Susan McCauley Addiction and the stress connection Podcast #46


The effects of stress can cause major damage to your psychological and physical make-up.  When people are unable to deal with these stressors, they may resort to using alcohol, drugs or any other form of addiction to manage their stress levels.  While these can provide temporary relief, it is ultimately self-destructive. 

Find out how eating “real” food, stabilizing sugar levels, sleep as well as how amino acids and other co-factors help nourish your brain and diminish cravings to aid in recovery from stress and addiction.  Listen to how Susan used a solid foundation of diet and lifestyle to take her recovery to the next level.

In this episode, we cover:

13:14    Kombucha health benefits

20:52   Addiction Classification

23:14   How Susan overcame stress and addictions through nutrition and lifestyle change

33:03   Importance of blood sugar stability to curb addiction

36:46   Supplementations to modulate dopamine and serotonin








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Justin Marchegiani: Hey there, this is Dr. Justin Marchegiani and welcome to another awesome episode of Beyond Wellness Radio.  We now have full podcast transcriptions over at  Head over to, click on the podcast button and you will be able to access all shows forward and past.  And while you are there, feel free to sign up for the Thyroid and Hormone Video Series.  Some great information there for everyone and while you are there you can also sign up for the podcast newsletter where you will get access to these podcasts right in your inbox before anyone else.  While you are there, you can also schedule a consult with myself if you want to dive into any other functional medicine or health issues.  You can also access my partner in crime here, Baris Harvey at  Baris is also available for nutritional consult as well.  Again, stay tuned for the show.  And if you are enjoying it, please feel free and share.   Sharing is caring.  Think of one person that could benefit from the show and share it.

And also, feel free and head over to and send us a review.  We really appreciate it.  Thanks and enjoy the show.

Justin Marchegiani: Hey there, its Dr. Justin Marchegiani here from Beyond Wellness Radio.  And today we have a super awesome guest, Susan McCauley.  And Susan has two websites.  She has as well as her podcast at  So make sure everyone checks at her site and signs up for her awesome podcasts.  Well, Susan we are super happy to have you here today.

Susan McCauley:  Thanks for having me, Justin.  How are you doing?

Justin Marchegiani:  I am doing great.  It’s a beautiful day in Austin, Texas.  I’ll, maybe, hop on the boat later on tonight if I have enough time.  But, I am really excited to chat with you because this topic that we are going to address today is near and dear to my heart.

Susan McCauley:  Yes.  I think so too.  You know the things that we do at Evolve Recovery, talking and getting to know people and understand what addictions do and carrying the real food word out there beyond our little kind of paleo circle that we get into. We forget that there are so many millions of people out there that do not know what real food is.

Justin Marchegiani:  Exactly.  And before we kind of get in, I want people to know your story because I think you really have a good one to share.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Susan McCauley: Oh, what I had for breakfast this morning is two chicken sausages from Trader Joe’s, the chicken garlic ones which do not have any nightshades because I do have an autoimmune disease.  And I had a couple of bites of sauerkrauts and some leftover grilled asparagus grown locally because the asparagus is grown about 20 minutes from my house here in California and grilled by my husband out on a barbeque last night.

 Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, wow!  That’s the stuff.  Absolutely awesome.  So sweet.

Susan McCauley: Yes.  That is kind of like one of my normal.  I do not eat eggs every day because of the autoimmune and I have something called ulcerative proctitis which is the distant cousin to ulcerative colitis.  I am far enough along in my journey that I know what I can and I cannot eat.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Susan McCauley:  I cannot eat certain things everyday like eggs.  I relegate those to the weekends with my bacon.  So a lot of sausages, you know.  The sausages from Trader Joe’s and I have those recipes on my website for some zesty pork sausages that my husband says tastes like the sausage inside the Sausage McMuffin with egg from McDonald’s.  So, if that is the kind of thing you like, then head over to my website and grab the recipe.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is sweet.  Awesome.  Well, can you share with all the listeners your story?

Susan McCauley:  Sure.  So, my story actually kind of dates back about 16 years when I first got clean and sober from the drugs and alcohol.  I am starting to write more and more about it.  You can find some information on my website.  My bottom happened 16 years ago.   I got clean and sober.  But, you know, I never had a problem with my weight.  I had a period of a couple of years one time when I gained a whole bunch of weight.  But you know, took it right off.  So health really never was on my radar.  Even though my mom had died of lung cancer that metastasized to brain cancer when I was 9, and she smoked cigarettes.  But I smoked cigarettes because that is kind of what you do when you are in recovery.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  You smoke cigarettes and you drink a lot of coffee.  You stay up late and you eat fast-food and that is kind of what I did for about 7 to 8 years until I decided probably smoking cigarettes was not going to keep me alive for very long.  I was not prettier or sexy or did not smell good, you know all these things.  So I quit smoking.  And then that is how everything kind of changed.  I started developing an appetite and I did not know what to eat.         I though low fat was the way to go weight wise.  So I did everything.  I started Yo-yo dieting and that was kind of my downfall.  I had another kind of bottom a few years later when I developed kind of a binge eating.  Not kind of a binge eating thing going on where I felt very out of control with my eating in respect to like processed carbs, like doughnuts and potato chips. And it was because I was so nutrient depleted because all I was eating basically was boneless skinless chicken breast because I thought carbs were bad and I thought fat was bad.

Justin Marchegiani:  Oh my gosh!

Susan McCauley:  Yes.  So you can imagine I was just so depleted and I developed some digestive issues and Kaiser could not tell me what was wrong with me.  Then my husband, I was just like at my wits end, I was just crying a lot and you know guys.  You know how it is.  You want to fix.  You want to fix.  And so he found something called Whole30 and he said, “Hey, baby why don’t you read this and take a look at it.”  And I read it and it spoke to me and I said, “I think I want to do this.”  And he said, “I will do it with you.”  But he drank at that time at least a 12-pack of diet Coke every day.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Susan McCauley:  I know.  Like we would buy five 12-packs of diet Coke a week. But then he works too.  So whenever he was out of the house that is how much he drinks at home.  And you cannot drink diet Coke.  He does not have a problem with drugs or alcohol.  He is like a completely normal kind of guy.  And he said like, “We could do anything for 30 days.”  And we just never looked back.  We started like the next Sunday and my binge eating thing, you know, I still have my moments don’t get me wrong but that was relieved.  My digestive symptoms kind of went away.  And I didn’t even put two and two together until about 4 years later.  But what I really noticed was my brain seemed to work better.  Nothing seems to be as hard.  When you are in recovery, when things do not go exactly how you want, which I think happens to people that are not even in recovery.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Susan McCauley:  You know it’s very stressful and we do not have, I guess, a good way to relieve that stress like other people might, like by having that glass of wine at nights.  (Laughs).  But everything seems so much easier.  And it was just like, finally I realized, so I quit my job.  I had made upwards of six figures, I was an executive at a food manufacturer and I was miserable and I quit my job and went back to school to become a holistic nutritionist.  And that is what I learned in school why everything was working was because my brain actually had the nutrients it needed to make the things that needed to make me feel good.

Justin Marchegiani:  Hmmm.  Okay.

Susan McCauley:  You know, it is like oh my brain had fat.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Susan McCauley:  And my brain had animal protein.  And my brain had all the micronutrients that come from fruits and vegetables so I can make my serotonin and my dopamine and all the things that I needed to keep my brain functioning properly.

Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  And then you said you were like kind of an insider food executive.  So can you give us a perspective of what it was like on the inside and now that you are like an outsider and it will probably be hard for you to go back to that job knowing what you know.  Can you give us an insider’s perspective?

Susan McCauley:  What is funny, the company that I worked for makes soup for a lot of other cattle-based like stink liquid products for companies like Whole Foods.  So, I was a Whole Foods insider from way before I even knew anything about what real food was.  So, I know why they use canola oil.  They use canola oil because it is cheaper than olive oil.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Exactly.

Susan McCauley:  When it comes down to food, everybody needs to understand that it comes down to cents per ounce.  Because I was a CFO, so you talk about profitability and you talk about cents per ounce.  And the other huge thing where it comes down to is the food manufacturers, it is not their job to get you healthy.  They are beholden to their stockholders.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with capitalism or free market society.  But we just need to be aware of that.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:   Their job is to be profitable.   And that all we need to do is to be aware of that so then we kind of can put on our thinking cap and say, “Hmm, does that make sense or does that not make sense?”  So the things that the food manufacturers like to do.  One of the things, we had one customer, and I am not going to name the customer, based MSG in their products.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Susan McCauley:  Yes and it was in their Mami-type product and they did not want to put MSG on the label anymore.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Susan McCauley:   And so we had to have our person, you know, devoted to labels that, you know, broke it out into autolyzed yeast extract and one other thing.  You know, so that MSG was not on the label anymore.  The other thing is they like to break up, use more than one form of sugar so sugar does not have to be first on the label.

Justin Marchegiani:  Exactly.

Susan McCauley:  Or roll up a whole bunch of different products into like a parenthesis so then the healthy things looks like it comes first.

Justin Marchegiani:  Hmmm, I see.

Susan McCauley:  Yes. So I have a whole label reading series on my website.  But the main thing is it really does come down to dollars and cents and looking for the cheaper product.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  When you see things like and, or like sometimes you will look at a product and it will say the different fats because I always look for fats.  It will say Sunflower oil or Safflower oil or Canola oil.  So what that means is, the purchasing person is looking for whatever is cheapest at the moment so they do not have to switch the label up every time.

Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  I know for like the longest time I just could not get any mayo without Canola or Soya and it drove me nuts.  And I finally, I saw at Paleo f(x), they had Mark’s Primal Mayo.

Susan McCauley:  Oh, yes.  I have not tried that yet.

Justin Marchegiani:  I got it.  It’s really good because it’s got the avocado oil in there which is nice because I always do my tuna fish with a cut of avocado and salsa.  And it is just a really nice mix.

Susan McCauley:  Oh yes.   We make our own here.  In fact, they have even trained my husband how to make my recipe.  So I do not have to even make it anymore.  (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, nice.  How do you do it?  Do you do avocado oil or olive oil?

Susan McCauley:  I use light tasting olive oil so it is not the highest quality olive oil, it’s just less expensive.  I have a video actually on my website with the recipe and it’s just two pastured egg yolks, a little bit of dried mustard, olive oil, white pepper which I have been really a big fan of white pepper in recipes, white wine vinegar.  I do not use lemon juice.  I do not like the lemon juice mix mayo taste.

Justin Marchegiani:  Hmmm.

Susan McCauley:  And salt of course.  Very simple recipe.

Justin Marchegiani:  Awesome.  That is on your website?

Susan McCauley:  Yes and a video.  How to video.  I used the Immersion blender and it is just so much easier.  You do not have to drizzle the olive oil in.  You just put it all together and put the Immersion blender in and it’s like magic.  I think that is why my husband likes to do it because he feels very accomplished. (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Nice.

Susan McCauley:  Magic, I made mayo!

Justin Marchegiani:  That is sweet. Yes, if you can send me that after the show, I will put it up for the show notes so everyone can get access to that.

Susan McCauley:  Sure!

Justin Marchegiani:  That is great.  I love a good mayo.  Awesome.

Susan McCauley:  Mine tastes, it’s very Best Foods like or Hellman’s if you are on the East Coast. (Laughs).

Justin Marchegiani:   Got it.  And I think you mentioned a couple of things that are really important about people have to know that the food companies are trying to produce a product to make money and that nothing wrong with that.  But they just do not have your health at first priority.   So it is really important that people get educated and may know how to read some of the back of those labels.  I know at the pre-interview before the show, we chatted about a couple of different topics and one being kombucha because it’s like the newest, or I should not say the newest but for the last 5 to 10 years or so it has been a really big health kick especially the last few.  But you know, I have noticed a couple of things and you noticed a couple of things about kombucha, that it is turning in to the new soda, so to speak.   Can you touch upon that?

Susan McCauley:   Yes.  I was actually in Austin, at Paleo f(x) this year and they have a big, the Austin Whole Foods. It’s just like the mother ship for us real food people.  It’s like huge, it’s beautiful.  They have everything and they have a whole cooler full of local kombucha.  And I was so excited because I always looked to buy local ferments like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, Kvass.  All the different things because it’s just local, tasting new and different things are really neat for me.  And so I was like, “Oh, local kombucha!”  So I started reading and I am a label reader like I said.  I always read labels and sometimes I even get stumped. So I am looking at these labels and it’s like I am looking at the servings because that is what I always instruct my clients to look at first.  The number of servings per container is super important because if there is like, 8 servings per container, then you got to do the multiplication.  And it’s like 2 servings per container, 12 grams of sugar.  My, that is 24 grams of sugar for a bottle.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Susan McCauley:   And then I just kept thinking then I googled like how much is in a soda.  So what did I figure out?  I am writing a blog post about it right now.  There is 39 grams of sugar and an equivalent amount of where there might be 24 grams of sugar in a kombucha.  And I was like, “Oh, that is a little scary.”  And if you are drinking one or two a day, how much sugar are you getting in everyday?  And is it really contributing to your health?  Or maybe we should like, rethink this and look for the lower sugar ones.  And what I do also is I have a SodaStream, one of those mix your own fizzy water.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  And so I fill up half a glass of kombucha and then put fizzy water in it because then it’s cheaper too because kombucha is really expensive.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes. Exactly.  And I do the same thing when I make an alcoholic libation or drink.  I do the Tito’s Vodka like a really clean filtered Vodkas.  You are not getting any gluten or junk.  And I just use the Gingerade kombucha from GT Dave because it’s got the 2 grams per serving versus like the 25 of the Buddha’s Brew or whatever else and mix that with a half of the lemon squeeze and a little bit of carbonated lemon like LaCroix and it’s just like a great drink and it is actually a clean drink that almost detoxifies you as you get a little buzz.

Susan McCauley:  Yes.  Now, that makes me what to start drinking again.  Just kidding. (Laughs)

 Justin Marchegiani:  (Laughs) Oh, yes, yes.  So if that is something you can do, at least you can do it in a gentle way.  But if you cannot do it, obviously we got to know what we can handle.  So, yes, I just kind of add that as our little disclaimer.

Susan McCauley:  Yes.  If you are having 5 or 6 of those every night, probably not a good idea.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  Ideally moderation makes it part of your 10% or 5%…

Susan McCauley:  Exactly.

Justin Marchegiani:  And maybe even 0% depending on what you can handle.

Susan McCauley:  Yes. There are those that say that because I do not drink, a lot of times people make the mistake to think that I think everybody should not drink.  And there are studies that moderate alcohol consumption can actually be healthy.  If you can, go ahead I have no judgment.

Justin Marchegiani:  And on that note, can you just talk a little bit like so we had this whole idea of addiction which, is you know, some people maybe addicted to exercise, addicted to a lot of different things.  So how would you, like where does the like cross where it’s a healthy addiction and now it’s an unhealthy addiction?  How do you define that when you are working your patients?

Susan McCauley:  You know, I do not think that there really is any healthy addiction.  You can draw the line between what I call process addictions and then substance addictions.  So process addictions are like exercise, gambling, shopping.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Susan McCauley:  And then there are the actual chemical addictions like drugs and alcohol, prescription pain medications.  We are not just talking about illegal drugs because prescription drug addiction is a huge thing as well.  And it is really a hard thing to come back because most people think because it is legal and their doctors prescribed it then it is okay.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  And so when you talk about exercise addiction, you know I have had clients that do exercise too much and it is kind of hard to back them off and that is where kind of the adrenal stress index test help.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  To show them where they are in that line.  But with my luck, every time I run a test on a client when I am trying to show them something to get them to make a change, it usually shows the opposite.  (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.  Right.

Susan McCauley:  Like it will say how they are adrenally fine.  I am like, “Ah!” I can’t try to get them to slow down.  And then, like the food addiction; and I think food addiction, to me, is a fascinating subject because there are actual 12-step programs devoted to helping people kick food addictions.   And I am not sure how well they work.  That is where I probably make a lot of people mad and become very controversial.  Because a lot of these 12-step, you know, I am, in general, in favor of 12-step programs because they do help. They are not for everybody but they do help a lot of people with their issues.  But when it comes to food, some of the crazy things that go on inside these 12-step programs, like I have heard things like, you cannot have any spices and you cannot eat more than one fruit at any time.  Like crazy rules that I think end up developing and can develop into eating disorders and anorexia bulimia.  I remember I had somebody call me one time from Vegas who was a recovering alcoholic.  She was also trying to I lose weight.  She said, “I broke my abstinence,” and that means in the eating programs, that basically you relapsed.  And I said, “What did you do?” and she is in Vegas.  Okay?

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes. All those buffets.

Susan McCauley:  You speak of the buffets.

Justin Marchegiani:  I know.

Susan McCauley:  She goes, “I went to Danny’s and I had scrambled eggs and I asked them like you told me, you know to make sure that they used butter and that they did not add any pancake batter, you know all the crazy things they could do.”

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  “And then I didn’t get the potatoes.  I got the fruit.  And there were cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon and strawberries and I ate it.”  And I said okay.  I am trying to weigh it like, for the diving head first into the dessert buffet part of it.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  And she is like, “I had more than one fruit at one time.”  And I am like, “Oh my God, we need to stop this craziness.”  This is not any way to live long-term.  And I also think that food addiction feels really addicting when you are in the moment of it because your brain is not working right like we talked about earlier.  And if you are depriving yourself of fat and of animal protein and all of the crazy Yo-yo dieting things we do, sugar can feel addicting. But once you are nourished, maybe you can have that ice cream every once in a while.  And that is kind of my goal with my clients.  There is nothing that is off the table.  There is no yes food list or no food list.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  And in my family there is a history of addiction and I think it is good to have a definition of addiction.  So like I kind of classify it from being addicted to a habit that produces results in your life that you do not like; that is maybe destructive.  Like, if I can have a glass of alcohol tonight and I can then function afterwards and then go to sleep and function the next day and, you know, be with my family that is great, right?  I enjoy that result.  But some people may have two, three, four or five knocked out, the next day forget their job, forget their kids and their responsibilities and that maybe a habit that produces a result you do not like.  How do you feel about that kind of classification?

Susan McCauley:  That is a good classification.  How I kind of classify it is kind of a two-part question.  If once you start with that substance or process or whatever it is, you cannot stop or if you really want to stop like you really want to not do it anymore but you cannot. Like if you really do not want to drink anymore but you cannot stop drinking but then if you cannot just have one drink, you know, you want ten drinks.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Susan McCauley:  You know, it is kind of like that saying, “One is too many and a thousand is never enough.”  You know, you just cannot go down that road.  And that is good.  When you start having negative effects to your life and that can be, it does not mean that you lost your job.  I know people that got sober and quit drugs and they still had two cars in the driveway and their wife and their kids and all that.  And then there are other people that end up in jail and lose everything and homeless.  And so, there is a huge spectrum of things.  They have recently changed the DSM-5 which classifies psychiatric disorders.  They have recently changed the way they look at alcohol and drug addiction. So it affects more people but then it does not affect as many people to say you need to be abstinent.  They are working on something that they call Harm Reduction.  And if they can get some people to not drink as much or not use as much but maybe not be abstinent because they keep failing at that, then that is where kind of the goal of the CDC and AMA is right now, is this Harm Reduction.

Justin Marchegiani:  Interesting.  And would you mind kind of going into your story behind addiction and how you kind of pulled yourself kind of out of that with nutrition and whatever other modalities you used that were beneficial to you?

Susan McCauley:  Way back when I had no idea and that is why this is so crazy to me now, how did I not know?  How did nobody for the first ten years of my sobriety tell me that what I put into my body might affect?

 Justin Marchegiani:  I know.  It’s ridiculous.

Susan McCauley:  Yes, not once and in fact, in one of the books that people read to get sober, it actually said on one of the pages, but you have to remember that this book was written in the 30’s, you know, once the alcoholic is not drinking anymore they might need some sugar every once in a while to keep their energy level up. (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Oh my gosh, that is crazy!

Susan McCauley:  Yes, so for the first ten years and I even worked. This was all before the food company.  I was a director of finance for a large San Jose based drug and alcohol treatment center.   So I have worked in the field for four years as well.  We ordered the food for the treatment center from Cosco.  We were instructed to cut as much cost because it was a profit-driven company and like what I said there is nothing wrong with profit.  Sometimes people say I am a communist or something and I am definitely not.  But we just need to be aware.  But yes, for the first ten years nobody told me what I put in my body might affect my sobriety.  And then I changed the way ate and my sobriety somehow became easier.  And that is when I started putting the pieces together because I struggled. You know, I went to treatment for the first time.  My first drink was in 7th grade.  So I drank when I was young.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow.

Susan McCauley:  I went into treatment for the first time when I was in my 20’s but it was more like I kind of needed a break from the real world because it was like I did not want to go to work, I did not want to pay the bills.  I just want a kind of a break from reality and so, of course, that did not stick.  And then in the 90’s, I went from being a functional alcoholic where I drank at night primarily wine.  Primarily where I thought I had insomnia so I had to take a couple of drinks before I went to bed to drinking that big bottle of wine every night.  And then an old friend of mine came back into my life and happened to be doing methamphetamine and so I thought, “Hey, why not?”  You know, it makes you thin and gives you energy.  And within six months l lost everything.  And when I mean everything, my roommate had changed the locks on the door.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow.

Susan McCauley:  My car got repossessed and I lost my job.  You know I had always done pretty well in my profession.  I went to school to become an accountant.  So I have always, you know, made a pretty good living and worked really hard.  So that is kind of where my drinking and using and people say and I hear it today and I just laugh.  It is impossible to get sober from methamphetamine.  It’s like, wait a minute.  (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Susan McCauley:  I have not done it in sixteen years and sometimes I think the professional community, the psychiatric community and the media make it into this big huge thing that we cannot overcome when maybe if we broaden, made it more of a holistic approach.  Maybe it is not just the 12 steps and maybe it’s not just drug treatment. But what about the food and lifestyle piece and that is what Evolve Recovery is all about.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is great.  We are definitely going to get into some more action items.  But I see this commonly in the addiction world just the conventional kind of 12 steps.  When I was in doctorate school, I used to go lecture at some of these places.  And these people really did not want to hear from me.  They really did not; I mean, you know, part one of the 12 step is let go let God.  And it’s kind of like victimized approach where this is just a cross you have to bear in life.  If anyone has gone to a 12 step, especially Alcoholic Anonymous, it is very simple.  You sit there and you observe all the doughnuts being passed around and its 9 pm at night and people are like drinking caffeinated coffee.

Susan McCauley:  (Laughs) Oh yes.

Justin Marchegiani:  Like by the liter.  And people are outside smoking cigarettes going back and forth.  It is like, “Oh, my gosh!”  These people are literally just trading one addictive substance for a more socially accepted addictive substance.  What is your take on that?

Susan McCauley:  Exactly. Yes.  You know it is true and I am a member of the 12 steps organization and we have to remain anonymous at this level.  I have no problem saying I have a drug and alcohol problems. But I am a member and I go to 12 step meetings.  And I think it really depends on the meeting and where you are and your location.  Because I know some places that I have been is very much of a pity party and victimization.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, yes.

Susan McCauley:  But where I live in in the San Jose area it is very strong.  Yes, you are an alcoholic but now you are responsible.  You know you were, so now you need to do the work to recover.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  There is no like victimhood.  It was just not tolerated around here.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  But I can see where it is. But the food, the cookies, the doughnuts the coffee up until the 8 o’clock meeting where people are drinking coffee and they are smoking cigarettes outside and I talk about that with some of my consults.  A lot of my clients are in recovery.  And we talk there like, “Well, I can drink coffee at 9 o’clock at night and I can still sleep.”  It’s all about education.  Well, you may feel like you are sleeping.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Susan McCauley:  But this is really what is going on and you are not getting that quality of sleep.  And when you do not get the quality of sleep you are going to crave carbohydrates all day long in the next day.

Justin Marchegiani:  Exactly.

Susan McCauley:  And once you start educating people to what is really going on in their brain and in their body, then changes can be made.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  And I think you brought an interesting analogy back when you said you were 7 years old and you had that first glass of alcohol, if you will.  What was that like?  What did that do to your internal dialogue just to your mental status?  Did you feel like for the first time you felt normal?  What was that feeling for you?

Susan McCauley:  Well, I was not 7, I was in seventh grade.  (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Seventh grade.  I am sorry.  Seventh grade.  (Laughs)

Susan McCauley:  Some people do.  Some people’s parents give them alcohol at young ages, you know.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  But you know, we had a very disrupted childhood.  Nothing, you know, wrong with that.  My mom died when I was really young.  My dad was a single father and he worked for Hewlett Packard in the managerial executive capacity.  So, he got transferred a lot.  So I was the new kid a lot growing up.  Being the new kid is kind of tough.  And you do not feel like you belong.  And so I remember in seventh grade drinking and when I was in seventh grade I lived in Geneva, Switzerland of all places.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Susan McCauley:  Which is a very, very, very wealthy city.  And I went to school with the children of shahs and sheiks from the Middle East, where they wear fur coats and they had bodyguards.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Susan McCauley:  And I was just a little middle class girl from Sta. Clara, California.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Susan McCauley:  So I felt really less then.  And when I drank that alcohol it made me feel a part of and it made me feel like I belonged.  It made me feel grown up and it made me feel important.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, and I hear that a lot.  When I talk to my patients about these things, there are constructive vehicles to kind of balance brain chemistry.  You know, diet, nutrition, blood sugar, meditation, stress reduction, sleep.  And then there are destructive vehicles.  Meaning in the moment it makes you feel good but if you keep doing it, it is going to eventually break you down.  And that is kind of like all the things that you probably teach your patients about.

Susan McCauley:  You just hit on like almost every tenet of Evolve Recovery when you talked about meditation, stress management, sleep.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  Those are all the things, you know.  We have this program that we call kind of like the jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces kind of fit together to evolve your recovery into something more than it is right now.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is great. I know we talked in the past that I think Julia Ross was a big help for you with The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure.  Is that correct?

Susan McCauley:  Yes.  So I have actually read both The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure when I was in nutrition school.  And towards the end of nutrition school, I went to her three-day workshop at the Marion County.  And I have talked to her at length and I almost did her really long, she has like a two-year program. However, it was just kind of a thing like it was fate.  I really believe that things happen for a reason.  And for three of the in-person workshops that we are supposed to go meet one-on-one with her, one was like Paleo f(x) and one was the Ancestral Health Symposium and I was not going to miss either one of those.  I think that the world was saying that I did not complete that two-year program but what she teaches is so valuable.  First of all that we need to eat real food, that we need the animal protein to create our neurotransmitters, and that supplementing with amino acids and other co-factors really can help when you are trying to get sober and when you are suffering from depression.  That is what The Mood Cure really talks about.  And even if you are trying to get healthy and lose weight, that is what The Diet Cure talks about.   And I do use the amino acid supplementation with a lot of my clients.  But what I have a hard time with is compliance.  Because a lot of the amino acids need to be taken on an empty stomach or a lot of people do not like to take supplements, and they forget.  So, it is a kind of a catch-22.

Justin Marchegiani:   Can you talk about how important blood sugar stability is with addiction?

Susan McCauley:  Oh, it’s huge, it huge.  So, when I tried to explain this to people that when you wake up in the morning, the last thing you want to eat is a whole bunch of carbohydrates.  (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  Because you are just going to spike your blood sugar and when, you know, you spiked your blood sugar and then it’s the crash.  It’s the crash and then it’s the ups and downs.  And you are just shooting your brain with blood sugar and you are going up and down.  And your blood only wants sugar within a really specific range and your brain needs sugar but only a little bit.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  When it comes to food addiction it is huge because really want to keep that blood sugar stable because the cravings just go down.  And the same thing for drug and alcohol because the metabolism of the alcohol is just fascinating.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  Your body really wants to get rid of that first, the minute you take a drink.  You know everything kind of stops.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:   You know, I always tell my clients, your liver says, “Hey, wait a minute I have to get this toxic substance out of me.  I am not going to process hormones. I am not going to breakdown cholesterol.  I am not going to detox your body.  And so, we really need to realize that maintaining that blood sugar when we are not drinking and using at a steady state, our brains are just so much happier and the cravings are less and the willpower is more.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:   And a lot of times in some of the Recovery communities, willpower is discounted.  And I think that it is important to know that willpower does exist and there are things we can do in life to make it greater and there are things we can do in life to deplete it.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  And there is a quote by Yogananda it goes, “Environment is stronger than willpower”, which is really important because of what you surround yourself in your house, with people are super important.  But I even go one step beyond that where hormones and physiology and biochemistry is stronger than willpower.

Susan McCauley:   Oh, yes.

Justin Marchegiani:  You either really get your blood-sugar stabilizing meal and you are managing the stress that your biochemistry and your hormones go in the direction that just keeps you so much more stable.  Can you talk about that part?

Susan McCauley:   For me, the fascinating part of the hormone regulation is the hunger hormones.  To me, it comes first because a lot of times we come in to this with diet mentality.  That we have to be hungry and to lose weight and so we are disregulating the leptin and the ghrelin.  And so that is kind of the thing that first gets disrupted.  And when you are hungry and these hormones are getting disrupted, it’s like a rubber band that is slowly being pulled back, pulled back, pulled back and then you are going to let go and then you fall head first into that pink box of doughnuts. (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, absolutely.  And just for the listeners, they can kind of connect the dots.  When you take a lot of sugar in, what happens is you spike this hormone called insulin and that shuttles in particularly tryptophan and L‑tyrosine to cross that blood-brain barrier more than any other amino acids. So, that spikes serotonin and dopamine.  So when people talk about sugar being addictive, the reason why it is addictive is it is spiking these neurochemicals in the brain.  The problem is doing that long-term will actually deplete those levels.  That is why Susan has talked about the amino acids because those can actually replete it.  So, I know there had been studies for instance with rats will choose Oreo cookies over cocaine.  Are you familiar with that study?

Susan McCauley:   Yes.  There is a lot of interesting rat studies with addiction but yes I am familiar with that one.

Justin Marchegiani:  And can you talk about like what supplements you use to modulate dopamine and serotonin.  I think you mentioned some of the amino acids.  Can you go into the specifics like a patient comes in what would you do, supplement wise?

Susan McCauley:  So this is what I will start with.  So it depends on the client.  Because I am a nutritionist, I do not have patients I have clients scope of practice.  So, most of these beginning supplements I use with people.  I use a lot of 5-HTP in the afternoon and the evening, between lunch and dinner and then between dinner and bedtime.  I do sometimes use L-tyrosine depending on the person.  I try to get them off coffee if they are going to use L-tyrosine because it can be over stimulating.   I do use some chromium polynicotinate to help balance blood sugar and to help with cravings.

Justin Marchegiani:  Great.

Susan McCauley:  A good B-vitamin.  I really like the Thorne.  They have a whole line of B-vitamins but it is one of them and I have it on my counter and I cannot remember the exact name of it.

Justin Marchegiani:  I think it’s the StressArrest or the Stress Factors?  Does that sound like it?

Susan McCauley:  I think so.  Yes one of those.

Justin Marchegiani:  I use that one.

Susan McCauley:  B vitamins are really, really, really important in blood sugar regulation and neurotransmitter production.  Zinc is another thing.  Depending on the person, I myself, and I can tell by the zinc tally test that I run through zinc pretty fast.  So, I supplement on and off myself with zinc and so I keep a bottle on the refrigerator.  If I am going to go and see a client, I can give them the test because zinc is one of the other things in the neurotransmitter production.  And studies have shown that addicts and alcoholics tend to run low on zinc as well.

Justin Marchegiani:  Wow.  And what about the adrenals?

Susan McCauley:  You know I do not do a lot of adrenal work right now because usually I do not get a lot of people that are in that area. 80% of the people just some food and some good supplementation will work.  I do not have as many chronically stressed out people.  Sometimes I would run an adrenal stress index, if I think people are overstressed.  But I do not get a lot of people coming to me with complaints of fatigue.

Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, okay.

Susan McCauley:  And so, yes.  I do not do a lot of supplementation in that area and not just my client population.  Now I get the real beginner people.

Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  Okay.

Susan McCauley:  And sometimes food is all that they need.  It’s amazing.  Food is real food.  It is just like taking sugar and grains out, sometimes that is all they need.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  Food is the foundation; anything else needs to be stacked upon that foundation.  I totally agree.  Can you talk about lab testing for neurotransmitters?  I know there are some controversial stuff out there.  There are some indirect, uh.. Go ahead.

Susan McCauley:  Yes, I am not a big fan.  I really have not seen Julia Ross was not that big when I took her class in the more functional medical.  I always ask people what they think about, curious what your take is.  But I do not think that they have been perfected enough to really show what is going on in somebody’s brain.  You know, I check them up with the urinary ones.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes there are some urinary ones that are out there that are kind of a little bit sketchy.  I won’t go over the individual labs. But then there are some that are more indirect markers.  I am a bigger fan of the organic acid indirect markers like homovanillate and vanilmandelate for kind of the metabolites of dopamine and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic for 5-HTP.  Those can be helpful but I just think it is important to know that they are not direct.  They are like indirect metabolites. But it can give you a window into what is going on.

Susan McCauley:  Right, yes.  I use a lot of like questionnaires and ask questions.

Justin Marchegiani:  Oh yes.

Susan McCauley:  When are you craving the foods that you are craving?  Is it in the evening?  What types of foods are you craving?   What was your drug and drink of choice when you are out there?  Like if you were a meth addict you probably might need some tyrosine.  If you were an alcoholic you might look for some GABA support or some serotonin support.  You know kind of looking at what their history is.  And then, do they have depression symptoms? Do they have ADHD symptoms?  I use a combination of the Julia Ross questionnaire and the Apex Energetics has a brain questionnaire.  I kind of married those two together to try and see what is going on.  Not in the beginning though, like I really wanted to change the food first and then see.  Like if they are unable to stick with the real food then let us see what is going on underneath.

Justin Marchegiani:  That makes sense.  What would be like the big three symptoms for each category?  So like, what would be the three dopamine symptoms? What would be the three serotonin symptoms?  Just the big ones.

Susan McCauley:  So serotonin symptoms, when I look at people craving sugar when the sun goes down.  And the evening like they are able to say, and I am putting an air quotes “good” because I hate that term.  They were able to be good all day and then the sun goes down and then kind of everything goes haywire.  So that is kind of the serotonin deficient.  If they have depression symptoms, you know, they have lack of wanting to take on life and they are not sleeping well.  Those kinds of things that is more of a serotonin issue.  For dopamine, supplementing with L-tyrosine or DL-phenylalanine.  I will look at energy, caffeine addiction, inability to not to be able to give up coffee.  And then, if you cry at a commercial or you kind of emotionally a sensitive person that sometimes we only bring in the DL-phenylalanine.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes and that is probably looking more for lower endorphins?

Susan McCauley:  Yes and that is a chronic pain issue also.  Because I have a back condition which has gotten so much better over the years but I take that…

Justin Marchegiani:  The DLPA, pain relief?

Susan McCauley:  Yes.  Pain relief, yes.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is a good one.

Susan McCauley:  Yes.  I love that product.  I love that product.  It has some DL-phenylalanine and I think that is one of the reasons because I am one that cry at the commercial.  (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  And I think a lot of people with addictions and alcoholism tend to be more on the sensitive side.  And there is something wrong with that. (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  And I know truly this kind of sticks to my brain because I remember Julia Ross saying this at a lecture I went to maybe 10 years ago.  It takes 19 amino acids to make endorphin.  Did you know that?  Isn’t that crazy?

Susan McCauley:  It is crazy.  Well it is so crazy that amino acids play such a huge role in brain chemistry and the neurotransmitter production.  And then if you are an addict and an alcoholic and you try to do a vegetarian or a vegan diet then you are really going to be struggling to get some of those amino acids in.  And that is what I always say like when we created Evolve Recovery I kind of took the hard line stance and said that I am going to say animal protein is going to be one of the things that is required and that you are not going to be able to do this unless it’s a very, very well-constructed vegetarian or vegan which I am not qualified because I do not practice, use that in my practice.  You have to find somebody that is going to be able to make sure you are getting your B12 and you are getting your tryptophan.  And it is really hard.  It really is.  You have to have a very well-constructed vegan or vegetarian diet.

Justin Marchegiani:  And what is unique about the animal proteins that you do not quite get with the plant proteins?

Susan McCauley:  Well, first of all they are easier to digest.  So you are going to get more out of them.  And then the tryptophan, if you look at what goes into the serotonin pathway, tryptophan is the main ingredient and you are really going to get that with the animal proteins.  And you are going to be able to get the most out of it that you can.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is great.  Awesome.  Well, is there anything else?  I have my closing questions I would like to give you, but is there anything else really important that the listeners should be aware about, Susan?

Susan McCauley:  Just that we are going to have a 6-week, if you know it, like I am sure a lot of people listening and it’s like, “Well, I do not have a problem with drugs and alcohol and you probably don’t and that is awesome.  But everybody knows somebody.  So we have a 6-week course.  It is like the beginner of the beginner for people that do not know about real food, that do not know about Paleo or Ancestral or any of that, to walk them through in six weeks to have a really solid foundation of diet and lifestyle to take their recovery to the next level.  So that is coming out by July first.  Our newsletter subscribers of course will get a discount.  So you can go over to our website and signup for the newsletter to get that.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is great.  And that is over at

Susan McCauley: and then also the people that signup, we give away some free of what we call Guided Recovery Meditations.  Because meditation is one of the cornerstone of our program and that we really want to get people meditating.  So you get those for free.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is awesome.  That is so cool.

Susan McCauley:  And my business partner does the meditations and she used to be in radio.  So they are really awesome and very relaxing.

Justin Marchegiani:  Love it.  That is so cool.  So I want to end with my last two questions here.  If you were stuck on a desert island what herb or supplement would you want to have with you?

Susan McCauley:  I would probably want to have my zinc.

Justin Marchegiani:  Zinc.  Okay.

Susan McCauley:  Yes, you know I run low on zinc sometimes and I get this condition where my mouth waters a lot because of it.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Susan McCauley:  And it is so annoying.  That would be between that or my B vitamin.  I do not know.  I go back and forth.  But right now, I would probably be, just because I think I can get along by just eating real food and being good.  The zinc I still think no matter what I ate I am always going to run a little deficient in.

Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  And then what three tips would you recommend to any of your patients?  That just want to perform better and just kick more ass.

Susan McCauley:  Sleep, set a bed time.  Set a bed time.  Figure out what time you need to wake up in the morning and then subtract eight hours and that is what time you need to go to bed.  And turn off all electronics and all that sleep hygiene stuff we always talk about.  Go for a walk everyday.  I am like the one, it’s like I am the broken record.  My clients and the people I teach workshops to is like, “Walking again?!  Can you just stop talking about it?”  (Laughs)

Justin Marchegiani:  (Laughs)

Susan McCauley:  It reduces stress and helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.  They just had a study and I should find the link for you.  That when you are craving chocolate, if you go out for a walk, it is supposed to like the incidence of your chocolate cravings going down are just huge.

Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, yes.  I have heard of that.

Susan McCauley:  So you said three.  What did I say, sleep, walking and then the last one will be a toss-up between making sure they get plenty of protein and fat in the morning and meditating.

Justin Marchegiani:  Love it.

Susan McCauley:  You know, I think a good pink eggs and bacon first thing in the morning.  You know, stay away from all the carbs that you can in the morning.  But meditating really takes your life and your health into a new dimension as well.  Just 5 or 10 minutes a day.  It’s great.

Justin Marchegiani:  Awesome.  For our listeners, you can get those meditations over at for the meditation signup.  Is there any other info about, you know, social media, website stuff, podcast stuff that you want to give out about yourself?

Susan McCauley:  Sure.  Yes we are Evolve Recovery on every modality of social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, imevolvenutrition on Twitter and on Facebook.  We post on them all the time, everywhere.  The newsletters go out for both sites once every week.  If you want any like basic nutritional information head over to where I write my label reading article, my kombucha article, recipes once a month.  But basically I am not a food blogger so my recipes are pretty basic but it is the things that I eat every day to help people realize that this does not have to be hard.  You can whip up some sausages and have them, eat them all week.

Justin Marchegiani:  Awesome.  Well, thanks so much Susan for coming out on the podcast.  It was great chatting with you.

Susan McCauley:  Thanks for having me. It was super fun.


References:  Julia Ross, The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure

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