Do you believe that your love for food goes beyond what is normal? Do you find yourself eating even when you’re not at all hungry? Do you find yourself thinking about food far too much? If these questions ring a bell in terms of your behaviors with food, it’s likely that you are suffering from a food addiction.
Food addiction, or compulsive overeating, is a disease that causes people to lose control of their will power when it comes to food.
Typical signs of this condition include eating far past the point of being full, eating in secret, and constant eating for reasons other than being hungry (such as boredom, uncontrollable craving). You may even feel as though you depend on food for happiness.
Food addiction is a serious problem that must be addressed. Giving in to your cravings all of the time could lead to health and self-esteem problems.
This won’t be an easy battle—but there are many things that you can try in order to get healthy again. You can gain control again, and with these tips, you will be headed in the right direction to get rid of your food addiction for the last time.
1. Replace your Triggers
Think about it: which foods do you find yourself craving the most? These foods are called your “triggers”. They are the ones that throw you off track, and force you down the road of compulsive eating.
Is your trigger fast food hamburgers, chocolate, soda, or potato chips? Think about what unhealthy foods you feel as though you can’t live without.
Once you’ve identified your worst food triggers, it’s time to make a strategic change. Completely cutting these items out of your life is unrealistic. So, the best thing to do is to find healthy alternatives that can still satisfy that craving.
For example, if your trigger is French fries, make yourself a healthier version. Cut up a sweet potato into long strips and bake in the oven using minimal oil. Or, if you crave potato chips, try replacing them with whole grain tortilla chips.
Satisfying your cravings in a healthy way is awesome for taking control of your addiction.
2. Avoid Secrecy
A huge issue that is often involved in a food addiction is the need for secrecy. Many people who experience this problem have severe feelings of guilt, and try to hide it from their loved ones. This can cause extremely unhealthy behaviors, like hiding food and eating in secret.
Take control of your need for secrecy by telling those you trust most about your problem. This will release feelings of guilt, and should decrease the desire to eat in secret. Those who care about you will want to help, and can assist in keeping you on track. Accept their support, and use it to your advantage.
Avoid the desire to binge in secret by controlling where you keep your food. Don’t keep any in your car or bedroom. Every time you think about binging in secret, talk to a supportive friend or family member instead.
The relief you will experience from this should make a huge difference in your behavior.
3. Stay Motivated
This is going to be a difficult journey, but it will absolutely be worth it in the end. The key is to remind yourself of this on a regular basis.
It’s important to keep yourself focused and motivated. When those cravings come around, you’re going to need some kind of reminder as to why you need to make a change. Here are some tips for staying motivated.
Make a list for yourself that outlines the reasons why have to get rid of this addiction. List every single reason you can think of. This can include self-esteem, health, and relationship factors. Read this list daily. This will keep you extremely motivated to make a change.
Write everything down. Did you ignore a craving today? Awesome! Now, write down how this made you feel. You want to remind yourself how good it feels to conquer something you thought was impossible.
With each step forward, find a way to reward yourself. Set yourself a reasonable goal, starting small, and working your way up (for example, reducing your tendency to binge from four days per week down to two). Celebrate each milestone by finding a healthy way to reward yourself. Go get a pedicure, or go take some dance lessons (just make sure the reward does not involve food).
4. Discover Healthy Distractions
Sometimes those cravings can feel downright uncontrollable. Sometimes it feels like food is all you can think about, making you feel like you couldn’t possibly continue to function without giving in to that cookie.
The key to curbing those severe cravings is finding some healthy distractions to keep your mind off of your favourite foods. Each time you find yourself dreaming about food, find something else to do that you enjoy. Go for a walk with a friend, paint, draw, play some music.
Find something to be passionate about that doesn’t involve food, and use it to distract you from your cravings as often as possible.
5. Find a Love for Exercise
Binging on food brings a type of ‘high’ to food addicts, making the addiction that much more difficult to control.
One thing you may not have considered is that exercise can also bring about a similar high. Exercise makes people happier and healthier. The satisfaction that is gained from a great workout can become a type of addiction—albeit a healthy one.
You can not only use the benefits of exercise to not only improve your health, but to replace your addiction to certain foods.
Join a gym, and start going regularly. Go to some classes, and try out different things until you discover what you enjoy. You may surprise yourself!
6. Get Professional Help
You may not realize how much your food addiction stems from psychological factors. It’s possible that you are overeating because you are unhappy, dissatisfied, etc. Food can feel like a comfort to those who have an addiction, and it’s important to discover the reasons why you turn to food for relief.
A councilor or therapist will help you to talk this problem out, and discover other coping mechanisms.
If you are concerned about your help, you may also want to seek the help of a doctor. They can explain the health issues that food addiction can lead to (diabetes, obesity, etc), and give you tips on how to make a change.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking the help of a professional to get on the right track.
Your food addiction has controlled your life for long enough, and it’s now time for you to take that control back. Dealing with a food addiction is not easy. You will have struggles and challenges, but this is something that you must do for the sake of your health and happiness. Use these tactics to get rid of a food addiction, and improve your overall wellbeing. You’ll be glad you did! Remember that this information is not a substitute for medical advice – if your food addiction persists or worsens, seek medical attention.