How to Overcome Your Food Addiction: Why Discipline Isn’t the Answer
Recovering from food addiction is incredibly challenging. Unfortunately, reaching for diets and discipline – a common impulse – is likely hurting you further, rather than helping you. To truly heal, learn to stop the cycle of shame – and start loving yourself instead.
If you search the internet for articles on overcoming food addiction, you’ll notice that 99% of them share common themes: discipline, willpower and perseverance.
Unfortunately, self discipline is often hailed as an integral part of the solution to food and body image issues. But the truth is something you’re unlikely to find in the vast majority of material on the subject. Not only is relying on discipline an uphill battle, unlikely to succeed – it’s actually less effective than the simpler, more pleasurable alternative: self love.
One of the most commonly prescribed solutions to overcoming food addiction through discipline is dieting. Let’s explore why dieting is probably hurting you more than it’s helping you – and what to do instead.
The Pitfalls of ‘Diet Mentality’
Have you ever noticed that the cycle of self discipline, shame and self loathing is never stronger than when you’re on a diet?
Diets – especially ones that involve restriction that feels imposed, rather than chosen – are destructive to your mind as well as your body. By definition, they typically start from a place of self criticism rather than self love, in that you’re trying to change something about yourself because you don’t like it. And every time you ‘fall off the wagon’ (which you will, inevitably, when you’re fighting it at every turn), the cycle deepens and starts all over again.
Unfortunately, the stigma and shame that are an inherent part of diet mentality will likely make it extremely difficult for you to lose weight – let alone heal your food addiction. To truly transform your relationship with food and let go of your destructive patterns, you need to stop the cycle of shame and criticism that goes on in your own mind.
Instead, work on loving yourself enough to heal the shame you’ve already experienced. Doing that is easier said than done – but it is possible. To learn how, keep reading.
How to Overcome Food Addiction Without Discipline
You might be worried that letting go of control and discipline will cause you to totally go off the rails. That’s an understandable worry, in the context of conventional wisdom, but what you can actually expect to happen is (counterintuitively) just the opposite.
When you heal the pain of your past, manage negative self talk and treat yourself with kindness and love, rather than harshness and judgment, your impulses soften naturally. As you learn to be gentle with yourself, rather than trying to force yourself to eat a certain way, your cravings lose their intense edge. Ironically, you find that you’re better able to control your choices when you don’t push so hard to do so.
This is, again, much easier said than done. Learning to interact with food differently takes time and patience. It’s important that you give yourself the time and space to adjust without pushing too hard or too fast, and treat yourself with compassion as you develop new coping mechanisms to lean on when food is calling your name.
How to Overcome Food Addiction Without Discipline
Unfortunately, being kind to yourself as you overcome food addiction often doesn’t come easily at first. Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Be Mindful
Your thoughts and beliefs have a powerful influence on your feelings and actions. Fortunately, you can change the ones that aren’t serving you. Your most important first step? Noticing your thoughts – and taking stock of the self-defeating ones that come up most often.
2. Practice Unconditional Acceptance
Once you’re aware of the thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back, get to work on changing them.
To thrive, you have to fully believe that you are worthy of respect and acceptance, no matter what. Regardless of how you feel about your body in its current state, be firm in your resolution to accept it just the way it is – even as you aspire to make healthier choices. Do them for your body, because you love it, not because you hate your body and want to change it.
Know that your body is strong and capable – and relate to it from that standpoint. From that place, you can start to take better care of yourself from a place of love and compassion. And from there, you can change your behaviour.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Self care can transform the way you feel about yourself and the way you show up in the world. At its root, food addiction is about so much more than food. Maybe you’re used to turning to food because you’re stressed, lonely or bored. Simple things like taking a bath, calling a friend or sitting with yourself in silence can do wonders for your state of mind – and quell your cravings at the source.
Get The Support You Need to Heal
It’s counterintuitive and often a little bit scary to let go of control and punishment in an effort to heal your food addiction, but relying on discipline won’t get you where you want to be. You need love, compassion and kindness in order to heal.
If you’re noticing yourself struggling to let go of control and practice self kindness as you navigate your food addiction, don’t go it alone. Contact The Cabin Bangkok today to find out how we can help you access the self compassion you need to succeed.