Monday, March 10, 2008

Food's my cocaine: Can food be an addiction?

I once had a very candid discussion with an aquaintance who was very open about her status as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. She told me she had struggled with her weight for most of her life and that she actually found it easier to give quit doing drugs, drinking and smoking than to control her eating. Her logic was simple: For the rest of her life, she never again has to set foot in a bar or take a drag on a cigarette, but she must eat several times a day.

Can food be as true an addiction as alchol or drugs? There does seem to be some validity to this claim. I'm by no means trying to diminish the accomplishments of recovering alcoholics, but my friend had a good point. To live a healthy life, I can't just stop eating, I must learn to eat in moderation and to make good choices every day.

That should be easy enough, but sometimes it doesn't even seem possible. That's because for some people, myself included, food is more about emotion than nourishment. When I'm frustrated or unhappy or nervous I go straight for the cookies. I've spent a lot of time educating myself about what I should and shouldn't eat. I've gone to a dietician and read widely on the subject, but it seems like all of that falls away when I'm given a piece of cake--that is until I've finished and feel overwhelmed by remorse.

That means that everyday I need to search for support and be constantly mindful. It may never be easy for me, but my motivation is solid and I know that I'll get there eventually.

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