Genetics, Obesity, and Environment – Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

Genetics, Obesity, and Environment

“Victory belongs to the most persevering”
~Napoleon Bonaparte


A Sister’s Weekend

Spending time with my three sisters for the first time since we were little kids …under the same roof for six solid days is an experience to behold for the rest of my years. Sure we see each other regularly throughout the year but it’s up in Wisconsin and Illinois, all housed in separate homes. But this—this time we’re in sunny Florida on the West Coast under one roof….

My nearly three decades working  with eating disorder, body image and food issue populations heightens my attention to details, and it’s no different with the four of us huddled together.

And of course I’m looking at everything emotional and physical, from an addiction psychologist view. And at the same time I’m the baby of the family—and they don’t let me forget it.

We are six in total, from top to bottom, four years apart—with two sets of twins (boy, girl and boy, girl)  tucked in the middle. So there I was observing my three sister’s with a critical shrink eye…and from a baby sister view, which can be conflicting at best.

One sister is a chronic dieter with weight up and down and all around—but no more than 10 to 15 pounds either way. Another could care less about food and only eats when prompted and the third will grab onto a diet for a long bit of time and then something happens and she resumes to eating what she wants. And then there’s me—the eating disordered person in recovery.

One is a Martha Stewart type cooking organic and fancy while the other is a Martha too but more in the decorating department, the third is a fashionista, while the last one is none of the above (that’d be me). Two are passionately invested in the democrat belief system while the other two are hard core republicans. A delicious mix of interests for sure.

While one is eating high-end organic, the other two could care less. And then there’s me, I’m the eating disordered loon living in recovery who changed my relationship with food, body image and all that comes with it.

I learned to eat to live, not live to eat. I have a style of eating that stays with me no matter where I am or whom I’m with or what’s going on, as noted in my third book Release Your Obsession with Cheat DAZE: Heal from the Inside Out.

It’s a formula that works. And it’s simple…but not easy for many.

It’s simple because I eat fresh real food, not in a box or bag or processed. I don’t eat sugar, flour, nor wheat. I eat every four to five hours food within the food groups to the point of robotic and natural. For instance, breakfast consists of a fat, protein, fruit, dairy, and starch. Period. And lunch is fat, protein and vegetables. My half meal consists of fruit and protein and dinner is vegetables, fat, protein, and starch. Done. That’s it.

Simple, but again for some it’s not so easy.

My sisters can go long periods without eating while I need fuel to keep from a dip in blood sugar—and to avoid my personality from shifting from mellow and a watcher to moody, silent, and not so nice. Fuel me with real foods every four to five hours and I’m good to go…

So what’s the issue? I have hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar—where blood sugar decreases to below normal levels which can lead to a wide variety of symptoms including: clumsiness, trouble talking, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures and even death. A feeling of hunger, sweating, shakiness and weakness may also be present.

I’m also a food addict in recovery abstaining from sugar, flour and wheat.

To avoid spikes in my blood level or turning to an all out binge I”m organized and prepared with my foods…but not obsessive while two sisters were into eating treats, sort of a cheat day mentality, and the fourth one forgetting to eat if not prompted.

When my blood symptoms come on quickly, there’s no turning back. It’s an awful feeling I ward off by eating in regular intervals, avoiding hunger or long periods without food. 


Hypoglycemia can be caused by medications to treat diabetes mellitus, kidney failures, certain tumors, such as insulinoma, liver disease, hypothyroidism, starvation, inborn error of metabolism, severe infections, reactive hypoglycemia and a number of drugs, including alcohol.
Symptoms include:
• Tiredness
• Increased appetite
• Cloudy thinking
• Blurry Vision
• An Inability to Concentrate
• Pale Facial Complexion
• Sweating

It’s almost an “out of body “ experience. I begin to slip away, really quiet…and quite moody.  My siblings, who do not suffer from low blood sugar, nor food addiction, see me as difficult when I get like this. They’ve learned over the years that if I’m fed the lion is tame.

The most common treatment is glucose tablets but food addicts do not eat sugar Glucose tablets, which are a chalky white dry tablet that work within minutes to restore blood levels. As a food addict, sugar is not an option. I prefer natural treatment—real food.

My motto has always been, rather than think about what you can’t eat think about what you can eat—AND I ASSURE you It’s plentiful…and satiating.

Recognize Diets Don’t Work

Stop dieting and start eating. Yes, I say eat. Too often we try and quiet the binge monster by not eating—which is the worst thing you can do. Eat and eat plenty, just make sure the food you eat is real and not processed. Each meal must be balanced with the proper food groups. Restricting from eating well balanced foods, eating small portions or not eating at all often leads to discontent then ultimately out-of-control eating because you are starving and your mind and body are screaming for food. Starving and restricting are not the answer.

One sister is creating crazy concoctions of “healthy” food, while another is “jonsing” so eat, and the third eats when the group eats…and I’m eating every four to five hours without skipping a beat.

As for genetics, there was obesity on both our paternal and maternal side along with addictions to alcohol. Depression and outbursts were definitely a family norm growing up. Our father was more of a foody than our mother, who carried a great deal of weight.  She was not active, ate high fat and was not gifted with height.

My siblings all were spared from food addiction and obesity, but I was not. I took after my grandmother Ruth who was not only hopping from diet to diet, she liked sweets and at turned to alcohol too.

So as different as we four are, we are the same. We are all kind and considerate, laugh often and freely, respect our faith, money, and family.

Every day we walked well over five miles, either by the beach or in a shopping area. All our foods were whole, real, and filling. One sister made her way to the pier where she purchased fresh fish caught each morning from the ocean, yes the organic one. Fresh vegetables and fruit were our main staples with a touch of starchy carbs at breakfast and dinner.

Laughing, crying, and story telling filled our time. Recollections of our mom and dad, who both are passed, were reminisced. All four of us are within a healthy weight range and three will have an occasional drink while one sips on tea or water with lemons…that’d be me of course.

Our six days huddled under one roof is a memory cherished for a lifetime. Though in many ways we are different, in other ways we are so much alike. We are entering into our older years of life, yet we are youngish in our hearts.

Stay tuned…you never know where my mind will wander…

You can leave a comment by scrolling down to the section that says leave a reply.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Hugs to you, I care!

Dr. Lisa

Check Out My Latest Books:

Release Your Obsession with Food: Heal from the Inside Out

Release Your Obsession with Diet Chatter: Heal from the Inside Out

Release Your Obsession with Cheat DAZE: Heal from the Inside Out

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Check out my newest book and explore why you eat out of control when it’s a holiday, birthday, vacation or just your plain ole “cheat day.” Learn the what and why about the foods you eat to better understand why food can cause your moods to swing, your cravings to soar, your weight to increase, your self-esteem to plummet, and your fatigue to rage.

No More Cheating Mentality!

About the Author Lisa Ortigara Crego

Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.

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