Five Tips for Kicking Food Addiction in the New Year
Food addiction can be your biggest obstacle in successfully maintaining your New Year’s Resolutions this year. In times of high stress, emotions or physical and mental exhaustion, addictions kick in, wearing down your resolve to eat healthier this year, or to lose weight.
If you suffer from an addiction to food, here are 5 tips for overcoming your addiction:
Recognize your addiction — First and foremost, you must be able to identify your addiction. Acknowledge that you are controlled by food. Learn to decipher between a bad habit and an addiction. The biggest difference is that, although annoying, a bad habit doesn’t disrupt your life as an addiction might. An addiction to food, similarly to any substance addiction, interferes with daily life and relationships, including work, family relationships and friendships. Individuals with an addiction are more likely to spend more time and money on their addiction, neglecting other needs. Addictions typically require outside help to squash their vicious cycles.
Acknowledge your addiction for what it is — For those who struggle with a food addiction, food is your god. It is your higher power. Food addicts run to food for love and acceptance, they seek it out for comfort — it becomes their everything. But it doesn’t have to be. “…you have the opportunity to give up the god of food. It is not your alpha and omega: your beginning and your end. You can find a new higher power, a guiding, creative intelligence that forms the foundation of our existence. If you allow it, it can be a great well of strength from which you may drink, finding wisdom and faith where before there was only food.” (Shades of Hope)
Seek help — Many food addicts would admit they can’t ask for help, because they are so ashamed and afraid of what others might think. If you struggle with a food addiction, you must recognize that it isn’t God or others judging you — it’s you. Change your perception of those around you and realize that people who truly love you will be there to help you, not to judge you. Seek help from those around you, as well as help from a professional trained in dealing with food addiction.
If you are spiritual, seek help from God. “It never enters into our eating disorder that God can remove that mental obsession with food if we are willing to ask for His help, and not assume His judgment. We pray to God while fearing Him like the devil, denying His existence while simultaneously disbelieving His love for us.” (Shades of Hope)
Journal — Food addicts can benefit from journaling in two ways. First, in writing down what you eat, and secondly, by writing down how you feel when you eat. Writing down everything you eat or drink, will force you to look at what kinds of food you are eating and how much food you are eating. It may also be beneficial to share your food journal with your counselor. This creates accountability and a professional will be able to help you change your diet and the foods you eat.
Journaling your emotions, especially how you feel when you eat will help you understand the connection between emotion and food. Over time, you will begin to see a pattern emerge. For example, you may see that when you are stressed, you eat excess amounts of chocolate. Journaling what you eat and your emotions when you eat will help you determine the triggers that cause you to eat. When you are able you identify these triggers, you will be better equipped to develop coping strategies and deal with those triggers in a healthy manner.
Take steps to reduce stress in your life — Stress feeds addiction. Look at your life and identify the major causes of stress in your daily life. When you are stressed, desires seem more rational and resolve to avoid bad habits or addictions wanes. As the day wears on and you become physically and mentally tired, your will to overcome your food addiction begins to break down. Give yourself periodic breaks throughout the day to rest and re-energize so you are able to take on your food addiction head on. Find what it is that helps you to relax and focus on incorporating relaxation into your daily life to reduce stress.
Unlike a substance addiction, a person addicted to food cannot simply stop eating. Food is necessary to live, and it can therefore be difficult for those with a food addiction to change their behavior because they can’t stop eating altogether.
If you or someone you love suffers from an addiction to food, seek the help of a professional. Psychologists, nutritionists and other trained professionals can help a food addict understand why he or she eats, and help them learn and adopt healthy eating habits. Individuals who are addicted to food should not be afraid or ashamed to seek help. Working with doctors who are trained in treating food addiction and other eating disorders can help an individual manage weight, eating and emotions associated with their eating disorder.
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