Food Is NOT an addiction…Let me Tell You WHY!
Food often feels like the biggest 'trigger' for a problematic eater, and compulsive overeaters will often have a huge list of foods they must avoid and fear because of their inability to stop and eat these items in moderation. Food is not addictive. We need food. The attachment overeaters have with certain foods is not because of the food item itself, but because of the perceptions created about that particular food item. “If I eat a piece of chocolate, I will binge” is an example. Of course sensitivities to certain foods is possible, and cravings do exist but when there is no extreme, black and white thinking behind the eating episode then healthy thinking will inevitably lead to healthy behaviour around food.
If food is a trigger, then you must look at what the thinking is behind the food. It is usually very black and white. Restriction is often a precursor to food triggers. For example, if you believe that when you eat sugar you binge and that no amount of sugar is “safe” for you, you have created a very rigid thought about your ability to eat sugar “normally.” By believing this thought, you find yourself obsessing about how much sugar you have eaten and then beating yourself up when you “fail” with sugar. When you have a thought that is black and white like this, there is no room for a “middle of the road” approach. If you ate a cookie, you cannot simply acknowledge that you ate a cookie and move on with your day. With this thought, the only thing you can do is punish yourself, which tends to look like further restriction or bingeing for a problematic eater.
If you are a problematic eater then this is the time to get really honest and clear about what is showing up in your thinking when you act emotionally or compulsively with food.
See my last post on getting started on a food diary to start. If you haven’t completed the diary for at least ten days, then keep going with it and return to this place when you are ready.
Once you’ve identified your triggers, list them below and include the “maintaining factors” (the thoughts and behaviors that keep you stuck in your destructive patterns) as well as “possible alternatives.”
Alternative: Identify and shift my rigid thinking/ Get conscious
Maintaining Factor: Not staying present, eating it when I am stuck in a rigid thought pattern
In other words, eating chocolate when you are not conscious is a trigger, so an alternative is to plan is to plan to only eat chocolate for now when you are absolutely conscious and are aware of your black and white thinking.
If eating alone is your predominant trigger, look at why you need to use food as comfort. Are you reaching out to other people in your life, or do you isolate yourself? Is food your only friend? What can you do to change this dynamic, starting now? What alternative will you put in place? Are you living in guilt and shame, emotions that keep you isolated? How will you shift this tendency?
You will use this pattern for each trigger you’ve identified, whether it is food related, or otherwise.
Please let me know how this work unfolds for you.
I don't fear any food anymore. I am completely free. I learned how to change my thinking…and so can you!
If this post served you, please share! I would love to hear your thoughts below!