Why We Run to Food



Food was a struggle for me. Food was probably an addiction for me. Why then, was food my first choice in times of stress, boredom, anger, unhappiness, happiness or nervousness? I remember every time I’d get a phone call that required any complex decision I’d head tothe pantry for a soothing piece of chocolate or a salty handful of chips. At the end of a long day I’d stand in front of the refrigerator, holding an opened carton of Breyer’s ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other, shoveling in the ice cream right from the carton. One time, John caught me standing in our dining room, reaching my hand into the recesses of the buffet drawer, pulling out my secret stash of Dove chocolate. He said, “I was looking for you.” I said, “Want a chocolate?”

Why did I want a chocolate, or ice cream or chips in the first place if my weight was such a source of anguish for me? You would think that I would have shunned fattening food rather than welcoming it like an old friend. Logically that makes sense doesn’t it? If something in your life causes you pain, don’t you normally take steps to avoid the pain? For example, if your old car continually breaks down, don’t you begin the process of replacing the old clunker with something more reliable? If your best friend betrays you time after time do you still beg her to be your friend? I wouldn’t think so. Yet we who struggle with the love and addiction of food do that very thing. We turn to food as a soother for any emotion we feel, thus adding to our weight problem.

I have yet to speak with someone who struggles with their weight who doesn’t experience this phenomona. They share with me their frustration and anger over their inability to resist the desire to use food to make themselves feel better. “Why?” they ask. “Why can I not control this problem?” I’ll tell you this – if I had the answer for that question, I”d be a rich woman right now. Instead I’ll share with you the strategies I used to control this habit. You notice that I used the word control, rather than break. For me, this propensity to run to food in all circumstances is still a tendency I have, but I learned how to break the cycle.

During the year that I lost 150 pounds, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I didn’t just love food, I craved food. I realized that for me food was an addiction similiar to the way alcohol or cigarettes are to someone else. The difference with food is however, is that we need food. As hard as breaking an alcohol addiction is, at least you don’t need alcohol to survive. Food is essential, vital, and necessary for life. How then did I control my addiction, make wiser food choices and finally get it all under control. Preparation, practice and persistenance.

Preparation – I knew food was a problem for me, so when I started following my Fit to the Finish plan, I prepared for the inevatible times of running to food. I got rid of all the “happy, fattening” food in the house. Gone were the chips, high fat crackers, secret chocolate stashes and full fat ice cream. In their place came crunchy veggies, baked chips, fat free ice cream, hard candy, gum (lots of gum), and hot drinks. I liken it to a breakup of a relationship. Before I was married, and parted ways with a boyfriend, I ridded my life of any reminder of the him. Even if I still cared emotionally for that person, I knew that part of my life was over and got rid of any reminders. That’s what I did with food too, I broke up with food. I still loved food, but I knew that type of food wasn’t good for me, so I replaced the bad food with good. That took preparation.

Practice – It didn’t always work to have prepared. There was still the issue of overeating good food. After all, even a whole bag of baked chips has a lot of calories, and will definietly cause a weight gain if the whole bag is eaten on a daily basis. So I practiced making right choices by consciously choosing better, healthier foods. Portions were measured and memorized, and when I made a mistake I tried to figure out what had gone wrong, and moved on to the next opportunity to make a better choice. Over time the mistakes became less frequent, and the results became more visible.

Persistenance – Sometimes its easy to get complacent once you have seen some success on the scale. It took about 50 pounds for me to really be able to tell that my body was starting to change. In the past, it would have been at this point (or sooner) that I would have said, “Oh, I’ve got this eating plan down. I can relax now.” NO. Don’t relax, don’t let down your guard, instead persist and perservere and point your mind towards your final goal, not the intermediate ones. By doing this I was able to keep the weight loss going through the ups and downs of life’s challenges, and ultimately reach my goal weight.

Try to examine why it is you run to food, when food is the source of your weight problem. Take steps to plan, practice and perservere and you can get on the road to weight loss success.

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