Once A Pickle, Always A Pickle

In this week’s vlog, I address a viewer’s question about a comment I made a little while back: “Becoming an addict is a process of starting off as a cucumber and then turning into a pickle, and once you’re pickled, you can never go back.”

 

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Comments

  1. Joseph

    Excellent vlog Susan!!
    Joseph in Missoula

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  2. Shannon

    Fascinating and explained so clearly. Thank you!

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  3. Becky Raye

    Listened to the explanation.

    This phrase goes back to AA, the original 12 step program that all 12 step programs are based on. It’s said by folks in AA and I assume maybe other 12 step programs.

    It means, once you are an alcoholic, you can never stop being an alcoholic.

    Just like once you pickle a cucumber, no matter what you do, it will always be a pickle. It can never be “unpickeled”.

    So hear, to apply it or BLE, once you have a food addiction, no matter what you do, if it’s a true addiction, you will always be addicted to food. It’s never safe to assume you can eat like other people without a food addiction.

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  4. Debbie

    So informative!

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  5. James Battee

    Brilliant analogies! I will use them in my conversations with people I know who are struggling with addictions to bread and sugar. It is a problem for most older folks who have grown up with those things looked at as being innocuous staples. I know because I am one of them, and it has been hard for me to break away ( and stay away) from them.

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  6. Joanne

    Excellent question, Maggie! Thanks for asking it. And thank you, Susan for answering Maggie’s question in your vlog — this was very interesting. Made sense to my brain. 🙂

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  7. Patricia

    Well done, Susan. Your remarks about a river’s “memory” of its old beds is so appropriate for folks in the valley of the Mississippi. A few years ago the river had especially high spring floods and all those old channels flowed again with often too great enthusiasm. On a more positive note, many of us hope in our lifetimes to see the restoration of the Colorado River’s delta. This formerly lush area lost its water to a canal that redirects the flow away from the Sea of Cortez to southern California.

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  8. Nancy

    Excellent. Thank you.

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  9. Mary Beth

    This makes good sense! Great explanation and analogy!

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  10. Stefi

    Beyond excellent !! Iknew in my heart for years I’ve been a pickle and will always be one and will always battle it. Love hearing the science to it!! I also love that you’re a fellow duct tape girl –the best tool in the world ha ha really enjoy your blogs and look forward to them thanks for coming through for us no matter what ( temp studio ) ❤️

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  11. Emily

    I, too, accept my pickle nature! Thanks for the clear and clever explanation, Professor.

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  12. Susan

    This has explained so clearly why my one candy three days ago led me down a path of stomachaches and bad eating. I’m done with it forever now. Wonderful, clear analogies and so, so true. I AM a pickle.

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  13. Bonnie

    This was such a good explanation. It explains why I have had such terrible back sliding experiences. It makes me sad that I am a pickled food addict.

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  14. Danielle Kaufhold

    Danielle
    I don’t care what anybody says, this is a. truly great video, Su. Everybody actually sees the light when it’s that bright! Extremely helpful for all those with addictive behaviour and history. Keep shining. ⭐️

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  15. Dale Walker

    Very helpful . Thx as always! Analogies A+++++👍🙃

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  16. Mel

    This was GREAT information and made this very clear. I had the same question and this made it very understandable.

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  17. Susan

    I understood the ” once an addict…..” before but it is amazing how the brain can forget things! I have been struggling for three months with bingeing/following bright lines/bingeing/following bright lines….. This vlog said so clearly (what I thought I once understood) and in such a unique way that I now see why I have not gotten back to BLE: I keep allowing a bit of water on the riverbeds of my brain which has resulted in flooding rivers of binges! Thank you for providing me an understanding of how to keep my BLE in good form again.

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  18. Audrey

    I also thought this was a great explanation of why it is so easy to fall back into these behaviors…I would like to add that the reason the dry riverbed will so easily be rejuvenated, is that water follows the path of least resistance , which makes good sense in the area of trying to change behavior…

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    1. Susie Hill

      Great share!

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  19. Sabra Park

    Thank you for the clarity! I also wish it was not true!

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  20. Susie Hill

    My new mantra…”Don’t Ring The Bell”!!!

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    1. Lisa Afsharian-Wilson

      Love it! 🙂

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  21. Jacqueline

    Thanks. That’s me alright. 🙁

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  22. Cat

    Susan’ love the pickle analogy, but the river bed analogy, hit me the hardest. That’s what I’ll think of from now on when I feel the urge to cheat

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  23. Beverly

    I have to say that I have learned this lesson the hard way and now know first-hand it is true. We just can’t get near that slope no matter how “safe” we think it is…it is slippery and down we go!

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  24. Denise Peasnall

    I have tried BLE and am such a food addict I cannot stick with it more a few weeks. Though BLE is a tremendous program that I fully believe in I am amazed at my inability to overcome this addiction. “Once a pickle” is the perfect analogy and I truly believe I became pickled at a very young age. Once I found BLE and recognized my picke I was elated yet I still cannot (or will not? ) Progress beyond a few clean weeks then I am consuming, in mass quantities I might add, the sugar flour like a starving person! I get BLE, I truly do , my addiction is beyond me. What to do?

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    1. Tracy Howard

      You need support! And a Sponsor – like in AA. But, again, as you know, you have to really want it in order to be successful. Best wishes and prayers for you. I get it, believe me!

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    2. K Wood

      “You asked what do I do”? Well what I do is is simple “rezoom” and keep going the next day! Join a bootcamp if you haven’t already, then you join Bright Lifers, get a phone buddy and a mastermind group. The more support the better. You don’t give up no matter what, you just keep going because today is always a new day. . Trust me, I’ve been where you are but slowly but surely I’m making it, 130 lbs gone yes I still have to rezoom (re start right away the very next morning) but I’m getting there and you really can too. You are worth it and you can do this too.

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      1. Becky B

        Hi Denise and K Wood, I’m just like Denise. Good example was at work yesterday. Didn’t prepare a lunch, boss bought pizza, thought I could “manage” myself and by the time I was done I had consumed 2 small pieces, 5 chocolate candy hearts and an Oreo cookie. Thank God our meeting was over. So I beat myself up a bit but K you are right, I can do this because I HAVE done this and I am worth it ! My new river can be strong and yes it’s sad that my brain has this unfixable pathway BUT I Can reroute to the new river. DON’T give up Denise. We just can’t.

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  25. Antonella Reilly

    Very helpful!! Love the analogy. My dh is English so I already knew about the London cabbies.😁 I definitely have those triggers and times of day that get me “on a bad path”. Thanks to ble for a new lease on Life

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  26. Margaret Terris

    Great explanation x

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  27. Joelene

    Thank you I finally understand that I am a pickle…AND why. Makes perfect sense now

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  28. Greg

    Dr. Dale Bredesen’s name is pronounced like “bread-is-sun.” I was astonished to hear you share that you have never heard of him. There are probably over a dozen interviews of him available online. His groundbreaking work on the causes of and possible remission from dementia is nothing short of being both astonishing and inspiring. Anyone who is at all interested in the relationships among diet, lifestyle and health, especially brain and mental health, really should become acquainted with his work, so please make some time to check it out.

    Of course I can’t speak for him, but having listened to at least half a dozen of his interviews I am familiar enough with his work to strongly suspect that he would completely agree with absolutely everything you said in today’s vlog. Good job!

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  29. Peggy

    Great response and very clearly communicated! I have talked about the “pickle vs cucumber” brain with friends since hearing it the first time on the vlog, just the best explanation of food addiction I have ever heard!

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  30. Kathy McCarthy

    Brilliantly said. Thank you for explaining this so clearly !

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  31. Frank Hernandez Jr

    Hey Susan
    This was very powerful it really makes a lot of scientific sense .I have been studying the human brain and neuroplasticity and how the human brain can actually repair
    itself wow awesome.Thank you for all the wonderful work and information you share .I am a Brightliner too

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  32. Ramona Scott

    I, too, learned the AA way that it is too risky to ” take that first drink “. Total abstinence is the only way, for me, and I am not testing it by taking a drink (on march 31, 40 years sobriety and no smoking). However, there are mixed messages on this information. There are professionals who say they are training alcoholics how to drink in moderation – in AA we say “well, they are not truly addicted to alcohol”. There are nutritionists/doctors who don’t think that total abstinence is the way of eating, either – that moderation is possible. I, for one, cannot get away with eating “once in a while” certain foods that trigger a binge, such as pastries, pasta,bread, potato/taco chips, nuts – anything with flour, sugar, liquid oil, butter, cream, cheese, and even meat. I have not surrendered to this fact yet after 60+ years of trying, however I am definitely getting closer.

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    1. joseph

      With her susceptibility scale Susan shows that some people don’t have these issues and can get away with moderation.
      Joseph in Missoula

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  33. Laura Eades Bell

    So succinct and informative , Susan. I learned a boatload! Thanks again!

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  34. Dharmini

    As a pickle with a PhD in psychology . This is right on target! Thank you for distilling it down making it clear.

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  35. Horatio Nelson

    I liked the wink at the end of the vlog but that’s not what I wanted to primarily mention. More significant is that, since my very early childhood, I’ve developed an enormous ppetite and, although my now 72 year old stomach is beginning to rebel, I’ve remained an impulsive eater with an ungenuine appetite i.e. physically I don’t need all I eat. Hence, it’s incredible – and perhaps a sign of what was said in the vlog – that during these weeks of fasting, leading up to Easter, I’ve (effectively) avoided exaggerated quantities of food intake with absolutely no problem. Regards, Horatio Nelson.

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  36. Lillian Swersky

    WOW! I can so relate….I’m such a food addict and guesS I always will be.

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  37. Sarah Boyle

    Wow, who would have thought that food addiction could be so easily explained! Thank you for your clarity around why food addiction is soooo hard to beat, as a first time nearly boot camper, will be starting as soon as I get through my startup( so excited!!!) I appreciate the pictures given like the river analogy and will definately be keeping that in mind if I find myself leaning back towards old ways

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  38. Anne Marie Throumoulos

    Thanks for taking the time to explain this.

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  39. Betty

    Please look up “extinct” and “extinguish.”

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  40. Tracy Howard

    I am a “newbie” and have not yet started my 14 day challenge. Just found BLE 2 days ago and I am still working on the steps required to do that. I come from an addictive family, but have no problem with alcohol or drugs. No drugs, but I do drink socially with now abuse issues. However, I have said many times my addiction is sugar. It is so exciting to find a person, Susan, that believes it and can EXPLAIN it and to have a whole community that gets it. I am excited and at the same time a little fearful. Am I READY? I don’t want to fail.

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    1. Silvia

      You can do this, Tracy! I have recently finished the 14 D C. I was terrified before starting, particularly with the idea of not snacking between meals. It´s been the hardest, and I didn´t it it perfectly, but the most incredible thing has been that fulfilling the other B L´s have been so easy to me! I don´t miss sugar, not flour, I have had no cravings, and the quantities have been enough for me (and always described myself like someone with a very good appetite). I´ve discovered that “hunger is not an emergency”… Really, it´s not! Live your 14 DC like an interesting experiment, listen to your body, surrender to the system, and enjoy! It really works!

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  41. Cathy

    Thanks so much for the real explanation!! Wow you are So amazing

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  42. Eunice

    I’m on my third day of the 14 Day Challenge, and I am a 10 on the susceptibility scale which came as no surprise. Next weekend I am faced with both Passover AND Easter, (mixed family and friends), and I was already getting into the headset of, “Well, just one of Mary Ellen’s cookies won’t hurt!” or, “It will be OK if I stop at one piece of Rose’s Rugelach.” This vlog came in time to stop my nonsense – it’s amazing what my pickle of a brain can rationalize! There will be no sugar and flour for me on those holidays. Throughout my life I have lost and gained the weight of my car at least. It has got to stop now. Thank you, Susan.

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  43. Jo Crawford

    O.K. some of us have a high susceptability score & some have a low one. This vlog got me thinking, is this just random allocation? is it genetic? or enviromental?
    I was born in 1946 in the U.K. food was pretty bland after the war. Main meals were meat or fish & vegetables, breakfast porridge (oatmeal) or eggs & toast.
    Snacks did not exist, chocolate was around at Easter & Christmas. I never remember being hungry or felt deprived.
    When I did your (Susan) susceptability test (a couple of years ago) I had a low score, (not addictive) is this due to not being exposed to abundance of sugar & refined fast food as a child? Or even in the womb when rationing limited my mothers consumption of unwholesome foodstuffs. The incidence of obesity in children & adults in the U.K. has increased greatly in recent years, catching up with U.S.A. Is this because we are “priming” our population to be “Pickles” as their default setting from birth by our choice of foods. Brightline Eating is based on individuals taking responsibility for their own health, by disciplining the amount & quality of what they eat.
    The next logical step is introduce this concept at a much earlier life stage, As Susan has quoted in the past “Eat food in black & white, so that you can live your life in full colour”

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  44. Sherri

    thank you so much for this vlog Susan, this idea of the cucumber and the pickle has transformed my recovery and literally saved my life! I have for so long struggled with my sobriety and my bright lines because I truly believed that I could change it or manage it and it always ended the same way, badly! Whenever I saw anyone drinking NMD or eating NMF I would feel sorry for myself and whine about why can’t I be “normal” like them and I would try it and fail miserably every time. It got so bad I just didn’t want to live like that anymore. Thankfully I saw your first vlog about the cucumber and the pickle and once a pickle always a pickle and that there is just no going back to being a cucumber and something clicked inside me!! I finally had that full surrender and it just made so much sense to me. It’s not about controlled drinking or controlled eating, its just not in the cards for me because I am a pickle!! There’s no reasoning, no manipulating, no fixing it, no good or bad – it just is what it is.
    Now when I see someone eating or drinking NMD / NMF I say to myself “pickle, pickle, pickle – SURRENDER PICKLE!!” (that last one really cracks me up!) and the craving/ feeling just goes away. It’s really quite magical. This is the first time in years that I have experienced this level of surrender, serenity and acceptance of who I am and I owe it all to you and the cucumber, pickle story! Thank you Dr Susan and thank you for explaining even further in this vlog!

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  45. Tannie Flammer

    Susan, what if I could prove that there is a way to lessen this pickling response thus decreasing your susceptibility to addiction? By using some amazing new products that target the gut brain a is, I have gone from an 8 to a five in four months! Please call me at 801 643 7068 to hear my incredible experience! Leave a message if I don’t answer because I get a lot of scam calls from your area. If you’d rather text me that’s great too! I’m so excited to share this with you

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  46. Meg

    Fascinating. Thank you for explaining it all. I’m a pickle. I also have a daughter we adopted from Ethiopia when she was 3. I’ll tell her that she will probably be able to pick up Amharic quickly again if she ever wanted to. 🙂

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  47. Deborah Harper

    Susan that was excellent. May you always keep your pickle under wraps. However I also believe practice makes perfect and by now I expect your unconscious brain has got the message and your pickle is diluted. You are amazing as always and one day you are going to elevate the ( you know what I’m saying here) 1% to 90%. I would say 100% but because I think you can do it but no pressure eh!

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  48. Susan Purdy

    Really enjoyed this pickle story and the testimonials and comments. Thank you for explaining it –I have been faltering very much with diet and realize that I was thinking I could minimize the sin- but I can’t, because I too, am a pickle, and there is no moderation about it….

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  49. Lisa Afsharian-Wilson

    All I can say is WOW! What a great question and a fantastic response, Susan! Your analogies are so spot on and really helps to put this addiction in perspective. I am okay with being a pickle… as long as I know why…and you explained it perfectly. I also want to mention you look fantastic and I love your outfit! Thanks again ,Susan, God bless!! xoxo

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  50. Barbara Hirschfeld

    Well done. Perfect combination of erudition and cuteness. love youBarba

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  51. Sylvia

    It makes total sense. In physical therapy we have a similar example. Once you’ve injured a joint or anything on your body, like your back, it can heal, but it will always need specific attention to not become a chronic pain issue again. You always have to stick with your excerices, slack off, you’re back to pain. Same with food addiction and bright lines.

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  52. Catherine Hosking

    I will never eat a pickle the same again 🙂 It will always remind me of this vlog and analogy.

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  53. Deborah

    This is my understanding of it, and I’d love to know if it’s accurate 🙂 In Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases, the problem is that the disease causes neural pathways and connections to degenerate, and the brain is showing plasticity by retaining and recovering those pathways. In the case of food addiction, the brain has developed pathways and connections that, quite frankly, we wish it hadn’t. What we want to do is destroy those pathways as if they never existed–which is what Alzheimer’s does, in a way, although to pathways that we’d rather retain. So in working to get rid of these pathways related to food, we’re actually working against plasticity, not with it. We’re “healing our brains” by making those pathways and connections go dormant in favor of pathways and connections we prefer, but for complete healing–to truly become a cucumber again–we’d have to destroy them, which is something we can’t do precisely because the brain assumes that pathways and connections, and the knowledge they contain, should be kept and plasticity therefore works against their destruction.

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  54. Janice

    I needed to hear this today! I was doing perfectly on BLE, for several months and got to a perfect weight. I didn’t “think” that certain foods would ever be tempting again. I had no desire to “lick frosting off my hand”. So I added stevia. I had missed my homemade hot chocolate. I justified it was healthy and unsweetened cocoa with only half a stevia portion couldn’t possibly hurt me! Well, I also added Zevia, a stevia drink, figuring it has no calories, and little by little my triggers started to become alive and I ended up where I NEVER THOUGHT I would return. I have watched the scale creep up and started to feel ashamed of getting back here. I knew if I went back to the 14 day challenge that I started with it would be ok, but has been hard returning fully without the stevia. I thought maybe I was no longer a 10 on the scale but boy was I wrong! Susan, you know what you are talking about and I needed this vlog today!!! So here I go, according to your plan, not mine, because yours works!!!!! Mine ends up ringing those bells andbeing a trigger that I thought died. Day one, and I am going to push myself to do this right!

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  55. Ronna Berezin

    You make convincing points , and I can’t argue with your training, but do not agree with your conclusions; besides their being limited to highly OCD people, they do not apply to the ones who decide to take charge of their OCD. You call it an eating disorder. I call it a psychologiccal disorder that perpetuates your claims and decisions and makes your decisions irrevocable…. to you!

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  56. Peg

    God can even heal addiction but the behavior is up to us.
    All accolades for this info . This blog could help an entire generation . I am truly great full for BLE.

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  57. Meri Fatin

    Great vlog Susan – thanks so much. your storytelling really helps these lessons to stick in my head. xx

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  58. Helen

    Powerful…This is a keeper to read and re-read whenever the urge to backslide rears up…. A much-needed explanation! Can’t
    thank you enough, Susan.

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  59. Beata

    I used to be addicted to food. I was 10 in Your Quiz. I’m not any more. And I can eat everything and nothing happens. Food is not a problem for me any more. I am cucumber again. My brain can easly addicted to facebook or work, but not to food, alkohol or drugs. And I know, that I will not became addicted again, because I take care of my emotions, my needs, my priorities. Of course – I need to be carefull, I need to take care of my happieness, But I made a decision – I will never use food to cope with my emotions.

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  60. Carol

    Perfect explanation. Thank you

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  61. Laura Nickerson

    Same as why alcoholics can’t just have one little drink…. the dried up river bed is reactivated and off they go on a binger.

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  62. Louise

    A pickle on BLE is a Success!

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  63. Louise

    A pickle on BLE is a SUCCESS story!

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  64. Ann

    This is exactly what I needed to understand today. I think I have been waiting to out grow or have my addiction to sweets just go away. Now I can have this sort of closure over my loss of ‘cucumberhood’, and realize that I will always be a pickle so I require different habits than my cucumber friends to live in a right size body. That helps me embrace a different life style and commitment. Thank you Susan!!!

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  65. Mary

    Wow! Thank you so much for that explanation. It makes me a bit sad to hear but it confirms the reality of the way things are for someone with food addiction such as myself.

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  66. Dana Rodgers

    I add my resounding amen to all of the positive comments above! I also add my deepest gratitude to you and your continued effort to help the pickles (and partial pickles) of the world. This ranks among my favorites of all your vlogs. Thank you, dear Susan.

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  67. Susan Louthain

    Thank you so much for this vlog. Very enlightening – will. save it for sure!!

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  68. Judy McQuinn

    Boy, does this message hit home for me. I am certainly a pickle, and now I understand why, and how to deal with it.

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  69. robyn shapiro

    Susan, thank you for the clarification of this topic!!!! I needed to hear the reminder that in this case, we can never go back. And that is okay. I am stumbling with poor choices but now realizing and embracing the chemical effect it has on my body and mental strength. It actually creates a tsunami of no control. So I now really will claim that I have an addiction to flour and sugar, and not just chalking it up to making poor food choices in my eating habits. I am okay with this knowledge and hope it make me stronger in the program to get back on track.

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  70. Diana L Maier

    This makes perfect sense to me, but then I see people like Geneen Roth who has transformed her addictive eating habits through insight work, etc. Was she never a true food addict to start? It sure sounds like she was. And she eats everything now, even flour and sugar. Thoughts on how that works?

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