Photo courtesy of Melissa Maples
The first step to recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is acceptance. We’ve all heard that saying before, and many of us probably know someone who’s dealt with a substance abuse problem. Once a drug or alcohol addict admits to having a problem, the solution is removal of the addictive substance and learning the self-awareness skills that will help them avoid temptation in the future.
Plenty of people use drugs and alcohol for a variety of acceptable social and medicinal reasons, but an addict has reached a sense of physically and psychologically craving their substance of choice. Did you know that a very similar addiction can also happen with food?
I started thinking about this topic when I read a few very disturbing news articles last week. One reported that 25% of women would rather be severely depressed than overweight. In fact, 15% would rather be blind. When I delved a little deeper into the topic, I realized that food addiction is a huge psychological issue for many people.
The culture that we live in glorifies emaciated and gaunt women (as well as thin, muscular, attractive men), and has created a sense of desperation in some people to live up to those glorified images. The problem? In order to do so they must kick their secret food habit, and that is much, much harder than it seems.
Food addicts need food to survive, so unlike alcohol or drugs, avoidance of the very thing that has become an addiction is nigh on impossible. Thus, these people slide into self-hatred at their inability to quit over-eating.
Guess what goes really well with self-loathing? You’ve got it – comfort food.
Thus begins a seemingly unbreakable cycle of self-starvation, hunger, binge-eating, and self-hatred. Pepper in a little depression, fatigue, and what you end up with is someone who sees food as an enemy and a best friend.
Breaking the cycle of turning to food for comfort is difficult because we’re surrounded by food every day. A food addict must continue to feed herself and her children in order to simply stay alive, whereas a drug addict can flush his pills down the toilet and begin “recovering.”
The secret to breaking the food-as-comfort cycle is self-acceptance. Come to terms with the fact that you may never be a size two. Love yourself anyway. Focus on all the things that you love about being you and get rid of negative influences. Even if you’re “overweight,” it’s ok. Stop the struggle. Just be you. Eat to nourish your body, not to comfort your emotions. Change starts on the inside, even when we’re talking about physical appearance.
By fully accepting yourself just as you are, and allowing for the fact that you may never be any thinner than you are right this very second, you release the pressure from yourself to be something that you’re not. Stop dieting and start living. Many food addicts can only lose excess weight once they enter into a healthier relationship with themselves. But even if you’re never as thin as you want to be, it’s ok. You’re beautiful how you are, here, now, today.