Starting in Nov, 2013 I got very, very fed up with everything related to food and diet. I couldn’t (just could not) bear to start one more diet. But my eating was getting out of control. It wasn’t that I felt I needed to or wanted to lose weight (I have long given up on that pipe dream) but that I needed to control my food addiction.
Note: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or psychologist. Everything on this site is based on my personal experience and research and is my own opinion, not fact. My words should not be a substitute for your own research and experience and should never, ever take place of the advice of a professional.
Food addiction is like, yet not like, other addictions. Some people may be offended that I compare food addiction to drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling, or smoking. I can kind of see their point, but there are many similarities. I am not a counselor or psychologist, but it seems to me that the loss of personal power to the addiction is common to all types of addiction, for example. When you do something you absolutely don’t want to do, knowing there will be dire consequences, but can’t help yourself, that is addiction.
Another way food addiction is like other addictions is that it is rarely about the substance involved. There are many physiological and psychological factors that contribute to the addiction. Just dealing with the addiction alone will rarely get long-term results. You need to address the underlying issues if you truly want to break free of your addiction.
Food addiction is not like other addictions, however by one pivotal fact: You can’t stop eating all together. Most addictions require physically breaking free from the abused substance or action. For some addictions it is recommended to go “cold turkey” or by gradual release by cutting back little by little or using alternative medications as a replacement. But you can’t do that with food. You can’t just stop eating all together.
My original plan was to go as close to “cold turkey” for food as I could. I thought if I could just get away from eating for a while I could get myself under control. I started to research different food replacement programs such as energy bars and shakes. The more I read, the less impressed I was. Most of the meal replacements, even supposed low-calorie ones, were filled with sugars, chemicals, and unnecessary fats. I didn’t think these foods would make me feel any better than what I was already eating.
My next thought was to just simplify. I would focus only on a few key foods that would provide me the requisite nutrition I needed. Again, lots of research led me to a few conclusions. The foods had to be whole, natural foods, not processed foods. That had to be easy to make and be portable so that I could fit them into my crazy life. They had to cover all the nutrients that I would need and balance into the right amount of calories, proteins, fats, and carbs. They had to be naturally proportioned so that I would eat the right servings. They couldn’t be too tasty or I would overeat them. They couldn’t be too un-tasty (is that a word) or I wouldn’t be able to keep it up.
Once I had my list of foods, the plan was to stick to the program for two weeks to “detox” and then figure out what I wanted to do next. I had a vague idea of going back to weight watchers or something like that once I was “on track.” That never happened.
After a month I was surprised at how easy it was to stick to the plan. After two months I began to think this might be a long-term solution for me. I have massaged and changed my plan over time, altered my foods slightly, and even allowed certain types of “cheats” that don’t completely derail me (hello, frozen yogurt).
It has now become a way of life. Every day I eat the same breakfast and lunch. For dinner, I allow more variety, but focus on key foods and stick to my rules: whole foods, low-fat proteins, fresh veggies, limited high-fiber carbs, avoid wheat, sugar, and processed foods.
I am almost never hungry and rarely tempted to cheat. Occasionally I will have something not on the list (homemade pizza, ice cream cake, etc) but it is rare, the servings are small, and I make sure the treat is worth it.
This is not a diet. I try not to use that word. This is a way for me to deal with my personal food addiction and issues. The result has been, I feel healthier, I have more energy, I am sick less, and I feel empowered. I also know how easy it would be to slide back into my addictive habits. I am not cured. I am convinced that I must stay this course for the rest of my life, or risk falling back into the world where food controls me.