People love to make food the enemy. They blame food for giving them a big butt, tummy and thighs. They blame food for breaking up marriages and causing problems in relationships. They blame food for making them undesirable, unlovable and unhealthy. They even blame food for causing them to be out of control.
But… food didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just food!
Yet so many people blame food for being addictive and causing obsessive eating. They make food the enemy by defining it as addictive.
Food isn’t addictive. You aren’t addicted to sugar or chocolate or chips or brownies or candy or ice cream.
How do I know? Because I used to be obsessed with food and now I am completely neutral andstill eat those so called addictive foods at times. And I have seen many others do it too. You can too…put an end to dieting and diet thinking and you too will realize how non-addictive food is. It’s dieting that causes you to want to eat all of these addictively-named foods, not the food itself.
I have seen and heard from tons of people who stopped dieting and found that their obsessive desire for “addictive” foods disappeared. Food is pleasurable, no doubt about that. However, addiction to food itself – I don’t think so.
I know it can feel like you’re addicted to food. After all, you think about it all the time, you can’t stop eating it, you crave it. You might think it feels the same as being addicted to cocaine or alcohol.
So let’s take a closer peek at this addiction business.
First let’s talk about the enemy kind of addiction-thinking around food.
If you think you are addicted to sugar, for example, you will conclude that you should abstain from eating sugar. If you do this, you are really only going to increase your desire for sugar. That’s how restriction/dieting works. That’s what the binge is all about after all… it is a rejection of food restriction; a rebellion against it. So if you restrict sugar, the binge part will want it more and this is why you think you’re addicted.
Therefore, food addiction that makes food the enemy will not work, even if food was truly addictive (which it isn’t.) Food recovery is different than drug or alcohol recovery. Choosing not to drink alcohol if you are an alcoholic is helpful. But you can’t not eat! So working on your relationship with food from a food-is-the-problem perspective doesn’t work.
There is one way that food is an addiction. Food addiction exists like this: you are addicted to food if you use food to push down your feelings.
Actually, any addiction: alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, exercise, stealing, is only a way to push down feelings, to numb, to cope.
Therefore, you can say you’re addicted to eating to push down feelings but you’re not really addicted to the food itself.
If you want some evidence of this for yourself, give up dieting. I promise that your desire for those foods will decrease and you will be able to choose to eat them or choose not to. No addiction here…
Yet, continue to not address your emotions in a healthy way, and you will find something to be addicted to, whether food or something else. This is why if you list all the behaviors and substances people can be addicted to, you will find that most people are addicted to something.
We tend to hate to feel uncomfortable emotions so we find ways to push them down. This is also why ending your addictions will help bring up the underlying issues and emotions.
You can actually use your relationship to food to help you heal! I think that’s what makes addictions cool. Your addiction to using food to cope is your best teacher of what and who you really are.