I've avidly clicked on all of the videos and blogposts they've sent me over the past few months but none struck a chord quite like 5 ways to break your food addiction.
For as long as I can remember I've been obsessed with food, I'll never forget being given 30p pocket money on my way to primary school and choosing to buy a Somerfields swiss roll instead of a freddo bar, I'd scoff it before I reached the end of the street. In my teens I'd train for athletics 5 times a week, but still relish in the thought of scoffing a large dominoes pizza, side of wedges and a tub of Ben & Jerrys....in one sitting. I'd come home from school and crave junk food, so I'd whip up some butter frosting. Driving home from a late shift at work stressed and stopping at tesco to buy handfuls of chocolate and scoffing it in the carpark....it sounds so disgusting writing this but it's true, I really struggled with a food addiction.
But can you really be addicted to food? Yes! We're all so accustomed to thinking that addictions are reserved for gambling, drugs and alcohol but really whatever releases happy signals in your brain can become addiction. You're much more likely to develop an addiction to something if you're got a family history of addiction, struggle with low self esteem, have experienced some form of trauma or have existing mental health problems.
So how do you know you're struggling with a food addiction?
Truth is, you might already have worked it out, I've always known that there was a problem with my relationship with food, I'd often refer to is as comfort eating and come up with excuses to make me feel okay about it, but it was always the same cycle of guilt and remorse afterwards.
If you think you may have a food addiction try asking yourself these questions
How can I break my food addiction?
As with any addiction the biggest step is realising the need to change, if you're reading this post nodding and thinking that's me and you're still reading now you're a big step on your way.
For me the biggest thing to help me break my food addiction was remembering how I felt after I ate my trigger foods, sure they taste great at the time but the feeling afterwards was terrible. Start a journal of your food and write exactly what you ate, and then see if you can find some emotions that link all the trigger foods together- a bad day at work, looking in the mirror, being around a certain person...and then work the triggers!
Of course we can't remove all of the triggers / stressors from our lives but we can identify patterns and begin to find behaviours to replace the less helpful ones. Look in the mirror and pick out every flaw? Read yourself a positive affirmation about yourself! Bored at a meeting at work so reaching for the biscuit tin? Sit at the other end of the table from the bickies and have a nice hot cup of tea and snack on some nuts.
Another huge thing to help manage food addiction is making sure you’re eating a well balanced diet! That's plenty of good protein sources (lean meats, eggs, fish, tofu), good fats (nuts, avocado, fish oil) and unrefined carbohydrates (whole grains, brown rice). It’s not about having to eliminate carbs or go low fat, it’s just about eating good food from good sources – you’ll feel fuller for longer, more satisfied and won’t be starving yourself.
We're also all more than aware that exercise (no, not extra fries) releases happy chemicals in the brain, so make sure you're getting active for 30 minutes a day. That could be parking a little further from work and taking the stairs instead of the elevator through to smashing out a crossfit WOD and anything in between. Find something you enjoy, that fits within your day and it won't feel like a chore at all.
And most importantly, reward yourself! In CBT we talk about the principle of 'mastery and pleasure' which in a nutshell is that we are more likely to do things we enjoy doing and we need a balance of things we have to do and things we want to do to maintain a good level of wellbeing. Making the steps to break your addiction is hard, so plan regular little treat- a new NARS blusher, a pair of trainers, a long bubble bath or an hour reserved to Skype your bestie.
I'm not going to lie, addressing your addiction to food is going to be hard work. It won't be a straight forward road and you'll hit many turns and bumps but you have to get back up, dust yourself off and keep on going.
"recovery is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain" - Peer support worker CNWL foundation trust.
Note : if you feel like your addiction with food is having a significant effect on your day to day life please seek the help of a professional. Your best point of call is your GP who can signpost you to the right person.