Do you feel miserable when you don’t get to eat certain types of food? Do you feel the irresistible urge to consume them to feel better? If yes then you might have food addiction! Food addiction is the compulsive desire to eat certain types of food which are often unhealthy, highly processed, and are full of unrefined sugars. Making peace with food addiction is not that easy but it’s important to plan certain steps to minimize the triggers that provoke food addiction and gradually recover from it.
Keep Track Of What You Eat
Keep a food journal and make a list of all food items you crave the most and that you often have the impulsive need to consume. Start by tracking your eating patterns like- the times you eat, the foods you eat, portion sizes, and notes about what you were doing or feeling at that time. This will help in identifying your trigger foods and situations that cause you to eat them.
Food journaling is not about judging yourself or feeling guilty or ashamed. In fact, it is one of the most powerful things you can do to support change. At the end of the day, review everything. This will reveal the unhealthy habits that are making you a food addict.
Conquer Your Trigger Foods At Home
Identify the unhealthy foods that trigger overeating. Such highly palatable foods include chips, cookies, or chocolate etc. Keep them out of the home or far out of sight, and make healthy options easily accessible instead. Don’t ban all your favourite foods because restrictive eating patterns may drive binges. Especially, if you are addicted, you may find it difficult to permanently abstain from trigger foods. But try to find healthy substitutes that are satisfying.
If you are addicted to sugar-laden carbonated drinks, try swapping them with sparkling water or fresh lemonade. You can eat popcorn instead of crisps. If you can’t then invest in a small food dehydrator and make your own healthy chips out of fruits and vegetables. Use hummus or creamy avocado as dips. Healthy fat can make you feel fuller for longer and help control your cravings.
Conquer Your Trigger Foods While Eating Out
Sometimes when you cannot avoid eating out, go for those restaurants which offer customizable menus. Menu of the restaurants is generally available online. You may check them out and choose the place that offers healthy food options. With a little creativity, you can decide what to and what not to add in your meals.
Consider having protein-rich meals with lots of low-carb veggies like broccoli, celery, spinach, etc. Ask for a bunless burger (wrapped in collards or lettuce instead of a bun). Replace the french fries with salad and choose olive oil and vinegar as dressing. Drink water instead of soda. Skip dessert, or choose a cheese plate or berries with heavy cream.
Replace High GI Foods With Low GI Alternatives
Refined carbs (found in bread, pasta, soda, candy, baked products etc.) have been processed and stripped of their fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They have a high glycemic index and can trigger food addiction. Moreover, they are known to cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin again makes you hungry, causes you to eat more food.
Remove them from your pantry and replace them with some healthy alternatives like sweet potatoes, oats, beans, and lentils
Beating a food addiction is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. If it’s negatively impacting the quality of your life and you find it hard to overcome, seek professional help.
By Dr Seema Nanda
Refer to her blog for more updates on Health and Wellness.