push you to the escape valve. Both the long-term triggers (for example, it could be being stressed or unhappy) and the immediate habit triggers (for example, it could be seeing paraphernalia or being extremely hungry). Try to reduce the long-term triggers. Try to develop new habits around the immediate triggers (trigger still exists, but habit response is something you want to do). Being aware of your habit loop is IMO important for improving how you react to triggers (therapy can be really helpful here)
I don’t think there is any reason to go fasting for an entire year to kick addiction. Also it can be very dangerous, both for you and your microbiome.
As others have suggested. Seek out a therapist to CBT or some such instead. Possibly you have non-food related issues you’d rather tackle on its own. Also, eating disorders has a tendency to get worse when tackled individually, so really do get help if there is a need.
As for fasting, I found 3-5 days is all it takes to recalibrate hunger and kick sugar cravings. Make sure your not malnourished before fasting. Either way, _do not_ fast (or cut out selected nutrients) for long periods without consulting a doctor.
As for diets, probably no need to go for any crazy fad diets. Just go with the current science: make sure you have enough fiber, polyphenols and other prebiotics (eat your fruits and vegetables as it were) cut down on fat, salt, sugar and meat.
It takes 14-days to rebalance your micro biome, so just stick with healthy foods for two weeks and you'll probably find that will be what you crave after that.
> I'd love to know if anyone has been able to completely replace food with protein powders and vitamins, hospital liquid diet, or any other alternative. The idea here is to abstain from food for a full year and then restart eating normally with a light balanced diet with a nutritionist's help
Please, please, please: live naturally. Respect nature. You are made of nature. Treat yourself properly. If it is unnatural, do not do it. You take an award for having introduced to our collective mind the unthinkable concept, «abstain from food for a full year».
If you have strong will power, consider the game of "forcing yourself to the healthiest diet ever".
(Since you are there, consider proceeding to considering the game of "forcing yourself to the healthiest life ever". There may be a chance that it could help with the «obsessive» side and finding some better «escape valve».)
I'm not sure "forcing yourself to the healthiest diet/lifestyle ever" is actually a good idea, because there is no one healthiest diet or lifestyle for everyone at all times that we know all the details of. IMO much better to aim for simply "healthy" or "very healthy" as a habit you stick to long-term.
> The idea here is to abstain from food for a full year and then restart eating normally with a light balanced diet with a nutritionist's help.
Why not just start with that instead of "abstain[ing] from food for a full year"? That's what a nutritionist is FOR!
If you got strong will power, but weak moderation it means you just need structure.
But if you have to do it yourself, why not count calories?
It's simple and works for many folks. Select nutritious foods that you like and that comports with your culture, weigh yourself everyday and count calories (using one of many apps that even break it down to your component nutrients). Limit calories to a level that lowers your weight 1-2 lbs a week. Adjust as needed... but keep doing it even after you've leveled off to your target weight, do it until it's a habit, and start again if your clothes get tight.
I just want to second this - Ranges in your blood work are not hard limits on the acceptable range. They are the normal ranges. If you fall anywhere in them, high or low, you are fine. If you fall a bit outside the range you are probably still fine. Doctors get concerned when you are multiples of the ranges. So the higher end of normal is just... normal.
Ranges have been going up because the population is getting unhealthy, and they're based on population distributions, if you go by ranges that were what the populace was in the 40s or 50s, %90 of the population is not in a good state and is metabolically unhealthy.
It's the modern day smoking, just because everyone is doing it, doesn't mean it's good.
I can relate: stopped drinking alcohol in early 2020, and videogames are mostly social now, to stay in touch with a few good friends, and I still struggle with food. Practicing fasting helped me be able to go without the "safety blanket" of always having snacks in the car, for example. Because I have a young child, and a spouse who prefers to eat throughout the day, I'm still surrounded by food. When I'm feeling more stressed it is that much harder to stick to my narrower eating window. Coffee and fats help, and warm salty water.
I'd be wary of going without "real" food for a year. Fiber and plants in general feel like such an important part of my diet, and the pleasure of eating for an hour and feeling full of healthy food seems like a healthy part of life. Relegating sugar to a condiment at best is an important step toward being able to notice the compulsion to eat, and then do something else instead.
What you're proposing sounds interesting but also something I wouldn't opt for myself. Everyone is different, though, and we're for the most part free to try things. I keep a journal and that helps me be more aware and forgive myself when I don't do exactly what I'd prefer. Helps obviate regret.
My default at this point is to delay breakfast, ideally until mid-afternoon, and have one more meal a few hours later, with the family. Sometimes I skip that if I'm still full from the break-fast. It's taken months of practice, and I'm not as regimented as I'd like, but it's better than before.
I know someone who successfully got their food addiction under control via “FA” - see foodaddicts.org. Basically they put you on a strict food plan where you weigh & measure all parts of your meals and avoid sugar and any of your personal triggers, and you check in regularly with a sponsor like in AA. Not something I would want to do, but for one person I know who couldn’t get their eating under control, it worked really well.
If you want to do twelve step but find FA too rigid, you can also check out OA (Overeater's Anonymous). It doesn't have a set food plan; you come up with your own with the help of your sponsor and a nutritionist.
Sounds like you're really working hard, and digging deep.
It also sounds like you might be experiencing addiction
replacement/displacement, when you "overcome" one thing and shift the
focus on to something new . People can go through the whole gamut -
alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, and still end up in something
more socially "acceptable" like shopping or phone overuse. Even the
act of "overcoming" can itself be an obsessive (control desire) act.
I'll second the comments saying maybe talk to a therapist 
What you're looking for is a "hole" (feels like an inadequacy or
deprivation threat). When you hit it and deal with it, the other stuff
will fall into line. Good luck.
> I'd love to know if anyone has been able to completely replace food with protein powders and vitamins, hospital liquid diet, or any other alternative. The idea here is to abstain from food for a full year and then restart eating normally with a light balanced diet with a nutritionist's help.
This just screams eat-disorder territory. I'd recommend you go seek out professional help and work with some experts on getting you thinking about food right, then locking your diet and eating down. Your not going to solve this with green protein smoothies and starving yourself.
You need to develop a healthy relationship with food and change “what” you eat. You can’t just quit food or you’ll feel miserable and eventually go back to old habits. Not to mention it being incredibly unhealthy.
Echoing the comments on trying therapy, a nutritionist and/or a weight coach. Doing a weight loss transformation and keeping it off is very hard to do alone. I say this after losing over 100lbs in a previous life.
Those things are fun, I did a lot of abstinence experiments myself when I was young. I learned that I don't want any constraints for food ever.
Eating only powdered protein low quality and fake stuff will mess you up and your kidneys.
So I once choose coma patient food. It comes in many varieties for all ages and is cheap in bulk.
It is complete, tastes medium awful and you only feel horrible for the first few days. Then just drained, zombified and mildly happy until you can't take this stuff anymore.
High fibre content is important.
Not a nutritionist here, but I'll share what I'm doing right now. I'm 14 days into a 30-day plant-based meal program/ reset and have never felt better. I'm eating all sorts of veggies that I wouldn't normally think to try or know how to prepare. I have more energy. I'm sleeping well. My acne has cleared up. I did have one slip up while traveling at an airport and I immediately noticed how crummy that food made me feel. I got right back on my program.
Speaking from my own addictions: there has always been some underlying cause. With enough motivation, I was able to break free just like you did from smoking,etc... but working to resolve the addiction without resolving the root cause and any current environmental conditions to which you are responding to by eating will never work. I am in the same boat as you, what I have found out is, finding the problem is only the first step, there are many steps before actually solving it.
Eat as little as necessary, but not less. Stop thinking about food as of something valuable, and think of it as of pills that keep you alive. Those obsessed with food are craving for comfort: they want to enjoy the taste sensations and the cozy feeling of being full. It's wiser to not seek comfort at all: great if you have it, but don't do something just to please your feelings.
> Stop thinking about food as of something valuable, and think of it as of pills that keep you alive
As a Frenchman, this mindset repulses me. I take the opposite view: you should view food as something worthy and valuable, and therefore not to be degraded by eating an unbalanced diet full of preprocessed industrial junk.
After about a week or so, following a strict keto diet (<20 net carbs), destroys my compulsion for food. Something along the lines of, “Yeah I could eat, but I don’t _have_ to”. It does take willpower at first, but getting your body off of the sugar/carb craving can do wonders. Hit me up if you wanna chat more - email in my profile.
Strict keto is pretty extreme (in retrospect), but it did wonders teaching me how much I need to eat, when I need to eat, and what I should be eating. Recommended!
I eat something closer to a low-carb diet now (<100 net carbs) a day, and am super happy with it. I naturally gravitate away from consuming carb-intensive meals on a regular basis unless it is for a specific reason. I still eat and enjoy things like pasta and chips, but they no longer have the same pull they used to.
While figuring things out you might consider ordering a couple weeks supply of Soylent or a competitor. They're palatable enough, very convenient, and importantly for you (and past me) is that while you're figuring out what you want from your diet and getting your head straight it's consistent, healthy food.
Go get assessed and see if you do have ADHD, OCD or something else. If you have ADHD then a lot of the 'dopamine seeking' behaviors make a lot more sense and medication can actually help reduce your food addiction and general addiction susceptibility. If you are a girl, and/or the non-hyperactive type of ADHD and a smart kid, it can be fairly easy to be overlooked, since your 'doing ok' in school, even though it's your intelligence just papering over that fact.
Another way to go cold turkey is to ban all 'junk food & carbs' paraphernalia and just go whole foods / non-processed veggies and meat.
I’m not sure how to take this comment. I understand it’s probably coming from a good place but when has a vitamin deficiency ever been linked to obsessive tendencies? On its face, this comment was ripped right from Nextdoor or Facebook.
I have a bunch of thoughts for you. I fear putting them on the internet in a forum because so many people have such strong opinions and things go badly from there. So here are some things I've learned over the years.
I hesitate to put this out there, because there's lot of nuance; but, there is a way I've seen psychologists categorize people and one of the dichotomies are "moderator vs abstainer". And when you say that you have poor moderation but strong will power, that really makes me think that you're an abstainer. I know, because I am! My wife can have a spare chocolate bar in her desk for months incase she gets hungry. If I have a bar in my desk, it's gone in 5 minutes, but I have no trouble dealing with not having the bar there. That is, I'm an all-or-nothing kind of guy, she gets panicked if there's no bar there "just in case" but can not touch it for months.
That's just one example, but I've learned to just structure my life around that. For example, I just don't eat any food before noon or after 6:00PM. One simple rule, that way I can do all-or-nothing.
I work out every day regardless of how busy I am, the only reason to not workout is if I'm actually sick and working out would make it worse. Being tired, busy, not feeling like it, putting it off until tomorrow - no! It's a rule. At 5:00 I go outside, open the garage door, pick up some kettlebells and do something for 20-30 minutes. When it's 20 degrees outside and blowing snow, I'm out there. When it's 80 degrees and direct sun, I'm out there. It's a rule, I do it.
As for what to eat - here's where I'm going to get into lots of trouble, because internet. But here's _what works for me_. I only eat meat - and of that 90% is simply grass-fed beef. Grains make me sick, veggies have enough carbs in them to kick my appetite and then my all-or-nothing kicks in. Beef has all the nutrients you need. It doesn't stimulate the appetite, it gets boring so you don't eat constantly. And it's super nutritious. Between noon and 6, I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. No weighing or measuring or counting. It takes all of the anxiety away.
I know the green folks will go all what about sustainability? But I just do local regeneratively ranched beef, so don't yell at me about that! Even if you have to go CAFO meet because location or economics, beef is your best choice for nutrition and sustainability.
I've been doing this for nearly a decade so it is something I have been able to easily keep up with - even with a family and kids and all of that. I'm super healthy, so it works _for me_.
I'm 45, well within the body weight I should be, much stronger and healthier than all my peers, and have no struggles with the emotional side of eating and trying to "diet"
I'm not saying that this is your answer, but maybe look into something like that. I've been struggling with an all-or-nothing mindset for a long time, and this was a great solution.
>So I was looking for a way to "quit food" without the unpleasant side effect of death
You cant, some of our food cravings or at least what we want to eat or fancy are generated by bacteria in the body, some by the environment (heat/cold/light), some by other foods we have eaten, eg lots of creatine will probably create an Iceberg lettuce (phosphorus) craving. So its more complex than that.
Perhaps better to look at what makes you over eat and try to change those situations which could be work, home life, lack of sleep (when tired people always over eat) and manage it that way.
> I'd love to know if anyone has been able to completely replace food with protein powders and vitamins
So something noone takes into account with this approach is the amino acids, vits & minerals are in an easily digestible form, in other words they are not locked up/wrapped up/parcelled up in things like cellulose (plant fibre) and meat cell walls/membranes. If you look at the digestive system, our guts have evolved to break down and absorb certain things at certain points along the digestive system. So people with bariatric surgery have parts of their guts removed which then causes deficiency mainly mineral so they are compensated for with over supplementation or monthly injections.
So my personal approach is eat normal but top up with amino acids, vits and minerals, whilst also being aware of the total calorific intake and expenditure.
Some supps benefit from being taken in the morning, some at night, eg copper, calcium is better taken in the morning because they can have a stimulant effect in the body, and Vit K2-mk4 before bed. Nicotinic acid (reportedly can cause abortions) is best taken first thing in the morning especially if you can hit the gym as it spikes your growth hormone on an empty stomach, but its blunted by fatty foods and it "could" mess up your blood work but it helps break down the cell walls in the adipose tissue (fat under the skin) which is predominantly stored triglycerides. Pantothenic acid (vit B5), shifts fat off organs like fatty livers (massive killer) and shifts it under the skin so its a cheap "cosmetic surgery filler" but it also has a steroidal effect in the body. All the water soluble vitamins are best sipped from a water bottle throughout the day because they flush out so easily so doing a mega dose once a day like a multi vitamin pill is a waste of time when you look at what people pee and poop out from their multi vitamin pill! Little and often.
Interestingly, they have been able to work out that 30mins of exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (only water is allowed), is the equivalent to 90mins after you have eaten something, so maybe see if you can do more exercise as I also think we are designed to eat more calories than we do today but we just dont exercise enough in todays world. The hormones that wake us up are also the best ones for making us more gym buff but then breakfast blunts them and we get all chilled for the rest of the day.
Everything has "side effects" though, so if you did loads of nicotinic acid it will make your bones go soft (calcium used to rebind DNA by the Prostaglandin response) unless you compensated with calcium.
The other problem with all of this is anything recommended will require some form of chemical compensation so before you know it, you have this massive's spider diagram practically encompassing every amino acid, vitamin and mineral.
So something to bear in mind, you have little control over where chemicals go in the body, this is best highlight by cancer experiments using radioactive(isotope) chemicals. One swiss study on Thyroid cancer used radioactive B12 because B12 goes into the Thryoid gland but when they scanned the patient they found it was distributed throughout the body besides the thyroid gland, probably because of the sodium potassium kinase pump (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium%E2%80%93potassium_pump) found in alot of cells. Its not a total free for all chemical mashup because obviously membranes and tissues do influence where chemicals go, but there is still an element of chemical Brownian motion taking place within certain domains inside the body.
Even the form of chemical is important, eg carbonates are generally best before sulfates(sulphates) or chlorides as the latter two can have effects that could be undesirable when taking loads of them, where as carbonates become CO2 which is a stimulate in itself unless you need to sleep.
If you like your food then do your exercise to burn it off instead, go to the gym first thing in the morning, do an Exercise to Exhaustion High Intensity workout on weights (80-90% max weight upto 10 reps no more than 3 or 4 sets), if you dont run, dont bother at this stage the desire to run will come once your muscle mass & skeleton is up to a level and then you will get the desire to run and run and run. Some days I would only do one set, other days I would do 2 or 3 sets, but it was always a sort of exercise to exhaustion, ie get in get the job done and get out as quickly as possible, ie no hanging around in the gym posing and then I would home and have a fry up (cooked breakfast) every day. :) Thats no different to being in the military, ie eat what you like but do the exercise.
This is what I would do every time and would tell other people, but I'm not qualified in anything so do your own research and have an open mind whilst remembering nothing is a panacea.
I am in my second year of controlling my weight. Down ~30kg and I am in the healthy range now for more than 6 months. So far it seems to be sustainable. I am in a paid fitness (online) group and I have learned a lot, though it's still up to me to find ways to fit into the requirements... Here are some random observations that seem to work for ME (might be different for you).
- Nothing "extreme" works for me, as it's not sustainable for periods longer than a few months. I did keto... works for some time, then a total rebound. In the end it seems that a "balanced diet" works. For me (and my training regimen) this means 150g protein, 180g carbs and 50g fat per day.
- While you are cutting, you have to weigh everything you eat. There is no good way around this as you cannot control what you don't know and you can't know how much you eat unless you measure it.
- It's perfectly fine to eat completely uniform food every day for some months. For the first months, for me it was chicken breast, raw cabbage, peaches, cheese and the occasional high-protein pudding. This puts the dopamine under control, as you (or at least me) get trained to not expect anything "special", ever. After some months I was able to start varying a bit, while still staying 100% within my macros (no more and no less of each macronutrient). After some time I stopped weighing the veggies I eat and now I eat all of them (like broccoli, kale, turnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, salads etc.). I eat all kinds of meat and seafood. Mostly never eat any vegetable oil, as meat and cheese provides the needed quantities.
- Yeah, what I described above is almost exactly the same as your described "quitting food", just it's "healthy", as you consume enough fibre. Yeah, do supplement with some multivitamins.
- You have to cook, no way around it. But it's not as frightening as it sounds. Once you accept bland (and uniform) food... it's easy. Buy an Instant Pot and start prepping the meat there. 2 kilos of chicken breast under pressure for 10 minutes will last you a week.
- Always have your "correct" food handy, so that you don't need to eat something else, or think what to eat. (yeah, buy the instant pot).
- Throw away all the "junk" food you own and never buy any.
- If you are out and you are not able to eat your "right" food, just fast and eat at home whenever that is. Yeah, I get it it might not be possible for everyone, but it's possible for me.
- Don't do this initially (the first months), but later... everything is allowed if you do not exceed your macros. French fries? Alright, you can have that now and then. Pizza? Sure thing, I am having a slice or two almost every week. But never exceed macros.
- Artificial sweeteners are your friend when you are in a crisis. (Ab)use them as much as you want and you are still better than being fat (or having bad lab readings as you mentioned).
- If you are still hungry, always have cabbage/kale/etc. handy. You can eat as much as you want in raw form (and in several months you will start to like it, I promise).
- Fasting is mostly not a great idea as it doesn't help you learn how/what to eat and how to control your cravings. After lots of experimentation with it, I arrived at 3 meals a day with carbs early in the day. Breakfast in the morning, then lunch, then a light dinner around 4 and no food afterwards. Yeah, if you are a social person it will suck. But I guess you can find your own thing... but don't be afraid to experiment and don't have prejudices. I always thought that having breakfast is not my thing (or a good idea) despite the overwhelming evidence for the contrary. Yeah, there are actually studies that show that it's beneficiary to eat early in the day, opposed to late. But if your body is broken you will need time to arrive to this.
- Despite the previous point, initially do whatever works. At least for several months. Then what works will change. Do not be afraid to follow along.
Eating a uniform diet every day is an easy way to get the macronutrients exactly right, but it risks deficiencies in some micronutrients. Look into the details and verify whether you're getting everything you should have, or consider adding some micronutrient supplements.
Did you miss that I explicitly stated "for several months" and not "forever"? It's enough to get you kickstarted and then you can begin varying (and also you will learn a lot about yourself during that time)
Do you have a good study on the topic? In the fitness group I am a member, we do regular bloodwork and they have never seen such a thing in their 10 years of experience. On the contrary, most of the micronutrients/vitamins readings become (a lot) better after several months of the initial "uniform" diet. It includes all the veggies you can eat, though it's somewhat uniform and based on the season and market availability/price.
Actually, in my first months being a member, I calculated that I received many thousands times more vitamins/minerals from food, compared to my previous years.
For example, I can eat more than half a kilo of kale in a day, over many days. This is like 20x the daily dose of vit K, 2.5x the daily dose of vit C, 1x the daily dose of vit A, etc. Then I'll rotate to kohlrabi for some time, then to cabbage, etc, etc.
Compared to my former pizza diet, this is insane. Indeed, thousands of times more micronutrients.