Food Addictions and the Reasons Why Diets Fail

Sorry guys, no fun recipe for you today.  I’ve been doing a little less baking, and a little more reading lately.  I have been spending some time doing some research on eating disoders, food addictions, and dieting.  Some of the information I have found is really quite fascinating, and I hope to share bits and pieces with you in such a way that you will be able to relate or apply to your personal life.

I have touched on the subject of dieting in the past, and I would like to go a little more in detail.  Why is dieting so difficult?  Why do most people fail at dieting? Why do most people put the pounds back on (plus some) when a diet is over?

It is not because you are weak and don’t have the will-power to say no to the foods you “shouldn’t” be eating, in accordance to your diet. It’s not because your body is meant to stay overweight. What it comes down to is our addiction to food.

Where did the Addiction Begin?

Sounds like a bad thing, doesn’t it? Welp, it’s not.  It’s a perfectly normal part of being a human being that has been ingrained in us since the day we were born. As a newborn, once our first need was met (oxygen), we were on the hunt for some grub. When we cried, we’d get it. When we were sleepy, a lot of times we were comforted with food to help us fall asleep. See – food addiction started from the get-go.

As the years went on, the trend continued. On your first birthday, you most likely got to smash into your first taste of delicious cake and ice cream. When you went to the movies, you learned that you just couldn’t watch a movie without a treat. Outings to the park weren’t the same without some snacks. Sleepovers weren’t complete without all the sugar you could get your hands on it.

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Think about your childhood. How many of your memories include food? I don’t know about you, but there are many memories here. When I think about spending the night at my grandma’s, I think about all the foods that she would buy for my brother and me. We would stock up on donuts, Fruit Roll-Ups & Gushers, TV dinners, cereals, and ice cream. It just wouldn’t have been the same without all that food for some reason. It was just the way it was.

Now as an adult, when you eat those foods from your childhood, you are automatically brought back to that little slumber party you had as a seven-year-old. How fun {and easy} is that?!

 

Why We Feel Like a Failure

So when you’re fed up with all the weight you’d like to lose, this is what happens. You have a little chat with the doc. He tells you that you should probably start eating some healthier foods and skipping on the Twinkies. This is something you already know. It’s all over the news and media. Eat better – live longer. Blah.Blah.Blah. You hear it day in and day out, and you know that you need to take the advice. Sometimes you actually do take the advice for a little bit of time. You’re on a roll. Carrots and lettuce for the fifth lunch in a row.

And then BAM! You have a bad day. You get a flat tire, you have a headache, and your kids are driving you nuts. You stop at the closest 7-11 (after getting the flat fixed, of course) and grab a Twinkie. Get back in the car and shove it in your face. All of a sudden, you are some place else. All your cares of the day are gone because you are back with your childhood best friend eating Twinkies in the living room fort, telling secrets, playing games, and just being a kid.

So it should be no surprise to us, as humans, that we just can’t say no to all those treats that surround us. We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we happen to “cheat” on our diets. Along with the fact that there are some seriously yummy goods out there, it’s just ingrained. There’s no getting around it. The medical approach to losing weight has failed to recognize our deep emotional attachments to food.

Now we are faced with a dilemma. We want to live a healthy life. We want to lose weight. We don’t want to eat all this junk food. We want to be able to say no to it. But this addiction to food is something that is deep inside of ourselves that would take years and years to un-do. An on top of that, we love food. Certain foods make us happy. There is no real need to end a happy relationship with food. Maybe you just need to define the rules a bit. This is what I suggest.

There’s a Party in my Tummy!

A mini-party every day or two.

Yes. Throw yourself a party. One that includes a favorite indulgence that will take you back to a happy memory. Now I’m not saying to go and eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every day. That’s not going to help matters. But your favorite childhood candy bar in bite-sized form? Yes. One after lunch and one after dinner will do you wonders. Or maybe just a small slice of cake. Work these things into your daily intake. If you don’t, it is more than likely that you will just snap, eat these foods anyway, and just feel guilty about it.  Don’t eat your treats just because you’re stressed, but incorporate them into your day before the cravings and stresses even hit.

If you allow yourself to have these little treats, first of all, you aren’t freaking out about when you’re going to get your next “fix.” (yes, food can be very similar to a drug that gives you a high in some instances.) Secondly, you are constantly being brought back to your happy place. If you eat foods that remind you of a stress-free time in your life, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were seeing some changes in your mood.

In closing, I am in no means suggesting that you use food as a way to cope with life. I am hoping to give you some reassurance that it is completely normal to have trouble staying on track with a strict diet. It is normal to fail at your diet, which is why I’m competely against strict diets.  Why set yourself up for something you’ll probably fail at.  I’m sorry to be blunt and pessamistic, but how often have you started a new diet because the last one didn’t work?

Just eat healthy. Eat what feels good. Listen to your body. And don’t be so damn hard on yourself!

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Comments

    • Holly says

      Thank you Nicole. Absolutely – and it’s because the comfort that food brings has been ingrained in our makeup since the day we were born.

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