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Posted by on in Food Addiction

Binge eaters hate themselves because they can’t stop overeating. They promise themselves that they will stop tomorrow and be good, punish themselves for pigging out or panic because they can’t close their zipper. The one thing that bingers don’t do is to pay heed to the binge. Bingers tell themselves that binges are bad and the overeater is bad for being so weak.

If you are find yourself going out of control with a substance or behavior, I want you to consider that compulsive behaviors are a sign of a life out of balance. Instead of going into denial or trying to avoid binging again, let’s look at a binge as a message from your inner self trying to tell you that something is wrong in your life, and you are unwilling to face the pain or do something about its origin.

Stuffing yourself with food is like taking an aspirin when you have a broken leg. It may dull the agony a tiny bit, but it will not heal the problem. Often when an overeater curbs her gluttony she may often switch to another behavior that brings temporary pleasure such as overspending, gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc.

A young woman who had been hospitalized in her teens for treatment for her severe bulimia told me that she was grateful for that experience since she received help in understanding herself better and learned tools for problem solving, as she became an adult. A binge is an invitation to examine your life and create skills for dealing with the inevitabilities of life.

There are 5 steps to each binge.

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Posted by on in Food Addiction

It happens far too often.  You read about some celebrity who has a new diet that is guaranteed to help you shed those pounds.  Or you talk to a friend who has lost a ton of weight by following a new plan.  You even hear the experts describe it not as a diet, but as a new way of life.  So you go on it.  Then the inevitable happens: you get bored, you get stuck, you cheat a little and then the cravings hit.  The next thing you know it’s a slip then a relapse.  Your choice is to try again, or head off to the next diet.  Atkins. South Beach.  Body for Life.  Paleo.  Is it going to work? In fact, research shows that dieting actually increases cravings.

What if the problem isn’t what you eat, but what you do when you are not eating?  For most people that’s exactly the issue: the problem is cravings.  Cravings are why you switched from one plan to another; cravings are why you feel you need to “cheat.”  And cravings will come no matter what diet or “way of life” you choose.

So instead of, yet again, changing what you eat, why not change you, by changing what you do when you’re not eating?  Here a 5 suggestions that will help you do just that and get those pesky cravings under control.

Write it down

“Wait… you want me to write down every single thing I eat or drink?”  Absolutely. Keeping a food diary greatly improves your chance of success.  Food diary users are more likely to lose weight, less likely to crave and more likely to stick to their plans.  If writing down your meals is too cumbersome, a number of smartphone apps like LoseIt! and MyFitnessPal make logging a snap, and even allow you to scan the barcodes of foods to automatically enter their nutritional information.  If you have issues with orthorexia, this may require some special modification/attention, but most people who struggle should take inventory. Many food diary users, however, will log their meals for a while and then stop, which leads to the next suggestion:

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Posted by on in Food Addiction

Over the last several years, nearly every new diet on the scene has addressed cravings by suggesting “cheat meals.”   Usually the hack formula goes something like this:

All the other diets you have tried have been wrong because they didn’t pay attention to the problem with food X.  Food X and those like it are a major problem.  You need to stop eating them.  Here is a plan to do that and some recipes to show you that eating without food X is possible and even enjoyable. This is not a diet; it’s a way of life. Here are a bunch of people who have successfully lost weight on this plan.  Oh and by the way, because the cravings will be intense, you should give yourself a break and cheat every once in a while.    Of course, one major problem with these diets is that they don’t adequately address the more important issue:  craving.  In fact, research shows that dieting actually increases cravings.

However, another even more important reason these diets fail is that they never really address what is really core to the weight gain, dieting, weight loss cycle:  shame.  Shame drives the cravings bus.  Shame is why you gain the weight back every time.  Shame is what tricks you into thinking you “deserve” that piece of chocolate cake.  Shame tells you that deserve to cheat every once in a while.  For most people on the roller-coaster of dieting and weight gain, the diet they are really on is the shame diet.  And they are bingeing and purging shame in a vicious cycle that no diet will ever adequately address.

Rather than a cheat meal, want to know what you really deserve?  (Hint: it’s not some deep awareness about the toxic effects of wheat or gluten).  It’s self-love, acceptance, peace, a sense of purpose, and connectedness. Shame destroys all of these basic human needs by tricking you into thinking that you deserve something that actually hurts you.  Just think about it: does it really make sense that either cheating or dieting could be a solution for shame?

Leaving aside the issue of dieting…could it ever make sense that a new way of eating could solve the shame problem?  And if you’re doing the cheating, who exactly is being cheated?

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Posted by on in Food Addiction

I like that Valentine's Day Increaseis in the same month as Eating Disorder Awareness. Love is the remedy for any addiction. I suffered from bulimia for over a decade and understand the shame, pain and hopelessness that are hallmarks of an eating disorder.

When I began binging and purging in my mid teens, I had no idea my behavior was just a symptom of my attempt to gain control over my life.  The daughter of loving and intelligent parents, yet an overbearing and opinionated mother and a judgemental and distant father, bulimia offered a chance to do exactly as I pleased without the consequence of judgement or withdrawl of love.

In fact, my nice shape got me the attention of my father who applauded my ability to control my physique and allowed me to do as pleased after having to comply with my mother's expectations of me.  It worked for a long time until I started to notice how my eating disorder became the center of my life and all my interests, dreams and hobbies fell to the wayside.

It's hard to plan for a binge, shop for the food, eat the food in secret, purge in secret, make up stories to your roommates or parents, lie about your weight loss, feel comfortable in your body with a sore throat and stomach, feel good about yourself when you believe  you are a fraud, etc.

I thought my parents'rejection of me and what I needed in life was the cause on my ongoing addiction.  I never knew that, at some point, I internalized their rejection of my ideas, needs and dreams and began judging myself constantly.  It was my own self-rejection that continued to give life to my eating disorder and not my parents.

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Posted by on in Food Addiction
I just came back from 11 days at the beach. I love the sun and yes I know that it is bad for me. Just let me stay in denial about that. The sun makes me feel good. However, I struggled with the bathing suit issue. As many women know, the bathing suit issue hits hard these days. How I look is becoming a bit more conflictual as I age. I see where the sun has taken its toll. The thighs are a lot less firm and tone than they were 10 years ago. The skin is looking a bit weathered from years of baby oil and no SPF 30 as a kid.
One thing that I cannot pretend that doesn’t exist is that my body is changing. I am 50 years old. What else would it do? I call my body “it” because for many years I treated it like it was something separate from myself. “It” was the enemy for many years. And I treated it as so.
I have started my love hate relationship with food and with my body when I was just about 13. There were very long periods of time when I was thirsty for perfection, thinness, control, and safety. There were very long periods of time when excessive food restriction and obsessive exercise invaded the ability to enjoy such times at the beach.
There were seasons in my life when I did look fit and tone in a bikini. I still try to feel okay in a two piece. For me the death of my youth will come when I resort to a one piece. I am telling the truth. I am just not ready to go there yet. Will I continue to treat my body a.k.a. “it” as the enemy as I age and as I see the changes that are happening? Will I learn to embrace this gift or will I have the leftover mentality that is associated with a history of eating disorders and extreme body mistreatment. I am in the dismantling process.
I will tell you the truth, some days are better than others. And it was so these past 11 days. There were moments when I was alive and thankful and really had a carefree feeling about myself. After all I am doing what I love in my career and have big goals for myself. I am loving being a mom and taking care of my family. I am so looking forward to burning fall candles and feeling the chill in the air while my house is filled with the scent of Crisp Apples or Fall Leaves. I have days where I feel thankful and responsible when I lovingly care for my skin, take my vitamins, exercise for 60 minutes and then move on without horrific guilt and fear that I did not pound myself enough.
There were moments this past week where I was like “hey not so bad for a fifty year old” as I walked on the beach or rode my bike on trails in the woods. There were moments this week when I was feeling free after a couple of s’mores. So what! Big deal! They tasted awesome. I was able to move on to the next thing without fear and wretched remorse because I over ate or ate something on the bad list of foods.
I have left overs. Leftover burning embers from a world where I lived secretly for so long in active addiction with Anorexia and Bulimia. Some days the left over miswired thoughts invade my thinking and feelings. In recovery we call that “stinkin thinkin” and yep – I have those thoughts. I really do not want to fight with “it” but somehow I find myself fighting her. I am in my head battling the good and bad food lists and feel the fear rise; shutting off the gratitude I have for just being me and caring for her – my body.
I am now in the dismantling process. I resolve not to go to war with myself because I ate, lounged in the sun, read a book, ate more than I cared to do, walked as far as I wanted and when my body said “that’s enough” I stopped. You see these are all healthy thoughts in my story of recovery. Yet, the left overs tell me just the opposite. The left overs pulverize and stampede the work I have done and the progress I have made. The zest for growing, living, and loving that I now able to do is sabotaged from the leftovers of a life that I once was prisoner to.
The left overs tell me how dare I wear a bikini. They tell me my body is beat, I jiggle way too much, and I look like an old used up raisin. I will not surrender to those leftovers. I vow not to be a prisoner again. I will not accept the invitation to go there.
And I say “I am Fifty and I am nifty” and there is nothing that will hold me back from living life now. Bikini or not….I am free today. I am blowing out the embers that get ignited from time to time. Today I can do that. My body is not the enemy anymore. My body is me – 100% spiritual, emotional, physical all integrated into one great gift from God. Eleven great days at the beach in a two piece – sober, free, and loving me. I did it and did it with ease.
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