Addictions are merely sustained habits we develop over time, so if you’re looking for ways to break your food addiction, start by looking at your habits. What habits contribute to your addiction? Maybe it’s rituals of eating alone, or perhaps choosing fast food or high sugar foods for your meals and snacks. Or, maybe you have some habits with disordered eating that need to be dealt with. Whatever the case, food addiction is something you can overcome. I know, because I’ve been there. Most of my teens I was addicted to sugar, breads and refined starches. I chose these foods every meal I ate, and I'm not even kidding. This later led me to binging on sugary foods at night in college when I went through a depression in seriously large, copious amounts to the point of being sick everyday. I realized at 19, I was doing nothing but numbing my emotions by getting on a sugar high when doing this. Luckily, I forced myself to overcome my addiction, and I’d like to show you some ways to break your food addiction, whatever it might be, if you have one too.
1. Be Honest
One of the first ways to break your food addiction is to be honest with yourself. Don’t try and cover up the issue or pretend it’s not there. I know it’s easier not to look at your habits as the worst thing you could do, but trust me, they aren’t doing you any favors. If you have addictive tendencies, first and foremost, be honest. From here, you can begin to take steps to beat your addiction, instead of just feed it by lying to yourself even further.
2. Write It out
Another tip that worked for me when looking for ways to overcome a food addiction, is to write down what foods you can’t seem to go without. Each day, we all have our “vices” as I call them, or foods that we create rituals around. They are routines in our day that we aren't willing to give up. Think about what some of these things might be for you and write them down. If it brings negativity into your life or is hindering your health, then write it down. Writing it all down will help you truly think about what foods you’re addicted to, and be able to get a visual of what you need to remove. Don’t be overwhelmed by this! Just do it and you can then begin to weed out what no longer serves you.
3. Make a Choice
After you’ve written down what foods you feel you’re addicted to the most, then make a choice to stop. Be present in your decision and decide you no longer what to harm yourself further with the habit of choosing these foods as coping mechanisms.
4. Think about the Real Issue
Now that you’ve made a choice to give some food addictions up, think about the real issue at hand that caused the addiction. Until you get to the root of the problem, you won’t be able to overcome the addiction. What is really the problem that is causing your addiction? Loneliness? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Anger? Self-hatred? Whatever it is, just be honest. Decide to work through your issue at hand, and the food addictions will naturally be easier to overcome.
5. Remember, It’s Just Food
I know this sounds simple, but I’ve been there and I know. Trust me, it is just food! You can choose to eat so many healthy foods that might not seem exciting at first, but these foods are whole, nourishing foods your body will reward you with when you eat them. These foods don’t feed addiction and aren’t detrimental to your health. They’re clean sources of lean protein, low glycemic vegetables, and nutrient rich fruits. All of these foods help to feed your body pure nutrients. Cookies, ice cream, donuts, and cereals don’t. Drive-thru meals don’t. You get the picture here, right? Remember, it’s just food. Choose to spend your money and your calories on foods that will ENHANCE your life, not harm it.
6. Get a New Habit
Most of us develop food addictions around habits and rituals, as I mentioned. For instance, for me, I had a nightly date with myself in front of the television after my family had gone to bed. This was my binge time and honestly, it was sacred to me for months because it fed into my addiction. It enabled it and sustained it. When I decided to get rid of my food addictions, I had to get a new habit so I wouldn’t fall prey to numbing myself out the same way. For you, it might not be driving thru a fast food joint on your lunch break, or perhaps not going in a store that sells your favorite unhealthy foods for a while. Or, maybe, it’s just not shopping when you’re hungry and more prone to buying your choice addiction foods. Whatever the habit is that feeds your addiction, get rid of it! I started going to the gym at night, coming home and cooking myself a healthy dinner, then reading with a book in bed with tea, and writing down what I ate that day. Honestly, it stunk at first, but you know what? After about a week, I’d never been so proud of myself and thrived in my new ritual and my habits. Tough it out and create new habits and rituals. I promise, you can do it!!
7. Eat Enough
One of the most important things to do when breaking any food addiction is to be sure that you eat! Don’t try to starve yourself and skip meals to make up for your bad habits the night before. On day one of your new beginning, cook yourself a truly wholesome breakfast, not something from a box or bag, and try making a smoothie if nothing else. For lunch, include some protein, vegetables and a whole grain if you like. Make yourself dinner and have some nuts or fruit for a snack. Allow yourself to eat, and it will be much easier to break your addiction than if you’re hungry. Starving and skipping meals will only leave you more tempted to give into the old routines you developed around your habit.
Food addictions are serious issues, not just a sign of weakness or defeat. But guess what? They are completely possible to overcome. The 7 steps above were the first ones I took since I stopped eating sugar 10 years ago, and you know what? I wouldn’t go back for anything, and no, if you’re wondering, I haven’t touched the white stuff in any form since. Not even natural sugars have crossed these lips because I don’t miss the addictive tendencies that came out in me when I did. If you have a food addiction, I promise, you can overcome it. Have you ever overcome a food addiction? If so, what tips do you have?