The holidays are over. "Diet season" is here. If you are lifelong dieter who can't succeed, read on. There is a solution!
For many of us, eating with abandon during the holidays is a given. We intend to get back on track. Some of us control our food intake for a while, but that control often creates a sense of deprivation that it turn triggers bingeing.
I can remember so many holidays when the pleasure of indulging was mixed with fear and regret -- fear of being out of control and regret for straying from my desire for health.
Year after year I began the holidays already overweight, and ended the holidays even more so. I felt discouraged and helpless and I began to think something was wrong with me. As a result of my compulsive eating, illness occurred and still I was unable to make healthy food choices. My situation may have been more extreme than yours, but, like me, you may have the same irresistible pull toward the foods that cause obesity and other health problems.
I found a solution and I'm here to share it with you. It's not our fault that we have intense food craving. Food craving is the reason that New Year's resolutions for healthy eating fail. Let's look at the challenge here, and the solution.
The Challenge -- how to enjoy the pleasure of food without overeating.
1. Pleasure -- Good food is one of the pleasures of life. This pleasure is multi-layered. We enjoy the taste. We enjoy the process of eating. Research on the food-mood connection shows that eating releases neurotransmitters that generate well-being. Our challenge is to enjoy these pleasures without overdoing it.
2. Love -- How many of us had parents for whom "food was love?" Our first connection with the mother is umbilical and, after birth, through the bottle or breast. Her nourishment insures our survival. As attachment forms, love develops. A survival connection becomes a love connection. Having meals with family and friends gives a sense of belonging and loving connection - basic components of well-being. Our challenge is to enjoy a shared meal safely. For those of us who use food, especially sweets, to soothe ourselves when feeling sad or lonely, our opportunity here is to find healthy ways of allowing love and happiness.
3. Craving -- We've seen two basic needs that get met through food: pleasure and love. The question remains: why do we overdo it? Why can't we eat in moderation? The reason is that some of us are wired differently. Yes, it's not our fault. We have addictive responses that compel us to overeat. It's widely known that sugar is an addictive substance. Studies show the chemical similarities among sugar, alcohol and cocaine. For many of us, the foods that metabolize into sugar -- refined flour, starch and grains -- are also addictive. Fats, salty, crunchy and creamy foods may be problematic too. Instead of satisfying us they make us hungry for more. What is the solution?
1. Get clear about what foods make you want to eat more. Explore what foods to eliminate and what foods to cut back on. With support you can discover what to eat for daily health and pleasure.
2. Get clear about your triggers -- what situations and feelings make you want to eat. Some examples of situational triggers are times of day and easy access to tempting foods.
3. Times of day -- Let's say you have a healthy breakfast and lunch but by dinnertime you are ravenous. The urge to "cheat" is there and the ability to resist that urge is not. If you are a nighttime eater then nighttime is a trigger for you. With support, you won't have to indulge at night.
4. Easy access -- There may be tempting foods in your kitchen, at your workplace, in fast food drive-ins on your way home from work. With support, you will be empowered to stay true to your vision of health.
5. Feelings -- Food is an "anti-depressant." It makes us feel good temporarily. When the "high" wears off, the unpleasant feeling returns, along with regret for the calories. With support, you can develop the ability to be uncomfortable emotionally, witnessing the discomfort and knowing it will pass. You can learn how to experience all your feelings without suppressing them with food.
6. Plan and prepare meals to have ready at home and take with you for your day.
7. Get support. Work with a coach, an eating buddy, or a group for the support and accountability required to stay on track.
8. Tools -- Find the ones that work for you. Use spiritual tools like mindfulness, prayer and affirmations. Journal to understand the feelings that make you hungry and learn how to have your feelings safely. Develop a food plan and a day plan in which you anticipate triggers that may arise and plan for them. If this sounds like a lot, remember that solid support is the key to success.
9. Love yourself for undergoing the process of learning how to self-nourish. Be willing to accept and forgive yourself for missteps along the way. Be open to learning from them and believe that, with support, you can do this, one baby step at a time. You can develop healthy habits that will let you lose weight and nourish your body, mind and soul.
For help with weight-loss and food addiction recovery, contact email@example.com.