Any addiction follows a cycle and that includes food addiction. Even though food is not classified as an addiction in the DSM 5, (the Diagnostical and statistical manual for mental health disorders) I have seen people where their eating fits exactly into this food addiction cycle.
It is a cycle because one steps leads to another. The issue in breaking a cycle is when we cannot see the whole cycle. We can only see us eating the food and feeling bad afterwards. To break our addiction, we try and stop ourselves from eating. When this does not work we see it as we have failed. We can learn to be objective about it and view that the eating is a small part of the bigger cycle. When we can see and understand all the parts, we can then start to heal every aspect.
The Food addiction cycle
- The Trigger. Something that causes a reaction in you.
- Upset. The trigger has caused you not to feel good. You want to feel better. This could be happening unconsciously.
- Craving. You really crave the food.
- Eat the food. You give in and eat it. It tastes good and feels good to eat in that moment.
- No Control. We can’t stop eating and it feels like we have lost control.
- Remorse. After eating, we feel bad about what we have eaten. We curse ourselves and blame it on ourselves.
- Want to stop. We say we are not going to eat that food again. We hate the feelings it gives and we don’t want to keep putting on weight.
- Time. We stop and so we feel good for a while. We feel that we can carry on like this forever. Only, step one pops up again and we are back in the cycle.
3 steps that can help to break your food addiction cycle
Being aware of your eating patterns and emotions or beliefs that are driving your addiction. The best place is to start observing yourself as if you are a third party looking at you. It is hard to be mindful from a place of judgement, so come at it from a place of curiosity and fun.
2. What is your trigger?
By observing when you eat, you can start to see what causes you to eat. By being curious you can reverse engineer your eating. For example, you eat that bar of chocolate in the car again. Before that you purposely stopped at the petrol station to buy the chocolate. You stopped because you were bored and chocolate makes you feel better. Before that, as soon as you got into your car you thought about where on your journey you could buy chocolate. The trigger here could be the car, or the thought of long journeys and fixing the boredom. Now you are aware you can start working on the boredom.
3. Be kind to yourself.
You probably experience being frustrated, harsh and unforgiving. You are doing a bad thing by keeping eating that food, so the harshness is to help you from stop doing it again, only it does not work. It’s actually the opposite that help you to stop. Being kind and understanding. Loving yourself. You are not bad, you are just caught up in this food addiction cycle, that does not make you a bad person. When we are kind, it allows us to see into our patterns easier. When a child makes a mistake or has a condition and does something, we tend to talk kindly to that child, we offer support to help the child. Supporting ourselves is what will help us to break the food addiction cycle.