I am guessing you have clicked on this post out of intrigue but it isn’t as it sounds. I am not a relapsed alcoholic though the amount I used to drink in my younger days I am surprised I did get addicted. I have never taken any illegal drugs to my knowledge though do believe I once had my drink spiked but that’s another story. What I am talking about is a food addiction. In the last few months I have thought a lot about this and feel it is something I should share. I am sure many of you will resonate with this or at least I hope so anyway!
Why do I say it is an addiction?
The reason I have come to realise my issue with food is an addiction is quite simple. I can not cope with just a little of the bad stuff, I am an all or nothing kind of girl. If you follow Slimming World also you will know that you can have 5-15 syns a day, more if you are a certain weight or male (blooming men!). Those syns can be used on anything from mayonnaise to chocolate but I just can not have a little chocolate. It isn’t just that I have no will power as I clearly do to have initially lost over 10 stone. It is that the effects that I get from certain foods – mostly cakes, cookies and such rather than takeaways, crisps or chocolate, I just crave and struggle to cope without.
Have it in moderation?
I hear you say well isn’t this all of us? Well, to some degree I agree however I feel that a food addiction is one that means that a certain few foods become part of your life most days and you struggle to function without them. I had, back in 2013/2014 before I joined Slimming World relied on certain foods every day and never let myself run out of those. When I started losing weight I cut these things out entirely and that went well. I never used my syns for things like that and rarely used them at all.
Now fast forward a few years and I struggled emotionally. Not just recently with my dad passing away and all the emotions attached to that (post about that here) but many other things and the general ups and downs of having quite severe depression. I treated myself a few times to a doughnut, a cookie or some flapjack. Those highs and lows I get from the carbs and sugars in these unhealthy snacks are addictive and I wanted more and more. I have got to the point now where essentially I am coming back off them again. I have no doubt that these highs and lows have contributed dramatically to my depression and also my fibromyagia that has got worse again (link in the image below to the previous post about that).
If it is an addiction how do you tackle it?
This is where I feel I have been going wrong. When I first lost my weight with Slimming World I guess I thought my addiction was cured. I expected that now I knew I could be a size 6-8 and felt good like that it would be easy to resist the bad foods. It was for a while, I hadn’t addressed the addiction properly though. I hadn’t realised that deep inside me there was still that Jen who would find comfort in doughnuts and cookies. The Jen who couldn’t stop when she got those endorphins and sugar rush those things provide. This same Jen who then would have a crash when the feelings wear off and the depression would be worse again. This cycle made me more likely to go back to scoffing the bad stuff again to keep that feeling. The cycle of addiction, essentially self-medicating yourself with something harmful to you either physically, mentally or a combination of the two.
I am on antidepressants and have been for a number of years. My depression is quite severe and the doctor has said it is unlikely I will ever fully come off them which I understand and I accept. The problem I do have however is that I have had many adverse reactions to medications in the past leaving the doctors with very few options for me and not much scope to increase my dose. I am however seeing my doctor again for advice on this. I also know my counselling I had previously helped me immensely so I am going to work on helping myself using those tools. I also have to accept responsibility for my own recovery.
My recovery plan
This may sound drastic but the reality is I have turned to food to the point I have self-medicated myself with it and it has become a vicious cycle. I am ashamed to say that in the same way, alcoholics feel they need a drink I feel I need these foods and I know I don’t but I feel like I do and for me, I need to crack that addiction. I need to stop sneaking extra food into the house when I am alone. I must stop making excuses for myself to go shopping after I have ordered food online to try and avoid this! I think the first stage is fully accepting the problem I have. Whilst I have shared this with you previously I don’t think I have ever told you the amount I have been eating and the feelings I have had in-depth. I hope that in the same way that alcoholics stand and admit to being an alcoholic as the first step to recovery I can do this and it will help me. Whilst I have depression otherwise I am truly happy with my life but I do need to tackle this and keep working on my depression.
Admitting my problems
I am Jen, I was extremely overweight and addicted to food, I used to feed myself to hide the fact I was in an abusive relationship and make me feel better about myself. I overcame this and lost over 10 stone and felt amazing. My depression took hold again and I started to eat again, it made me hate my body so I ate more and the cycle continued. I am now feeling huge and looking similar. I am not quite as big as when I first joined Slimming World but I am getting close and I need that to change. I some days am eating extortionate amounts to make myself feel better. It is a temporary fix and will never help in the long term. Sitting and eating a bag of doughnuts, a pack of almond fingers, a packet of chocolate digestives and a malt loaf some days is not healthy. Stuart doesn’t even know it has been that bad, I have hidden it well. I am a secret eater.
That is why I have put on weight. I have a problem and I am going to tackle it again. I am going to stop medicating myself with food and accept I can not be trusted to go to the shops on my own anymore. I am going to get bac to where I was and I am going to work on tackling this addiction for good this time. The feeling I get from these foods is not healthy and I need to go cold turkey forever in the same way alcoholics go tea total.
This is the Jen I am going to get back to. Not the hideous Jen I was today when I tried clothes on and looked awful. To get there though I need help. If you see me with anything bad in my trolley at the supermarket, or even in the supermarket alone tell me off.
I have food addiction too Jen. What can I do?
My first suggestion would be to look realistically at what the problem is. I don’t have an issue with take-aways, chocolate, crisps or ice-cream. I can take or leave those with no issues. The addiction I seem to have is carb based sweet treats. Find what your specific problems are with. Be honest with yourself and look at yourself in a full length mirror and see what you have done to yourself or what you are doing. Can you realistically manage to just have a bit or do you need to go cold turkey? Accept that this problem will never go away and will always need addressing.
Give yourself a talking to and be strong. You have a problem and you need to accept that. This isn’t just a few bad decisions that you have made this is an addiction you will need to overcome. The advantage is this is not a medical addiction like people have to heroin, your body will not suffer withdrawal effects that are dangerous. It is however a psychological addiction and mentally it will be hard not just now but for the rest of your life. That does not mean you can not do it though, you can. I did it once but I relapsed, this time I will do it and hopefully I will not relapse again.
I hope that in being honest I have not scared you all off. I am still the same Jen but hopefully those with a problem like mine will feel they can accept that too. Please don’t ask specifically what I weigh now as I have been asked a few times recently and don’t feel it is something I wish to admit and hope you can understand that. When I get back to target I will tell everyone how out of target I was today but for now it is between me and the scales, and my Slimming World Consultant.
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