I was with a group of people recently where a part of the discussion was centered on addiction. I made the statement that food addiction was real, and that it can be just as destructive as addiction to alcohol and drugs. It didn’t surprise me in the least to hear a few muffled grumbles around me, but I still stood firm on my premise.
Many very good people who live clean lives will never submit to the idea that their addiction to unhealthy foods that are heavily laden with simple carbs and unhealthy fats are just as unhealthy as alcohol is to an alcoholic. They can live in denial all they want, however the damage being done by poor food choices is more than obvious when they are obese and suffering from one or more metabolic health issues. My friends, how we eat has a direct result on our health, be it negative or positive. And most often, your health problems are not genetic as much as they are familial. In other words, if your mother is diabetic and then you become diabetic, it could be because of genetics, but usually it is because you have the same nutritional practices as your mother.
Characteristics of addiction.
- An inability to stop
- Changes in mood, appetite, and sleep
- Continuing despite negative consequences
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Feeling preoccupied with the substance or behavior
- Legal and financial problems
- Losing interest in other things you used to enjoy
- Putting the substance or behavior ahead of other parts of life including family, work, and other responsibilities
- Using increasingly larger amounts of a substance
- Taking more of the substance than you intended
- Withdrawal symptoms
As you read through those characteristics of addiction, think to yourself just how many of those traits which you might also display. As for me, I am guilty of 77% of them from back in the days that I was obese and out of shape. I think back to how sometimes, actually quite often, I would stop at the Arby’s drive through window on my way home from work and order a large order of french fries and a large Jamocha shake – knowing that dinner was going to be ready for me when I walked through the door.
Secrecy and denial were a couple of those traits that I had. Who besides me has snuck off to the kitchen and ate cake with a fork right out of the pan instead of just getting a slice on a plate ? Or, how about standing with the freezer door open, spoon in hand, eating ice cream straight out of the carton? Does any of that sound familiar to any of you? For the record, I have also been one to sit on the kitchen floor with a package of Oreo cookies and either a jar of peanut butter or a jar of Nutella. I do not want to even begin to think about how many calories I would have consumed by doing that.
I was fat, out of shape and ashamed of myself, yet was unable to stop my addiction to these “foods”. I was also in denial to others and myself about just how much crap I was feeding into my body. Like a lot of dieters will tell others, “I don’t know why I can’t lose weight” I would also tell that fib. In fact, everyone of us who has ever suffered a problem with our weight, knows exactly why we can’t lose it. The problem is we just don’t want to admit why.
One man’s story of alcoholism.
I have been reading an autobiography titled “Sold Out” by Bill McCartney who is one of the founders of the Christian men’s movement “Promise Keepers”. Bill was also a highly successful college football coach who appeared to have it all together, yet he was in the throes of addiction to alcohol.
What does this man’s alcoholism have to do with you and your appetite?
As I was reading, I thought about how in one section where he was talking about his alcohol abuse and how it is so similar to how we who suffer from weight problems are so similar to what he suffered from. So, as you read the rest of this article, replace the words related to alcohol with any junk food or situation of your personal experience and then ponder how much this relates to yourself.
I was simply too weak in the face of temptation.
I had confessed my drinking to God Almighty on my knees in my bedroom. Still no power, no breakthrough. No sense of hope whatsoever. It was confusing and discouraging in ways I could not articulate. It stirred in me overwhelming sensations of guilt.
Does this sound familiar to any of you?
I used to sit in the bar in these groups, eyeing the crowd, observing how others would drink. I’d notice with great fascination that most didn’t have a problem setting their glass down after one or two beers and walking away. They were very nonchalant about it; the alcohol hadn’t taken control. They were able to enjoy it, relax, and then let it go. It was a mystery to me. I’d always fought to control my drinking; their control over alcohol didn’t make sense. I wanted what they had. I wanted to drink like normal people drink. I wanted to know that when I stopped in for a beer with the guys, I could get up and leave before I was stone cold drunk. Virtually every time I stopped for a beer. my genuine desire was that I would not drink to excess. So why couldn’t I stop when I wanted? Left to my own common sense and willpower, why did I always carry it to an extreme?
How many times have you been in a church or family gathering and had little to no control over how much you ate? Or, maybe you did have control, but when you took the leftover cake and cookies home, you managed to devour the rest that same evening after telling others they would probably go stale before they all were consumed?
Motives were inconsequential. An alcoholic doesn’t exercise good judgement, period, when it comes to alcohol. The drink itself is boss.
When we crave junk foods, good judgement usually flies right out of the window. Those Little Debbie Cakes are our boss…
Other nights, bored or just plain thirsty, I’d call a friend under the pretense of inquiring about whether his softball team was playing that night. If he said yes, I’d casually suggest, “Why don’t I meet you down at O’Riley’s pub afterward”? It was very shifty, very preplanned. If I felt like drinking, I would leave nothing to chance. If I wanted company, I’d find a drinking partner. If I needed an excuse, I’d make one up.
We all know how fun it is to meet up with friends over a meal. The problem is, we can often eat as many calories in that one meal as we might need for two days.
I’d kneel at my bedside and ask God for forgiveness and deliverance before I went to sleep. The next morning, I’d rise, go to Mass and confess my sin. And while it made me feel better and relieved my guilt, I experienced no change, no transformation, no deliverance. Nothing seemed to make a difference. I frequently ticked off what I knew to be true: I loved God and wanted to serve him; I knew Christ was the Son of God; I faithfully confessed my sins, expecting to be forgiven; I desperately wanted, and thought I knew how to merit, his cleansing power.
But when Mass was over and the prayers had been said, none of it provided much peace or power. I was the same Mac.
The problem for Mac was not that he was not a believer in Christ as being his Savior. The problem was that he would not repent of his behavior even though it was harming his family life. As he said, he was still the same Mac. My friends, this is exactly why we at David’s Way to Health and Fitness teach to begin a new lifestyle once you are serious about weight loss and weight control which must come afterwards. Without becoming a new you, your body will simply revert right back to the old you once you quit your diet. This is what repentance is all about in the Christian faith. Repentance is not a matter of changing behaviors for a little bit, repentance is something we commit to. Think about this; Why should God answer your prayers over your weight, when you are not sincere about changing your lifestyle to permanently do so? God hears all of our prayers, but he is also keenly aware when we are not fully committed to change.
Food addiction is treatable.
In addition to getting appropriate treatment from a healthcare professional, there are things that you can do that will make it easier to cope and aid in your recovery.
- Recognize the signs. Often people’s addictions become ingrained in their lifestyle, to the point where they never or rarely feel withdrawal symptoms. Or they may not recognize their withdrawal symptoms for what they are, putting them down to aging, working too hard, or just not liking mornings. People can go for years without realizing how dependent they are on their addiction.
- Learn about addiction. Remember help is always available. Educating yourself is a good start. You can greatly reduce the amount of harm to yourself and those around you, and maybe one day, you will be ready to change for good.
- Develop coping skills. The harm caused by addiction is particularly difficult to recognize when addiction is the person’s main way of coping with other problems. Sometimes other problems are directly related to the addiction, such as health problems, and sometimes they are indirectly related to the addiction, for example, relationship problems. Developing new coping skills can help you handle life’s stresses without relying on substances or behaviors.
- Get support. Social support from friends and family is important. Joining a support group can be a great way to connect with people with shared experiences.
And you can always follow us here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness where you can learn all that you need to know about healthy weight loss and weight management. The best part of all is that we are free to all. By subscribing to our website, you can always receive our most current articles straight to your email box. This too is free as well.