Mind and Body

Food Addiction

Food addiction is complicated.  Some people are more prone to it than others.

Logical reason is no match for addiction.  Addiction is mostly an emotional-biological phenomenon.  Thus, addicts tend to be unable to rely of self-control alone.  This doesn’t mean they’re weak.   Based on how hard my clients have tried to change — even if unsuccessful — their will is very strong.

What is food addiction?

Characteristics that describe someone who has a food addiction vary, including:

  • A Perfectionist who is never happy with their body.
  • Someone who snacks all day from boredom, stress, loneliness, anger, lack of purpose or any other emotion.
  • Someone who is overweight and has tried every diet.
  • The skinny person who never eats enough.  (their “hit” is not eating)

Managing food addiction

You aren’t necessarily responsible for having an addiction, but you are responsible for dealing with it.  Factors that influence addictions include:

  • Emotions
    • Food doesn’t help resolve the emotion nor does it fill the void.  In fact it makes it worse, how do you feel after you’ve consumed crappy food?  Likely worse than you did before you started.
  • Medications
    • Pharmaceuticals that mask the problem are at best are a short term solution.  Even if your appetite is suppressed, the food addiction still exists.
    • However, medications that address the underlying condition may be useful.
  • Abstinence
    • You’ll need to prepare yourself for the discomfort that comes with abstinence.  But take solace in the fact that over time the symptoms will cease.  Withdrawals are worse in the beginning. (about 3 weeks for carb cravings)
  • Dieting
    • The struggle often leads to dieting, over-exercising, purging, drugs, binging and yo-yo weight loss/gain.  These efforts inevitably fail.  Restriction and obsession with “fixing the problem” can create more problems.
  • Food availability & environment
    • If you feel out of control with certain foods or in certain situations, you probably are.  Don’t underestimate the power of your environment and avoid situations that place you in the way of temptation.  If it’s in your kitchen/house/cupboard (aka in your reach), you’ll eat it.
  • Motivation
    • Look deep inside and find a passionate, very powerful reason for you to stop abusing your body.  The reason should generate emotion so it becomes more powerful that the urge to eat food that you’re trying to remove from your diet.
    • External reasons like fitting into your skinny jeans, looking good for husband, etc.  can be fleeting & there’s a good chance you’ll become dissatisfied.
    • This is one of the reasons that a “higher power” in many addiction recovery programs is so appealing.  The higher power isn’t fleeting, it’s eternal.  However, I think that the internal reasons are most important, it comes from with in and reflects your deeper values, purpose and priorities.
    • I ask my clients to ponder these questions:
  • What’s important to you?
  • What are the immediate and long term rewards?
  • What sacrifices am I willing to make to reach goal?
  • Must causes me to be emotional?
  • When you reach your goals, in what ways will life be different? What benefits are most important to you?  Ask yourself:
    • What’s the ultimate purpose?
    • What do you want to be?
    • What do you want to do?
    • What do you want to have?
    • What body do you want?
    • What size clothes do you want to wear?
  • Dieting
    • The struggle often leads to dieting, over-exercising, purging, drugs, binging and yo-yo weight loss/gain.  These efforts inevitably fail.  Restriction and obsession with “fixing the problem” can create more problems.
  • Structural & Foundational changes, which may include:
    • changing one’s physical environment
    • building a support system (I’m going to start offering a support group in the fall)
    • work on stress management
    • learn to tolerate discomfort and get support in doing so
    • changing routine and schedule to favor positive behaviors

Draw upon your accomplishments.  Call up in your mind the feelings you got when you’ve succeeded,  know that you have realized & felt success and that you can again.  Over time the cravings will subside, you’ll feel so much better – down in weight, more energy, less mood swings, stronger and healthier.

Please contact me if you’re interested in the support groups that are starting this fall.

Here’s to you being Happy, Healthy, Lean and Fit!!

 

references http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-food-addiction