Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is Food Your Addiction?

My beautiful wife (LEFT) at 280 lbs (and completely addicted to food) and (RIGHT) at 180 lbs (fit and fab and feeling great)!

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In today’s society, there is much debate about the right way to get healthy, lose weight, exercise and stay fit. I think we would ALL agree that it’s important to get healthy and stay healthy. In my experience, it’s usually the people that have had very little personal experience with “weight” problems saying, “JUST EAT RIGHT AND EXERCISE, THAT’S ALL YOU NEED”!    Well Duh!    That’s a no-brainer! It doesn’t take a degree or a bunch of fancy initials after your name to know that. So….. If it’s just that easy, then why is America getting more and more unhealthy as time goes on? If it’s that easy, why isn’t everyone doing it and having great success? Why can’t people control what they eat? Why do some people yo-yo diet their entire life? Why do people eat unhealthily and then spend HOURS exercising just to keep it off? Why do people sleep eat, binge eat, or not eat? I believe in this case there are many more questions than answers.

Let me throw something out that might surprise you…….. THEY MIGHT BE ADDICTED TO FOOD!

Food addiction you say?

How can anyone be addicted to food?

Don’t we need food to survive?

Well, yes! From our mother’s breast forward, eating fulfills a need and brings satisfaction, nurturing and comfort. As we age, we have the opportunity to explore the pleasures our palate can provide, this enhances the pleasure and mood-altering ability of eating, but that doesn't mean we can’t get this process all fouled up.

The problem occurs when we move from self-nurturing…… to self-indulgence…… to compulsion. When eating becomes compulsive, we really begin to have problems. At this point when difficult feelings present themselves, our urge to eat is stronger than our will to say NO. Even if we have decided to "do better," our decision process is now compromised. We will eat, not because we are hungry or NEED to, but simply because we feel compelled to.
The problem begins with the process psychologists call "conditioning." By repeatedly feeling relief from difficult feelings through the nurturing effect of food, an emotional attachment, or relationship, is formed. This is an emotional bond to … food ... that becomes a compulsive attachment.

It is a battle we will not win without making some changes. The emotional bond between difficult feelings and food overpowers us and must be extinguished if we want freedom from the compulsion. Since the bond was created over time and has possibly been practiced for many years, it's not a simple process.
The long-term solution is learning to make good food decisions and re-conditioning, but that doesn’t happen instantly and usually can't be accomplished without changes and some help, gotta love health coaches.
Reversing the equation is the goal. We look for things that will raise our will and lower our urge so that we can write the equation as this: The will to say NO is greater than our urge to eat.

Here's how we do it:

  Structure is where we begin. Taking the decision out of our hands is a good way to stop making bad food choices. That can be accomplished with structure. Plan the day's eating in detail before it happens. If you don’t have a choice, you won’t make a bad one, right?
This isn’t a life-long commitment; the goal is to learn to make good food decisions. That's why reworking our urge/will equation is a priority. Taking a “time-out” from the decision making process can create a safe haven where that change can occur.

Food planning is a key component to the health plan that Steph and I have been working on. It also teaches portion control, proper timing of meals, and how to balance the protein, fat and carbs in what you eat. If you fail to plan…….. plan to fail!
  1. Reframe your attitude about “dieting”. So many people spend a lot of emotional energy struggling with what they are “losing” by going on a "diet" — the deprivation of it all, SIGH! That regret or sense of loss stimulates resentment and other difficult feelings that, in turn, fuel our urge to eat. If we can eliminate the difficult feelings, we can diminish the urge substantially.
Focus instead on what you are gaining: a healthy new part of your lifestyle. Improved health, greater energy, improved self-esteem can all be by- products of a switch to healthy eating. There is much to celebrate! When you look at it like this….. IT’S NOT A DIET!
  1. Learn new eating skills. During this decision making “time-out” period, educate yourself about what a healthy eating lifestyle looks like. Learn about nutrition, appropriate potion size or perhaps new cooking skills for eating in a healthier way. Educate yourself so that you can maintain the weight loss you achieve.
I strongly recommend reading the books written by Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson: Dr A’s Habits of Health and the companion guide Living a Longer, Healthier Life. They can be found HERE.
  1. Righting the equation. Raising the will and diminishing the urge. There are a number of things that can help us raise our will to say “no” to the inappropriate urge to eat. One is accountability. Joining a program that holds us accountable can be very helpful. Having a health coach to check in with or to help you correct your thinking process makes it a lot easier to stay on track.
Weight loss buddies can also be a great resource. Finding a partner with similar goals can provide a safe haven to vent frustrations and struggles and provide encouragement. Sometimes a telephone call when we are feeling tempted to go off track can suck the life right out of an urge.
  1. Disputing urges is a great skill for diminishing their power. When the urge arises to go off your planned menu for the day, we can dispute that urge by using STOP… CHALLENGE… CHOOSE. With this statement, we take a quick break and stop, challenge what we are thinking and feeling to see if it is in line with our goals, and then make the appropriate choice. This simple tool used consistently can help you reshape your thoughts and feelings about food. “Yes, in my old days, I would eat all of that chocolate cake, but I am doing things differently now and I really like the results. That cake isn’t worth giving up how well I am doing.”
Don’t be discouraged by your slips. This is a process, not an event, and it takes time to accomplish. Consistent effort and resilience will see you through to new, healthy eating habits. 

If you want or NEED more info on what we do for our clients, let us know! Or you can check it out here!

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