It’s said that recovering alcoholics and former smokers put their tigers in cages, whereas food addicts take theirs out for walks 3 times a day. One of the quarks of food addiction is that food is a required substance. People often ask how do you cope with being addicted to something you need?
Well, the answer is that food addicts are not addicted to all foods. I’ve never heard of someone being addicted to broccoli. It might taste good roasted with olive oil and tossed with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, but I’ve never sat on my couch thinking, “Oh my God, I want to binge on broccoli!” And even if I did, it’s broccoli. How much damage can a load of cruciferous vegetables really do? I’m not going to start sprouting green florets out of my head.
Most food addicts have trigger foods which are easy to identify because you usually find yourself plunged face first into them. Some people have weaknesses for salty snacks, but I am mostly undone by sweet foods, especially the crunchy ones. I stopped buying Go Lean! Crunch about a year ago because I could not stop munching on it. The same goes for granola. My other triggers include honey or agave nectar, which I will suck right out of the bottle. Other obvious ones are chocolate, ice cream and most any candy. I love baked goods too, like toasted bagels, donuts, or any kind of cake or bread.
So, if I were really, really serious about overcoming food addiction, I would never eat any of these foods again. This is why I am not really, really serious about overcoming food addiction. No more bagels? Ever? For real? The very thought of never having sweet chocolate again makes me want to weepy salty tears.
Instead, my current strategy is to never bring these foods into my house, or if I do bring only one serving at a time. Boxes of 100-calorie packs do not work for me because I eat the whole box. It may say six servings on the side of the box, but I know I am just buying one serving divided into six packages. If you sit just one cinnamon roll in front of me, I will savor its gooey goodness, but if there aren’t any more to binge on, I’m ok. I’ll eat most of this stuff in restaurants too, though the never-ending bread basket can be dangerous, so I avoid that all together if I can. Sometimes this works, other times I stuff my face with pudding and wonder if the scientists will ever figure out what the hell is wrong with me.
People frequently debate what it’s better to be addicted to: food, alcohol, drugs or cigarettes? It seems a bit silly to debate since it sucks to be addicted to anything. Each one has their ups and downs. While as a food addict I cannot give up food all together, a part of me is pleased that I can still consume that which I have an unholy love for as long as I limit it to scenarios where I’m forced to moderate myself. Alcoholics and smokers have to give it up all together, poor bastards. I often complain about the social pressure there is to eat, especially at offices with lots of cake lying around, but there is social pressure to smoke and drink too. I have a friend who’s mostly quit smoking, but craves cigarettes whenever she goes to a bar because so many people smoke there. I also feel bad alcoholics because if a celebratory event doesn’t involve food, it most likely involves alcohol. I’ve lost track of the number of times coworkers or friends have invited me out drinking. If I were an alcoholic, I’d be tempted to become a homebody, or just hang around sober people. I’m mostly grateful that they invite me to bars and not cupcakeries, because then I’d be well and truly screwed.