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Help, I Can't Stop Eating! Why?

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Not only have I heard this plea for help by others, it was one I often made myself. Accepting that I had a food addiction did little to help me; it actually made things more confusing. Acceptance was just the beginning of a long, 4-yr struggle to break free.

While I had come to terms with the fact that I had a problem with food, I didn't know how to break the hold it had over me. My "mindfulness" was starting to drive me crazy as I uncovered habit after habit of self-destructive behavior, yet lacked the solution to overcome any of them. One habit that puzzled me to no end was my inability to stop eating.

A specific memory comes to mind that epitomizes my experience with food addiction...

It was a typical work day at the pharmacy I had been working at—typical meaning hectic and full of grumpy customers. Lunch finally rolled around and a co-worker and I escaped the chaos to one of my all-time favorite fast-food joints in Wichita. On the way there, I'm repeating in my head, "I'm not gonna be an oinker, I'm gonna be a good girl and order sensibly." And I did—I ordered a junior cheeseburger meal (a small cheeseburger, small fry, and a small drink).

What I really wanted was the 1/3-pounder with cheese, a large fry, a medium iced-mocha to drink, and then a brownie fudge sundae with extra fudge to top it all off. And I kept thinking about what I had versus what I really wanted. And I couldn't forget about it. Even after finishing the junior meal, acknowledging that I was full, I still felt "not satisfied". That feeling gnawed on me for the rest of my shift.

Come dinner time, the food cravings had gotten so bad, I was literally balled up on the couch with a blanket over my head trying to shield my family from the eruption that was about to come. But the eruption never did happen. I ended up caving—again—and my family and I had dinner that very same restaurant; but this time I ordered exactly what it was that I wanted. I went home feeling overly-stuffed and uncomfortable, but with satisfied food cravings.

I Can't Stop Eating

 

So, what the hell happened?!?

What is it that made me almost crawl out of my skin? Food and sugar addiction is as real and legitimate addiction as cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. All these substances affect the pleasure center of the brain, causing it to release dopamine (that "feel-good" chemical). The kicker about addiction is that your body requires a certain amount of dopamine to feel normal, and any amount just short of the requirement leaves your body in state of duress (this would be called "withdrawal").

What's even worse is that this requirement—this threshold—increases with time as your body requires more dopamine. This means your food cravings will require more food to be satisfied. Where you might get away with eating one or two donuts now, this time next year could take 3 or 4 donuts to satisfy those cravings. Nasty little addiction, isn't it?

Breaking food addiction is a process and not one that can be completed overnight—but it can be done. It took me four years to break my addiction to food and sugar, but luckily you can do it in as little as 7-10 days if you do it right. Beeline your way to freedom with the Bikini Mindset Boot Camp! This event is always recorded and can be done on your own time in your own pace.

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Michelle Estrada is a leading expert in teaching others how to overcome Food Cravings and Emotional Eating.

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