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Posted by on in Food Addiction

Food has been a problem for mankind since Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The word forbidden conjures up thoughts about sin, punishment, guilt and shame. Food is still an emotionally charged area of life for many. If you have been on diet after diet after diet I bet that you want to be free to eat what you want without looking over your shoulder at the ghosts of the “diet police.”

Sometimes the “diet police” are real people, a parent or spouse who stays on your case and judges you or makes remarks about your looks or what you are about to put in your mouth. Sometimes you hire a policeman in the form of a doctor or nutritionist to tell you what to do. I once met a woman who wanted me to help her with her food cravings. After the first session she called to cancel. She explained, “I want someone to tell me what to do, so I am going to Weight Watchers because they weigh you, and if you don’t lose weight, they kick your ass!”

It is a fact that diets often lead to full blown eating disorders. When we hear someone tell us that certain foods must never pass our lips again it can cause a harmful reaction. The first Overeaters Anonymous meeting I ever went to scared me so much that I didn’t go back for four years!

The speaker, a slim woman, reminded us that we were allergic to sugar and if it passed our lips we would be certain to go into uncontrollable eating binges. She proudly announced that she hadn’t had a piece of cherry pie for umpteen years. Although I wanted to look like her and have the peace of mind she seemed to have, I went home and ate up a storm. Even though I hated cherry pie, the thought of never having it again, or any pie was more than my deprived inner self could accept.

What is a “bad” food? One person’s mayonnaise is another person’s ice cream. Carla told me that she had to stay away from mayonnaise because she liked to eat it with a spoon. I felt like gagging when she said this because mayonnaise is not one of my favorite foods so I have never felt a craving for it. Yet in my past I often ate peanut butter with a spoon and even had to hide it from myself. How can you hide it from yourself when you know where it is? This is crazy making!

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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

In this excerpt from her bestselling book on bulimia, Caroline Miller describes the criticism, shame and pressure that fueled her relentless self-loathing and despair.  Ordinarily successful in all her endeavors, Caroline has trouble accepting her inability to assert will power to fix her eating disorder.

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