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Food Addiction and Gentle Eating

Now that it’s February and you have had at least six weeks to work on your goals, how are they working for you? Research shows that the number one New Year’s resolution is weight loss. That’s understandable when you think that this country has a 64% obesity rate.

Are you one of those people who wake up thinking about what you will be eating that day? You obsess about food in part because it is the only thing you can control in life, and because you believe that it may be the only thing that will bring you happiness and comfort. You, more than likely, have a food addiction. Food has become a medication to get you through the day. Food has become an obsession.

Skip Sauvain, author of Gentle Eating, writes that ‘the practice of being addicted can be broken down into a pattern of anticipation-preoccupation-use. Clinical studies with food addicts show that the largest rush or intensity of feeling is in the anticipation stage, not in the use stage.’ It’s no wonder that people think about food as soon as they awaken, because that’s when the excitement starts.

Researchers have also found that as with any type of addiction, food addiction is auto-exacerbating. That means that it’s a vicious cycle. You feel a feeling—you medicate it with food—you overeat—it creates more negative feelings about yourself—you eat to medicate those feelings. You have to break the cycle and of course, that starts with the feeling component. You have to choose to honor you and your feelings in new and different ways.

A food addiction is not…I repeat, not…going to get better on its own. It entails creating a Recovery Plan that will assist you in the following:

  • A shift in your thinking.
  • An understanding and honoring of your feelings.
  • Insights about what was missing in your life growing up and the core issues that have developed as a result.
  • Support systems in place.
  • Healthier substitutions or activities to replace the medication of food.
  • Having the courage to be imperfect.

Now here’s the good news. Your behavior in life is a choice and you can break the cycle. It’s hard work. It’s not a quick fix and it requires being gentle and rigorous at the same time. If you think you have a food addiction/eating disorder, don’t try to do it alone. There are eating disorders specialists that can help you with your recovery strategy. There are great support and insight-oriented groups that will assist you in your work. There are wonderful books to guide you in the right direction. Developing the proper supports will help you heal old wounds that have contributed to your obsession with food.

Your recovery will involve being gentle to yourself. It will mean having the courage to be imperfect. Falling off the wagon and picking yourself up and giving yourself permission to falter is important. When you are gentle with yourself, it’s easier to forgive and get back on track. Many addicts medicate their anger with food, but when you’re in recovery, you understand and accept that your humanness is essential in learning how to move forward. That’s one of the ways you break the cycle of addiction.

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