Nana Kwaku and I are addicts. So are you! We all have addictions to food in some form or another. Many of the foods we eat and crave have an addictive nature. Sugar, salt and fat all activate our brains and our desire mechanisms.
Food manufactures know this fact well and use that knowledge to their benefit and our detriment. They create concoctions of fat, salt, and sugar that entice us and make us want more and more of the cheap to produce unhealthy food. For more on this read the book Fat Salt Sugar: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.
I, myself am a sugar-aholic. I love sweets. Nana Kwaku is a fried food fanatic. Especially french fries. Eating these foods even once can easily send us into a downward spiral of eating more and more of these unhealthy foods.
Even though we know we don’t feel good after eating them we have a hard time resisting once we get started. We often do a juice fast to help break the addictive process and get back on track with our healthier lifestyle.
In our Pamoja! program Dr. Opare covers the topic of food and addiction. He says:
Addiction is a behavior characterized by:
- Inability to control the behavior;
- Behavior is harmful;
- You develop a tolerance to it, meaning in order to be satisfied you must do more and more of the behavior;
- You develop a physical or emotional dependency on the behavior;
- You have withdrawn symptoms when the behavior stops;
- Periods of abstinence from the behavior;
- Denial of the problem;
- Periods of relapse from the behavior.
What foods are you addicted to?
So what do you do? Throw up your hands and say, “I give up?” NO!
Here are 7 things to focus on to help you on your path to recovery. Use your food journal to work through these things.
- Recognize that food is addictive. Identify which foods you have a difficult time controlling.
- Pay attention to what negative consequences there are for you when you eat these foods. Do you feel different? Does it impact your health or weight in the long or short-term? What happens when you stop? Do you have detox symptoms such as a headache or anxiety?
- Consider doing a juice fast to help your system detox from the addictive behavior. During this time reflect on how you will cope once your detox is done.
- Identify when it is that you are most likely to succumb to temptation. Is it at a specific place? Is it an activity? Maybe it is an emotional state? Or maybe it is being around a person or people?
- Think about what you can do to stop the pattern. Can you avoid the triggering situation? Is there an alternative behavior or food that is satisfying? Will pre-planning help you avoid the behavior?
- Learn the signs that you are starting to relapse. Are you thinking about the food you want to avoid? Are you thinking about how you can get it? Are you talking about it?
- Make a specific plan for yourself. This plan outlines what you will do when confronted with triggering situations and signs of relapse.
Can't resist that sugary, expensive stop at Starbuck's? Bring a hot-cup of your favorite herbal tea so you aren’t tempted to stop for lattes.
Do you swing into the fast food joint on your drive home? Make sure you have a satisfying snack in your bag so you aren’t tempted to stop for fries or other fast food.
Do you loose your resolve when the dessert is served? Bring a healthy and delicious dessert so you don’t go for the unhealthy one.
- If possible choose a healthy restaurant.
- Don’t go hungry. Eat something healthy before hand so you can eat less now.
- Decide ahead of time what type of food you will have. Salad and soup, or pasta and veggies, etc.
- Don’t look at the menu sections that have what you don’t want to eat. Or don’t look at the menu at all. Just tell the waiter what you want and let them make suggestions.
Breaking your food addictions isn’t easy but it is doable. You have to be aware of and understand what is happening. You have to have a plan for success. And whenever possible you have to avoid the situations or thought processes that trigger your addictive eating.
You can do it! We are here to help! Join us in Pamoja! for the support you've been looking for.
What are your trouble spots? What works for you? Share your stories and help others like you.
Ama and Nana Kwaku