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How to Overcome Food Addiction

food addictionSo much of losing weight is about food addiction. Time and time again we fail at our weight loss attempts because of strong physiological and emotional cravings. Food is comfort. Food makes us happy. Food stimulates the reward center of the brain. To succeed at our weight loss goals, we first need to discover our relationship with food, and then outline a plan to overcome those bad habits.

Why is Food Addicting?

Food is addicting for many reasons, and the reasons are going to differ from person to person. Physical addictions tend to remain the same, however. High blood sugar, insulin, and chemicals in our food stimulate the feel-good chemicals in our brains. Neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin get released and make you crave those foods over and over again. The urges are real. They are strong. They can be debilitating.

The emotional addiction to food is much more complex and individual. There are a million different reasons for why we seek comfort in food. Maybe it’s out of boredom, sadness, social acceptance, depression, anxiety, or some other reason. Whatever the case, you need to think long and hard about why you eat the things you do.

What is Your Relationship With Food?

We all want to be healthy. Given the choice, we would all eat nothing but healthy food if we knew we could be happy and satisfied. Why then is it so hard to let go of the food choices that cause us physical and emotional harm?

I write this article out of personal experience. Fitness and healthy eating in particular have been lifelong journeys for me. After years of going through the motions, I’m just now truly discovering my relationship with food, the cause and effect it has on my body and mind, and what actions I need to take to overcome my processed food addiction. I want you to be able to skip through years of suffering so that you too can start making a lasting positive change in your life.

Taking Action

The next time you feel yourself reaching for unhealthy food, ask yourself why. Why are you doing this? Why do you think you need this? Is this going to make you feel better? For how long? How will you feel tomorrow after you’ve made this decision?

I know that for me, making that unhealthy food choice is going to give me instant gratification. I’m going to feel great – for a while. However, after a few hours, I’m going to have feelings of regret, and once I get on the scale tomorrow, I’m going to beat myself up for that decision, and swear to never eat it again.

Easier said than done though, because when I’m faced with making that food choice again, the addiction is so strong that I’ll make the wrong choice once again. The downward spiral continues, and the negative consequences build on themselves. Feelings of depression and hopelessness creep in, which leads to more harmful eating behavior.

But that’s me. Your relationship with food might be totally different. Whatever the case, you have to pinpoint the reasons for why you continue to make harmful decisions. Once you accept that you have a problem, you can start working on the cause. Fixing the root of the problem instead of focusing on the symptoms is key for long-term weight loss.

Overcoming your food addiction is all about making the right choices, however tough they might be in that one single moment. A single right decision can change your life forever. You have to break that negative cycle. It only takes one right choice to turn things around. What choice are you going to make the next time you’re faced with a tough decision?

  • Buster

    Thank You CC, You have been assisting me greatly with fat loss. The positive reenforcement is important. After a lifetime of fatness starting at age 8 ( I am 63 now)
    I discovered a sport that is “weight sensitive” and I AM GOING TO DO IT” It has been 33 years since I did a skydive on a whim. NOW I want to Skydive as my primary sport.
    My weight reached 278 at the peak with a BMI of 39. I am now at 230. My goal is 180, that will make my “exit weight with Rig” 200. At 180 I can fly with my friends in freefall.
    I have been at 180 before (circa 1981) I still thought of myself as fat (crazy huh ?). Anyway my point is that, Skydiving has been the focus of my success in losing fat this time. I started eating healthy about October 2011. I might be at 180 on New Years Day 2014. I am 6′ 1″ 230 lbs and DOB 5-28-49
    Buster
    CC you are a Great Man. Your life counts for something because you help others.

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

      That’s great to hear Buster, and I appreciate the kind words!

      It sounds like you found your true motivation for losing weight, and nothing can get in your way now. I am very happy for you!

  • Mari

    I’ve been struggling with my food addiction since I’ve been ten… now I’m 27 and still searching for a way to cure this. Your article is so true. How do I overcome the fear of repeated failure? I think it contributes to the downward spiral too.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    That’s a tough question Mari. My advice to you is to come to an understanding that you will fail. The most important thing is to have a plan for when you do. Start trying to figure out what in particular is having the failure so that you can avoid it in the future. Also, have a game plan for getting back on track. The key is to be on the right track 90% of the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smfennell Susan O’Donnell Fennell

    Fantastic! I’m so glad I found you! I have started (yet again) to break this bondage. Your website is just what I need to browse everyday. This article hits the nail right on the head.

  • http://twitter.com/Lmghall Leah Hall

    Thank you for all the great articles, they have been extremely valuable during my health revolution.

    Food has definitely been the most difficult challenge for me in terms of losing body fat. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m eating healthy whole foods and have eliminated processed foods, following the 80/20 plan.

    Currently I’m trying to get more in touch with my stomach…in the sense that when I think I’m hungry, am I brain hungry or stomach hungry? Is my brain making me think that I want food, or does my stomach actually need food?

    This usually works out just fine during the day, but as soon as I get home and dinner time hits then it all goes to hell. I’ll usually eat dinner and then my brain rebels. I get these inexplicable cravings for ‘yummy’ food, whether it be cereal, a smoothie, or [insert sweet food here]. The annoying part is that I have just eaten dinner and I know I’m not hungry, because my stomach is full!

    Do you have any advice for ignoring my brain’s evil cravings after dinner? Or is it just going to take brute force and determination?

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    I personally make myself a whole foods “cheat” meal that I eat every night. Something like ice cream made with greek yogurt, peanut butter, honey, and frozen blueberries. Find a healthy alternative that tastes great to you.

  • oluwakemi

    i seriously have tried but i don’t know how to get over my addiction for food,i just seem unable to except i tune my mind or something..i currently weigh 87kg am 5.8ft..how do i know what calories to eat to loose weight,i plan on doing an hr walk daily and using my dumbells at home..i went on the cambridge diet to jumpstart my weightloss but i got it all back…

  • Theresa

    This topic needs alot more attention in the fitness world; i appreciate that you started a dialogue here; I am studying to be a personal trainer and everything is so outwardly focused; i believe we need to spend alot more time addressing eating disorders and emotional eating in general; ways to cope and learning new ways of rewarding ourselves.

  • JoAnn Hadfield

    I have suffered with anxiety and depression or over 30 years. I definitely eat when I am depressed. It is comforting. I have overcome the binge eating more than once and do great for several months. I feel great, I exercise more, but somehow it creeps back into my life, and I allow it. Have to ask myself those questions everytime I am making an eating decision.

  • gok2010

    I just love food and struggle with a reduced calorie intake..I could eat all day but know its no good for me and my health…Currently trying yet again to reach target weight only 14lbs to go ( Ive lost 54lbs already)….I have just had to find something nice that is lower in calories to replace the junk food I eat and stop beating myself up everytime I fail..I will succeed one day..Thanks for the great articles