One thing I have discovered is that I am addicted to food. I don’t know many people who like food as much as I do. As a simple example I can remember visiting an all you can eat restaurant where I ate all I was given, finished all the left overs and still left hungry, starving in fact. The problem is that I don’t see any help out there for people like me. How to be healthy and happy while managing a food addiction. All the advice is to give up or limit food. Always to avoid the stuff you love and basically stop having fun through food. I’ve tried it and found it doesn’t work. At least not for me. I can keep it up for a few months but in the end I just lose the will to do it and go back to my old ways. In essence it is unsustainable.
In fact all addiction management approaches seem to require boring you into submission. And here is the kicker. The phrase they use to describe avoiding food includes food. Not stuff I want to avoid like Brussels sprouts, I might add but stuff that makes me salivate and think of food. They named it ‘cold turkey’. How unhelpful is that!!! How can a food addict avoid stuff if the addictive food is in the title itself?
Then there is the biggest problem, completely avoiding the stuff you are addicted to. That’s fine for smoking and alcohol. You do not need them to live. Sure, you will go through a very nasty withdrawal period but it will be worth it. However the current treatment for addiction is abstinence and they happily apply it to food.
Hmm. Seriously!!! Am I the only one that has noticed that food addiction is very different. Traditional approaches cannot work. You must eat to live you can’t just abstain. The Withdrawal process from food is not a natural healthy process that will leave you in better shape. No. It is a process you should avoid because your body freaks out and prepares for potential starvation. That is never a good situation and is harmful. But, as you all know, that’s precisely what is recommended. Detox and avoidance.
At least this is how most people interpret the healthy message regardless whether it is presented that way or not. They treat it as addiction and follow the recommended approach for general addiction. Ignoring the specific needs of food addicts. By focusing on food quantity, how much you eat and how often, they ignore food quality, what it does for you and what it is like to eat. I do not think the focus on quantity over quality works. Particularly for food. You do need to reduce quantity, there is no doubt about that, but I think there are better ways.
That is why I have my blog. Sharing my journey through food addiction. My choice is to learn to love this side of me, discover how to tame it and become healthy through being happy. To me that means indulging my addiction. Learning how to keep it happy. I believe that you crave what you can not have and that it takes a lot of energy to fight or cover up cravings. In the end they often win anyway. So my approach is to deal with my cravings when they are small. Indulge myself regularly and create a lifestyle where the next indulgence is never far away. It seems crazy but it works for me and my personality. It is easier to stick to a lifestyle that makes me happy because I am less happy when I veer from it. That is the opposite of the traditional abstinence approach where I am not happy. I find that for my heart/tastebuds abstinence makes the heart grow fonder of banned foods and it is hard to stay on track.
How will this approach work? Quality over quantity. The rules have not changed. You still need to eat less and eat the right things. What I am doing is directing my energy on improving the quality of my food. Focusing on noticeable improvements in taste and texture. Learning how to combine foods for the best result. By focusing on taste, texture and experience I then find it easier to eat less. Not every time mind you but in general. I find it much easier to leave some of what I am eating or even order a smaller portion. By focusing on quality I am happy to reduce quantity. This works for a lot of reasons but mainly because I’m really craving an experience, a treat. Since I know the next treat isn’t far away it’s much easier to have a nibble then stop.
It’s not a perfect solution but I am definitely happier this way and it is working. It is pretty easy to be honest because I keep finding new foods and combinations to keep things interesting and sustainable. Nothing is off the menu I just have lots of ways to enjoy the fun in life and keep my balance at the same time. I never ban anything but might not have it for a while because there are so many other things to enjoy.
By bringing taste to the fore I find I don’t want to over eat because it ruins the experience. I’m not fighting my hunger because I’m full and not fighting my need for an experience cos I’ve had it. So I can leave it there with no guilt. No regrets.