Episode 82: How to Cope With Food Addiction

Podcast 82 How do you know if you are addicted to food?

Today’s episode explores eating disorders and or food addiction.

If you find yourself being controlled by food you probably are experiencing a food addiction.

Here are some questions to ponder; do you think about food often? Do you find yourself eating when you are not hungry? Once you start eating do you feel that it’s hard to stop? Do you feel that you need to eat until you are completely and utterly full? Do you binge eat when you are stressed? Do you binge eat when you are anxious? Do you binge eat when you are sad, angry, unhappy, depressed, worried?

Basically are you using food to cope with life’s emotional journey? If you are answering yes to these questions, you are not alone. Then there is another side of this paradigm; managing your calories either by starvation, purging and or excessive exercising. So, how do you know if you need help?  Before we explore these concepts, this podcast is about quality of life and if you are in a cycle of obsessive food and or calorie patterns, you probably are not experiencing a quality life.

So, let’s unpack this. Food addictions and eating disorders are complex and very difficult to manage because the act of managing can in a way feed the disorder or addiction. The majority of us, would benefit from professional help someone who specializes in food addiction and eating disorders, but finding the right person may prove to be difficult and could backfire sending you into a deeper cycle of food addiction or eating disorder. So, what do we do? If you feel that your efforts are not working, please find a therapist who specializes in the areas that you suffer from and keep looking until you find the right person.

That being said, I want to share my personal journey. When I was a teenager, I started to engage in food deprivation. I was extremely concerned about excessive body fat and at the time, I was very thin. My nutritional needs were compromised my entire childhood and worsened in a yo yo kind of way. I took my first advanced nutritional studies course in college in 1984. It was at that time, I truly understood the importance of vitamins and minerals, but the patterns of starving myself to control weight had already become a regular thing a habit if you will. I think back and my eating habits were suffering even with the insights of what food was made at the molecular level. It was like I would find poor logic to justify bad choices. I was rationalizing at best.

About 12 years later in 1996 while studying Chinese Medicine at Samra University of Oriental Medicine, I got clarity and realized a lot of my bad habits had to stop and for the most part they did, I am not sure if it was studying  medicine 24/7 or my age or both, but I realized nutrition would be my first priority. That being said, knowledge alone does not cure the food addiction cycles. I can say that I have not been anorexic in over 25 years and I have not deprived myself from nutrition or calories in that time either. And I do not suffer from body-fat obsession.  But, I do still have issues with trigger foods, which I have mentioned on the podcast before, bread, potato chips, cookies, and candy-basically anything that is considered junk food can trigger me to obsessively eat and eat. Which makes me a food addict. I am also an emotional eater. So, that being said, if you too have issues with food or any type of eating disorder, here are some guidelines that may help you. 1. avoid any and all diets; low carb, high carb, high protein, paleo, south beach etc. these are a recipe for more problems, 2. read books on addiction and recovery and eating disorders this way you can learn some tools that really apply to you and your situation 3. avoid listening to non-professionals, meaning friends and family, 4. precook meals so that your mood and or life is not dictating your choices 5. when deciding what foods to eat, make sure that they are mostly whole plant foods, this way you will get plenty of vitamins and minerals, 6. when you find what is working, make sure it’s long term approved, meaning your choices can continue for the rest of your life without consequences. 7. know what your trigger foods are and what your trigger events are and know what you will do to overcome the foods and the choices. another words, have a plan to deal with how not to binge and what you can do instead. 8. and last but not least, find a person that you can call when you are wanting to eat something or do something that is you really do not want to eat or do. Someone that will listen and encourage you to do something different.

Ultimately, our issues around food are complex and learning to work through them can be an ongoing journey, meaning the work is never done. You may be eating to deal with unwanted and wanted emotions, you may be starving yourself to deal with self esteem or purging or binging or excessive exercising or whatever method that has been your vice to get you through life, if you are listening and you can relate to any of these aspects of food addiction or an eating disorder, please seek professional help-someone trained in these areas. You will be glad you did.

You are listening to Hemingway’s Heart, and until next time, please take care.