Food Addiction: Tips to Overcome the Addiction
Guidelines to Fight Food Addiction
I’m going to briefly mention a few guidelines and tips to help fight food addiction. If you find yourself deeply addicted to food, you will find below a list of resources and 12 Step Programs to help people choose freedom.
Here are five strategies that can help us deal with food addiction:
Recognize Your Eating Pattern
In Mindless Eating, Dr. Brian Wansink presents five uniquely titled eating categories with a touch of humor. If you googled “eating patterns” or “eating categories” you would come up with no less than 170,000,000 hits. Yes that is in the millions. We will mention these five briefly.
1) The Meal Stuffer
A Meal Stuffer eats primarily during mealtime, but stuffs themselves. This person eats so much that they are uncomfortable and often goes back for seconds even though they are far from hungry.
2) The Snack Grazer
Snack Grazers eat whenever food is available. The food is there so they eat it. It’s convenient and is just naturally something they do. It is at times a mindless habit and especially utilized when bored. For some of us the addiction is so strong that just knowing the food is available means that we almost cannot concentrate on other things … our mind is stuck on the food.
3) The Party Binger
Party Bingers are usually people who are professionals or people in corporate settings. Food is often the backdrop for business or fun. They don’t keep track of how much they eat and drink. Loads of social events and business meetings mean tons of good food and indulging.
4) The Restaurant Indulger
Restaurant indulgers are people who simply eat out all the time. These individuals could be college students or simply young business professionals who work tons of hours and either don’t have time or don’t take the time to cook. They eat out 3 or more times a day.
5) The Desktop/Dashboard Diner
Desktop diners speed eat while multi-tasking on the computer or while driving. They do it to save time and also to avoid real food. They are not really busy but just very unmotivated. It becomes habit.
Which one of these are you? Identifying your pattern can help you plan and prepare to make adjustments that brings you out of the rut and helps you establish different habits.
Identify Your Enemy
We must identify the foods that we crave when we are out of control; the foods we indulge in. We need make a list of the people, the places and the things that enable and push us towards our food addiction. Many of us try to make changes, but we need to check ourselves. Often the enemy that fuels this addiction is the very thing we want to snuggle up to for comfort. Identify your enemies and treat them as such.
Know Your Emotional Cues
For many of us the cue that sets off the behavior is an emotion. For instance, in my life there are various things that trigger a desire for specific type of foods. One of triggers is death or serious illness. Death and its’ accompanying grief have long been a source of sadness that pushes me to eat. Loneliness, anger, and rejection are all emotions that push me toward food. When I say push, for me it is an overwhelming feeling that if I just eat something, I’ll feel better. It’s not just the sad feelings that push me toward food, but even the excitement of going to a movie makes me salivate for a soda and popcorn with butter.
I literally had to unlearn that behavior. I had to go and view movies several times without food before I began to realize that I could really enjoy the movie and not have to stuff my face with handfuls of popcorn lathered in fake butter.
Many of us will try to evade the emotions, but the truth is that most of us will have various emotions throughout life. What we must do is decide in advance how we will handle the moment and most of the time if we recognize what is happening we can adjust the outcome.
Regulate Your Treats
At one of our Faith and Fitness retreats one of our trainers, John Heart, shared with the group of clients his view on treats. In his words, “You’re not a dog; you don’t need a treat!”
Our bodies naturally desire the staples of this earth: the berries, fruit and vegetables of the gardens and even the meat from healthy livestock. Our bodies crave those foods that are nutritious. We savor the rich avocado and the lusciousness of a honey crisp apple. These natural whole foods sustain the human body and our brains thrive on these. Within the last seventy years the human race stumbled onto these “hyperpalatable” foods infused with sugar, fat and salt. In most cases these additives were for preserving food, making it last longer on shelves, but it also increased people’s desire to eat these items. At present these foods are everywhere, available and cheap; often cheaper than healthy food.
These new unnatural treats are addictive and we must regulate our treats. In my view we simply should stay away from the addictive ingredients and concentrate on God’s natural treats that are not only tasty but also good for us.
Distinguish Your Boundaries
Probably every one of us reading this article would agree that having solid health boundaries is not only a good decision but also an essential one. Our struggle is not with the idea of healthy boundaries, but with the follow through. We simply have to realize that each of us has “unsafe” foods. For me, peanut butter is an unsafe food. I cannot stay out of peanut butter if it is in the house. I know intellectually that a healthy snack of a tablespoon of peanut butter is good for me, but my normal snack of peanut butter is half the jar. One of my boundaries is that we don’t keep peanut butter in the house. We also don’t keep cake, pastries, ice cream or butter in the house. We do occasionally enjoy these but it is the exception in our home, not the norm.
Each of us must establish the boundaries that fit his or her areas of weakness.
There are many of us for whom an “everything with moderation” mindset works. But I’m convinced there are some of us that are so extremely addicted that we may need to ban certain foods from our lives. Some of us have medical reasons for this such as gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance. Others of us have insulin resistance and these kinds of medical conditions push us to permanent dietary changes.
Besides medical conditions, some of us are so deep into food addiction that total abstinence from that “food product” may be necessary. I choose to never eat high fructose corn syrup. In the last five years, I may have eaten a piece of fried chicken or fish perhaps 5 times. There are just literally certain foods and ingredients that I never eat.
Below you will find a list of resources that will give you guidance on food addiction.
Resources for Support
Please realize that there are differing views on the topic of food addiction and even in the resources below there are different views and ideas. RetroFit’s views differ slightly with some of the articles below, but we want you to explore this topic and find what will work for you. We will support you in that decision. Realize that while we are not vegetarians, or vegans or just because I have gluten sensitivity doesn’t mean that you have to eat just like me.
Our desire is for you to become healthy and we want to support you in that health journey. Not all of our journeys will look the same. Some of us swim, others run, and still others walk. Let’s just become healthy, and let’s explore the vast libraries of information out there and work towards health.
Here are some websites that can offer support for food addiction:
Food Addiction Assessments: