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01/15/2015

How To Battle Food Addictions

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  • You have withdrawn symptoms when the behavior stops;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.

  1. Recognize that food is addictive. Identify which foods you have a difficult time controlling.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. Make a specific plan for yourself. This plan outlines what you will do when confronted with triggering situations and signs of relapse.

For example:

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.

Business lunch?

  • 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

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Ama Opare
Lifestyle Coach, CEO at Opare Institute
Supporting you by bringing you flavorful and satisfying vegan and raw vegan recipes, inspiration and online training and one-on-one coaching to help LOVE YOUR VEGAN LIFE! I am an educator and revolutionary who has teamed up with my physician/dietitian husband, Nana Kwaku Opare, MD, MPH, CA, to address the growing health problems in the Afrikan/Black community by building a Nation of Black Vegetarians and Vegans.

5 Comments on “How To Battle Food Addictions

BTBROWNMD
02/18/2015 at 9:32 pm

Thanks for the tips. However, no addiction can be controlled or overcome if the psychological issues that evoked and perpetually provoke the addict’s behavior are not addressed and resolved at some level. So called food addiction is not a “willpower, eat right, exercise” conundrum. The battle will not be won using any form of the same old mantras.

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Ama Opare
02/19/2015 at 8:40 am

I couldn’t agree more BTBROWNMD. That is why one of the FIRST things we suggest using a food journal to help you begin to understand what is going on inside.

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Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti
02/02/2015 at 9:50 am

appreciate this information and advice. working on it. Abibifahodie.

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Ama Opare
02/02/2015 at 11:39 am

Me too! It is a continual process. Thanks Baba Baruti.

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Aqiyl Aniys
01/21/2015 at 2:39 pm

I don’t have any food addictions and I guess that might be because of my outlook on life. I believe I am part of God and part of keeping m connection strong is to keep my body/temple as pure as possible. I am a vegan now but before I adopted a plant-based diet I was a pescatarian and I ate a lot of fish. I never thought I would be able to give up fish, but I did and i don’t miss it at all. the reason I don’t miss it is because I feel so good now after adopting a plant-based diet, that I don’t want to do anything to mess this up. Also by adopting a plant-based diet I have cleared my body of toxins and cravings. I just love eating whole foods consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and some grains.

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