Eating is one of the three most important conditions for life. To continue existing, everything alive needs air, water, and food. There is a magical 3. A human being can resist 3 minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. It is not by choice we breathe, drink, and eat. They condition us.
Thus said, we are in a dependent relationship with food by default. We need it to survive. But what happens when this natural dependence gets ill and becomes an addiction?
Usually, eating addiction needs psychological input to be cured. It is not the nutritionist, nor the gastroenterologist that helps us. It is the psychologist or psychoanalyst. It is an addiction just like alcohol, drug, and sex addiction. And it needs a similar course of curing.
So, how come we become addicted to food?
Let’s look first at what addiction means. Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. There are three scary duets in the definition and just one that doesn’t fit the pattern. The brain disorder, compulsive engagement, and adverse outcomes are the bad guys. Rewarding stimuli is the only good guy. But there is the trick: the good guy makes the damage happen. The bad guys are his made.
We eat to reward ourselves. That is the first and most important thing you need to become aware of if you suffer from eating addiction. The next step is to ask ourselves what aspect of our life is not rewarding enough that we need to compensate it by overloading a survival mechanism such as eating because that aspect might prove to be as crucial for our survival as food is.
Any dependence has its roots in need to feel loved. That is the fourth condition for human survival. It might seem that we can survive without it, but barely. Without love, being alive will feel like survival. When we are in the survival mode, we don’t live. We fight to stay alive. And to stay alive, we need food and drinks, and many other things that can fill that void. And because the void can’t be filled with any of them, we get some more – Disorder, compulsive, and adverse. This is where they come from: unrewarded love.
How can we overpass eating addiction?
Ok, so we understand where the void comes from. But how can we make someone love us? Either is a childhood drama or a recent one. Sometimes it might be our boss that doesn’t like us, or the wife/husband we divorced, or our children who no longer need us, or the public who doesn’t understand our art, or our loved one who doesn’t see us, and the list can go on and on. We can’t make people love us. There is just only one person we can, and we should fight to make her/him get there: ourselves.
We must find a way to find ourselves rewarding enough for what we are. Fat, short, weird, not very smart, bold, cranky, weak, you can put here any words that describe your unworthy self. Whatever you are, you deserve the air you breathe, eth water you drink, the food you eat, and the love you give. Remember, love is an artificial concept. To be born, it needed the conscience to do it. And conscience can give birth to it again. Your conscience of who you are. This is mindfulness.
There are also tricks than can lure mindfulness, a study says. Chew the bite thoroughly and to completion before starting the next one. Put the fork or spoon down after each bite and don’t pick it up until you finish. Single-task; eat without doing something else simultaneously, such as driving or scrolling social media. Avoid buffets when possible to prevent over-eating. If you’re at one, no worries, just treat it like a mindful-eating meditation session and work with the urge to over-eat.
But remember, they are just tricks. They won’t do the work for you. They won’t make you love yourself. Go to a therapist and ask for guidance. If he is a good one, he will enlighten the way to get to that part of yourself that you feel is not worthy of love and help you make peace with it.