Dangerous Emotional Addictions to Food
Lots of people are overweight, and most of them know being overweight is not good for their health. Often their friends and family and even their doctors have advised them to lose weight, but they can’t. They have tried various diets and simply can’t stick with them. As we have seen, many foods are physically addictive, but I want to take a moment to address the emotionally addictive nature of eating as well.
People often overeat for emotional comfort. It can bring fleeting pleasure to life. Food can be a drug-like outlet to dull the pain and dissatisfaction of life, but, like drug or alcohol use, it is never a good long-term solution. It only winds up complicating things further.
What people of all body weights really want is to feel proud of themselves. Overeating and eating unhealthily cannot achieve this. Packing on additional pounds leads to more guilt and self-hate and, subsequently, more overeating to dull the pain. The solution to this cycle must include more than just food menus and diet plans; an emotional overhaul is needed. Eating behavior has to be replaced with other outlets that build self-esteem and offer comfort in emotionally healthy ways. For many people, these outlets can include feeling proud of yourself for improving your health through exercise, for kindness to others, for doing a job well, for developing a new skill, and for making more choices that will improve your future health. Losing weight can be a powerful encouragement to your self-confidence and to a higher self-esteem. In other words, the more reasons you have to feel good about yourself, the increased likelihood you will succeed in every aspect of your life. Your new attitude must be one that lets go of the idea that you are stuck with your lot in life and that you can’t change things. You can.
When you are overweight and you lose weight, you can see it, as can everyone around you. It is a visible representation that you have changed and you have taken back control of your life. You can stop coming up with rationalizations as to why the effort is not worth it, and, instead, you can decide that the rewards are much greater than you ever thought about in the past. But, to get healthy takes considerable focus and effort. You need to plan and put time into this. Of course, it is easier to eat processed and convenient foods and claim you are too busy to squeeze exercise into your schedule, but the effort to do what it takes is well worth it because it will allow you to transform your health and set you free to enjoy a much more pleasurable life. When you first make the commitment to take proper care of yourself and then you put out the effort, you take back control.
These emotional issues are tied into the act of eating for many people, so there is no need to feel alone in experiencing them. If you are someone who experiences these issues, it is helpful to have a friend or a social support so you can share and discuss these topics. It is crucial to address them while also addressing the strong physical addictions that almost every person eating the standard, toxic, American diet has developed. Improving and resolving these addictions is important for weight loss and to increase health and well-being. Food addiction feeds emotional eating behavior, so it becomes nearly impossible to solve overeating problems without addressing the physical factors driving overeating behavior.
This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.
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