“Food is meant to nourish not to nurture” – Lynn Elliott-Harding
What does food mean to you? Do you use food to nourish, or to nurture? This statement (by food addict expert and recovery coach, Lynn Elliot-Harding) seems paradoxical. From a very early age we sucked from the breast – both an act of nourishment and nurturing. It’s no wonder that so many people, in the childhood and adulthood years, continue to connect food with nurturing. While it’s all good and well to ‘treat’ yourself every now and then with a little bit of chocolate, or a paleo slice, or a yummy meal at a restaurant, using food, continually, to ‘nurture’ yourself, is a sign of of emotional eating and food addiction.
I’m currently doing the most mind-blowing mentorship with one of the world’s best Functional Medicine doctors, Dr Daniel Kalish. He highlighted to me that food addiction and emotional eating is more common than we realise, and that it can really be a huge road-block to a person’s compliance to a treatment plan, and of course their recovery to optimal health. Before a person can modify their diet, you first have to acknowledge and address your food dependancy. Here are some questions, to help a person determine if they have a food dependency issue:
1. Do you fear going without a certain food (i.e. sugar, gluten, caffeine, chocolate, bread etc.)?
2. Is the thought of going without this food impossible to you?
3. Do you always feel hungry, or have persistent cravings?
4. Do you compulsively over-eat this food? Or under-eat?
5. Do you binge, graze or starve yourself?
6. Do you have an inability to limit or turn food down?
7. Do you steal food?
8. Are you obsessed with cooking?
9. Do you hide food?
10. Do you feel defensive, shame or guilt when eating certain foods?
11. If you try to go without a certain food, do you have withdrawal symptoms (i.e. insomnia, anxiety, headaches, exhaustion, diarrhoea)?
12. Do you use food to make you feel better or to ‘pick you up’?
I’m sure most people could answer yes to at least one of these questions! I’ve been known to use food to make me feel better, hiding food (so that others can’t eat it!), and to have sugar cravings. I’m sure 90% of our western population (probably even more) have a food addiction to varying degrees.
I want to point out that food addiction is NOT a behavioural problem, or a lack of self-control. Dr Daniel Kalish teaches that food addiction is very literally a CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY DISEASE. The chemical properties of certain foods (in particular sugar, gluten, caffeine and allergic foods) can cause a prolonged food dependency, and can also cause irrational behaviour and depression during recovery (avoidance) from a certain food. It is in actual fact a VERY similar chemical addiction, to that of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. Before you can address the pain of maladaptive food behaviours, you have to first address the physical biochemical issue of the behaviour.
If you’d like to learn more about food addiction and emotional eating, I’m running a workshop on Friday at 6:30-7:30pm (at Move Strong Gym) to shed light on this chemical dependancy disease. I’ll also be running some interactive activities to help you uncover why you find it hard to let go of addictive foods, and provide some strategies for going ‘sober’.
If you feel you need some individual assistance with overcoming your food dependency, I would LOVE to help you out. I am SO passionate about this area as I know the freedom and peace that comes when you are no longer in the clutches of cravings, and when you can use food as nourishment, rather than as a nurturing (yet invisible) safety-net. Feel free to contact me for more info about a Nutritional & Functional Medicine Consultation & Treatment Plan and how it can help you 🙂