Sometimes you don’t know how broken something is until you fix it. This was the case with my eyesight. I’ve always worn glasses and I generally get my eyes checked regularly, but I hadn’t gone for a long, long, time until recently, when I had a difficult time reading print books and licenses at work. I thought my eyes were just getting old, and that I was having a normal problem reading. But after I had a thorough exam and bought new glasses, I saw how broken my vision was. Now I can read the numbers on licenses and the fine print on signs at work. I can read paperback books again, the type no longer blurry. I no longer feel like my sight is aging too fast. My eyes had been open to a new perspective.
As I struggle with my weight loss, I am seeing the journey with new eyes. I used to look at the numbers of other weight watchers and I would think “It’s taken you how long to lose how much?” Too long for too little an amount of weight. I am one of those people I looked down upon not long ago. There’s more to this struggle than just eating less and moving more. A lifetime of hiding in food and fat cannot be overcome in a few months. There’s a lot of reprogramming that needs to go on. Old fears and beliefs, old habits all make for a powerful pull to not lose and stay the same, even though the same weight means unhappy and unhealthy.
Finding a new way to relate to food is really hard. Very necessary but a challenge that leaves me drained and seeking familiar solace in a box of cookies. I haven’t found my magic bullet that affords me the same comfort level sans food. Reading, writing, working and my art all provide a great deal of satisfaction, but they don’t take the place of food. Nothing has done that yet. I wonder if I will ever find the answer?
What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with this?
Changing your lifestyle is not easy. Yes, this statement comes as a surprise to me. When I first started this journey, everything clicked and fell together with ease. The food was easy to prepare, it was good, I was engaged and it was fun. I proudly extolled the virtues of Weight Watchers Online to anyone who would listen, proudly stating it was a program I could be on for the rest of my life. It was new, and again, it was fun. The weight peeled off and I relished my newfound success. As time progressed the weight loss slowed, but continued. More time went by and the weight loss plateaued and the newness wore off. No longer fun, this weight loss journey became work. And the loss was sporadic.
Weight loss is like a relationship, with all the same stages. My track record with relationships is spotty at best, so here I am, stalled, feeling overwhelmed and discouraged and knowing that the answer lies somewhere inside me to resume the fight and get back to losing. The honeymoon is over and now comes the work to keep putting one foot in front of the other, making the time between weigh-ins productive and focused. The newness must be replaced with tenacity and resolve. My previous negative experiences with relationships pushed to the back burner and a new trial and error education has commenced.
No room for failure, I went very public early on in this battle between me and the food and the exercise. I did it by design. It’s easy to fail in private, and success is best experienced with others to share the journey. I thought all I would write about would be the positives of the journey. But that’s not realistic, is it? So, I share with you the struggle; dirty and painful. Food pulls at me and we dance, sometimes I lead, sometimes the food leads. The goal is for me to lead always.
I have a goal. I have a plan. I have the desire. I have a public platform. Now, I resume the work needed to get this journey back on track. Stay with me, because I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting ride.
So, You think you’re addicted to food? Now what? You have to tame the tiger, ’cause you can’t just walk away from it. As a food addict myself, I can say that trying to eliminate the problem completely, like not eating any sugar or carbs or fat doesn’t work. See the post yesterday. But what does seem to work is:
Balancing your menu and eating freshly prepared foods, not processed foods. More veggies and fruits. Keep fat to a minimum, but do have some, like olive oil.
Some people have better luck cutting out sugar and synthetic sugar products (like diet soda) completely from their diet.
Writing down everything you eat in one journal, and in another journal or in a support group, write or talk about how you are feeling. Track what your trigger emotions are so you can better deal with them. Identifying a problem makes it easier to solve.
Exercise more, especially when angry or emotional. Exercise helps to re-direct emotions away from food.
Professional help. There are many emotional issues related to food addiction and therapy is instrumental in breaking through those issues.
As you may know already, I’m losing my weight with Weight Watchers and I find that the plan is the most balanced and realistic in terms of real world interaction with food. Since I had such a disastrous experience with cutting out sugar completely, I am practicing moderation which seems to work. I get cravings, I plan to eat something sweet in a normal portion size and then the craving goes away. I haven’t over-indulged and I am behaving like my thin friends and that is one of my goals. To behave normally around food. Balance is important in life, and I am finding that with WW, I have balance. Therapy is also helpful, more for the emotional issues rather than the actual addiction.
Are you addicted to food? What do you do to handle it?
About three years ago, I found a 12-step program for food addiction. It was regimented in a very strict way, with a sponsor, early morning phone calls, meetings three times a week and no carbs or sugar. At all. I stayed on the program for 8 months and I lost 80 lbs. So what’s wrong with that? Well, cravings are what’s wrong with that and I craved sugar and carbs even after 8 months. I gave in and had some and then I was off and running, eating them like I was starving. I later found out I was starving and that’s why I couldn’t stop. The body needs a balance of all foods. I was devastated by the relapse and subsequent weight gain. And I felt like I was free from a certain amount of brain-washing that was going on. The program may work for some, but no doctor will endorse it I’m sure. No trainer will endorse it, and my body didn’t endorse it.
But the question remains, “Can Food Be Real Addiction?” Why Yes, Yes It Can…
It’s no secret the United States has an obesity problem. You only have to go grocery shopping or people watching at the mall to see the evidence of this. With the numbers rising, and no end in sight, science has been studying the problem and has found that excessive sugar, fat, and salt given to animals activate the same receptors that drugs trigger. The brain is craving dopamine, whose receptors maybe lacking in many addicted people and sugar/salt/fat trigger dopamine and the “high”. But it doesn’t last and the person is off craving it again, obsessing over the foods that will make them feel good again, even though this behavior is wrong, even though it is making them fat, miserable, and in some cases diseased. For those that say just say no and exhibit some self-restraint, imagine telling a drug addict or an alcoholic to just say no, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work with food either.
Dr. Oz has a list of questions to ask if you suspect you might be addicted to food:
Are you hiding and sneaking food?
Are you thinking about food for more than an hour a day?
Eating after arguing?
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you go without food?
Do you eat despite not being hungry?
The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale has these questions:
Do you spend a lot of time feeling lethargic after eating?
Do certain foods trigger you to eat to excess?
Do you find you have to eat more of a food to get the same good feelings from it?
Do you have trouble functioning because of food and your behavior with it?
Unlike drugs or alcohol, which you theoretically can walk away from, food must be the tiger played with everyday. So how do you do that if you are addicted? See my post tomorrow for more information on food addiction…