"The experience of trying to change my diet reminded me of the emotional process I underwent when quitting drugs, there were physical and emotional withdrawals."
As a young teen I promised myself that, even though I was surrounded by friends who made drugs a large part of their lifestyle, I would never do so. However, in my later teens drugs gradually took over my life. Over time, I became convinced that I could not live without the escape that drugs provided from a lonely existence. The psychological term for this is “association.” I made a powerful pleasure association with drugs, bonding a destructive behavior to positive emotions. Breaking the strands of addiction at nineteen years old was a spiritual moment, allowing me the freedom to begin to grow away from the need to do drugs. But it was not easy; it took some tuff inner work.
Food Addiction Means Money
The food industry is well aware of the power of pleasure association, and they shamelessly use it in advertising. “Eat this and you will be cool and happy. “Nothing is said about whether the food is healthy, other than a token gesture of touting their offerings as “low fat”, yet hiding its highly addictive qualities. The psychological aspects of food addiction are just the beginning, the entire homeostatic balance must adapt to the processed sugars, finely ground white floor, transformed fat, excessive salt, and manmade chemicals which are associated with these so-called foods. When trying to eat healthy, you are faced with a double whammy. Emotions demand the associated positive feelings that an apple will not provide, and the body cries out for a deadly food that it has become homeostatically adapted to.
Overcoming Food Addiction Hurts
The experience of trying to change my diet reminded me of the emotional process I underwent when quitting drugs, there were physical and emotional withdrawals. It felt wrong. There were days I experienced terrible emotional withdrawals, and as a result I fought strong doubts that the changes I was making were healthy. The good news is that it did not take long until I began to experience positive results. Physical withdrawals were the strongest, but the first to go. It took much longer for the more cunning emotional ties to junk food to be recognized and broken. The process of developing new pleasure associations to lighter healthy food took time. Today, if I were to eat a fraction of the junk food I ate years ago, I would feel sick, foggy minded and weak. Over time, my body has adapted to a healthy nutrient-rich diet and no longer has the tolerance for addictive food.
Within one week of changing to a healthier diet, many see a remarkable improvement in health, needing less sleep, and feeling greater vitality. Unfortunately, at the beginning this is overshadowed by withdrawal. Within weeks, however, the cravings disappear, leaving in their dirty wake joyous new health and vitality. Then fresh emotional associations can develop—crunchy carrots or a sweet mango will be a treat to look forward to.
The Joy Of Breaking Food Addiction
The experience of a colleague of mine is a great example of how radically we can adapt and even control how we change. Cathy went to Weight Watchers to lose forty pounds of unwanted fat. They put her on a much more restrictive diet than she was used to. I saw her in the staff room with salads, fruits and whole wheat pitas, stuffed with low fat meat and alfalfa sprouts, looking severely miserable. Two months later, I saw Cathy again when she came back after the summer holidays. She had lost all her weight, yet there she was, eating the same healthy foods for lunch and looking blissfully happy! When I asked her about it, she joyfully said, “You know, I used to drive home after work, all excited about deciding where I was going to eat supper. It was like a game for me, would it be fish and chips, pizza or a Big Mac and shake? Now when I drive home all I can think about is the healthy supper I’m going to make for myself.”
She was beaming at me when she said this. It was like she had been released from a prison. And she looked great—everyone told her so.
Was it easy for Cathy, especially in the beginning? No. But if you were to ask her if it was worth it, she would say an enthusiastic yes! Cathy took life by the horns and made tough changes to redefine herself as a new woman. She became an active participant in who she was becoming instead of being a victim to addiction and compulsive behavior. And with this freshly discovered mastery, she is looking forward to new challenges to further her enlarging potentiality.
We are always adapting, changing, being recreated, being reinvented. Choice is the God-given power to control how you are changing and what you will become. And the possibilities are endless.
Related Article: The Emotions Of Changing Your Diet