Food addiction is a real addiction, unlike drugs and alcohol abuse it is not seen as near as a problem of alcohol or drugs but left untreated can result in mental, emotional, and physical health issues which can affect the quality of your life, your health and your mobility. Food addiction like all addictions are driven by the brain's desire to re-create a pleasurable feeling you had in response to something which is lodged in your sub-conscious mind. So when you don’t feel good your mind comes up with solutions to the problem which results in reaching for that good feeling food. The more you satisfy your need to feel good through food the stronger the habit becomes. Our minds and body are designed to work together to reward you with chemicals and hormones to make you feel happy and therefore increase your chances of survival. Manufacturers of processed foods know that by pushing highly addictive chemicals like sugar, salt and other ingredients into food will release dopamine,serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins into our brain and provide us with extreme pleasure when we eat them so isn’t it a wonder we become addicted to them! These chemicals wear off after a while and we start craving the good feeling again which we now associate with a particular food . Sugar is highly addictive and comes in many forms such as corn syrup, malt syrup, and agave nectar to name but a few.
Changing your mindset around food and understanding how the addiction works as well as educating yourself on the different types of food is the only successful way of beating food addiction and losing weight. Habits are lodged in the sub-conscious mind so change can only come from accessing this mind and changing the old habits to form new ones. I say to my clients who are looking to change a bad habit “ to pick your hard”! Yes we all agree it’s hard to lose weight but it is equally as hard to be overweight as it affects us negatively.
Here are some simple guidelines to start with:
- Educate yourself on labels and ingredients and all forms of sugar. Clear out your cupboards with any of these forms of sugar. Remember the more you eat them the more difficult it will be to fight the next craving.
- Eat regularly: when you don’t eat regularly your sugar levels drop and you’re more prone to reaching for sugary foods for energy.
- Eat lots of protein with every meal and some plant-based foods. Protein is the growth and repair food but will also keep you full for longer.
- Eat slow releasing carbohydrates and foods that don’t spike your sugar levels.
- Know your triggers: stress, tiredness and not feeling good can make your reach for sugary foods in order to feel better.
- Get plenty of exercise: this will help you feel good when you’re feeling low and give you more energy so you don’t reach for high energy foods.
- Feed your body not your mind. Ask yourself does my body need food or is my mind looking to feed a craving. When you eat regularly you will have a better idea if you are feeding your body or your addiction.
- Bad habits can very quickly become an addiction. In order to break a habit you must also change your thinking around that habit using positive affirmations about loving yourself and loving your body this also helps you resist high sugary foods.
- Have a feel-good plan. When you’re feeling low or stressed think of something positive you can do to beat the craving and set down a new association with feeling better. You must replace the craving with something positive that releases the same good feeling chemicals like exercise for example. This when practiced over time will become your new positive habit and will overcome the negative one.
- Try not to be too hard on yourself if you give in to the addiction just start again. Remember practice is key. The habit that you practice most will win. Visualise the end result and know and believe you can achieve it.
Isn’t time you made the change..
For a full programme on how to make positive lifestyle changes and beat addictions call Gwen at Bodyscene
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