Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Food Addiction

I know many people who go into fitness, train hard, look good, who have still not come to terms or created a balanced and healthy relationship with food and exercise. Even the ones who post inspiring pictures of themselves looking fit, or try to inspire others to work out, or they are competitive either in fitness or sports, I still see vacillate from not working out at all to over-training and killing themselves.

I see them vacillate from hardly eating to binging. I have a competition coming up or I need to look good for this thing coming up, let me starve and work out a lot. Now that this thing is over, let me eat A LOT and not work out at all.

In a way they have mastered the physical aspects of fitness but not the mental aspects. They haven't come to terms with valuing themselves, their relationship with food, using exercise as a form of obsessive control.

Food addiction is not a fitness or a calorie count, calorie burn issue, it's a mental health issue. This is a fantastic article.

"I know how it starts. 
Believe me, I've been there. 
You have a bite. 
And then another. 
Next thing you know, the box is gone and you feel terrible. 
(Again.) 
You're disgusted, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, and -- even through the fog of a sugar high -- you know you're SO much smarter than this. So why can't you stop eating? 
The answer is because it's not about the food. It's about numbing and distracting yourself so you can avoid something unpleasant. 
The boss you don't like. 
The spouse who is distant. 
The past you're trying to forget -- or perhaps the future you're trying to avoid. 
My own food addiction in college stemmed from a deeeeeply internalized fear of entering "the real world" with no job, no money, and $40,000 in student loans. (Seriously. My debit card was rejected at Subway.) 
Still... rather than face these fears head on, I'd hit up three different drive-thrus, eat my weight in greasy sandwiches, hate myself for a few hours, go to bed, wake up, hit the gym, and let the cycle begin again. 
Sure there was some greedy appeal in the deviously, chemically-addictive food itself, but the added appeal was that the more time I spent focusing on how out of control I was in this area of my life, the less time I had to actually deal with the other parts. So the distraction was subconsciously intentional. 
To be honest, I didn't think I'd write about this topic again. I've already been there, done that and I recovered a long time ago. 
But then I read this introduction to Mika Brzezinski's new book and so closely identified with her pain and the "daily tyranny" of her hidden addiction that it brought me back to my own struggle, and those of my friends. 
While I didn't use this word at the time, I know without question that I got my life back through mindfulness. 
In fact, the day I started to heal was the day I (finally) admitted I couldn't change what I couldn't acknowledge. And once I became willing to observe the triggers that made me want to escape through food, the more I learned the root cause of my bingeing was stress. 
Here comes the disclaimer. 
You don't have to be a food addict to recognize the pattern of emotional eating. We've all reached for the ice cream at some point to soothe the pain of a broken heart or a broken dream. (The difference, of course, is that addicts can't stop.)"

Read more: The Huffington Post
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