Chocolate. Diet drinks. Sugar. Caffeine.Cheese. Meat. Do these foods and others really hold us in their power, or is it all a figment of our imagination?
I’ve been very interested in this topic for a long time, as I jokingly call myself a chocoholic. Once upon a time it was the unusual day when I didn’t consume at least a pound of chocolate every 24 hours, if not more. If I wasn’t reaching my hand into the back of the pantry to snag some hidden Oreos, you might see me driving my minivan down my winding neighborhood road to make a quick stop at the convenience store for some candy. I convinced myself that my love of chocolate was an “addiction,” and as such couldn’t be conquered. But was I right?
To tell you the truth, that day many years ago, when I had my “aha moment,” I realized that conquering my obsession with chocolate was one of the first things I needed to take care of. Even if I made good food choices all day long, eating candy bar after candy bar wouldn’t help me lose weight, or improve my health. So I banned chocolate from my presence for a while. I gave myself a “time out” from chocolate until I felt I could better control myself around it. Looking back, I realize what I did was very similarto what people who are struggling with a nicotine, drug, or alcohol addiction do. They remove the offending substance from their homes, their offices, and their lives.
It sounds easy enough, but it was really difficult. I threw away the candy I had hidden in my dresser drawers, the car, my purse, and the pantry. I even went as far as to get rid of cocoa powder because I knew I could easily combine cocoa powder with other ingredients to make brownies. I actually felt a pang in my heart as I watched the food go in the trash. I was sorely tempted to pull it out of the trash and save it. But I resisted.
Realizing how hard it was for me to get rid of the chocolate made me wonder if it was in fact addictive? And what of other foods? Can a food have an addictive quality? According to research, the answer is a resounding yes. Just read Dr. David Kessler’s book, The End of Overeating. He explains much more thoroughly than I can, how food additives can trigger a “bliss point” that makes it hard for us to resist eating certain foods.
I lost my weight long before this book came out, so actually learned the hard, unscientific way, that there were certain foods that I found very difficult to resist. For me, the main food was chocolate, but I also had a hard time learning to eat proper portions of foods that contained a lot of sodium, like crackers and chips. To break the addiction cycle, there were some definite steps I took.
- Got rid of the food from my house and car
- Stopped buying those foods
- Gave myself a specific period of time before I allowed myself to eat those foods
- Tried to reintroduce them in small quantities – as a test run
- Took time to really savor the flavor of the foods I loved
- Found alternative foods
I didn’t eat chocolate for about two months when I first started losing weight that last time. The first couple of days were hard. Really hard. Not only was I trying to make healthier choices, but I also gave up a love of mine. I can’t say that I went through withdrawal from chocolate, but I certainly missed it a LOT! After the first week, it started to get better, and I didn’t think about it all the time. After a month it was pretty easy, and the second month was a cinch.
When I reintroduced chocolate into my food variety, I did it by buying a little candy bar, and sharing it with the family. We all had a tiny piece and I loved it like I always had. But this time I felt proud of myself for just having a bit rather than frustrated with myself for eating 10 of them.
As the months went by I realized that I had finally broken my affair with chocolate. I could enjoy it – yes, but I didn’t have to eat pound after pound of it. Where are you on this subject?
Do you think that certain foods hold addictive qualities for you? How do you handle them? Diane