Food addiction - what to do about it?
By Dr Alison Kamffer
Now we have established that food addiction is a very real problem, what do you do about it?
Alcohol, nicotine and drugs are not necessary for life, so it is easy to say avoid them completely, but not so for food; we have to eat!
Fortunately not all foods create the same chemical response in the body. After all, we all know about chocaholics, but have you ever come across an egg-aholic? Or a beef-aholic? Unlikely! This is because fat and protein foods don’t cause the same reaction as carbohydrates, which as it turns out, are, like alcohol, nicotine etc, not essential nutrients!
How to break the addiction: Cold turkey or gradual withdrawal?
As with all addiction problems, the 1st step is acknowledgment. Accept that you have a problem, and that you CAN do something to overcome it.
Identify your triggers: what makes you run for the chocolate/ doughnut/ bread/ cool drink? Is it emotional discomfort, loneliness, anger, hormone related, or as a reward?
Once you are aware of the triggers, write them down so that you become aware of the danger signals, and think of alternatives to eating in response to each trigger that you have identified. It may be a cup of soup or something else savoury, it may be to phone a friend, take the dog for a walk, write a letter, check your Facebook... it doesn’t matter, but have something pleasant to do at trigger times.
Meanwhile try very hard to eat 3 low carbohydrate meals every day. Breakfast isn’t the important meal it is sometimes made out to be, but at the same time, it isn’t wise to wait until you are desperately hungry to eat, as that will lead to grabbing whatever is available, which is usually convenience food and sugar laden! Be prepared with a menu that you are able to stick to and that you will enjoy, and always start the meal with a mouthful of protein. This prevents a large rush of insulin in response to starch, which then overreacts and drops the blood sugar, leading to hunger and cravings again.
If you are used to sugar in your tea and coffee, start to reduce the amount by ½ teaspoon every 3-4 days. Artificial sweeteners are acceptable but not ideal, and the sooner you can develop a taste for sugarless beverages the better. Likewise if you are a gas cool drink addict, begin with the diet variety until you can wean yourself off completely, and drink soda water instead.
As I have stated above, carbohydrate is NOT an essential nutrient, although most of us will eat some in our diet in the form of fruit and/ or vegetables. If you are a diabetic on any medication more than just Metformin, please consult a knowledgeable professional about reducing your medication, as your sugars will drop, and eventually you will likely need much less, if any medication, be it tablets or insulin!
SureSlim’s programs are all designed around a low refined carbohydrate lifestyle, and we also offer a ‘low carb’ program. We will also give you the needed support and nutritional knowledge to successfully become an ex addict!
Written by SureSlim's Dr Ali.