Reduce The Distress of Withdrawal
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Reduce The Distress of Withdrawal

Issue No. 19 | Brought to you by the Addiction Reset Community – ARC
Unlocking the secrets of processed food addiction and guiding you to find freedom from food and weight obsession.

Have you tried to cut back or abstain from processed food, but the discomfort of withdrawal became so intense, you gave up?



In this issue, we will take a look at some ways that you can prepare for initial withdrawal to make it more manageable. Later in your recovery, if you experience accidental ingestion or relapse on processed food, these techniques can help you to move quickly through re-withdrawal by minimizing the distress of symptoms. 



Withdrawal from processed foods can manifest in many ways. Symptoms can include, headache, muscle cramps, stomach ache, chills, fever, irritability, depression, anxiety or intense cravings.  The severity and combinations of symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. Symptoms can last 2-8 days.


Be Prepared:

Here are several things that you can do to be prepared for withdrawal. Just pick the strategies that are easiest and doable for you. You don’t have to do them all.

  • Get groceries into the house and prepared before starting withdrawal.
  • Taper off the “excluded foods and Get all ‘excluded foods’ out of the house or locked away. 
  • Clear your calendar, cancel optional appointments and arrange for care of children and elders if needed.
  • Let ‘safe’ people around you know what you’re doing.  Familiarise them with symptoms and what they can do to help. Avoid sharing with controlling, anxious people who might try to sabotage your withdrawal. 
  • Have a friend hide your car keys somewhere in the house. Cravings can intensify during withdrawal so it’s important that you not be able to act on them by getting processed foods. 
  • Learn how to make hot and cold compresses. For a hot compress, dampen 2 washcloths with water and microwave for 1 minute. Seal inside a baggie. For a cold compress, fill a baggie with ice cubes and wrap in a damp dishtowel. You can also buy commercial hot/cold compresses.
  • Write out a list of affirmations such as ‘I can do this. My body is just detoxing. It will pass. It’s just withdrawal.’
  • Get bath salts. Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts are suggested.
  • Get medications that you are already familiar with.
  • Find a gentle exercise video. 
  • Load calming books, recordings, and music onto your personal device.
  • Connect with your recovery support group as often as you can each day, to get mental and emotional support as you move through withdrawal and beyond.



Whilst the severity and duration of withdrawal may differ for each person, the reward of clean eating and the freedom from food and weight obsession is so worth it for us all. You can do this!


Within the Addiction Reset Community (ARC) our members and their journeys are important to us. We find their stories inspiring and hopeful for everybody in health recovery.

“The big thing for me is that it gave me reassurance that I'm not a bad person, I'm not terrible rebellious. This is really a physical thing that's going on with my body. Even though I've been involved with many medical and other things to help me become a normal size, not morbidly obese, it wasn't the right thing for me. They haven't been educated in the right direction. Education! I'm thankful for the Internet. I would never have been privy to such wonderful information. My little closed-in house doesn't have access to, but the Internet has opened up a lot for me. I feel sorry for the people who are missing this."


Many people reach out to Joan asking for advice and assistance on how they can begin their recovery journey.

Dear Joan:

I don't have a question but just wanting to remark on how much I appreciate being in recovery with your support and the support of the ARC. I had no idea just how much the processed foods were affecting the quality of my life, until now that I am clean.

I was desperate for help. I knew I'd gained so much weight but I just couldn't stop eating and bingeing. I had such bad brain fog from the processed foods and my consequent poor health that I was fired from my job for absent mindedness. I was so depressed at times that I couldn't even imagine being happy and I had such bad anxiety that I avoided every social situation that I could. Fatigued, I spent half my life in bed not attending to the things that a normal person should like paying bills on time but could never sleep more than four hours straight. 


Joan responds: 

I am so very sorry to hear how negatively processed foods affected the quality of your life. This was not your fault. Processed foods can completely shut down the parts of the brain that carry messages of what is good in the world. Without these pathways, despair can set in. People also despair because health systems don't know how to treat processed food addiction so people try one weight-loss or eating disorder program after another with no success. This feels like a repeated failure and contributes to despair. 

Congratulations on all you’re doing to take back control and abstain from processed foods. You’re bringing joy back into your life. 


Dr Joan Ifland (PhD) is a global expert on the subject of processed food addiction and is not a medical doctor. Information and response shared in this Newsletter are not intended for, and should not be construed as medical advice.

Do you have a question? Reach out to us with your questions about food addiction and recovery at

 Are you showing signs of Processed Food Addiction? Take this self-quiz to find out now!

Recent copies of Dr Joan Ifland's Blog:

Issue 01 | Issue 02 Issue 03 | Issue 04 | Issue 05 | Issue 06 | Issue 07 | Issue 08 | Issue 09 | Issue 10 | Issue 11 | Issue 12 | Issue 13 | Issue 14 | Issue 15 | Issue 16 | Issue 17 | Issue 18


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