Confessions of a Recovering Addict

by Susan on April 30, 2013

Overcoming Food Addictions

Overcoming Food Addictions

I admit it…I’m a recovering addict!  Yep, me.  Ok, maybe not the type of addict you’re thinking of, but I have spent much of my life in bondage to FOOD!  For many years I fought the battle of overcoming food addictions – pizza, chocolate, ice cream, cheese cake, the list can go on and on.  And I paid for it dearly!  In my earlier years of marriage I packed on the weight like crazy!  So much, in fact, that on one trip home to visit my family, my own mother didn’t recognize me when I got off the plane!  She actually asked my husband, who was standing right next to me, where I was!

Then I woke up one day and realized I was fat, sick all the time, weak, and NOT living the life I was designed to live.  This was definitely NOT God’s plan for me!  Let me tell you, overcoming food addictions doesn’t happen overnight.  But realizing I had a problem was the first step for me.  Through the next few years, God would teach me a great deal about myself, my emotions, my coping abilities, and most importantly, how to rely on HIS strength for every aspect of my life.

First off, we need to realize how dangerous a food addiction can be.  We may think it is harmless since we’re not being controlled by drugs or alcohol, but in a way, food can very much be a controlling substance.  Coming off of an addiction to food will still result in withdrawal symptoms – feeling of weakness, shakiness, nausea, headaches,  irritability, severe mood swings, and depression.  But the results of  food addictions are much worse – diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more.  So what do we do?  After all, we can’t just stop eating!  Here’s some steps to help you get on the right track to overcoming food addictions:

  1. Recognize your addiction.  This is often the hardest part – admitting that you are being controlled by something!  But there’s no way to move forward and break free from the bondage until you are honest with yourself about the issue.
  2. Change your attitude!  If you approach a lifestyle change with the mentality that you just can’t do this, you probably won’t have much success.  Focus on small victories, have the attitude that “I CAN do this!”, post affirmations around your home and workplace, and get ready to change your life!
  3. Make small changes at a time.  Deciding to give up an addiction cold turkey will only result in massive withdrawal symptoms, frustration, and most likely giving up.  Taking small steps in giving up an addiction is the best way to go.
  4. Identify triggers.  Realize just what it is that sets off the cravings.  For many of us it’s emotional triggers or a response to stress.  Consider keeping a journal for a time to help you determine your triggers.  For example, do money issues cause you to reach for a piece chocolate cake (or as in my case back in the day, the WHOLE chocolate cake!)? Or do changes in your  job or relationship status send you running to the nearest all-you-can-eat-buffet?  Find your triggers and work on ways to avoid them or work around them.  Have alternatives ready so you don’t hit Dunkin’ Donuts on a whim.
  5. Get an accountability partner.  Trying to face an addiction alone is never easy, and while it’s often difficult to admit we have a problem to someone, this can often make the difference between our success and failure in overcoming food addictions.  For me, joining a challenge group was what set me on the right path.  Having to check in daily with what I had eaten kept me on track.  Also, when going through major life changes or the illness of a loved one, having the support of a friend or family member can keep us accountable and keep us on track.  In addition to the friends I made in the challenge group I joined (some of whom I STILL keep in contact with NINE years later!), it was my husband who refused to let me fail!  And all these years later we’re still working out together and planning our healthy meals together!
  6. Exercise.  We all know that exercise helps us burn those calories, but did you know that it can also reduce food cravings?  I find that when I’m on track with my exercise, I have less desire to eat junk.
  7. Eat to live rather than live to eat.  When your whole life is focused on food, it’s time to change your focus!  View food as a source of fuel for your body rather than an emotional crutch.  For so much of my life, my focus was all off.  Anytime something happened that caused an emotional mood change for me, I would turn to food, particularly chocolate.  Happy occasions also, and holidays all gave me an opportunity to overindulge, leaving me feeling frustrated and empty later.

And last but certainly not least, learn to forgive yourself!  It took me years to really comprehend the concept of God’s forgiveness and mercy, but even then I found that so often I refused to forgive myself!  If God can show us mercy and forgiveness, why can’t we as well?!  When we make a mistake, when we fall, we must learn to get back up and move on, always moving forward.

While overcoming food addictions can be a life-long struggle for many of us, there IS hope!  It’s not easy for me to admit my struggles, but I hope that it can be of help to you.  Perhaps you’ve also got some tips to share that may help others as well!  Please feel free to share in the comments!  I’d love to hear from  you!

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