Do you eat even when you’re not hungry? Do you eat way past the point of being full, or fantasize about eating a lot? If you do, you may be suffering from food addiction or compulsive overeating. You probably overeat as a way to cope with stress, emotional conflicts, and other daily problems. Food addiction may also be caused by â€œtrigger foodsâ€â€Œ that cause negative symptoms in the body, but at the same time provoke cravings. If you’re tired of being dependent on food for happiness, the following tips will help you break your addiction and be a healthier person.
Identify your addiction triggers: Compulsive eaters have different triggers to their addiction. There are people who can’t say no to pasta or cheese. Others just go on an eating frenzy of chocolate or fast food. Pinpoint your trigger foods because these are the foods that you must try to reduce or avoid. The following are common trigger foods, and how you can reduce or eliminate your dependence on them:
Soda: The key to kicking any food addiction is to do it in stages. In the case of soda or pop addiction, switch from regular soda to diet soda for the first two weeks. Next, switch from diet soda to carbonated drinks without caffeine. If you have a caffeine addiction, you’ll feel sort of a hangover for about three days, but continue with the diet for two full weeks. Once you’ve done that, move from carbonated drinks to flavored water or plain water for the following weeks.
Fast food: This type of food addiction is one of the toughest to break, but it’s not impossible. For the first week, collect all your fast food receipts and put them in a jar. At the end of the week, calculate how much you’ve spent on fast food, and then cut that number in half. This will be your fast food budget for the next week.Take the amount of money that you’ve calculated, and then put it in a bag in your car. Use the same budget for buying fast food for two weeks. During this period, your cravings will strike hard, so always keep some healthy snacks with you, like apples or nuts. You may also have some frozen meals ready at home, so you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat for dinner. When the habit becomes a part of you, cut your budget in half again until your reliance on fast food completely disappears.
Snack food: First, make an inventory of all the snacks that you’re addicted to. Are they chips, candies, chocolates, or cookies? List them in a chart, and then identify a replacement snack for each trigger snack. For instance, you can replace potato chips with tortilla chips in salsa. The important thing here is to find a healthier alternative to the snack that drives your addiction.Eat the alternative snacks daily for two weeks until they become part of your diet. Gradually cut down the portions of the trigger snacks for the following weeks until you can get past a day without eating them. If you really feel like you can’t last without taking a bite of your favorite snack, make sure that you eat it only after you’ve filled up on something else. For example, if you’re addicted to snickers bar, cut it in eight parts, then eat each part only after you’ve filled up on popcorn. It’s also a great idea to eat just a bit of the snack and then throw out the rest.
Consult your doctor: The best thing for you to do is to consult your doctor since he’ll know how serious your condition is, and the best treatment for it. The negative consequences of food addiction are almost infinite: diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout, sleep apnea, heart disease, psychological and social problems, and many more. You don’t want to exacerbate any of these conditions, so it is urgent that you see a medical professional immediately.
Go to a counselor or therapist: Food addiction is as much a psychological problem as it is a physiological one. You may be eating food to cover up deeper emotional problems that are lodged deep in your unconscious mind. A professional counselor or therapist will be able to help you bring these problems to the surface, so that you can deal with them more directly, reducing your dependence on food.
Tell everyone your goal: Breaking your food addiction is not just a commitment to yourself, but to everyone dear to you. Getting over your addiction is an expression of appreciation for these people who only want what’s best for you. Tell them your goal, and talk about your plans on how you’ll fight your addiction. Keep them updated on your improvements, even your setbacks, so that you’re never alone throughout the whole challenge. You may be surprised at how supportive people are with your decision to end your dependency.
List your reasons for breaking your addiction, and read them daily: As a binge eater, you’re probably very familiar with the harmful effects of unhealthy eating and obesity. You’ve probably find these effects scary at some point, but your fears are always obscured by your more intense urge to eat. To solve this problem, list all your reasons for breaking your food addiction, specially the scary ones, and then read them daily. This will remind you of the purpose of your objective, so that you won’t lose focus along the way.
Get addicted on exercise: Binging on food brings a much-desired high to food addicts, which is why it’s so hard to get over the addiction. What you may not realize is that exercise can induce similar highs as well. You may have seen buff people that seem to spend all their day in the gym. Not only can you use exercise to improve your health, you can also use it to replace your addiction to trigger foods. Join a gym to keep yourself motivated, and get to know other gym members who share similar problems.
Avoid secret binges: Your food addiction will push you to the limits to get itself satisfied. Food addicts frequently hide food or secretly binge when they are alone. You must realize that you will never get rid of your dependency if you continue on these secret binges. Don’t leave any food in the car, nightstand or desk. Lock your purse in the trunk of your car, so you can’t order at drive-through restaurants. It also helps to find someone accountable who will make sure you can’t secretly binge on food.
Keep yourself distracted: Addiction pervades every part of your life, even your thoughts and your dreams. You must counter this fixation by keeping yourself busy with other things. Change your lifestyle by engaging in other healthier activities, like exercise or martial arts. If you have a pinch of creativity in you, dabble in art, like painting or sculpting. Find other things that will interest you, so you can keep away the thoughts of food that aggravate your addiction.
Forgive yourself and stay focused: Lots of food addicts tend to feel guilty after giving in to their addiction. The problem with this is that it can turn into a vicious cycle of feeling guilty, binging, feeling guilty, and then binging some more. Learn to forgive yourself if you ever give in to your trigger foods, and do not let yourself get sucked in by guilt. There’s always hope even if you fail a couple of times, so just stay focused on your goal, and promise yourself that you’ll do better next time.
Reach out to other food addicts: No matter how depressed you may feel, always remember that you’re not the only one who has this condition. Thousands of people around the world are going through the same bouts of cravings and guilt. You can reach out to these people through websites, forums, and chat rooms on the Internet. There are also many support groups that you can join that deal with food addiction and other eating disorders. You will learn many techniques to cope with your condition by keeping in touch with these people. You’ll also find inspiration in many former food addicts who have become healthy eaters through hard work.
Food addiction is not impossible to break. All you need is the willpower to do what’s right for you and the people around you. Don’t lose hope, and start turning your back away from your addiction now.