glow notes

Friday, October 21, 2005

what's in a name?

Thinking about the word addiction.

I facilitated a workshop on building healthy food and fitness habits yesterday. It was the first time I'd taught this workshop. It was a great group, and I learned a lot from the experience.

We did an exercise that involved exploring 'rules' about eating. As a food and fitness coach, I don't recommend giving up foods or food groups, because it seems to me that the human psyche is designed to crave anything that it is denied. I am more interested in attaining overall balance than nutritional perfection.

While discussing the exercise, I was asked a question about food addiction in regards to this exercise - I wouldn't recommend that an alcoholic drink, why would I recommend that a person with food issues eat. I fumbled this question, and so have been thinking on it. Upon consideration, here's what I believe on the topic. I have an open mind on this, total respect for other opinions, and understand that it can be an emotional topic.

I'm not a registered dietician, psychologist, or medical doctor. I'm not trained to deal with addictions or eating disorders.

However, I've read a lot on the topic, including the opinions of many experts, many of whom are RDs and/or PhDs, and some of whom have successfully helped thousands of people with these problems. And I like this take on the subject of food addiction. In short, at Green Mountain they teach, among other things, that:

  • The concept of addiction to food is disempowering, as it teaches us that we don't know how to care for ourselves in the most basic sense (nurture ourselves, feed ourselves).
  • More often than not, the issue is not with biochemical addiction to a particular food, but with the process of overeating, with thought patterns and with emotional well-being.
  • If we deal with root issues, problems with food can be overcome.
  • That feelings of deprivation are often a trigger for binge eating.
    and, best of all
  • Once people begin to truly care for themselves at the most essential level, they can learn to enjoy 1/2 cup of chocolate ice cream or a banana nut muffin without going off the deep end.
There are a whole range of opinions and behaviors surrounding self-care vis a vis food, and I believe that we each need to do what works for us at the point of need.

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