MDAE E40 – How to Stop Binge Eating – Chuck’s Secrets to Losing 265 Pounds

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published October 15, 2018
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How to Stop Binge Eating – Chuck’s Secrets to Losing 265 Pounds

Podcast Transcript

Chuck Carroll: So, forget the whole “What am I going to eat?” thing. That is the single most important thing. And then, closely followed thereafter, make sure that you're eating that whole-food, plant-based diet, because that's going to give you the absolute best opportunity to really revolutionize your health.

It’s the best way I like to put it. And give you the best shot at beating that food addiction. Stopping binge eating. That's the most important thing, is to be ready to do it, psychologically want to do it, and then make sure that you're eating the right things.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Welcome to the Mastering Diabetes Audio Experience, where we teach you how to sit in the driver's seat of your diabetes health for the rest of your life. We’ll teach you how to reverse insulin resistance, achieve your ideal body weight, gain energy and get your best A1c following more than 85 years of evidence-based research in the Mastering Diabetes Program.

Robby Barbaro: Our program teaches you how to reverse prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and how to simplify your life with type 1 diabetes by maximizing your insulin sensitivity, using food as medicine.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: We're on a bold mission to reverse insulin resistance in 1 million people. We're glad to have you joining us.

Robby Barbaro: Welcome to the Mastering Diabetes Audio Experience. Thank you for taking the time to tune in. We have a great show today. This is an episode with Chuck Carroll, who lost over 265 pounds, and has kept that weight off for more than eight years. So, keeping the weight off is the key, and he's done that through plant-based nutrition.

So, you're gonna hear on today's episode how he overcame food addiction, how he overcame binge eating, and the key tips he has for keeping the weight off, and a lot more.

So, we had the chance to meet Chuck in Washington, DC recently, at a great conference put on by PCRM, and it's called the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine. So, if you're a healthcare professional looking for some CMEs, that's a great conference to attend.

So, while we were at that conference, he interviewed us for the PCRM Podcast called “The Exam Room”. And they have a terrific Podcast. They interview excellent, excellent guests sharing scientific evidence behind the plant-based diet. They share a lot of practical tips for adopting that lifestyle. A lot of really, really great interviews over there.

Our episode is coming out soon, so make sure to go and subscribe to “The Exam Room” Podcast, wherever you listen to Podcasts.

If you're enjoying this podcast, we certainly would love a review. That helps us reach more people with this show, and even if you'd just gave us a rating on iTunes, that would be helpful as well. Okay on to the episode hope you guys enjoy it.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Chuck, thanks so much for being with us here today. We really appreciate your time.

Chuck Carroll: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Absolutely. So, you have an amazing story of how you lost a total of 265 pounds eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, and really recognizing that there was a problem, recognizing that you were binge eating, and that you needed to change this process.

So, take our listeners through the process of you becoming overweight, and then decided that it was time to change.

Chuck Carroll: I mean, I feel like I should be writing a manual, “How to stop binge eating”, because this was… It's so difficult. Binger or otherwise, I mean, really what it boils down to is food addiction. I think that anybody that's struggling with binge eating, is struggling a lot with food addiction and I was no different than those guys.

I mean, I was woefully, woefully addicted to food. And you know, my whole life, I remember growing up and dinner was, 9 times out of 10, through a drive thru. I mean, I remember in elementary school Cyrus, I would go, my mom would pick us up, and take us to the drive thru, and I was already ordering double cheeseburgers, ketchup only, with large fries, and a large drink with that. And that was my standard.

Forget the fact that I was just coming from my grandma's house, where she also gave us hot dogs and French fries, that she cooked up herself. And you know, I probably had school pizza before that, and God only knows what kind of crazy cereal I had for breakfast. Probably Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch, or something like that.

So, you know as well as I do, when you eat like that day in and day out, there's no way you're going to be healthy, and there's even less of a chance you're going to have a skinny waist. So, I always was that overweight kid.

Forget the fact that I tried to be active and I played sports. Basketball, baseball, football, I was still woefully overweight. And then over time that food addiction continued to grow, and grow, and grow. And I didn't even realize that I was binge eating until many years after I graduated from high school, it really sunk in. And I think that anybody that struggles with their weight has done yo-yo dieting.

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They'll get on a gimmick plan, and they'll lose a significant amount, only to put it on and then some. For me, my downfall was that I literally went through food detox at that point in my life, in my mid early 20s, I was a Taco Bell junkie. And I use the word junkie, I stress that, because when I would try to lose weight, and I was on about day 2, day 3 without it, when night fell, I became a raging jerk. I just was not pleasant to be around. Because I was detoxing.

This is what I thought it took. This was how to stop binge eating, in my eyes, was trying to get through this. But I couldn't, at that point I physically could not, because I was dripping in sweat, I felt physically ill, I put my fist through a wall. I was having such fits of rage, because I wasn't getting my Taco Bell fix.

And so on that third night, that second or third night, I would sneak out of the house and I would go through the drive thru, where they knew my name already, and I would pull up in my car, they would see me coming, and they would have my order ready by the time I got to the window.

And this was probably 7000 calories worth of food in one shot. $20 a Taco Bell. I don't know if you've ever priced anything out there. Still relatively cheap today. Back then, even more cheap. So I was a woeful, woeful addict. And then I would, of course, what hide the wrappers, and things like that. So, nobody really got that I was I was slipping.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think one of the things that makes binge eating and, sort of, overeating so hard to stop is that it's socially acceptable, right? If you were doing you know LSD on a daily basis, as an example, and people knew about that, they would probably tell you to stop, or maybe check into rehab, or try and find some help, right?

Same thing with any kind of narcotic substance, you're doing some kind of illicit drug, the answer is like “Oh Chuck, what's going on? Something's wrong. Let's get you some help” right? But when you're sitting there eating fast food, it's not like, that isn't registered with the same alarm bells for most people, they just sort of, “Oh, it’s Taco Bell. It’s Burger King. Don’t worry about it, it’s fine, just maybe less” right?

Chuck Carroll: Right. Yeah. So, nobody's gonna say “Hey, do less cocaine”, they're going to tell you not to do cocaine at all. That's a beautiful point. Right? But I mean even… Here's the thing when I was eating that much, I knew that there was something wrong. I knew that I was eating too much. I knew that I was binge eating, and it was completely out of control.

But, so I would do this overnight, and I would still be on these gimmick diets. At one time it was the cookie diet, and that was a whole show. But I was working out so much at the gym, just so I could afford myself calorically that Taco Bell binge, and still continue to lose weight. And people would talk about that up “Wow, Chuck's doing great on the cookie diet”. No, Chuck's doing great because he was at the gym for three hours, just trying to be able to get by with the Taco Bell. Just, kind of, work the system a little bit.

But I got tired of that, man. Your weight goes up, your weight comes down, your weight goes really high up. So here I am about 26 years old, 25, 26 and physically I'm at a point Cyrus, where I could not walk across the street. Across the street! Without my chest starting to tighten. I would start sweating profusely. I was literally, you hear the phrase, I was a heart attack waiting to happen. I didn't think I was going to live to see through. But again, I didn't know how to stop binge eating.

So, I just kept right on going. And I'm almost at my peak weight of 420 pounds at that point, and I get wind, and this is when my friends finally took notice. And they were trying to organize an intervention for me. And I was furious. I mean, I was straight up pissed off. I felt like I was being stabbed in the back. I felt like I was being betrayed, and all these people who I consider to be close to me, allies, were suddenly my adversaries, and I wanted nothing to do with these people. They were dead to me. Dead to me. And I cut them out of my life for years after that.

That was kind of a turning point. And then the real turning point was having to fly across country. Now, I am based in Washington, DC, I had to go to a conference in San Francisco. And at this point, I have reached my max weight of 420 pounds. I hadn't flown since I was a little kid. But I knew that this was going to be an ordeal. There was no way that I was going to be able to fit on an airplane seat. So, I just kind of sucked it up. I knew that this was going to be dicey. But I thought, all right, well, maybe I can squeeze it in there like, really just squeeze the seat belt together. That's what I was counting on when I got on the plane. What I was not counting on, was boarding and then seeing everybody, I felt like this, everybody who was already on the plane turned, looked forward, at me, and say, “Dear God, please do not let this man sit next to me”.

That was an awful feeling. And then I had to shift one I'll at a time, because I was too wide to just go right down the aisle. I was doing the shimmy all the way to the back of the plane. Please. Fingers crossed. Can I fit into the seat? Can I get the seatbelt on? No. Zero chance. So, I had to do the shimmy back up the aisle, and just as humiliated as I possibly could be, asked for a seat belt extender. And then I did the walk of shame, back to the seat, seat belts extender in hand, people at this point, breathing a sigh of relief anyway, because they knew that I was going to the back of the plane. But nonetheless, the stares were still there. I felt like a leper, an outcast. That was about as low as I'd ever been emotionally. And that's when I was like, “All right, screw this. I can't do this any longer. I have to do something”.

And so, I had a friend… A matter of fact, my father and my stepmother, they had gastric bypass surgery, so I was like “All right. Well, let me try this”. I considered it to be last resort. And then I was like, “If this fails, I can at least go to my grave saying: Hey, I tried everything”. I wanted to live to see 30, I thought, “Well, maybe this is going to get me there”. And so, literally on my 27th birthday, I was on an operating table having a little pre-procedure. Three days later, I was cut wide open and have a full on gastric bypass.

And that was, finally, how I was able to break that food addiction. That was, finally, how I was able to stop binge eating. Because there is a three to six month window, after that procedure, where you cannot physically tolerate those foods or else you will become violently ill. And I mean violently. So, my procedure for whatever reason wasn't done laparoscopically. I mean, he went straight through my abdomen. He opened me right up, so my core was hurting. And the last thing I wanted to do was to heave and hurt even worse.

So I just watched what I ate. But the interesting thing was, I didn't know one thing about a plant-based diet. About being vegan. At that point being vegan, I still consider “All those hippies. So, you know, all they do is eat grass”. I was like, “That can't be for me”.

So, this diet plan that I'm given, they focus on protein, protein, protein, protein. And I know how many times have you heard this, “You're vegan, where do you get your protein from?”, I got asked that many years later. But so, eat this chicken, drink this milk, don't eat red meat, but eat as much pork as you want. I wasn't a pork guy, so that wasn't really an issue. But turkey, and fish, and all of that stuff, I was just pounding away on, because this was still what I thought was healthy.

Now, just as when I was doing the, not the cookie diet, but I will call it the “Taco Bell diet”, and working out feverishly, I was doing this as well following the procedure, only I wasn't going to the gym. I was literally walking every day. Remember, I could barely walk across the street, without my chest tightening. So at first, that's all I did. And then I would go and I would sit at a bench and stare out at the park for 15 minutes, come back to my desk.

After a couple weeks, I was able to walk around the block. And then it was two blocks, and three blocks. And then it was a mile. That was a milestone. And then, eventually, it built all the way up. So on my lunch break, come hell or high water, rain, snow, sunshine, it didn't matter, I was walking five miles a day. And God bless my boss at the time, for letting me take an extended lunch break, and then make up that half an hour on the back end. You know, it’s supposed to be an hour lunch break, it took me 90 minutes to do the loop. So, he let me work a little bit later just to make up the time. And that's how the weight you know, kind of came off of me. That the stomach could shrunk, you know, and the whole bypass thing. But that's a whole other show.

So I was still, for years after that, still eating the meat, still drinking the dairy. I changed my Taco Bell addiction, for a dairy addiction. I mean, come to find out dairy is, I mean, that's super addictive too. So I was guzzling milk like it was going out of style, man. But it was skim milk. It was skim milk, so that had to be healthy. Right?

So, I mean, I was just chugging that man, but you know, I thought was doing good. I thought I was healthy, and compared to where I was, of course. But I just, I still felt sluggish, and I was hoping that there was something more, because I see these guys, and they're running marathons, and they're out biking and, biking 100 miles a day. And, here I am, walking five miles a day, which is wonderful, but I'm not ready for a marathon. I'm not ready to bike 100 miles, what can I do? I didn't know.

And so, as luck would have it, I'm a journalist by trade. So I was interviewing this athlete, and actually, a pro wrestler by the name of Austin Aries. Phenomenal guy. If you don't know, look him up. And he was telling me about how he had switched to a vegan diet. And, at this point, he was in his late 30s, but still wrestling as if he was in his early 20s. I mean, this guy hadn't lost a step. And the cool thing about Austin is he grew up in Wisconsin, and that is the meat and dairy capital of the US, man. And he's telling me about the health benefits, ant it was like “Hmm”.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Yeah. Then, “Anyone can do it, if he can do it”.

Chuck Carroll: Maybe he's on to something. So I checked it out. And man, let me tell you something, I went from healthy to super, super deluxe healthy man. Like crazy, ridiculous amounts of healthy. Before I lost the weight, let me give you an example, my blood pressure was like 190 over 95. I was put on beta blockers in high school. And now, today it's like 110 over 75, sometimes even a little bit lower than that. It's phenomenal.

And so, I know with this whole-food, plant-based diet now, there is literally zero chance that I will revert back to my old ways. Not only that it, of course teach me how to stop binge eating, but it has made me just this happier, healthier human being. And I want nothing more than to shout from the mountaintops, how powerful food can be as medicine. I don't have to take anything anymore. No cholesterol medication, no blood pressure medication, nothing like that, because of how I eat now. And it's great.

And I think really what I want to do real quick is just work with other gastric bypass patients, because just like every other diet, guys, you see so many of these people who have undergone the procedure, and they do not change their eating habits. And over time, as their stomach expands again, that weight creeps back on. And it's such an extreme measure to take, why would you do anything to jeopardize the progress that you made?

And yet, because we're not taught what healthy eating is, that risk of going back to your old ways, is super high. It is super, super high.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: 100%. So, let me ask you this, take me back to the psychology. I'm really interested here in the psychology of what you were explaining earlier, where you said that when your friends staged, or attempted to stage an intervention, you got angry. Okay, explain to me what was going on in your head. Why did you get angry? Did you not recognize that they were trying to you help you become healthier, and potentially save your life? Explain to me the emotions you felt.

Chuck Carroll: Yeah. I knew in my heart of hearts, that they were just trying to help. This was not malicious. This wasn't you know, “Let's bring Chuck to the table and stab him in the heart”, I felt like I was being stabbed in the back. In my heart of hearts, I knew that that wasn't the case, but that was completely outweighed by the fact that I was furious. That anger outweighed everything else. Every other emotion was way off to the side compared to the anger and the frustration that I felt.

And you want to talk about psychology, I wasn't really mad at them. They were trying to help. They just happened to be the target of my anger, because they presented themselves, and they became the easy target with this idea. But I was so pissed off at myself. I mean, I'm not going to swear, but I was so frigging pissed off at myself, because I was at that point where other people had grown concerned. I was so large, I was so unhealthy that other people started to notice.

And just how you said earlier that it's not like cocaine, it's not like LSD, you're at Taco Bell, you're at Burger King. It is what it is. I was at a point now where if I went to burger, if I went to Taco Bell people would notice, and they viewed it in the same light as a cocaine addict doing a line at the table. And that was the wakeup call for me, man. That hit me right in the face. And that hurt. And that's where that anger stemmed from.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Got it. So, you were basically angry, not necessarily at your friends, but you were angry because you had let yourself get to a point where your friends felt obligated to intervene.

Chuck Carroll: Exactly.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: So that anger was something that was sort of pressure cooking inside of you, and this was just sort of the trigger to let that anger out.

Chuck Carroll: Yes. That absolutely was. Like I said, they became an easy, easy target. And I guess I didn't realize, I mean, that's a great point, I did not realize how much anger was just simmering right below the surface, man. And that phone call where I was tipped off. I was tipped off about this intervention, by the way. It didn't happen. They were going to try to sneak me in, you know, “Surprise intervention!”

You know, I was tipped off by another friend that this was going to happen. He didn't know that I didn't already know, or that I didn't know. And so anyway, I called the ringleader and I just ripped him a new one. I mean, there were words coming out of my mouth that would have made a sailor blush. It was ridiculous. I think that I invented a few swear words, then, honestly, I wish I could go back and write them down, just because I'm sure that now they're pretty funny.

But at the time, man, I was unhappy. And this guy who had been such a dear friend of mine, and actually gave me a huge break in the radio business because that's what I was doing. He was the enemy, man. He was the big time enemy.

Robby Barbaro: Chuck, one thing I'm curious to learn more about is this concept of binge eating, but also binge eating on healthy food. Is that something that you have dealt with yourself, or you coach other people through? I know we hear people in our Coaching Program that sometimes struggle with that.

Chuck Carroll: That is a phenomenal point, physically, obviously now I am detoxed off of junk food. I haven't touched that in years now. But I do find that I gravitate toward the same foods, day in and day out. I have this routine now, they're all healthy foods. I'm not talking about junk food or anything like that. These are all whole-food, plant-based on dinners, particularly spinach and kale salad, that's out of this world, and I'll give you the recipe if you'd like.

But I do find from time to time that my salads are like huge. I mean like huge. Like a big old, like serving bowl side salad. And then, as I'm making it I'm like ”Man, that's the former fat boy in me, just like coming out and wanting to play.” And so, even though it's healthy food you still have to be careful, because you're prone to binge eat.

And so, it's not so much a physical addiction anymore. Binge eating has become a psychological addiction, and that can be just as scary. And I was talking to somebody here, who had a patient who was vegan but weighed 450 pounds. Can you believe that? Vegan and 450 pounds. Because they were eating things like Oreos, and Swedish Fish, and things like that, that weren't the healthiest fare in the world. And so, even though they weren't eating meat or dairy, they were severely super morbidly obese.

So binge eating, I think, is one aspect of it as physical and you can address that with food, but the psychological aspect of it, it goes a little bit further than what is on your plate.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: I think that's actually a really good point. Because, you know, for people living with diabetes, what I have come to learn over the course of time is that, diabetes is basically a collection of symptoms that sits on top of the underlying condition that is insulin resistance. And so, anybody can eat themselves into insulin resistance, even before you become diabetic. Even people with type 1 diabetes, you know, slender individuals, athletic individuals, you can easily eat yourself into an insulin resistance state, that can then progress into prediabetes, type 2 diabetes.

And one of the things that I hear over, and over, and over again for people is that they struggle with this, sort of, the psychological difficulty of separating themselves from food, right? And they're constantly asking themselves the same question: How to stop binge eating? How am I going to stop binge eating, Right? And maybe it's not necessarily those exact words when I say, how am I going to reduce my food intake? You know, why do I gravitate towards the same foods in such large quantities? And why is it that I need the, sort of like, dopamine release that's constantly being reinforced. The same type of dopamine release that Dr. Neal Barnard talks about when you consume cheese, when you have sex, when you gamble, when you drink alcohol, it's all part of the same reward mechanism.

And so in this process, my question to you is, did you have a conversation with yourself, like an actual, were you asking yourself the question of like, “Chuck, how am I going to stop binge eating?”, or was it all just to kind of subconscious, where you just sort of set into motion a set of habits, and then you just executed those hands?

Chuck Carroll: Yeah, I had that conversation after I'd had the surgery. Because again, I knew that I had a problem beforehand, but you just can't grasp the whole gravity of it, until after you've fully detoxed, and that's when you can appreciate it. And so, as I was going through those withdrawals, as I was setting up a game plan to keep that weight off forever, that's when I had that conversation.

And initially, I thought that all it was going to require, was eliminating fast food from my diet. You know, I thought that I had made a huge step when the day I was released from the hospital, they keep you in there for a couple days after the procedure, but the day that I was released from the hospital, my father and stepmother, who had the procedure have brought me a cup of black coffee from McDonald’s.

Now, black coffee, no big deal. My huge issue was, this is McDonald's. And at that point, I associated that with, you know, I want nothing to do with this, I don't care if it's coffee, I don't care if it's a bottle of water, I don't care if it's mixed fruit. I will not eat anything from there. Because if I open that door, just a little bit, if I crack it, there's a good chance I'm going to wind up kicking that door in, in the not too distant future, and go right back to my old binge eating ways.

And so, that then is both a physical and a psychological addiction. And I wanted jack doodles to do with the Golden Arches, or to run for the border, or to dying with the king at Burger King, or you know, chill down with the colonel at KFC. Anything like that, I wanted nothing to do with, because I knew, I knew, it's like once I enter there, just a little bit, It's all over. And I just wasn't going to do it.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: 100%. I think that's actually, that's something that Adam Sud talks a lot about. That's something that Susan Peirce Thompson, another one of our, sort of, educators speaks about as well, is that you almost have to create, you have to create a division, and there has to be a real hard stop. It's not like, “Oh, I'm just going to do this a little bit”. It's like, “No, I'm not doing it. Period, end of story.” And once you make up your mind, then you can start to make progress.

Chuck Carroll: Huge, it's huge. I think that, when somebody is that overweight, and whether they're diabetic or not. Whatever their ailment is, when they're that overweight, you have to be all in, or all out. Because there will not be any cheat days, because if you have a cheat day, the next day becomes a cheat day, and the day after that becomes a cheat day, and you say, “Well, everything in moderation, one won't hurt me.” Well, okay, but one every day will, and that's exactly what's happening.

And then you can kind of try to rationalize it. “Well, I only had one slice of pizza today.” And then “Well, tomorrow I'll only have one hamburger”, and then the next day “I’ll only have one piece of fried chicken.” So you're changing up the food every day. But essentially, you're still eating that junk. But that's how you kind of rationalize it, “I'm okay. I'm doing this in moderation. I only had pizza once last week. I only had one burger this past month. I only had one piece of chicken yesterday. I'm good to go.” But it doesn't work like that. Because the burger becomes the chicken, the chicken becomes the pizza, the pizza becomes the sausage and so on, and so forth. And before you know it, you're off the rails completely. And it's not good, man. It's just not good.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Yeah, 100%. Actually, one of the questions that we get asked a lot at Mastering Diabetes is, people say to us, “How often can I have a cheat day? Can I have a cheat day every Saturday, once a week, once every two weeks?” Like, “When is it okay to have a cheat day?”, and I tell them the same thing every single time. There's actual studies that show that when you're living with some form of insulin resistance, that it takes one meal, that's it. One meal to elevate your blood glucose for the next 48 to 72, to 96 hours, right?

So, suppose you were eating a diet that was making you insulin sensitive. It was low-fat, it was plant-based, it was whole-food. And you've been doing that for three, four weeks. You got yourself to a point where you're fasting blood glucose has come down, maybe your medication uses come down, maybe your insulin use has come down. You're feeling good. Everything's going great. You have one cheat meal, just one, you put in some chicken, you put in some fish, you put in some oil, you have some fast food. And then, what ends up happening is that people's blood glucose ends up getting elevated, not right then and there, but 6 hours later, 12 hours later, the next morning they wake up and they say, “How come my fasting blood glucose is 50 points higher? That's weird.” And then the next morning they wake up “My fasting blood glucose is still elevated.” The next morning they wake up “My glucose is still elevated.” And this process you know is very quick, so you get triggered. And it takes a long time to regain a sense of normalcy once again.

And I think this kind of parallels exactly what you're saying here because, you know, if you open that door just a little bit, right, you open that door just a little bit, and all of a sudden, boom, it becomes a gateway to a whole bunch of other maladaptive behavior, which then, before you know it, you’re back to your old habit, your old habits, and you're either gaining weight, or you're becoming more insulin resistant, you're becoming more diabetic, and all of a sudden you're back to square one.

Chuck Carroll: Not to mention that those cheat days, I would imagine, I mean, cheat days are dicey, so you're talking about adding just a little bit of chicken, or a little bit of fast food, or something like that. I would imagine though, a lot of people kind of, on those cheat days, just go nuts and they binge eat on those days. And that too is a very slippery slope. Well, if I'm doing good six days out of the week, I can eat whatever I want on that seventh day, however much of it I want.

And then again, man, you introduce it a little bit. You're binge eating one day, you're binge eating the next, and pretty soon, you're right back in that same hole.

Robby Barbaro: Alright, Chuck, as somebody who has been doing this for a long time now very successfully, somebody listening to the show, they're telling themselves “I want to stop my binge eating habits”. What other tips that you have for that?

Chuck Carroll: Alright, so the first part is, you just got to realize that it's not going to be pretty upfront. You need to realize that you are essentially going to war with yourself physically and psychologically, and it's going to be hell. It's absolutely going to be hell. Don't go in there, and think that, “Oh, this won't be so bad. I’ll have a couple of rough nights.” No. It's going to suck. And you're going to have to wrestle with this, not just for a few days, but for a few months, because even after that physical addiction has subsided, that psychological addiction remains very strong for four months afterwards. And still as we talked about, stays with you for years. I mean, it may stay with me for the rest of my life. I don't know.

But you just have to be mentally prepared to go to battle, and you have to be ready. You can't do this because your friends are organizing an intervention and they say, “It's time to lose weight”. You can't do this because your doctor comes to you and says, “Hey, your insulin is out of control. You need to lose weight”. You can't do this because your mom is like, “Hey, I don't want to outlive you. You need to lose weight”. You have to do this because you are ready to do it. You have to do this because you want to do it. And so forget the whole “What am I going to eat” thing, that is the single most important thing.

And then closely followed thereafter, make sure that you're eating that whole-food, plant-based diet, because that's going to give you the absolute best opportunity to revolutionize your health. It’s the best way I like to put it. And give you the best shot at beating that food addiction. Stopping binge eating. That's the most important thing, is to be ready to do it, psychologically to want to do it, and then make sure that you're eating the right things. And do not buy in, for the love of God, do not buy into those marketing, catchy gimmicky diets that will continue to derail your progress. You will never get out of the hole if you do that.

Robby Barbaro: I gotta tell you, your mental preparation sounds a lot like getting ready to work out with Cyrus.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Oh, I love it, I love it. Robby, I'm going to take that as a compliment, I really appreciate it.

Robby Barbaro: You got it.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: So, Chuck, you have more than two years of experience under your belt. You lost 265 pounds right? You’re a completely transformed individual from the inside out. By now you're an expert on how to stop binge eating. Run me through… Okay, let's go back two years, suppose you knew then what you know now, if you had to do the whole thing all over again, what would you do different?

Chuck Carroll: I guess you're asking, would I have had the surgery? Is that basically what you're, you're hinting at?

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Sure. Okay, that's one of the things, would you have had the surgery? Number one. Would you have changed the food that you were eating? What would you have changed quicker? Would there be certain types of foods that you would integrate? Would there be certain psychological conditioning you would have done? Run me through anything, whether it's physical, emotional, psychological, what would you do differently?

Chuck Carroll: Well, let's take it back to the surgery. I get asked that quite a bit. And the answer for me is, it's a complicated one, because that food addiction and that compulsion to binge eat was so strong, without literally having my insides rewired, I'm still not 100% convinced that I personally, I can only speak for myself, that I personally would have been able to be that success.

What I'm convinced it would take, would be a comprehensive care system, I would have need to have worked at an inpatient facility. This is how serious it is. At an inpatient facility with a doctor familiar with the plant-based diet. With a doctor who's familiar with detoxing off of junk food, and getting the gut microbiome in check, and making sure that that’s in the right place. Because it's not going to be pretty, man.

I swear to God, it must be similar to somebody detoxing off of heroin. We mentioned Dr. Barnard talking about the addictive properties of dairy and cheese. I mean, there's case of morphine and cheese, morphine, opiate addictive, I mean that's the kind of stuff that food addicts, and binge eaters are dealing with. And so, if left to my own devices, and even in an outpatient program, I'm not sure that I would have been able to succeed. I would have needed a comprehensive network of inpatient care. I am absolutely convinced. And the person who creates such a center is my hero.

Now, on the second part of the question. Would I have done this sooner, if I learned? You damn right I would, I mean, come on, come on. Come on. That's just a silly question. I mean, it has been the single best thing in my life that I've ever done is stumbling, luckily, upon this lifestyle. And psychologically, man, I mean, I was ready. I just did a show on The Exam Room this week about the link between food and mood. And the studies there show that people who don't eat meat, and eat this plant-based diet are generally happier people. Generally happier. And I'm like “I'm ready to be happy”. So, you take that out of your diet. I'd like to think I'm a pleasant guy. Otherwise you probably wouldn't have me on here. And so, yeah.

And the only thing that I really would have done differently as far as changing over to that diet was, you know, not going for the processed vegan food at first and, you know, dipping my toes into the waters, it's like, all right, well, let me just go whole-food, plant-based right up front. As opposed to starting with the chicken that you find in the frozen food section. I didn't know about the oil issues until after I was plant-based, but luckily working here at the physicians committee, every day it's like coming to school. It's great. Every day I learned something new. And so, it's really helped me optimize my nutrition and my diet. But that's really the only thing I would have done differently.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: I love this. This is so good. So good. So, tell our listeners, how are they going to be able to find you, because you are the host of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine the PCRM Podcast, The Exam Room. So, brag about yourself. Tell our audience how they're gonna find you, and how they're gonna listen to your genius more often.

Chuck Carroll: Oh, yes. Let me brag. Well, first of all, ladies, I'm married. Sorry. So, that the show is it's literally wherever you can get podcast from. You can find us. Just search for The Exam Room by The Physicians Committee. We will pop right up. It's a new episode every single week. And we do a lot on the Physicians Committee Facebook page, as well as on our YouTube channel. We are everywhere. If you're looking at videos, you can find us. If you're looking for Podcasts, you can find us.

And then of course, social media @ChuckCarrollWLC. That is with two R's and two L's in Carroll, and the Weight Loss Champion. That is what the WLC stands for. That's good for both Twitter and Instagram. Try to post as much of my story up there as possible and interact with people and try to give them motivation. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than when somebody writes in and they say “Hey. Thank you, you've inspired me to make this change. And I'm doing really well now. And my doctors are so pleased. And you know, my insulin is doing so much better now. Thank you. Thank you, thank you.” And to me, that is the best form of payment ever. Because I'm able to help somebody else. And I never thought I would be in a position to do that. So to receive those emails, it is just, it's incredible.

And I know that you guys get the same kind of feedback from your program as well. And I mean, you tell me, it's got to be like the most rewarding part of your life, almost.

Robby Barbaro: Nothing feels better. It's absolutely the best, no question about it.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Best part of our job. I mean, I used to work in Biotech for a couple years, and while I was there, I was just sitting there literally every single day I was like, “I'm doing nothing for the world. I have so much information, but this is not helping”. And then soon as you start to hear from other people, they're like, “Hey, my quality of life has improved thanks to you”. You're just like, you get this little tingling inside of your chest that's just kind of like starts to take over. There's just no substitution for it. So I know exactly what you're talking about.

Chuck Carroll: Yeah. Robby, can you talk for a couple minutes? I just like your background a whole lot. No offense, man, I mean Cyrus, no offense. But Robby, your background is phenomenal. Let's see that fruit.

Robby Barbaro: I'm glad you like it. I would love anytime you're in town, stop by, let’s share some stuff here.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Robby, are those plastic fruits behind you, or are they actually real? People want to know the answer.

Robby Barbaro: They know! There’s stuff to learn here. I mean, people need to learn to eat their bananas ripe. Okay. These are thai bananas here. And you can get these, I'm telling you, almost any major city around the country. If you go to an Asian market you'll find thai bananas, and they taste really good. And you know, brightness is key. So, got a bunch of tomatoes, bought these at a good price. And sometimes I'll dehydrate them. So, you know, you gotta go big.

Chuck Carroll: I love this. It's a produce section in the background. Hold on, let me show you my my background stuff. Hold tight.

Robby Barbaro: I can't wait to see what he's got for us.

Chuck Carroll: Wait for it, wait for it. So, I don't have anything nearly as cool, but I did have a little bit of fun on Amazon. Check this out. Boom! Produce plush toys, how great is this? We've got the happy watermelon, we've got his friend the banana, I don't think that he's thai, this one may have been made in China. And so, that's cool. But look, we've got the corn to. Wait.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: What do you call those?

Chuck Carroll: I call them plush produce. I can't remember what their honestly called. But I will I will dig that up. And then, we have the celery, that looks like a ninja turtle. Does it get any better?

Robby Barbaro: The best part about this, is that you just apparently traveled with them.

Chuck Carroll: Oh, they’re light, they’re easy to travel with. And, you know, TSA, they don't give you any guff when you're trying to go through screening with these things. They are like “Hey, that's cool”, I was like “I know, right?”

Robby Barbaro: That’s so cool!

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: I got one last question for you here. If you were on death row. Weird question. If you're on death row, you can only have one meal to eat before it was all over, what would that one meal be?

Chuck Carroll: If I’m on death row? Okay well, knock on wood I will never be there, but it would be that spinach and kale salad that I love, man. And it's so simple. You've got spinach and kale, obviously, then you throw in a touch of chickpeas, you throw in some roasted red peppers, you throw in some sun dried tomatoes, and then you sprinkle in a little bit of oil free goddess dressing. You can find the recipe, make it yourself. And you just kind of mix that up. And then, on the side, you got yourself whole wheat pita with some fresh made hummus. That would be the phenomenal sendoff.

Robby Barbaro: That's just amazing. I mean, the fact that you love food that is that simple. That is what we're really getting at here at Mastering Diabetes. The whole thing is simple. That's a simple meal, and it's easy. It's accessible. It's affordable. You can maintain that long term. That's beautiful.

Chuck Carroll: Yeah, and you can fancy it up If you want to throw some rusted brussels sprouts in there, that's also a clutch addition or skip the pita and go with the sweet potato on the side instead. You can mix it up a little bit, but that's my core right there. The pita, the hummus and that salad, man. Oh, that's a good day.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: All right. I'm officially hungry now. Thank you so much. Chuck, you’re a stud, thank you so much for your time today. Your story never gets old, and I love the psychology of this whole transformation, and you did a really good job explaining it to our audience. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Continue to go out there, and inspire as many people as you can.

And if you're listening to this episode, go visit The Exam Room online. Beautiful Podcast. Chuck is a very, very talented… Well, what do you call yourself? You were previously a radio host in a previous life, is that right?

Chuck Carroll: Yeah, yeah. So, I was one of those wacky morning DJs for a while, and then somehow I wound up being a button down news reporter. So, I just consider myself to be a broadcaster and an all-round swell guy.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Yeah. You’re one of those slick broadcasters that as soon as you, you're like “This is The Exam Room Podcast and…”

But anyway, thank you so much for your time. You really doing a tremendous job of inspiring millions of people around the planet. So, keep it up and we appreciate your time.

Chuck Carroll: Thanks, guys. It's been a pleasure.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: We hope you enjoyed this episode, and can apply some of these principles to your personal life. Now, we have an Online Group Coaching Program that has helped thousands of people living with all forms of diabetes, reverse insulin resistance, drop their A1c, lose weight, and gain tons of energy. And also reduce their need for oral medication and insulin using, their food as medicine.

We like to call ourselves the world's most robust, and ridiculously affordable, Online Coaching Program for people with diabetes. And we've helped people living with type 1 diabetes, type 1.5 diabetes, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes living all around the world.

Now we provide you with three tools that are specifically designed to put you in the driver's seat of your diabetes health. The first is an Online Course that gives you step by step instructions on how to change your diet. Starting with breakfast, then lunch, then dinner.

We teach you exactly which foods to increase, which foods to limit, and which foods to avoid entirely. The course is designed with you in mind. We provide you with relevant information, and we do our best to reduce overwhelm, because we know just how confusing the internet can be these days, when searching for simple ways to improve your blood glucose control.

The second tool is even better than the first. We provide you with access to our online community, with thousands of people that are going through this process with you. You'll be able to interact with our team of coaches, including Kylie Buckner, a Registered Nurse who is brilliant. She also happens to be my wife, and is one of the most kind and compassionate human beings that I've ever met. Adam Sud. He reversed type 2 diabetes. He lost more than 160 pounds and he de-addicted himself from both food and prescription medication at the same time.

You'll also get to interact with Mark Ramirez, who lost more than 50 pounds, reversed type 2 diabetes, and is a certified Food For Life Instructor, through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. You'll also get the ability to interact with both Robby and myself in the online community. And we guarantee that we’ll answer your question within 24 hours to help you solve problems in real time.

The third tool is a twice monthly Q&A video conference, where you can ask our team of coaches any question that you have about your personal program, and meet others that are going through this process with you. Now, we're proud to say that our coaching program is very popular, and because of that, we've instituted a waiting list to join. The reason we created the waiting list in the first place is because we have more than 2000 active members in our program and want to provide excellent service to our existing members. You can still join the program, but in order to do so you have to put yourself on the waiting list and you'll be notified of when we open next. When we do, we'll send you a personal invitation to join.

​To join the waiting list simply go to www.masteringdiabetes.org and click on Coaching in the navigation bar at the top of the screen, or click the link below in the show notes. We can't wait to help you transform your diabetes health from the inside out. We hope to see you on the inside.

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Reverse Insulin Resistance Using Your Food as Medicine

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About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.