Being overweight means battling with food and eating every day. Headlines have suggested that sugar…
You Can End Food Addiction for Good
Food addiction is a real problem for many people, and if you are one of those struggling with the disorder, you know how frustrating it is to try to stop eating and to be unable to control your urges. In official terms, this is called binge eating disorder, but it comes with symptoms so similar to drug addiction that many experts consider it a type of addiction. If you struggle with food addiction, you go on binges, eating in a way that is totally out of control, eating to the point of feeling sick, and then feeling depressed and ashamed afterward. It’s a vicious cycle, but it is one that you can end for good.
- Keep a food and feelings journal. For most food addicts, a binge is triggered by something emotional. If you can learn to be more aware of your feelings, which trigger your binges, and how to channel those feelings in different ways, you can learn to control your eating. To get started, keep a journal. Whenever you eat, whether it’s a binge or not, write down how you feel before and what made you feel that way. Over time you will begin to see a pattern. You will learn to recognize which events and feelings make you want to eat.
- Find other ways to comfort yourself. Emotional eating is all about soothing and comforting. You have a bad feeling, so you eat to feel better or to push that emotion down and bury it under food. As you begin to recognize what triggers your binges, you will need something to replace food. Make a list of other things you enjoy doing and that are good for you: going for a walk, watching a movie, having a cup of tea, reading a book, talking to a friend, etc. Substitute those things for eating when you feel the need for comfort.
- Lean on a support network. All addictions are easier to conquer when you have other people to lean on. We are social animals, and working together is always more effective than going it alone. Find a friend who is also making positive health changes and report to each other on your progress. This will help you stay motivated. Also consider joining a support group for overeaters. You can go to real-time meetings if you have a group close to where you live, or you can find an online community.
- Learn healthy eating habits. Overcoming a food addiction isn’t just about deprivation. The only thing you should be depriving yourself of is the habit of binging. Eating should be enjoyable and healthful, so learn how to do it right. Educate yourself about food and nutrition. Your doctor can connect you with a dietician or nutritionist to help guide your efforts.
- Learn from your relapses. As with any addiction, you are likely to relapse and binge again in spite of your best efforts. Instead of beating yourself up and feeling guilty and ashamed, take a lesson from it. Analyze the situation and journal about what happened. Where did you go wrong? Did you ignore your triggers or did you discover a new trigger? Take the lesson into the next day and start fresh with no guilt.
Food addiction can be a difficult problem to overcome, and if you find that these steps just aren’t enough to end your cycle of binge eating, consider working with a professional. Therapists are available who are experienced in working with binge eaters, and they can help you make positive changes.