Sunday, October 19, 2014

Food Addiction: No Cold Turkey

Earlier this week, I decided to make my weekly post about food addiction. Little did I know, this would be a perfect topic for me to think about the topic. On Tuesday, I started having some foot trouble that caused me to have to take a little break from running to rest and heal. As a runner, this is difficult because it means that I can't run. If I do choose to run, I can risk a more permanent injury. So I decided to take a couple days off. And running is one of my biggest defenses against my personal food addiction. I can eat more because I am a runner. I need additional nutrients to keep me going for my runs and because I work off the extra calories that I consume. So this week, I've been battling with the amount I should eat. Going from running 36 miles last week to 8 miles this week was physically and mentally difficult for me because running is my outlet to get rid of energy, work problems out, and relax. 

So my title might be a little misleading. As a food addict, I will eat almost anything that looks good, cold turkey included and make it a double portion please! However, I have learned to manage my food addiction a little bit better over the past couple years. I'm still constantly aware and afraid that I will give in and go back to my old eating habits. I'm still learning to cope with eating healthy, especially when it comes to eating out with other people. Should I eat what I want and my body needs or should I listen to the person beside me telling me that I just HAVE to try the double breaded, deep-fried, cheesy, bacon wrapped treat and don't forget to make sure you get extra sauce.

Food addiction is the one addiction that you never truly kick. There is no "cold turkey" everyone has to eat. Well, at least until they make that futuristic form of nourishment where you stick yourself with  to get all or your nutrients. KIDDING, but seriously... A drug, tobacco, or alcohol addict can completely quit and never pick up the substance again. I'm NOT saying that it is easy to quit drugs, tobacco, or alcohol. I'm simply saying that your body doesn't physically have to have these to survive daily. Yes, people can become physically dependent on these substances but they can be weaned off the substances. A person can not simply stop eating. For a food addict, it is a constant battle with food addiction for 3-5 meals per day, everyday for the rest for their life.

I found this the other day browsing the internet and it's SO true. Everyday you have to have motivation if you want to accomplish a long term goal. This relates in so many ways to my life with getting through school, losing weight, and running.

Food is comfort. We are conditioned from a young age to accept food as comfort. When you're a toddler and you fall down and scrap your knee, your mom gives you a popsicle to reduce the pain. You go to the doctor to get shots and the doctor gives you a lollipop for accepting the painful torture. You get good grades on your report card, your dad takes you out for ice cream (or now, I guess kids get Sweet Frogs, same difference). You answer a question correctly in class and you get a piece of candy from your teacher. Anytime your family gets together for a holiday you eat large amounts of food. You invite your friends over to watch the game and you serve large portions of nachos, pizza, and wings. I'm constantly trying to break this routine. However, before I even realize it, I'm taking my fiancee out to dinner to reward us both for getting through the first month of school.

One of the lessons that I have learned over the past year and 10 months is that you have to find ways to reward yourself that are not food based. If you get a promotion at work, take yourself out to see a movie or buy that book you've been eyeing in the store. If you make it through a particularly difficult event then go out and get a haircut. Find something that will make you happy that does not rely on food. 

This is small part of my coffee and tea collection that has helped me to reward myself with lower calorie drinks instead of food. Someone suggested that I try tea to help me reduce my blood pressure back before the weight loss. I tried it and it does help! Sipping a nice warm drink helps me to unwind after a difficult day :)

Before I started to pay attention to what I ate, I never really stopped eating because I was "full." I would stop eating because either everyone else around me had stopped eating (and goodness knows when I was a larger person I didn't want other people to actually see me eat the large portions that I would eat on my own) or I would stop eating because was bored with eating. Simple as that, I didn't stop eating because I was not hungry anymore. For me, eating wasn't about satisfying my hunger it was about tasting everything that my palate and mind demanded.  

Everyday and every meal is a struggle for a 'food addict'. You have to learn to eat what your body needs to survive and reward yourself with nonfood or lower calorie options. Your body does not need to go out to eat everything that your mind wants you to taste. You can eat the things you like, in moderation, and when you're actually hungry. And by the way, when you're actually hungry food tastes SO much better than when you're just bored. You don't need to eat unhealthy, every single day even if you really want to. 

I guess, in a way, all people are food addicts. However, it only becomes a problem when you are physically sick or feel mentally sick about yourself because of your eating habits. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that being a food addict is different from daily eating needs of regular folks because it negatively impacts the person's health. Instead of eating to live, we begin to actually damage our health because we don't know when to stop eating or when to eat the right things.

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