I’m Not An Addict (Maybe That’s A Lie)

If anything, BED has taught me about life through the eyes of an addict. About the types of physical and emotional pain they suffer through in order to break the addition and make it through to the other side squeaky clean.  The torture however, isn’t at the end of the road when it comes time to squash the addiction; no no no, it is everyday, and what seems like every moment.

Drug addiction

According to an article titled “Addictions in Society” regarding the 7 hardest addictions to quit [10], heroin came in at 4. Potato chips numero dos. This was their idea of a funny ha-ha, but in all seriousness fatty foods ranked number 2 on the list. Some may wonder how or why foods are  more difficult to kick over cocaine, cigarettes, and alcohol. Let’s look at the life span of addiction. Addictions can be seen as “the process by which drug-taking behavior, in certain individuals, evolves into compulsive patterns of drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior that take place at the expense of most other activities and (2), the inability to cease drug-taking; the problem of relapse”. The brain pattern of addiction is based on a memory reward system [10]. According to research “repeatedly taking drugs can change the brain cells and make the memory of the pleasurable effects very strong.” [11] They claim that the “pleasurable memory” has a lasting effect allowing relapsing to always be an option. Plain and simple, the solid memory of dopamine-induced utopia is enough to keep you going back for more.

The problem with the binge eater’s drug is it is necessary. It is legal, offered, and unavoidable. It is probable that this makes the addiction so difficult to recover from. Let’s pretend cocaine is a socially acceptable drug regardless of the known addictive qualities, the damages it causes to our bodies, and the risk of death. I’m sure if we had plates of cocaine passed around to us at every dinner party we attended instead of plates of pie, we would probably indulge in the feast. The thing here is, to us, the offering of food is the same anxiety-induced stress that a “drug” addict would experience upon being offered.

See the point is not the occasional forbidden item or overeating here and there, it’s the very bad relationship we have with food and triggers that set off our addiction. This simply relates to trigger foods. Triggering is a HUGE part of addiction. Treatment programs relocate addicts to avoid places where last consumption took place.  [11] They remove them purposely for the sake of not being triggered, but that is impossible, as we know it, for BED. Take away food and you take away life.

While it is the most difficult addition to break (next to love apparently) it needs to be done. My suggestions are to keep busy. Work out to keep physical hunger pains at bay, meditate to clear your mind of stress, get up and out to a place far from food, to the beach, woods, or water it doesn’t matter. Try to remember least of all recovery can only happen one day at time.

“Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction.”William S. Burroughs

[10] Peele, Ph.D., J.D, Stanton. “The 7 Hardest Addictions to Quit – Love Is the Worst!”Http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/200812/the-7-hardest-addictions-quit-love-is-the-worst. Psychology Today, 15 July 2008. Web.

[11] “New Releases.” Drug Addiction and the Brain: Effects of Dopamine on Addiction. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013.

[12] “Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Process.” Stanford University, July 2004. Web.

Trigger Happy

When John Lennon wrote, Pistol in a plate on the served table“Happiness Is a Warm Gun”, I think what he meant to write was “Happiness is a Warm Freaking Plate of Chocolate Chip Cookies”. That is how us binge-eaters see it. Plain and simple, food brings us happiness. Initially, this is our thought process. However, in the wake of the binge we are left feeling the very opposite of happiness.

If we could curb our craving to one or even two cookies we would be ok. Heck at that point we wouldn’t really even be binge eaters, would we? But we don’t. We can, but we don’t. The reason we don’t put our hands to our side and step away from the plate of cookies is because of a little term known as “trigger foods”. Trigger foods “can be described as any food that, when eaten, makes one crave more of either that particular food or just food in general. This often leads to a binge – a period of uncontrolled and compulsive overeating.” [6] A trigger food can be any type of food. In my experience my trigger foods tend to be the ones that I have vowed to restrict from my diet. Generally foods that fall into this category are sweet treats, chocolate, and carb dense foods. By not allowing certain foods in my diet I tend to crave these foods the most. Typically, I try to extinguish the idea of giving in, but it will build and build until I feel like I may absolutely explode. Upon giving in, the floodgate busts open and I am left feeling uncomfortably full, disgusted embarrassed, tired, and lonely. Binge eating is a very lonely place, but we will save that for another post.

In my case, I would say that avoiding my trigger foods is far from helpful. Avoiding them at all costs only makes me rebel. So I do the exact opposite. I accept that I want it, that I am going to have it, and that I am going to have it in moderation. By doing this I stay in control. When the urge to continues to strike I distract myself. I sit down read a book, go for a run, walk the dog, meditate, take a bath, whatever I can do to otherwise engage my mind before it kicks into overdrive on the binge highway. This takes practice, and it is not 100% flawless, but eventually it does get easier to do. I look at it this way, allowing a treat of about a 100 or so calories into my daily diet is better than restricting, becoming frustrated and bingeing out on say 15-30 the amount of calories. Yes, 15-30. The typical binge is anywhere from 1500-3000 calories. [5] Take the risk to make a change. It does work, and while we may suffer a bit in the beginning, the end result of being in control is the sweetest treat of all.

To think food actually brings happiness is a silly notion

References

[6] Horowitz, Erica. “What Is a Trigger food?” About.com Women’s Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.