Food addiction treatment faces challenges that are not present in alcohol or drug addiction treatment. The biggest reason for this is that food addicts cannot completely abstain from food. Second, food is almost everywhere you look in today’s modern world. Avoiding food as a recovering food addict is nearly impossible, which can make recovery very difficult at times.
The Basis of Food Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Those who have gone through professional food addiction treatment are taught, of course, not to abstain from food completely (that would be deadly) but instead to abstain from the most addictive types of food.
The most addictive types of food are processed foods high in sugar, fat and salt, as well as simple carbohydrates and sugars (white flour, refined sugar, etc.) It is often suggested that those in recovery from food addiction abstain from these foods, but that is much more difficult than it sounds. Try going to any coffee shop to get a coffee without seeing loads of pastries, sandwiches or baked goods. Try doing your regular grocery shopping without having to pass the bakery or junk food aisle. For these reasons, food addiction recovery can pose many challenges. That is why we have put together a list of helpful tips to keep you going in food addiction recovery.
Tips for a Successful Recovery from Food Addiction
To help ensure your success in recovery, we recommend the following:
1. Attend meetings.
Attending regular meetings is essential to addiction recovery. The first 90 days of recovery are often said to be the most difficult and during this time it may be beneficial to attend a meeting each and every day if possible, to make sure you stay on track. As time goes on, meetings can become less frequent, but attending a meeting at least once a week is recommended throughout your entire time in recovery. Check out Food Addicts Anonymous or other similar groups in your area. Online meetings can also be beneficial if circumstances prevent you from physically attending meetings.
2. Have a sponsor.
Sponsors are one of the most helpful tools you can have in any type of addiction recovery. Someone who has been through what you are going through and has come out on top can help guide you through the darkest points and help you see that success is possible, and that things will get better. You can find a sponsor at your local meetings or by contacting your addiction treatment centre.
3. Be prepared.
Be prepared by always having healthy and nutritious food in the house that is in accordance with your meal plan. Cook measured meals ahead of time and keep them in the freezer for those busy days that may have you dreaming about picking up fast food to save yourself some time. If you know you have a busy day ahead of you and that you may not have time to sit down at home to a healthy meal, pack something and bring it with you. Also, do not skip meals, no matter how busy you are. When you are very hungry, the smell and sight of off-limit foods will be more tempting.
4. Keep a food journal.
A food diary or food journal is a key tool for those in food addiction recovery. It can be kept together with your meal plan or separate, but your food journal should be a place to write down what you ate as well as the feelings you had throughout the day. Foods that may be ‘on plan’ may have triggers for you that you were not aware of. One food addict in recovery told LA Weekly that every time she ate eggs it would trigger memories of the way her parents used to make them for her – an egg sandwich. After eating eggs she would dream of eating toast which was off limits for her. Keeping a food journal can help you make associations such as this as well as help you understand what type of foods make you feel your best throughout the day.
5. Know your triggers.
As previously mentioned, certain healthy foods may actually have deeply ingrained triggers that you must keep aware of. But those are not the only triggers. If there is a particular bakery or fast food restaurant you used to frequent on your way to work that brings up cravings, it may be best to find an alternate route to work. Going to parties where food is served can also trigger cravings. In these cases it may be best to avoid going to the party until the food is finished, or bring someone with you that is aware of your recovery who can help keep you accountable and in control.
6. Keep active.
Being active, whether it is spending time at the gym, joining a dance class or simply going for a walk each day naturally releases endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ that will help keep you from experiencing food cravings. Not only that, but it will keep your body fit and healthy.
7. Have a relapse prevention plan.
Most food addiction treatment centres will help you make a personalised relapse prevention plan before your treatment is over, as it is integral to long and lasting recovery. A relapse prevention plan should include your own personal triggers, warning signs of relapse (such as fatigue, depression and loneliness) as well as a comprehensive list of people you can talk to and actions that you can take to prevent relapse before it happens. Your sponsor should be able to help you make one if you do not have one already. Although geared more towards relapse prevention in drug or alcohol addiction recovery, you can find some tips on relapse prevention and making a plan here.
8. Ask for help when you need it.
Possibly the most important tip to successful recovery from food addiction is to not be afraid of asking for help when you need it. If you are struggling and find yourself craving foods that are off limits and are afraid that you may be getting off track, talk to someone you trust! It is much easier to get back on track before a full-blown relapse than it is afterwards.
The Cabin Chiang Mai uses a unique and effective treatment method specifically designed to treat addictions where abstinence is not possible. If you or someone you know is struggling with food addiction, contact us today to get the help you need to start living the life you deserve.