The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast

Michael Collins: The Relationship Between Sugar Addiction and Substance Use and the Eye-Opening Effect of Sugar on Your Body, Brain and Emotions

Episode Summary

Michael Collins, founder of ​SugarAddiction.com​ and Board Chairman of ​Food Addiction Institute​, has been completely sugar-free for over 30 years and has worked closely with others to help them regain lives ravaged by this addictive product. Mike has been in recovery from substance use disorder for over 34 years and can speak on recovery topics separate from sugar. He raised two children sugar-free from the womb to over six years old - when they only had sugar once a month for their entire childhood. His book, The Last Resort Sugar Detox Guide, was rated #1 in Healthy Living on Amazon.

Episode Notes

Michael Collins, founder of ​SugarAddiction.com​ and Board Chairman of ​Food Addiction Institute​, has been completely sugar-free for over 30 years and has worked closely with others to help them regain lives ravaged by this addictive product. 

Mike has been in recovery from substance use disorder for over 34 years and can speak on recovery topics separate from sugar.

He raised two children sugar-free from the womb to over six years old - when they only had sugar once a month for their entire childhood.

His book, The Last Resort Sugar Detox Guide, was rated #1 in Healthy Living on Amazon.

 

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Episode Transcription

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Hello beautiful people. Welcome to The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast. I am your host, Ashley Loeb Blassingame, and I am here today with Mike Collins. This episode, man, hit home. Michael Collins, Founder of SugarAddiction.com and Board Chairman of Food Addiction Institute has been completely sugar-free for over 30 years and has worked closely with others to help them regain lives ravaged by this addictive product.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Mike has been in recovery from substance use disorder for over 34 years and can speak on recovery topics separate from sugar. He raised two children sugar-free from the womb to over six years old when they only had sugar once a month for their entire childhood. Parent goals. His book, The Last Resort Sugar Detox Guide was rated number one in Healthy Living on Amazon. This episode had me thinking about it for a while after I got off the line with Mike.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

As many of you know, I have been on my own journey with food addiction and sugar addiction and I'm off sugar and flour for a significant period of time. And has been absolutely life-changing. Listening rather talking to Mike was super intense because I related so much to all the things that he was saying, and it's so front of mind for me. It's such a thing that I'm in, particularly with sugar and children.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So anyway, my children are not sugar-free, but I certainly aspire to something close to that. Even if you think sugar has no issue, you have no issues with sugar or no issues with food addiction, this is just a super, super interesting episode about how these chemicals work in our brain. Mike also talks about his substance use recovery, but if you're someone like me, these substances, they affect our brains in a way that's very profound, that I'm not sure happens for everybody, but maybe it does. It can also affect people very profoundly who do not struggle with substance use.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So what I'm saying here is there's a lot of valuable information. I don't know what that cycle of speech was, but what I'm trying to tell you is this episode is incredible. Mike is incredible. What he's done as a chairman of the Food Addiction Institute is really groundbreaking. He has a lot of stuff to say that I think many of us need to hear. And definitely those of us in recovery might want to think about how this affects our recovery, how this affects our mood, our depression, our anxiety, and maybe even pandemic times, things that have brought that on. So I hope you enjoy Mike as much as I did. Episode 62. Let's do this.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Mike, thank you so much for being here. I have to warn you. I'm so excited to talk to you because you caught me pretty much in the middle of my... And we won't start here, but you caught me pretty much in the middle of my own sugar journey, like my final willingness to get down to the core last hurrah. So I'm so excited to wrap out with you about that because it's so topical for me and I know that all the stuff that you have done has been in this field. But you are also in drug and alcohol recovery.

Michael Collins:

I am. 35 years.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Mike, where are you living? Where do you live? Where are you calling us from?

Michael Collins:

Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades, which is LA County, but just North of, between Malibu and Santa Monica.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Being from LA, I can talk to you about streets, I used to live on Barrington and Montana.

Michael Collins:

Okay.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I walked to the Whole Foods every day. But you grew up in New York?

Michael Collins:

I did. Central New York, Syracuse in the middle of the Finger Lakes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You grew up with an alcoholic father and despite not a very happy childhood, it sounds like he was an interesting man, a very intense, what was that like?

Michael Collins:

He was an interesting cat for sure. We do tend to minimize the violence and the alcoholism and stuff. And when he was sober, but he wasn't character, very charismatic, very handsome, a narcissist, I think is the best way to put it. But he was a binge drinker and he was a Marine and he was the president of the local prison guard union, a maximum security prison. So he was an angry dude.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wow.

Michael Collins:

Angry fellow. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When did he leave the Marines and go into being a prison guard?

Michael Collins:

He was actually in the Korean war, and won bunch of metals, and was in some big battles, and went up a hill with 40 guys, came down with five. It's actually a very famous Korean war battle. And then he was a prison guard for 25 years. He got to go to prison every day for 25 years. He got to go to prison for 25 years, but he got to come home at night. Yeah. I remember when I was driving, when I was picking him up, it'd be, he'd walk out with all these blue shirts and they would be locked in for every half hour. So they all be standing by in this huge gate and then they'd let him out. He'd point down to the beer store. So I'd have to drive down. He'd walked to the beer store and I'd have to drive to the beer store. Yeah, I know it was... My job was to fill the second refrigerator with beer. Just some strange habits you pick up living with a binging, angry, raging alcoholic.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did your mother drink at all?

Michael Collins:

No, my mother... And this is interesting maybe for our topic, my mother, and I don't say this in a... I think this is pretty well proven. I call it the good girls' drug. She was a sugar addict. She was a very serious, very intense sugar addict. I mean, drank very little, did drink some when we were younger, but for the last 30 years of her life she never really drink.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And what was her relationship with your father?

Michael Collins:

Go and look up codependency in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of my mum.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, well, that makes sense. That's [inaudible 00:07:08] would stay?

Michael Collins:

Yeah. She was a wonderful woman. She really was. She was a nurse and then literally the commissioner of social services in our small town and her specialization was adoption. And she loved it. She liked her job. But she had my father [inaudible 00:07:28]. My father was the president of the local prison guard union. It was a rough time in negotiation with the State. So my father was in the local newspaper a lot and drinking a lot. My mother has a great story about my father once punched the mayor.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh wow. That's amazing.

Michael Collins:

Because he wasn't supporting the local prison guard union. Although we were middle class, blue collar, we had a little color in our life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. So tell me what happens when you punch the mayor when he doesn't agree with your stance.

Michael Collins:

Well, he came home, grew a beard and waited to see what happened. Both my parents got their jobs from democratic powerbrokers, long story. But the short version is at the time, my mother was a deputy commissioner of social services and they broke her to a peace treaty for them. They were both social servants, government jobs. So they broke her to a piece of cord, I guess, of some sort and they made an announcement that he had a nice family, basically my mother and that they don't agree but...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh my God.

Michael Collins:

It all was smoothed over. Put it that way.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did you think about your dad? So growing up your dad, prison guard, rage-aholic Marine, from the child's perspective, what was your view of him? What did you think about all that?

Michael Collins:

By the time I had consciousness of it all, I mean, I think that his narcissism, his ability to or his inability to ever be wrong was just very frustrating. I often fantasized about being an attorney and going in front of a judge for his admonishments or his punishments or whatever for what I did. I mean, literally you could do the same thing. I mean, it would be, not a different thing, a same thing, one day you get all this praise and then the next day do the exact same thing and get whacked on the head. Here's the deal my mom made with my father when we were early teens, just don't hit him in the head, spank him. He never hit us with a closed fist. I mean, I give him credit. It's funny that a guy is going to say something like, he's going to give him credit for that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, I'll give him my credit.

Michael Collins:

Yeah. Right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, it depends on where you grow up, right? That's...

Michael Collins:

Yeah, exactly. I mean, Dick never lost a fight in his life. He lost a fight on Guam in the Marines. He hit the guy with a two by four the next day. And in the prison they used to be able to fight in the early days, right? The prisoners, he would come home, beat up and they used to call him the white devil. He's never lost a fight there either. He was a street fighter in his early days and it was a badge of honor. But for the last seven or eight years, he couldn't go into the prison because things had changed and they might kill him. So he worked outside and-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What do you mean things had changed and they might kill me?

Michael Collins:

Well, there was an honor in the early days when he... If there was a fight, if one of the prisoners lost, then they had no problem. They respected it. That's why they called him the white devil. But then things changed and they would not be, the norms changed. And if they had a chance to kill him, they would kill him. One of the things that I think I inherited, I talk about this too, it's like I felt a sense that he was afraid to go to work.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh I'm pretty sure.

Michael Collins:

He was just scared. He would not let it show. Obviously he would not let it show. I mean, intuitively I think I knew it. One time he was going to, a lot of people don't know this, but the largest Attica riot, there was a riot in our prison in Auburn before that. And so he was involved in that riot and then Attica came and 43 people were killed. That was the first time I was drinking beer with him and I had to turn down. They would call and say, they're sending buses to Attica. And he'd say, "I'm not here." And so I had to answer that phone call. So there was a little crack in his [inaudible 00:11:53].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. Wow. What kind of story? Was there any crazy stories off the top of your head that you remember him coming home with from the prison?

Michael Collins:

Well, during the Auburn riot, he was on top of the roof and they were trying to cut through to get him. They had guns, but it wasn't like they were going to be a problem. But yeah, I mean, he said [inaudible 00:12:16].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And he cut through a prison roof?

Michael Collins:

Yeah, they were trying to cut through the roof. He was above on the roof on the cell block and they were trying to get to them. So yeah, I mean, there's just a lot of crazy stuff like that. I mean, just, I don't know. He hated the place so badly. He was just wanting to get out, retire.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. And you had siblings.

Michael Collins:

I have three younger brothers. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Three younger brothers. And are you close to them now?

Michael Collins:

Not really. They all still live within five minutes off what was my parents' home in the same town. Two of them are married to sisters, if that gives you any indication, how small the town was.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wow. Yes, very small. That's amazing. I mean, your first drug must have been sugar, right?

Michael Collins:

My first drug was sugar. Absolutely.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did that look like?

Michael Collins:

Well, I mean, I didn't realize that I was doing it. I don't think anyone does. And I think this is almost my life's mission to make people understand that it is the first drug. It's a gateway drug. It literally goes through the placental barrier. You're having it in the womb. And my mother gained 60 pounds on 105 pound frame. And she told me later that all she ate was sugar products, right? And so as we were growing up, she had a stash. We knew where it was. I was telling Christiana about this great YouTube video where Eric Clapton is talking to Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes.

Michael Collins:

And so Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes, they're sitting in his $7 million Antigo Treatment Center that he built with his own money to help people, Eric Clapton, and Ed Bradley of 60 minutes says, "So Eric, this addiction stuff started with heroin, right?" And Eric Clapton, the famous guitarist says, "No, Ed, it started with sugar." He said, "I would eat bread and butter and sugar sandwiches at five and six years old just to change my state. I would stuff them in my face." We used to eat bread and butter and sugar sandwich. There was no peanut butter or bologna or whatever around. We would eat bread, and butter, and sugar, and brown sugar too, brown sugar sandwiches.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We call them cinnamon bread because we would do bread, butter, and then we'd sprinkle sugar and cinnamon. So it was cinnamon.

Michael Collins:

Sugar toast.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Sugar toast, that's what... Yeah.

Michael Collins:

So it's cinnamon toast all the time. Absolutely. That was our staple, literally. And a Koolaid with three times the recipe sugar. This is the crazy part that, I mean, I just still, I cannot, I try to remember if there was any admonishments for the sugar bowl that was sitting on the table. I took it from the estate. Literally I still have it and the spoons that they used. We had unfettered access to the sugar bowl to put sugar on our Cheerios, corn flakes. I mean, sugar cereals were just coming in, right? And we love the lucky charms and the cocoa puffs and all of the great sugary cereals. But we also had the Cheerios and corn flakes where we'd put the sugar on. And if you didn't scrape a half an inch of sugar off the bottom of the bowl, you didn't put enough sugar on, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Michael Collins:

And that was my childhood, right? I mean, that's how I grew up and my mother had... And one of the things, I was the oldest, so I would go to the grocery store and my rewards were always candy, right. And when you get to be seven, or eight, nine, 10, you start to get an allowance of a buck or something. There's nothing else you could spend a buck on, but candy.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Michael Collins:

Just all kinds of everything. I love pizza, I mean, ice cream, cookies. There wasn't anything I didn't like.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And when you look back on that, was it ever like, Oh my gosh? Was there ever a moment you're like, Oh, I went from this experience of feeling badly directly to the, like where you related it, that correlation to feeling badly and going to the sugar?

Michael Collins:

I never did. It's a great question and I never did. I know it's at the crux of the work that I do with people. I mean, when was the last time you saw a movie where a woman broke up with her boyfriend and didn't have an ice cream party afterwards with her friends? You know what I mean? This is a normal thing that people do to feel better, but I didn't put it together until I ran into beer at 13 or 14, then I realized that a substance was changing my state.

Michael Collins:

And I think a lot of people do not make the connection. They just think it's life because it's ubiquitous and almost free. You just open a cupboard anywhere, or a refrigerator, or go into 7-Eleven for less than a dollar or a dollar and a half and get what you need because you "crave it." But they do not cleave apart, slice apart the idea that your brain says that you need sugar. But they don't think about when you were a child, when your mother was busy. I remember the cat had four kids under eight years old at one point. And so she'd literally hand you a cookie and send you to the TV instead of getting down, give you-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

[inaudible 00:17:16]. I get it.

Michael Collins:

... Right. To give me a hug or whatever, to do the emotional, whatever you need, the emotional [inaudible 00:17:26]. And people don't give it the credit for being a strong psychoactive drug that pounds on the dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and everything else. This has not been widely known, right. So that's, I think something we should delve into, if you're willing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, I'm more than willing. For the first time it'd ever occurred to me that this was going to be a prop that I was like, "Oh, this is real," was, I was sitting in some psychoeducation in some treatment center that I was in, in the gazillion treatment centers I went to. And they said that alcohol metabolizes into sugar. And I went, "Oh no. Oh." All the different pieces clicked and I thought, Oh my God, that makes a lot of sense. Because my parents used to joke about, it was funny. They used to joke about my beelining to the sugar or how I would just get so wound up or it was a preoccupation. And like you said, it was not strange or worrisome.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

My mother, interestingly, was all about buying organic food before organic was a thing. So my mom bought the worst cereals. We'd never ever had any of the cool cereals in our house. She bought just absolute... I mean, we would joke with her like, "What is this made of? Are you sure this is edible? Someone check the box." Because it was no sugar and this was before they figured out a way to make some of that stuff taste good. And like early days of Kashi cereal. And so we would go to friends' houses where they had like candies I'd never heard of and we would eat that because that was...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But in my actual house, you could have actual table sugar, you could have from the bag. But we didn't have a lot of candy. I did not grow up on candy. I don't particularly care for the really crazy candy stuff because I didn't grow up on it. However, the cookies and the cake and that kind of thing, that was the stuff that we made that beeline to. But it was still notable. It was still really notable. And I would have thought that having not had it in the house would have been the thing that would stop some, I mean, I don't know why I would have thought that given drugs and alcohol, but you would think that that would have made a big difference. But as soon as I figured out what sugar could do for me, that was my drug.

Michael Collins:

Yeah. I think that's common and I just don't think it gets enough respect. Rodney Dangerfield did get no respect. And to get any respect as a psychoactive drug of abuse, first of all, but that it changes your state and just enough to... And dose makes the poison, right? You take a little bit of heroin, and you take a little bit of alcohol, and take a little bit of cocaine, whatever, and you're good. But we're pounding 20 plus average. An overweight or obese person is probably 30, 40, 50 pounds and teenagers as well. I mean, excuse me, teaspoons of sugar every day it's just crazy numbers.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

One of my awakening moments with sugar as it relates to pregnancy and frankly awakening moments to everything as it relates to pregnancy, I went with my best friend, I went to an ultrasound and it was halfway through. Her baby was asleep and they really wanted to see some measurements and see the baby moving around. They handed her a pixie stick and had her take that. And within five minutes, that baby was moving all around. I've worked in mental health and treatment and substance use disorder for a long time and all of the meth, coke, all the different things I had seen over those years was like, it made it to that baby that fast. And that was their thing, to wake the baby up, right, to do this ultrasound. I mean, I just remember thinking like, Oh my God, what are we doing?

Michael Collins:

So I'm not the kind of a guy who says, I can top that, but I can top that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, top it.

Michael Collins:

So do you know what sweeties is?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Are they the, no, those are sweet tarts.

Michael Collins:

Sweeties is a little cup that looks like a small, tiny apple juice cup. And when you pull it out, it's got a binky in it, like a baby's pacifier.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, tell me you're not.

Michael Collins:

Yeah. So do you know what they use it for?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No.

Michael Collins:

They pull it out and then they have the sweet formula, whatever it is. And then they put it in the baby's mouth and then they circumcise the baby. That is the pain reliever. That's the [inaudible 00:22:36].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Where? In America?

Michael Collins:

Yeah. Look up sweeties. It's still available.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh my God, I mean, I just-

Michael Collins:

It's still available.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... Well, [inaudible 00:22:46].

Michael Collins:

That's why it relieves pain, right? It's a true literal analgesic. They don't want to give the baby other stuff. Yeah. I mean, it's crazy. I mean, they understand it like the pixie stick.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, the pixie stick. And I remember someone telling me that the people put, I was looking up formulas and different things and there was something like, "Don't put soda in your baby's water bottle." Not water bottle, baby bottle. And I remember thinking like, Oh, what? Who would do that? And hearing that people did that and watching... Again, I grew up on the East coast and then in San Francisco, Bay area, and my mom was super crunchy. And so I didn't know this stuff happen. I remember watching Honey Boo Boo. I don't know if you remember that reality TV show. It came on and they were feeding the little girl. I mean, crazy processed food. And I thought that was illegal. I'm embarrassed to say. I didn't know that you could feed a small child, anything you want. I actually didn't know that. And what's interesting though, saying all of this though, is that I have eaten... I married a man from...

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:24:04]

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I have eaten ... I married a man from Houston, Texas, and my diet compared to his looks immaculate. I eat greens, I've always eaten a very, from the outside, looks like a really incredible diet, but even in the health food world, which is the organic, health food, all that stuff, the amount of sugar is still problematic. And what has been so frustrating has been really thinking I was eating well and, especially moving to plant based and just really thinking I was eating well and still having the same problems and not being willing, or first realizing, then willing the amount of sugar, even in our health food, even in our plant based food, even in stuff that isn't supposed to be a lot of sugar, what I understood to be, and feeling really frustrated by that even with the awareness that I had and even having the experience of reading labels.

Michael Collins:

Yeah, no, I mean the health food world is replete with all kind of crazy sugars and they got great names for it, they make up special names for it. Barley syrup or barley malt syrup.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, maltodextrin, all sorts of things. So tell me a little bit ... you started drinking and you got into drugs. When did What brought you to the place where you wanted to get sober and when did you get sober?

Michael Collins:

Yeah, no, I went through the whole teenage, college and it's strange because I was a pretty heavy beer drinker. And I would drink a lot of beer and then I would wet the bed. And so I couldn't handle that part anymore, that was too much. So I was about 23 or 24, between the time I was 23 or 24, I really only drank three or four times till I was 28, but I never stopped using pot and never stopped using coke or quaaludes or tripping. I was still doing drugs, but I just wasn't drinking, which was strange, but it got me promoted to the nightclub business. So I was standing in a nightclub and then I came back out to the bar from my office and there's three drug dealers, two cocaine dealers, they needed to get in my office to make the exchange. And I would get my little cut for letting them use my office.

Michael Collins:

So I turned around, I went out the back door and I went to a meeting at 28 years old. So, that was when I got sober because I was ... cocaine brought me to my knees basically and quickly, it didn't take long. But I think at the end of the day, it took me another three months to quit smoking pot. I think that was my drug of choice, I enjoyed it and I couldn't stop. My heart hurt all day, every day with the cocaine, because I was doing so much and I was really skinny and it was really, I didn't ... So anyway, I walked into a meeting, All Saints Day, 1983, November 1st and I didn't get sober until February 15th of 84 or didn't stop smoking pot till that day. And yes, there was a woman involved, I was pining over on Valentine's day. It was my last day ever using any substances that were considered a drug of intoxication, except sugar. I continued and I didn't quit sugar for another three or four years.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What started your journey going from sobriety? What happened in those three years before you quit sugar?

Michael Collins:

Well, I got married to a woman in recovery. That was a part of it, but I gained about ... not that I'm a thin guy, I gained about 20 pounds and I had acne all over my face and just shy of 30 years old. And the rosacea that I was fighting against from alcohol, the red face stuff was worse and, just anxious all the time. I was drinking a lot of caffeine too, and I include caffeine with my sugar recovery. Drinking a lot of caffeine, literally 16 ounce Mountain Dews, six or eight a day and they called me the Mountain Dew man. It was at the time now the energy drinks, but it was at the time, the highest caffeinated beverage on the market and heavy in sugar. And I still ate all of the goodies, ice cream, cakes, [inaudible 00:28:49] cookies, candy, whatever.

Michael Collins:

And so I just realized, and I read a book called Sugar Blues, and Sugar Blues was written by a guy named William Duffy. He was at a party one time and a voice from behind ... he's getting two lumps of sugar in his coffee and a voice from behind says, "I wouldn't have that stuff in my house, let alone my body," and it was Gloria Swanson, the famous movie star. And so he ended up marrying Gloria Swanson and she was into that and he got into it. He lost about 40, 50 pounds, something like that and the pictures of him before and after are pretty dramatic.

Michael Collins:

And so they promoted this book all in the 70s and rewrote it in the 80s, and I read it and it just, something got in my head, health and recovery was going on in my life, and I loved the history lesson, the history lesson of Great Britain growing the largest, basically drug cartel in the 16, 17, 1800s, by taking empty ships, going to Africa, picking up slaves, going to the Caribbean, picking up rum and molasses and sugar and going to the Americas and coming back. And I mean, El Chapo has nothing on this cartel, they grew to be the largest empire in the world on the backs of sugar and slavery.

Michael Collins:

And somehow, I don't know why I like the history of it all, how we got here, how we evolved into this issue or this problem or whatever. Even with drugs and alcohol and even opioids and stuff, how the history plays out, and the sugar history to me was very fascinating. And so I started to try and I quit every day for a year, sugar, and then I realized flour is a problem and I quit flour and then caffeine. So all one at a time over a three to four or five year period. And I couldn't tell you when my clean date is on any of that stuff, I just know eventually I stopped using it all.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

There are a lot of different ... are you familiar with Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous and all the different Anonymous programs?

Michael Collins:

Yeah. I mean a part of the ... I call myself a 12 step anthropologist, a 12 step whisperer, if you will, because a lot of the anecdotal evidence, I mean, we'll get into the science evidence in a little bit, but the anecdotal evidence evolved from those groups that you're describing. It's in dusty church basements, Overeaters Anonymous was established years and years ago. The problem with Overeaters Anonymous is they'd let you name your own abstinence, meaning you can use sugar and flour a little bit if you want, you can control it depending on who your sponsor is, what your group is, what your geographic location is, it's very different. And people suffer for decades in that program because they can and do use sugar and flour still. But the offshoot groups, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, Food Addicts Anonymous, the GreySheeters and CEA-HOW, these 12 step groups, all name sugar and flour as the abstinence. And so you have to quit sugar and flour to be abstinent in those programs.

Michael Collins:

Problem is those things are freaking tiny. Unless you're in the Northeast or in a large metropolitan area, there's almost none of these meetings. Now, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is mature in some ways online, but immature in a lot of ways, they cut phone meetings. So anyway, I can tell you, I could go on about the anthropology and the evolution of those meetings, but the bottom line is, if you adhere to the other four, the offshoot four, and didn't eat flour and sugar, you would fall to a right size body, every malady you ever had would cure, and people realize that. And now the science is proving out why that happens.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Are you familiar ... so, this is where I was telling you, I'm really excited. I've been clean and sober for 14 years.

Michael Collins:

Congratulations.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you. And I was a heroin addict, cocaine addict, alcoholic, the whole gamut, and got sober for the last time at 19. So you really got to [inaudible 00:33:04] it up to do it by ... I always say you got to make it really bad if you're 19 going, "Okay, I'm done."

Michael Collins:

I thought that at 28, so you did great.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, well, that's why I was saying, I wasn't even legal to drink, and I was like, "Okay, I'm done," last time I was looking at losing my arms, so I was like, "Okay, we're done here." And I have known that I have compulsive eating problems for my whole life. I mean, my weight has been up and down and up and down and I've done every diet, I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting when I was in treatment in Arizona in 2003. And then I'd get bits of control, I was young enough that I could work out enough, I could do a triathlon, I could do all these different ...

Michael Collins:

Exercise addiction.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And it wasn't even ... for me, the exercise addiction, it wasn't even addiction, it was more just enough to ignore the other problem. And so I've gotten to this place where I got the life of my wildest dreams, I got married, I had twin boys who were ... you're talking about your mother gaining weight. I gained a hundred pounds, however, my children were eight and a half and seven and a half pounds at birth with two placentas, two sacks of water and the whole deal.

Michael Collins:

I have twins, did you know that?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, I didn't know that.

Michael Collins:

Yeah, my boys are twins.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Are they fraternal?

Michael Collins:

Identical.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Identical, okay. So mine were Di/Di twins, and the biggest twins ever to be born at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. And so, hearing stories of people gaining 60 pounds with one, I felt pretty good about my 100 pounds. And then, I used HCG to lose the weight, I don't know if you're familiar, but I used that, the 500 calories a day and whatever. And then I got hurt and I couldn't exercise. And so anyway, long story short, put the weight back on and have become finally ready to really look at, it's flour and sugar, you can cut out ... I've done the thing where you try to do everything but, everything but. And my mother gave me this book called Bright Line Eating. Are you familiar with Susan Thompson?

Michael Collins:

Sure, absolutely.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

She's in recovery and I read her book and was like, "This, I hear." The science of it convinced me that, you're talking about the anthropology, the history. I have gone to Overeaters Anonymous and have never been successful because I don't know what to ... I've been unwilling to do my bottom line, basically, sugar and flour. So I've made it all these other things, made my abstinence, all these other things. And I read this book and have been trying to figure out how to live in a world without sugar and flour. And what comes up is these ideas, different people around how, what, the first three ingredients can't be sugar, the first three ingredients can't be flour. No. And then I have been going, "Well, if the first three ingredients of this ingredient that goes into these ingredients is," I've been doing all these mind games and it's just, it's this addiction.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And the detox that I went through was really scary, not in the sense that I was hurt, but just scary in the sense that my body had that reaction to not having flour and sugar, when I eat salads and vegan food and all this health food. But it's filled with sugar when I turned it over and looked at it and was like, "Are you kidding me? How does this even have sugar in it, it tastes like cardboard?" But it does, and so anyway, I want to hear all of your wisdom and all of your ideas and everything you've been working on. Because this is your wheelhouse about this stuff and Bright Line and what you think about these things.

Michael Collins:

I mean, first off, Susan's a genius. There's no doubt about it. Susan brought out exactly, similar to what I did, which was the dusty church basement anonymous stuff. And she translated it because she's also got a PhD in neuroscience, and in the last five years, neuroscience and Dr. Robert Lustig, who we interview on our quit sugar summit a couple of times already, says that the offending molecule is fructose. And that it is ... I've asked him point blank in person ... Well, him online and Dr. Feki in person, "Is fructose a psychoactive drug?" And they don't even let me finish the sentence, and they say, "Yes, it's a psychoactive drug." And fructose can only be metabolized in the liver, there's no other way to metabolize fructose and the body doesn't know the difference between the fructose and the Coca Cola and the fructose in an orange or an orange juice. And we can get into the fruit and the vegetarian vegan stuff later, but at the end of the day, we have fatty liver in children and the fatty liver is an alcoholics' disease, because they're processing too much fructose.

Michael Collins:

And the fructose is what I believe, from coming from an addictive background, an addiction background, the reason you can't quit. Yes, the glucose and for your audience, table sugar, is half fructose and half glucose and it's a molecule that is just 50-50, literally. And we all know what the glucose will do and all the rices and white potatoes and stuff, and if you're wearing a continuous glucose monitor, which we can come back to, but I think that the world changes when noninvasive glucose monitors are able to be put on your wrist like a Fitbit, and Amazon and Google are both working on those. But if you were to take a graph of your blood sugar every single day, the glucose is going to destroy, it's going to give you diabetes and every other malady I've ever heard of.

Michael Collins:

But the reason you can't quit, I believe, is the fructose. And the fructose, I believe is a psychoactive drug. And it's not ... I mean, how do you compare the fructose in fruit to the fructose in a processed grain? A processed grain, yes, but something that's processed down to white powder, white crystal. And this overdose of this necessity that we talked about earlier to manage your emotions with a drug, with a substance, people just think of it as the life. They think of it as aging, they think of it as, "This is how life works." If I'm a little upset, they don't think, "I'm a little upset," they think, "I just need a Hershey's Kiss and it'll be okay for a minute."

Michael Collins:

And this training, if you will, this literal drug training is what got us here into this problem. Because we're ingesting fructose all day, every day at accelerating levels, and everyone ... there was a great book written many, many years ago, and the woman just passed, Anne Wilson Schaef, When Society Becomes an Addict. Now it didn't discuss this, but I really believe ... it discussed addiction and codependent systems, it's a great book and all her books are good about codependency.

Michael Collins:

But I really believe that society has become addicted to this process, this product, and has issued an escape from the possibility that their emotional management systems are run by a drug, they're run by fructose and sugar in general. And that in order to really have an emotional management system, children need to grow up playing and eating healthy food and getting hugs and calling their friends and playing with their friends. And then we need to continue doing that as adults by getting massages, we need to have a new, emotional management tools. And when someone in my work finally separates, cleaves apart the idea that they were and are managing their emotions with sugar, then they get well.

Michael Collins:

Now there's always this question, which came first, the chicken or the egg, but the childhood trauma, the emotional stuff, you're not going to get that, it's like drinking. It's like drinking a beer or shooting something up and trying to figure out why I'm drinking and why I'm shooting something up. It's the same freaking process. You got to get abstinent first, then you work on that stuff. And people confuse my work, and I want to stand here and clarify that you have to get abstinent first. Believe me, the issues will present themselves in the first year, they will surface. They'll surface in your normal, everyday stressors, where you can't get into a meeting without two lumps and a cup of coffee. You literally can't go to the meeting, you feel like, I do not have the emotional egoic capital to go into this meeting without this substance.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well [inaudible 00:42:38].

Michael Collins:

Yeah, when you see that, because you're abstinent, then you start to deal with that problem and start to deal with that issue. But you can't do it on the other side of abstinence. You can't do it while you're thinking about it.

Michael Collins:

So let me ask the short version. It probably brings up more questions than any answers, but sugar, fructose is a psychoactive drug that we use to buoy up emotions, and we don't have the two tied together. And the science, if you ... now, I mean, I don't even have to talk about the science anymore, it's just too plain. You put somebody in that, you use a pixie stick on a pregnant person, you put someone in an MRI and you put sugar in them and it lights up the exact same reward centers as cocaine and heroin and alcohol. It's exactly the same. And you're putting more in, the dose is constant, there's never any break, there's never any respite from manipulating. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to manipulate my brain chemicals. I want to figure out how do I live holistically, normally and how do I, through exercise and good nutrition and proper rest and proper hydration, how do I get my brain to work for me in the best way it can? I don't want to get the artificial bump from caffeine and sugar.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So you talked about fruit, and what I've read is that you can eat fruit in moderation, that eating fruit and moderation is great if you eat it as the whole fruit, because of the fiber. Is that ...

Michael Collins:

This always brings up a lot of pushback. I mean, this is something that is, and I'll just tell you my story, and then I'll expound on the science that exists today.

Michael Collins:

So I was 25 years in with that exact thought process. No flour, no sugar, no caffeine, no white powder. I call it powder addiction. Anything that's ever been reduced to a white powder, the body probably can't handle in excess, including pills and supplements and shakes and crap like that. The body ... it could be a catalyst, maybe for healing for a small amount, but it's not something you're supposed to take every day. I think in the evolutionary biology of it all, yeah, you might've gotten a little dirt and dust on your food and your body can handle it, but it wasn't ... you're not supposed to eat sand and dirt all day. You're not supposed to be able to process powdered stuff. You need a lot of liquids and that's why people pee all day when they eat a lot of sugar and that's why diabetics pee all the time, because they're trying to push this stuff out, this poison out.

Michael Collins:

And so, my story was, again, 25 years in, and I ate oats, I rice, I ate fruit, I drank fruit juice, mostly organic orange juice and quite a bit of it and I ate every kind of fruit I enjoyed. At one point in time, I was a raw food vegan on that stupid ... I don't want to ... I shouldn't make judgments, but the 80-20 rule, that diet where 80% of my calories came from sugar from fruit. And I literally, my hair was falling out. My periodontal disease had accelerated from my sugar days, literally where I had stopped it completely when I started eating that heavy fruit. My eyesight started to change, I had lost my first tooth in my life, in my fifties, I had never lost a tooth and I had acne, I had adult acne from the time I was a teenager till in my fifties.

Michael Collins:

And the most unfortunate part is that both my parents died of Alzheimer's. And my mother, in the last two years of her life could not, would not, did not want to eat anything but sugar because she had no filter and no memory and her memory was going, she had some memory. And we had to force her to eat real food, she just wanted eat sugar. I watched sugar addiction close up, at the end of life. And I was approaching my early sixties and I had literal cognitive lapses. I literally would go to a browser, one or another browser, I wouldn't know why the hell I was there. You know what I mean? And I'm like, "What the hell is this?"

Michael Collins:

So I talked to someone, I don't know if it says in my bio there, but, I was the Chairman of the Board of the Food Addiction Institute, and I talked to a woman who's been sober for 40 years, sugar and flour and grain and fruit free almost. She does a little fruit, but, and I do a little fruit too, little berries sometimes, but she's pretty much free of grains, oats, rice, white rice, all this stuff. And I'm a human experiment, I used my own children as guinea pigs. I didn't give my kids sugar and flour from the womb till they were six years old or caffeine. I'll experiment anything, so I said, "All right, I'll give it a try." All of those maladies that I described, I quit oats, I quit rice, I quit fruit, I quit fruit juice, all of them disappeared. Not overnight, but it disappeared within a month or two. The cognitive decline, the acne, the bleeding gums, I had bleeding gums since the time I've started brushing my teeth. Gone, completely gone, after I quit the things that I'm describing.

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:48:04]

Michael Collins:

Completely gone, okay, after I quit the things that I'm describing. Again, is this anecdotal, is this only me? I don't think so, because now I've worked with tens of thousands of people online, and thousands of people one-on-one, and I get the same types of results. When you give up these processes, these products, your life changes. The things in your life change.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What do you eat?

Michael Collins:

You know, it's funny because I was a vegetarian for many, many years, and I was on that raw food vegetarian diet. And I, not that I'm a keto guy, but I do eat fatty stuff now, a lot of fish, and a lot of greens. I eat a ton of greens and a ton of, you know, I eat fat, because I believe fat is now more valuable. And in the vegetarian world, and again, I know you're a vegetarian or vegan or whatever, but I just see that in order to get the calories, you have to eat the grains and the fruits, because you will not have enough calories without it.

Michael Collins:

One of my favorite educators is, has been on our summit, and she's really advanced in all of this. I'm hedging a little bit because I know your background, but I just, I think that's the path. And this is through a lot of study and a lot of trial and error, both personally and with a lot of the folks that I've worked with.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You think which is the path?

Michael Collins:

To eat some animal products.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So I eat fish and I eat eggs.

Michael Collins:

Oh good.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Michael Collins:

No eggs are good and fish is good. Yeah, I think it's a... and I think fat, during the withdrawal periods, helps with withdrawals, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do you think [crosstalk 00:49:42].

Michael Collins:

And I have coaches that are vegetarian. It's not impossible, it's just harder.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do you think that, this is just my stance, my stance is I don't want to eat factory farmed food. That's my stance.

Michael Collins:

Nor do I, nor do I.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I don't want to eat tortured animals. I don't want to support it, I don't want to eat it. If small farms where they have a great life and then one day, see you later, and they're not going to huge slaughterhouse. There are circumstances where I am comfortable eating meat. That's just me. And so it's not that I won't do it, it's just a lot of work to get to that place.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And I have vegetarian children who I have been looking into for that specific, you know, I want to give them some meat and I want to find a way to do it where I'm comfortable with it. So I'm not against it, it's just more work. And I've never been someone who particularly craves it, doesn't really excite me, so curious about what do you think the perfect, forget what I do or what anyone else does, what is the perfect diet?

Michael Collins:

Well, like I said, I eat a ton of greens. Kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, spinach, if it's green, I like it, I've always liked it. And all other vegetables too. And then, like you say, I eggs and I eat fish and I eat lean grass fed, grass finished pasture raised beef occasionally, too, and chicken too. And I don't really eat until one or two in the afternoon. I mean, I'm just not hungry. I'm just not hungry.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So you're doing, it's more of what would be called intermittent-

Michael Collins:

Would traditionally be called intermittent fasting, yes, but I didn't adopt that. Like I said, for years I was called the oatmeal guy because when we would go to business events, I would bring a sack of oats and make it in the hotel room. I'd steal some bowls and just pour the oats over it every morning.

Michael Collins:

The concept or the construct of listening to your body sounds frou-frou, and most people can't, or don't, they don't really do it. Like they don't do AB testing the way that they should. They don't remove something, or everything, for 30 days and then try and gently add something back, to really be operating with a clean slate. And I'm bad at it, because I always want to do two or three things at the same time and I don't know where the result came from. You know, I'm quitting this and like... recently nut butter became, I was obsessed with fricking nut butter. Had to have it every night, you know? And then I started having to have it in the afternoon and I'm like, the hell is this?

Michael Collins:

And so you're trying to listen to, anything that I need more of, and just like on the alcohol and drug days, nuts can be a problem when you have a diet like mine. So I just listen to my body and see what it says. And that experiment that I had after I talked with that woman five years ago, it changed my life. It changed my perspective quickly. I mean, nothing worked that well because I dropped it, I didn't drop it all at the same time. Again, it was always gradual. I'd go two weeks, have a bowl of oats, go two weeks, have a couple bananas, whatever.

Michael Collins:

But listening to your own body is an important thing that I don't think people are dialed into, because I really believe, and this is a terrible thing to say and a terrible way to put it, but I believe that they are using sugar as an anesthesia, an analgesic, a psychoactive, so that they're not really to the deep recesses of what actual food does to their body. They're busy getting this toxin out through urination, they're busy and going on a roller coaster of emotions where they're irritable and they don't sleep, or they have night sweats, and they can't figure it all out, because they don't put it together with sugar.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Stay tuned to hear more in just a moment.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Hi, it's Ashley, your host. I'm so excited to announce a brand new support group at Lion Rock called Community. Community is a recovery support group where all people in the pursuit of peace in mind and body may find hope and healing through connections with each other. Community is open to everyone, and meetings are available online daily, Monday through Saturday. For more information, please visit our website, www.lionrockrecovery.com, and click on meetings tab and join us.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So, okay. Let me just tell you a little bit about Community. Community is awesome in part because I helped write it. So I just want to tell you a little bit about the belief. So this is a place where people can come, doesn't matter what you're recovering from, doesn't matter how you define your recovery or sobriety, your abstinence, what have you. And I just want to give you a little snapshot. Here are the beliefs of the program.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We believe that finding peace in recovery requires a personal path and that recovery looks different for different people. We celebrate the diversity of paths and traditions. We believe that our lives can be different from what they are today, and we can get there with the support of Community when we ask for help. We believe that we can change our lives if we can conquer our fears by doing the work. We believe that recovery requires renewal and depends on personal growth.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Like many people before us, we believe you get what you give. We give positive energy. We believe that our inner pain must be released for us to find freedom, and the pain is often a signal there's more work to do. The work may include repairing the damage we caused. Our common bond began with our desire to relieve our pain at all costs, and continues with the cultivation of our healing through our connections to each other. Our common goal is the pursuit of peace in mind, body, and spirit. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So it's awesome. The people are awesome. The meetings are awesome, and I highly recommend you go and check that out, please. Again, go to www.lionrockrecovery.com, hit meetings tab, and you will see an exhaustive list of community recovery support group meetings, including ones for LGBTQ, and upcoming ones for the podcast book club. Stay tuned.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, I think one thing that I've found interesting is I'm less hungry when I don't have sugar and flour in my body.

Michael Collins:

100%.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And so when people talk about intuitive, when people have talked about... I always would joke and go into OA meetings and say, When people have told me over the years, and the gazillion nutritionists that I've had, about intuitive eating, I'd say intuitive eating got me to Overeaters Anonymous.

Michael Collins:

Intuitive eating with a sugar addict gives you an intuitive sugar addict.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right. And I was like, that doesn't... but I do see intuition as more of a part of the process if you don't have those things in there. That makes sense to me because I do feel the difference. But I think, it's interesting. One of the things that I run into, and I think given that you have this background, you may have really great experience with it, which is, Oh, Ashley, you do everything so extreme. You're an alcoholic, like the judgment that I get just for quitting sugar and flour, even from my own community is so intense, and actually has made people angry with me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And then it's like, you're showing your children, I'll just list the things that I get, you're showing your children erratic food behavior, you're highlighting, by not eating this here and there, you are highlighting eating disorder, or disordered eating in your home. You are not sharing in a meal that we have all cooked and eating together, so you have to make things more difficult. You stand out, you're difficult to travel with, you're difficult to eat with, we have to work around this. It's so extreme. You just need to cut back. I mean, seriously, seriously. I-

Michael Collins:

Heard every one of them, a hundred times.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I've had way more acceptance around being a drug addict and an alcoholic, honestly.

Michael Collins:

Me too.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And I will tell you, so when I did the HCG, so I wonder what you think about this. So for years I was lactose lady, okay. And my parents would joke that I was a lac-tarian. It was an ongoing joke, I just loved dairy. And when my mom was pregnant with me, all she drank was milk. She said she craved milk, even though she hates milk, she craved milk.

Michael Collins:

That's funny, my mom did too.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But it always made me feel kind of... I also didn't feel well. The twins are born, I go to do HCG, and listen, I like to do things like 98%, but never like 100%. I like to live between like, you know, add in my 2% of what I think. And I did this 100%, because I was terrified. I knew that if you do this drug, you will gain weight if you screw with it. So I was like, okay, okay, I surrender. So I quit everything. And when I tried to add dairy back into my diet, I no longer eat dairy, when I tried to add dairy back into me diet, I became so violently ill that I would, you know for most people it's diarrhea, I was puking, from adding dairy back into my system.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Now what I say is I became lactose intolerant after the twins were born. That's what I say. However, interestingly, like all these things where when I tried to eat it or when I do have it now, I get symptoms that I used to attribute to PMS. Symptoms that I would go, gosh, it's weird, I'm not supposed to be PMSing right now, but that feels like PMS. When I eat dairy, that's what happens, those are the feelings that I get. I get really emotional, I don't cry a lot, and I randomly started to cry. I'm like, I don't know, I must've had dairy somewhere. And my body can not have any.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And I'm also someone who will test the theory. Like, are you sure you can't have any? So I've tested it, and I'm so averse that I will not even try it. I mean, for me to not be willing to suffer through pain of something for something I like, that's a big deal, because it makes me that ill. And I wonder, that was the only time I'd ever been willing to do that, and I wonder if I had been intolerant my whole life and just had no idea. But even with that, where my family has seen me vomit from having something with dairy in, it in close quarters, it's still annoying for people. Like I'm still the... you know, so anyway, curious what you think about all that?

Michael Collins:

That's a lot right there, but I have a lot of thoughts on that. That's a very important topic, it's literally one of the pillars of what we do, and that's the social necessity to understand what you're getting yourself into. Because we, everyone that ever tries this, has the same issue. And without participation in a new tribe, another tribe of people who believe as you and I do, then it's more difficult.

Michael Collins:

The founder of the Food Addiction Institute said this thing takes an inordinate amount of support, meaning as much as a drug and alcohol addiction, right? And they're trying to get food addiction, and flour and sugar names, as a substance use disorder.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Like in the DSM.

Michael Collins:

In the DSM-6, correct. And the World Health Organization 11, or whatever the IDM, whatever it is. And so the one thing that I want to stress, and again, this is going to be a little controversial, but I believe it with all my heart, I believe that the stuff that you're talking about, where people say this is disordered eating, and this is this, that, and the other thing. First of all, nutritionists are the worst. They're backed by a lot of the food industry, and they believe that there's some way that moderation is possible for a food addict.

Michael Collins:

And now I'm going to really attack the sacred cows and the Holy Grail and binge, or not binge eat, well, binge eating to some level, but definitely anorexia and bulimia are process addictions, like gambling and sex.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Truth, and that makes total sense.

Michael Collins:

Yeah, they're process addictions, right? And yes, they involve food. There's always the mystery is why bulimics and anorexia's do in some of the 12 step food meetings, because they eliminate sugar and flour. They eliminate the trigger foods. And so binge eating to some level, and you know, that's probably up in the air, but food addiction, a sugar addiction, is a substance use disorder.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wait, question. Isn't food addiction only sugar and flour? Because you're not going to be food addicted to-

Michael Collins:

Food addiction is a bad name and it needs to be changed.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, okay.

Michael Collins:

It's basically processed food addiction.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Processed food, okay [crosstalk 01:03:24]. Because you can't be addicted to veggies.

Michael Collins:

Ultra processed foods.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay.

Michael Collins:

Well, here's the thing about volume eating, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, volume eating, yes.

Michael Collins:

A lot of people can volume eat, meaning you're stretching your stomach and you're still getting the same hit, you're getting the endorphins, you're getting the dopamine. Because in the old days of feast or famine, that was an adaptability technique where you'd eat as much as you could, because you might not know when you're getting your next meal. And so it was okay, but we don't need to do that now, but it still gives off the same kind of dopamine, so you can stretch your stomach, the same kind of whatever.

Michael Collins:

And what I find in recovering sugar and flour addicts, sugar addicts, processed food addicts, that volume only raises its ugly head like 10 to 15% of the time. It's very real, and people can do it. They can overeat a lot of broccoli and steak and stretch their stomach out and get the same kind of high, if you will. But I just don't see it as a... if you eliminate the flour and sugar, a lot of times that problem solves itself, is what I'm saying.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, I can't see myself eating like 300 carrots.

Michael Collins:

Right, exactly. And most people don't binge, when you look at binge foods and binge style, yeah, there is some in there, it might be a little burger in that hamburger you ate, but all the other stuff.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Michael Collins:

But for the most part, they're binging on ultra processed carbs.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So with all of that said, I want to talk about what you do now, and I want to talk a bit about how you coach people on interacting with their families on these topics, or their social group, because I found that to be, frankly, the hardest component of all of it, because I just stood... it's like, I don't stand out that much, not drinking and using drugs, and I've traveled all over the world doing it, and I just don't stand out that much. What's the coaching around that?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And then I also want to know about what's the coaching around parenting, because what I get a lot is, your putting your disordered stuff on your children, because I didn't let them have sugar for a long time, and now I do, and it's a complete shitshow because they're children of two alcoholics and I'm going, this doesn't feel right, but also the world is telling me that... and since I know I have disordered eating, I know I have that part of me, I am like, well, maybe, I don't know. Maybe I'm, you know. So how do you talk about those two from the social aspect for them, and then the parenting aspect?

Michael Collins:

Yeah, great questions. And it is, as I mentioned earlier, a pillar of our recovery. And in alcohol and drugs, they use meetings where they literally joined another tribe so that they have a group of people who is just like them, who are just like them. And many, many times you're the only person, the person who's trying it, who's done the research, who's just said, enough's enough. Tired of being sick and tired. That person is the only person in the family.

Michael Collins:

Strangely enough, it's mostly women, and they have to cook for kids, so it falls into the second question, and a husband who's not sometimes on board with this. And so they have to belong to another tribe, they have to have that security, they have to grow to have friendships and talk with other people in a community, be it online or in person. Nowadays obviously online.

Michael Collins:

But I have this thing, I call it the gift of 90 days, the gift of 30 days or the gift of 90 days. No one, if we talk about what we talked about before, and if they are willing to give themselves this gift. Like if you went to an allergist, they scratch you for pollen and ragweed, and all this other stuff. And I found out recently you can actually be allergic to sugar. You can have a little allergy test, whatever. But the bottom line is, like we were talking about testing your own body. I have never, ever, in a decade of doing this, seen someone get 90 real days of abstinence from flour, sugar, and caffeine, and then go back. Yes, they slip occasionally. And yes, they make mistakes and relapse and do things, but they always come back. At that point.

Michael Collins:

Once you get there, you feel so different. You've lost weight, your skin is clear, the brain fog is gone, maybe the bleeding gum. People literally get off of meds, both psychotropic, SSRIs, and diabetes meds. And once that happens, we've ruined their sugar. And most people are not able to take that leap. They're not able to get the 90 in, they're not able to do the experiment, to do their own scratch test.

Michael Collins:

And as far as this disordered eating children, look, I mean, again, mine may be anecdotal a little bit, but my kids, they thought we were deprived. We fought the Montessori school, we fought other kids parents, we fought our own parents, grandparents. They think we were depriving them of something. My kids didn't know what it was. From zero to whatever, five, we have 100% control. Now, once they've had it, that's another story. But I've had coaches and participants in our program get their kids off sugar. It's just a discussion.

Michael Collins:

And here's the main thing with kids, okay, and this disorder eating stuff, that we have to smash this norm. You are grooving a neural pathway with the sugar. You are grooving a neural pathway that is going to last for a long time, and takes a long time to change and heal and rectify when you're giving children that age. That first thousand days is so important, such an important time period in the development, the brain develops, I don't know, the numbers are insanely high, from birth to the first three years. And it's so important that you... I mean, women, literally with substance use disorders, alcohol. Drugs. They find out in an afternoon on a Tuesday that they're pregnant and bam, they're done with alcohol and they're done with drugs that day.

Michael Collins:

And with the science, if they were to do the science, if they were to read the science and understand the science, they would do the same with sugar today. I believe that. And I think if they would read the literature that's coming out daily, that they would do it with sugar as well. They would add that to the thing that they would quit when they find out they're pregnant. Or before.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So you just said something that terrifies me. You said caffeine.

Michael Collins:

Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Now even things like black tea, like all caffeine? I mean, I guess that's caffeine, caffeine is caffeine, caffeine.

Michael Collins:

Right. Okay, so, you think you got it, I mean, think about me. I get it so badly that I am-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, I can't even imagine.

Michael Collins:

I am extreme, and I'm this and I'm that. But look, I got hundreds that I could name personally, but probably thousands from groups and courses in communities that we have online, that have given me feedback on this stuff. That are telling me that this is what happened when I quit all these things. So I don't care anymore. Really. I mean, I don't care what the general public says anymore.

Michael Collins:

Anyway, what I'm getting about at the caffeine is wired together, fired together. You ever hear that term? Like chocolate, sugar in coffee, sugar in tea. These things are wired together and fire together. I'm going to probably explode this guy's group, but there's groups online that are quitting caffeine, and when you listen to the maturity of the addiction recovery in quitting caffeine, where PAWS, you know what PAWS is? Post acute withdrawal symptoms, where people-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I do, because I experienced it with sugar and flour, Oh my God. I thought it was flu symptoms.

Michael Collins:

Yep. And this is the same thing with caffeine. People literally cannot regain their equilibrium. They're depressed for months at a time, years sometimes, six months. But the people with one and two and three years are there helping them explain that it goes away eventually. Again, chocolate, when you're a baby, you've grouped neural pathways that say-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:12:04]

Michael Collins:

... a baby, you've grooved neural pathways that say, "This makes me feel better. This makes me feel better and I eat it." Okay, and then when you stop it, you've got to re-groove those pathways. What they call in the science the dopamine receptors are downregulated, that you have less of them. You literally major created a symptom in your body that has lessened the dopamine, the thing that makes you feel good, the thing we used to use, the thing we evolved to use for sex, and us chasing food has now been hijacked by a substance and it's powerful. I heard a thing the other day there, food and dopamine is a 1. Sex and dopamine is a 2, but straight dope means like a 10. You know what I mean?

Michael Collins:

See if I can get dopamine, it's a real high and people ... I have to tell you a story. This is interesting. 'Til my parents passed away about four years ago, three years, I didn't go public with my substance use disorder stuff. I wasn't on podcasts or in my teachings or anything. I didn't tell people about my recovery from alcohol and drugs. I went public with it and I got this immediate flood of people who have been sober 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. I had one coach sober 20 years, been to every group you and I have talked about, never made it click with the addiction part. She's now like a year ... And I've got hundreds of these people now, who are recovering addicts, to a man, to a woman, every single one of them said quitting sugar and flour and caffeine was harder than quitting drugs, every single one of them.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Good, because no one's like, "Please use this."

Michael Collins:

Right, and mainly because of the first thing that the original question that you just asked was is the societal acceptance of these things, the societal norms because they don't ... Look, I don't want to be left. I did not pick this anti-candyman deal. God put it into my head, the universe put it in my head. I don't know. But now that the science is right in front of me and years of working with folks is right in front of me, how can I turn my back on children who are obese? I mean children that parents don't know what they're doing in regards to feeding them correctly. They're eating food-like products that evolved also, great history lesson, from K-rations from World War II. When they stopped, they had to figure out what business they were in so now the middle of the grocery store is filled with these products full of sugar, flour, and caffeine. Okay, I'm off my soapbox for a minute. I'm sorry.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, it's okay.

Michael Collins:

I didn't mean to take over your podcast.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, no, no. I love it.

Michael Collins:

Yeah. It hurts my heart to see obese children, and it's not their fault. They are not going to buy the food. They're not out there shopping.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But I will tell you this. We lived in Cambridge and I moved to California when I was seven and it was a cross country move. There had been sexual abuse going on as a little little kid, which we know that like the ACEs score, the sexual abuse and obesity, all these different things. And so, we moved cross country. My dad's Jewish. My mom's Episcopalian. I get put in Catholic school across all these things. I was not able to deal, not able to deal. And I became an ... I don't know if it was considered obese, but very overweight little kid quickly. And the reason was, and my parents were, I remember them having these sitting me down and trying to have these conversations with me. I remember looking at my mother like, "Why is she struggling so much? What is she trying to say?"

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Just trying not to ruin my self esteem, but also that's how fast I put the weight on and the school, I was having school lunches. And so, I was choosing things at school. It wasn't what I was being sent with. It was what I was choosing at school and that I could get multiples of those things. And so, I was choosing foods at school in first grade that were putting on the weight. And I always think of that because I may control what my boys eat right now, but even if I'm paying for school lunch, or even if I send them with school lunch, which sometimes they did, they may still have access to those foods. They're still making those decisions.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And so, I think that's where you come back to the neural pathways because the kids who are ... Those grooves that we're creating are those coping mechanisms. We're going to be looking for those and especially those of us who struggled and who were looking for an out, a real legitimate out. I mean, me gaining all that weight in first grade was incredibly clear. It was very obvious. And looking back, it makes total sense. It was like, "Oh, she's using. She's using." And then it took me however long to kind of get into relatively normal sized body. And by then, alcohol and drugs works better than the food. I didn't want to be overweight. So then take away those things, and now I'm back to that and one thing that's interesting, I mean not surprising that I hear about all the time with people getting is, "Oh my gosh, my food issues are coming up," but we don't talk about that. We don't talk about the prevalence of, and the relation to, "Oh, we put down this one thing and specifically, the food issues are going to come raging back."

Michael Collins:

Yeah. Well that happens so ... You talk about the Freshman 15. In early recovery, it's like the Freshman 50. People literally gained 50 pounds quick, quick, you know?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Well, they tell you [crosstalk 00:01:18:24].

Michael Collins:

In the early days, I was an abstinence based guy and I used to go to these Blackbelt AA meetings and the guys would say, "Shut up, sit down. You don't got a right to talk," kind of thing. I would bring up this stuff a little bit and they'd say, "You sober today, Mike?" I say, "Yeah." "Well, don't worry about the damn sugar," you know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Collins:

It's actually in the big book of AA. People substitute one drug for another. And look, if you ever go into one of those mature, and I've been to the national convention, if you go to a mature Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous meeting, where everyone is abstinent on flour and sugar, some are abstinent caffeine, but not all is, that's not part of that program, but they all talk about exactly what you're talking about. They've done a history. They know when they started using extensively. They understand just like their alcohol and drug history. And that the emotional recovery, if you will, was the exact same as we had to go through for drugs and alcohol.

Michael Collins:

It's common knowledge in treatment centers and even out treatment centers that if you started using drugs and alcohol when you're 14 or 15, that's when you stopped growing emotionally, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Michael Collins:

I mean, that's a common construct. It's a common idea. It's something that they account for and work upon as you get abstinence and get into recovery. Why not? I mean, not why not. If you go to the food groups, you see the exact same recovery. It's identical, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Michael Collins:

And these are people that never drank a lot, have never drank, never did drugs. The drug was food, sugar, and flour. That was their drug. And so, they go through that same emotional reordering, that same cycle of coming back to the norm. And the idea, like I talked about, the folks that have come around that are recovering folks in the groups that we have is that it's almost like methadone or Suboxone. Sugar is a substitute for the other drugs, not the best and you start to work-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Totally, that makes sense.

Michael Collins:

You start to work some of the other issues out. You don't crash cars. It takes 20 or 30 years 'til the diabetes hits. Nobody wants to be on a methadone for 20 or 30 years, but they're okay with the sugar, flour and caffeine. And look, people start to get sick in recovery from these other things. They get the weight issues and the diabetes issues.

Michael Collins:

Anyway, we know about the physical. We know what happens when you eat a lot of this stuff and the obesity and all the diabetes and stuff. But what my message is, is trying to get out there is that there is ... See when all of the people out there that talk about sugar and health and stuff, 90 plus percent of them graduated from some health coaching thing, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Michael Collins:

And they include exercise, and most of them probably are not addicts, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right.

Michael Collins:

They got great bodies. They're great athletes. They teach it and they want to get people off sugar. It's a great hook for their other business, and they don't have the addictive background that you and I have and they haven't studied the people who have lost 200, 300 pounds who have changed their life by eliminating the substance. The addictive component of the recovery, of the change, of the transformation is A, not known about and B, just not discussed. And so, I got to ease people in that have never ... The people that have been in recovery are the easiest people I ever worked with because they're like, "Oh my God, why didn't I think of that?"

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Totally. Totally, you're like, "Oh." I just remember going, "No!" Just like, "Oh."

Michael Collins:

They go through the same thing. They're like, "Oh man, now I got to quit that too."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, because you also know ... I remember saying to my ... It's funny, my husband, you say it like, "Oh, the spouse often is ..." Well, my husband, we've been together for over 10 years and since I was in my early twenties, when I was at my prime and he's watched the whole thing. He's watched it. He's watched it up close personal. He's watched all the diets. He's watched the surgery. He's watched every single iteration of it, other than childhood iteration and he is in a thousand percent support of what I'm doing. He does not have the problem and still is like, "What do you need?" 10 years ago that wouldn't have been the case or 5 years ago, maybe even, but now having lived it and watched it up close, he would tell you, "She is addicted to sugar and flour."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, I've asked him, I said to him like, "Am I crazy? Am I crazy?" He's like, "No, this is a problem and I completely ... I will do whatever it takes to support you." I was like, "Oh God." But whereas my parents, who haven't been up close and personal and around and haven't ... They support it, but it's just, it looks different. It's not quite on the same scale, and they love me as their child and want nothing but the best for me, but they haven't watched it up close for a long time. I think that's a really interesting thing in terms of how someone who'd ... My husband does understand eating disorders at all whatsoever or any of this stuff, and he's in support of something that changes his life quite dramatically. He doesn't think it's disordered that I'm doing it and it affects him very much so, I think that's an interesting thing and also testament to what he's been through.

Michael Collins:

Yeah. I think we've really covered a lot of the issues here. It's just so disheartening to know that you've had a lot, people have had a lot of success with in understanding what you just articulated, that you don't need flour and sugar. You get better. It's not that hard. What's that phrase, it's easy but it's ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, it's simple, but it's ...

Michael Collins:

Simple, but it's not easy.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That's true. I have one last question for you and then I want you to tell us all about where we can find all information about Mike and what you're doing and how people can find it. So my last question, just out of sheer curiosity is do you think that there is some correlation with ... Okay, how do I phrase this so I'm not leading? We talked about the process and the sugar in the food and with kids and how this is a very normal part of society, its prevalence. We're getting kids addicted to sugar. One of the things that I find, or that's happening in so much of the sugar is the addition of all sorts of chemicals, including Roundup that we know is super dangerous and all these other chemicals. Then on top of that, we have ... So children are just being inundated with an array of new chemicals that we've never seen and then also this addictive piece. Do you think ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And then when they try to remove it, parents try to remove it, you're considered a crazy parent or whatever. You're made fun of, insert whatever you want. Do you think there's any correlation between the rise in autism rates and the food supply?

Michael Collins:

I'm not qualified to answer that, but I will give you my opinion, if you will. I'm not qualified to answer it as a status or diagnostically but I think once you get clean of this stuff, you start to understand the chemical, what chemicals do to you. Right now, I, in the last 30 years had probably had 10 accidental ingestion of sugar, meaning somebody swore that that salad dressing didn't have any sugar in it. They made it themselves, but they didn't realize agave was 70% fructose or whatever. And when that happens, I've learned that just to enjoy the buzz. But what happens after the buzz is what I learned in one of our summits, so a woman called it situational sadness. The next day, I have a hangover and a little bit depressed the next day.

Michael Collins:

I'm blue, I'm really blue. Okay, and that evening I sweat. I cover my bed in ... Literally sometimes twice, I sweat through a night shirt. So my body, and this is one of the withdrawal symptoms of sugar addiction is night sweats. A lot of people have night sweats. They don't know what it is. It's actually sugar addiction, like you got a lot one day, and then you've got less the next day. You'll sweat that night. Even if you're on this stuff, you'll have night sweats. Every time I take, I try, "Oh well, this vitamin sounds great. I'm going to take this vitamin. I'm going to take this probiotic," whatever. Every time I take one of those powders, I get the night sweats. And so, the answer to the question, I think ... I tell a lot of people, I think I'm too holistic for my own good. But in using my body as a guinea pig, what I've found is that once you have this kind of elimination of what I call the powder addiction, the substances, and when I had ...

Michael Collins:

I broke my foot a little while ago and I had to have some anesthesia and this kind of stuff. Man, it whacked me for a month almost. It was just like my diet, my digestion was whacked. Everything was whacked, because I had these chemicals. And so, I just believe that if someone could get to a holistic or as close to ... And if they went and looked back at the history, in the 1700s, there were doctors that wrote about the influx of the large amount of caffeine, the influx of the large amount of sugar and what it was doing to their patients in one generation. This literature actually exists. And so, they saw this happening. And what we are now, where we are now is 300 years in, and we've just thought of aging joints are threatened. Everything is an amalgamation of all of these things that we thought were good for us, that science and industry has come up with and that has inundated our things.

Michael Collins:

So yes, I do believe that chemicals of some sort cause these maladies and I don't know which ones or why, but I do know that they do cause them in some way, shape or form. In just my little niche in the world of sugar, I've seen so many ... I'm going to give you a true ... Virta Health. I don't know if you've ever heard of them. You can look them up. They're venture backed. They have cured ... Virta, V-I-R-T-A, they have cured hundreds of people of type 2 diabetes just by diet, just by eliminating these things. Now it's mostly keto based and there's probably not any longterm studies, but they are in remission for type 2 diabetes. And if you go through it, one of the guys we had on the summit was Dr. Chris Palmer from Harvard. Dr. Palmer studies epilepsy. There are a lot of things happening in the world that when people change their diet or eliminate these different things, I was mentioning Dr. Chris Palmer from Harvard studying epilepsy and having a lot of success with eliminating flour, sugar and grains.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What happens when they do that with epilepsy?

Michael Collins:

They cut the epilepsy events down and back. I mean, not curing or healing but there is a lot of positive movement in that area. Dr. Georgia Ede also of Harvard is studying the mental aspects of it, the anxiety, the worry, the depression. And there's a ton of people who are eliminating sugars and flours and caffeine, and finding that the depression lifts. What I'm trying to say is it's no longer anecdotal. It's no longer just a guy story. Now there's a lot of science, and that science is exploding every single day now. The new studies come out every single day now. It really is that to wrap it up in a big bow, what the food addicts anonymous in recovery, food addicts anonymous folks knew just by trial and error 20 years ago and have made a commitment to do.

Michael Collins:

Now, the science is proving why it works. You know what I mean? The science is coming out every day to prove why it works. Dr. [Lustig 01:31:22] thinks we're in the middle eight years into a tectonic shift, like seatbelts in cars, drinking and driving, condoms in bathrooms, smoking in public places, things that science says that you need to change, but people didn't want to change in those days. You remember. We've lived through a bunch of these. People did not want to change. This is happening in the world of sugar, in the world of processed, ultra processed carbs. We're early. We're very early in the game.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I am 33 and I still remember smoking sections in restaurants, which is obviously hysterical now.

Michael Collins:

In my day, drinking and driving, it was technically illegal but literally before MADD and before friends don't let friends drive drunk, it was just don't get caught. That was the ethos of the society, not like ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, not just [crosstalk 01:32:26].

Michael Collins:

Very few people were adamant that you shouldn't drink and drive, very few. The AIDS crisis did one thing. They weren't outing people to be mean. They're outing people to get healthcare, and that's similar to the substance use disorder world, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Michael Collins:

Whether you guys were or the advocacy folks are trying to get more stories out, so that the average person understands it's okay to get help and get healthcare. That's what they were doing in the AIDS movement. You know what I mean? And that's when the condoms stuff started happening and people actually took heed because the science was there.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, for sure. Mike, you're wonderful. I am really grateful. You've helped me tremendously. I know you're going to help all the listeners, even if you just plant a seed, which is what I'm expecting. I know that that's how it started with me. You have a website, sugaraddiction.com. You have a Facebook, QuitSugarNow. You have a Twitter, quitsugarnow, Instagram sugaraddictionsupport, and a Pinterest sugar addiction support. Did I miss any other place where people can find about what you offer and what do you offer?

Michael Collins:

Yeah, once a year we have the Quit Sugar Summit, which we have all the guys, the people that I've been mentioning on. So I've talked to hundreds of researchers and scientists. It's only once a year, but if you go there, you can leave your email and we'll tell you when the next one is. But yeah, most everything's at sugaraddiction.com and there's a book there, a free book. You can download the book at sugaraddiction.com. And that way, you can read about my story and the diet, all that kind of stuff.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What was the book about when sugar started to come over and doctors were writing about how it affected you?

Michael Collins:

Sugar Blues, Sugar Blues.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Sugar Blues, okay.

Michael Collins:

Yeah, Sugar Blues. And it tells the history of the growth of the cartel and the ... Honestly, if I had time, I'd love to do that research and more of that research because I just kind of skimmed over it but they were aware, was a generation 40, 60 years in when the English empire was at its height. They saw what was happening because caffeine was part of it. They were growing the tea and the coffee in those plantations as well.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right, right. I'm definitely going to read it. I will report back. Well, thank you so much for being here. I really, really appreciate it. Love to keep in touch and I will sign up so that I can let the listeners know also when the Quit Sugar Summit is going to be. Is it virtual this year or is it virtual every year?

Michael Collins:

It's virtual every year. We just had it, so it won't be for a bit but we do have some replays. You can check out too, and we're thinking of getting a YouTube channel up. And I want to thank you for doing this and the work that you're doing, because I've been virtual for a long time, I've been watching Lionrock for a very long time and I think you guys do an amazing stuff.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate it. Well, take care. Thank you.

Michael Collins:

All right, take care. Thanks.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

This podcast is sponsored by Lionrock Recovery. Lionrock provides online substance abuse counseling, where clients can get help from the privacy of their own home. They're accredited by the joint commission and sessions are private, affordable, and user-friendly. Call their free help line at 800-258-6550 or visit www.lionrockrecovery.com for more information.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:35:57]