Facing Food Addiction This Holiday Season
As we face our final days of 2020, the holiday stress is rising and many of us with a history of addiction are bracing ourselves for the food-related festivities that can worsen food addiction and disordered eating. The holidays can feel terrorizing and traumatic for numerous reasons, but a big factor could be the substances consumed around this time of year. For some, the dread of holiday cocktails might be causing you anxiety, but for others, the sacred meals and traditional foods could be your cause for concern.
Food Addiction and Disordered Eating
Since being in recovery from my primary drug-of-choice, I have noticed that my relationship with food has become quite complicated. For me, it’s rarely about physical appearance or restricting for cosmetic reasons. Instead, my struggle with food stems from what I believe to be a food addiction.
Occasionally, I do restrict myself if I am feeling depressed, anxious, or suicidal. For some reason, the « high » I get from not eating tends to bring me some weird, self-sabotaging form of comfort. It’s not healthy and it’s not right, but thankfully, that isn’t my main issue with food.
Typically, I am one to over-eat from stress instead of under-eat. My binging can consist of too many scoops of ice cream too many times throughout the week or it might be simply eating past the point of being « full » because I know those extra few bites will make me feel happy and content, if only for a few moments.
Like many addictive behaviors, the « high » is only brief. I might feel contentment for those few minutes where I am drowning my sorrows, but soon after I am hit with immense shame and a feeling of disgust (both emotionally and physically).
Even so, just like any other addiction, I always go back for more. I’ve been able to successfully stay « sober » from most of my other behavioral addictions in recent years, but my relationship with food never really seems to settle in a healthy state. Food addiction, especially as I’m facing the holidays, has me worried.
Preparing for the Holidays as an Addict with a Food Addiction
Needless to say, holidays can be a challenge for me. Especially this holiday season after enduring a catastrophic 2020 and still battling the reality of my husband’s current deployment overseas. Also similar to other addictions, stress is without a doubt an enormous trigger for relapse, so I am trying to healthily prepare myself to face these unique holidays that seem to be centered around food.
For me, trying to eat healthily isn’t so much about being on a diet, maintaining a certain figure, or reaching a goal weight, instead, it is all about how I can most effectively monitor and control my addictive behaviors.
While staying in shape and being healthy are definite bonuses to making these conscious decisions, I know more than anything that it is the addictive mindset that can hurt me the most.
This holiday season I am choosing to limit myself to one plate of Holiday food per family gathering and in addition to that, I am making a conscious effort to eat a healthy breakfast before I head out on those days.
Simply choosing to eat a solid, hearty meal before going into a triggering environment is helpful for me because my stomach will already be nourished and I won’t feel such a deep need to binge on everything that I see.
Also, I plan to make time for self-care activities, especially on the days leading up to holiday events. I know that stress management is a key component to controlling my addictive tendencies. This way, if I find myself in a triggering situation, I will have numerous healthy outlets to turn to before, during, or even after said holiday event.
For me, this will probably look like taking more walks throughout the week, reading a favorite book, or even going for a long drive with some of my favorite music. Self-care might look different for you, but ultimately, it is important that you find what works for you and stick with it.
If you are anything like me and the holidays bring out some of your addictive habits or tendencies, I want to encourage you to make a holiday plan as well. Schedule self-care, plan out your days (especially your time off) and remember that the holidays do not have to get you off track this year.
Do you notice a tendency toward food addiction in yourself? What are you doing about it? Share your thoughts in the comments.