Food Addiction

I was really impressed with a recent blog post by Hank over at The Business of Losing WeightYou Wouldn’t Give a Drug Addict a Cheat Day.

I am also a food addict. I’ve never thought of it that way, but food is always on my mind and I eat to comfort myself in times of extreme emotion (or any emotion really). Food it the first thing that comes to mind in the morning, and food is the last thing on my mind at night. It’s not a peaceful place to be.

The post by Hank really resonated with me. I’ve no trouble sticking to things or stopping things as long as they aren’t food related. With the below quote I thought I was actually saying it myself:

“Being addicted to food is worse than being addicted to a drug like heroin because my body NEEDS food. I can’t quit food cold turkey. I can’t detox off of food. The ONLY thing that I can do is MANAGE my addiction.”

If I could quit food completely I would avoid temptation. That is not possible. We all need food to survive. Therefore I have to go food shopping. I have to eat and put food in my mouth. I have to go out for meals with friends to have a life. Food is everywhere and therefore temptation is everywhere, so all I can do is manage my addiction. For me that means avoiding trigger foods and tracking my food intake. It also means using my CBT tools to manage my thoughts and behaviour.

“And the only way to MANAGE it is to fully embrace the idea that overcoming your addiction means changing the way you think about food and committing to living as if you truly WANT to change.”

I have to want it. I have to make Project Lifestyle what I want in order to make it sustainable and liveable forever.  I have always used cheat or treat days. I used it as something to look forward to each week. I would plan it out to make the most of it, but really it was just a binge. A behaviour I want and need to stop. The next paragraph hit me hard.

“Would you ever consider telling a drug addict that it would be ok for them to have a cheat day? A full day in which they were allowed to do whatever drugs they wanted. No? How about offering them just one cheat high? Not a full day of uncontrolled drug use, just one fix. A cheat “meal” if you will.  That would be ridiculous, right? Offering a drug addict a day to go back to their old ways would ruin every effort to help them overcome their problem.  So why should ANYONE who is grossly overweight because of their food addiction be allowed a day to cheat on their recovery?”

It would be ridiculous to offer some addicted to any kind of drug a cheat day. So why do we promote it for people who are overweight and addicted to food? I know I can undo an entire week of good work in one binge! I’m not exaggerating as I’ve done it. One binge can for me might as well have meant I’d eaten exactly what I wanted all week and not binged at the end. This next quote was a kick in the stomach and made me want to change my attitude and approach.

“Cheat” days or even meals for an obese person are a sign that someone doesn’t truly want to change themselves. They have not set aside their former self for their new and improved self.”

I want to change, therefore I have to change. There will be slip ups along the way, but that is what recovery is about. It’s not about being good or bad, but rather recognising that food, for me, is not simple. I want to eat to live, not live to eat.

My name is Angie and I’m a Food Addict.

Changes I will make:

  • Be active everyday

  • Focus on whole foods with little processing

  • Cook my own ready meals and make use of my freezer

  • Do not buy trigger foods – chocolate, cake, biscuits – anything with processed sugar

  • Try new foods – legumes and grains first

  • No more treat days – enjoy every meal for what it is and how it fuels my body

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