Live in the body you deserve

How to Overcome Your Addictive Food Patterns

October 29, 2018

Bethany Newman 61417 Unsplash

Let’s face it, we are all addicted to something. The voice in our head is completely addicted to fear and negative thinking, which causes us to use food or drugs to make us feel better. What does this look like for you?

For me it's eating sweets at night, or watching too much TV. It used to be doing too many drugs and eating everything that wasn't nailed down.

Whether it’s a nagging bad habit or a full-blown addiction, here are five tools that can help free you from addictive food patterns and fall back in love with health:

1. Take inventory

Every addictive pattern has a trigger. This trigger tells your brain to engage in the addictive habit (for example, watching the food network and seeing a dessert, then craving dessert). Make a point to take inventory each day to identify what thought or story is triggering you to engage in the behavior. From there, you can make a plan to shift your story and use alternative methods of soothing.

This is How You Do It:

A common trigger would be the thought "I'm so stressed, I don't have time to cook, I'll just grab this crappy take-out food."

Once you take inventory and identify this story, then you have the awareness to change it. How about: "I don't have a lot of time to cook tonight, I can grab something quick and healthy this way I maximize my time and maintain a level of energy that allows me to dominate my to-do list!" Here's the truth: grabbing a salad or grabbing a burger takes the same amount of time. So was the above trigger really about time or was it about rationalizing the addictive food choice?!

2. Focus on what you want most, not what you want right now.

We fail to overcome our addictive patterns because we get stuck in the moment of instant gratification instead of the long term pleasure of the outcome we so badly desire. Visualize the outcome of your life without this pattern, and get emotionally connected to why you so badly want it. This will help you step out of the habit and see the greater picture!

This is How You Do It:

As you walk into a restaurant, picture yourself looking fantastic or feeling amazing - for me, it's walking down the beach, holding hands with my hubby, looking f*cking fabulous in a two-piece bikini. Then when I'm challenged with what to order, I keep that vision in mind as I politely pass on the bread.

3. Out yourself and get support.

Whether it’s an addiction to sugar just general overeating, support and accountability are a must for times when we are feeling vulnerable and weak. Lean on a loved one and ask them to keep you accountable. Share with them what you would like to accomplish and how they can support you moving forward. Plan doing positive things together that fulfill a creative outlet. Try cooking with your friends to make it a fun activity, not a chore!

This is How You Do It:

Call a girlfriend and make a plan - customize this to whatever suits your needs. I love texting with a bestie at the end of the night and we review our food, exercise, and what felt great to us that day. Make sure to cheerlead your partner!

4. Write yourself a peace treaty.

The person we are usually meanest to is... ourselves. We will never win a battle where we are fighting against ourselves. There has to be a loser and that loser is… you. Time to make peace with yourself and quiet that “mean girl or guy” voice in your mind.

This is How You Do It:

Write yourself a letter declaring peace. Apologize for past behavior and move forward with clarity. This is a very powerful exercise and a declaration of self-love and acceptance. This is a huge step towards falling back in love with yourself.

5. Have an arsenal of alternative ways of soothing.

When we eat, we are eating emotion. Why we do anything, quite frankly, is to change an emotion that gets us closer to happiness. When you are in the midst of your addictive pattern ask yourself, “what emotion am I trying to change?”

This is How You Do It:

Make a list of tools that you can use to change your emotions when you need a lift. Instead of asking yourself “what do I want to do/eat?” ask yourself “how do I want to feel?”

The most important aspect of overcoming addictive patterns is a strong desire for positive change. If you have an addictive pattern that blocks you from living your best life and you struggle with still enjoying certain aspects of the reward it provides you, then don’t try to rush the process! Use these tools to identify how this habit manifests in your daily life. Continue to focus on your outcome and reflect on the pleasure that is holding you back from making a change. Only through mindfulness and truthful inventory will you get to the place of freedom.