To truly deal with the complex issue of eating addiction/compulsion, you must approach it with a personalized multilayered biopsychosocialspiritual recovery process. You can never forget the eating issues, but must keep in mind the many levels of addiction and recovery.
In eating addiction recovery, many have found it is critically important to abstain from addictive behaviors around eating. This means changing basic eating behaviors or eating patterns that support compulsive overeating, such as abstaining from gobbling, eating all the time rather than only at meal times, eating while driving, standing, etc. This is similar to alcoholics in recovery being told to stay away from drinking juice in a wineglass or nonalcoholic beers in a bar to avoid being “triggered” to drink alcohol. Likewise, some alcoholics in recovery have found the tinkling of ice in a glass can bring on urges for alcohol and are encouraged not to use ice in drinks to distract themselves from their recovery. These suggestions help addicts avoid the triggering of cravings and possible relapse.
Addictive behaviors around eating can also trigger relapse. This is why compulsive overeaters find it helpful to be mindful of not just what they eat (a healthy meal plan), but also how they eat (healthy eating patterns), when they eat (a healthy meal schedule), and how much they eat (healthy portion control). Getting clear on what, how, how much, and how often you eat will make your recovery process smoother with less cravings. It will also reduce your incidence and length of relapse. All of these components are included in an overall Healthy Living Plan.
As part of your Healthy Living Plan you need to choose a number of activities to deal with the various aspects of your eating compulsion/addiction. There are many possibilities in each of the biopsychosocialspiritual areas to support you in developing your personal plan. I strongly encourage you to not do this alone, but to seek help from qualified people such as certified nutritionists for meal planning and an exercise specialist working in collaboration with your doctor. Your plan will probably change or evolve over time, but it is important to make some decisions, commit to those decisions, and follow them through. Making a commitment to a plan, and then sticking to it, is a way to confront the ongoing onslaught of your addiction/compulsion. What are you willing to do—beginning now?
Last year I wanted to address the entire spectrum of “Eating Addiction” and asked Dr. Shari Stillman-Corbitt, the Executive Director of TouchStone Recovery to co-author The Eating Addiction Relapse Prevention Workbook. Dr. Corbitt brought a long history of working with eating disordered patients to our project and we believe it is now a much better instrument to help people with eating addictions to get and stay in a true recovery process.
The Eating Addiction Relapse Prevention Workbook is designed to increase patients’ knowledge and understanding of the nature of eating addiction. Some people may be a normal weight, if their metabolism is such that they don’t gain weight, or some of them may purge calories through excessive exercise. However, many of them will probably be overweight, or “see-sawing” up and down, as they try first one magic pill, diet or program, and then another. Some of them may be obese, the definition of which means that they are more than 20 percent over the weight suggested by actuarial tables. These people may know that they are destroying and distorting their body, but be unable to stop eating compulsively.
The Eating Addiction Workbook is for compulsive overeaters, food addicts and binge eaters. These terms describe people who use eating and food to manage feelings and cope with life. Although the primary purpose of this workbook is to help patients develop a relapse prevention plan and create a schedule of activities to assist in that goal, we believe they must first develop a definition of abstinence that works for them and an effective recovery plan that is life enhancing which we refer to in this workbook as a Healthy Living Plan.
To read more about the workbook please go to my article Eating Addiction Needs a Strategic Relapse Prevention Protocol that you can download for free on our Articles page. To purchase this book or the Eating Addiction High Risk Situation List Pamphlet please Click Here.
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