How to overcome your food addiction
Do you find that you cannot stop eating a certain food? With food addiction, it is usually with a particular food, like chocolate or sweets if you are a sweet person or with crisps or bread if you are a savoury person.
It is hard to stop and each time you eat you get more frustrated with yourself and this leads to you feeling like you're a rubbish person because you can't control yourself. This then causes a downward spiral of thoughts and behaviours where you're feeling rubbish about yourself so you go and turn towards the very food that you are addicted to because that makes you feel better.
The addiction cycle
Any addiction follows a cycle:
- Trigger. A trigger happens that gives you unwanted feelings, such as stress and anxiety.
- Searching. You are not feeling at ease so you go searching for food that you know will make you feel temporarily better.
- Obsession. You now want the food so much you cannot stop thinking about it.
- Eat the food. You eat the food that you have been obsessing about because it feels good in that moment.
- Loss of control. You cannot stop eating the food. It is like something has taken over your brain.
- Guilt. After eating, you feel feelings such as guilt, shame or embarrassment over what or how much you have just eaten.
- Vow to stop. The feelings have got so much that you vow to not eat that food again.
- Time. An amount of time passes where you do not eat and it feels good. Though it usually brings us back to step one.
We often see the problem as eating the food, losing control and the guilt and the shame of not being able to stop this pattern. What we do not often see, but feel are the unwanted feelings that are causing our addiction.
Breaking the cycle
To help break this cycle of addiction, we need to look at the whole cycle. This is where hypnotherapy and psychotherapy are so helpful. A therapist helps you to see the emotions and behaviours that are contributing to your addiction that you are not able to see.
We all have blind spots to our behaviours because we are deep into the behaviour. We get so caught up in our thoughts and patterns that it is hard for us to step away from ourselves and get the bigger picture.
A therapist will ask you questions about your patterns of addiction. They will help you to recognise your feelings and become aware of the triggers causing you to eat. The therapist will then help you to manage the emotions that are causing you to eat so over time you stop having these unwanted feelings and stop turning to food to make yourself feel better.
Three steps to overcoming food addiction
Here are three steps that you can take to help you stop your food addiction
Mindfulness is being aware of your patterns of behaviour and your emotions. The next step is being able to articulate these emotions and patterns which help you to process them.
Mindfulness helps you to see the bigger picture of your eating patterns. It will help you to understand yourself better. It will help you to get to know what is causing your addiction. You can start by acknowledging how you feel whilst you are eating the food. In what way is it making you feel good? Or is it stopping you from feeling bad about something? You could ask yourself questions such as – What is that about? Why do I want to make myself feel X? What is the feeling that I am chasing by eating this food? Journaling down your thoughts and observations can really help you get to know your emotions.
2. Know your trigger
By using mindfulness, you can start to get to know what the trigger is that sets you off to seek using food to feel better. There may be just one trigger or several triggers. Knowing your triggers allows you to manage them better, avoid them if it is appropriate or just feel differently about them. By doing that, it is helping you to break this addiction cycle as you are less likely to seek food as the answer to feeling temporary relief from the unwanted feelings that have been caused by the trigger.
3. Show yourself some love
What’s love got to do with it? When we are so caught up in our eating patterns that we do not like, it is easy to get annoyed and frustrated with ourselves. We promise ourselves that we will stop.
When we can’t stop ourselves, negative thinking and feelings start to come in about ourselves. How useless we are that we have no control, how weak we are, how is it that everyone else can do it except us. As you can see on the cycle, it is these negative feelings that very often drive us towards food as a way to make ourselves better.
The fact that we vow to stop eating the addictive food and still keep doing it, shows us it is not that we are weak or have no control. It is that there is an pattern of behaviour that has been set by the brain that is so strong it is hard for us to see, let alone break.
So start by going easy on yourself. Start by understanding it is not you, it is a pattern of behaviour. Show some kindness towards yourself, that you are doing what you can to break this. There was a reason for this behaviour that at some point benefited you, like giving you comfort or stress relief.
The unconscious brain did not know that this behaviour was not good, it just knew that you felt good on some level. Thank your brain for looking after you, though now this behaviour is no longer benefitting you and you are working towards changing it.
Hypnotherapy will greatly help you feel more positive about yourself and help you to break the cycle. By relaxing and working through your behaviours with a therapist, allows you to gain greater control over your eating and helps you to reduce any stress and anxiety. Because you are making changes on a deep level, the positive changes often benefit you not just the here and now but for the rest of your life.