Hi!

My name is Gabby.  

I lost half my body weight through exercise and eating right.

 I'm here to motivate you, inspire you, and make you laugh on your journey to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Dealing With Food Addiction

Dealing With Food Addiction

Warning: Adult language

Please do not read any further if you are offended by adult language. There are F-Bombs ahead.

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If you don't have a food addiction, yeah I know, you don't buy it. How can you be addicted to food? Well hey I'm glad to hear you're not, but I am. This shit is real. But I'm assuming if you decided to read this article, then you know damn well it's real. I don't think the naysayers would go any further than the title. So here you are. We have something in common... we both love food. Well more than love it, we need it. We don't need it like other people. We need it in a much different way. But you know that already, don't you? They need food so their bodies don't break down, we need it so our minds don't break down. They need food so their bodies keep going, we need it so our minds keep going.

We use it like a drug, we crave it like a drug, and we get high off of it like a drug... and we feel the guilt and the shame after we come down from our high. After we crash from our high, our bellies are so bloated and full that it physically hurts. It hurts so bad the pain wraps around to our backs and we're so overfilled with food that it creeps back up our throats. The high only lasts a little while but the physical pain from stuffing ourselves to oblivion lasts much longer. And the shame? Well that shit never goes away, does it? Nope. It festers and festers. Oh and as soon as our bellies empty out we run right back to the high, to try to bury the shame, which just gets worse after we're left with our swollen painful bellies again.

Oh and let's not forget the food comas. I guess you could say at least you sleep through the terrible bloating and fullness. But then you sacrifice, oh I don't know, three or four hours of your day? I'll never forget the time I fell into a food coma and when I woke up I had no idea where my three year old was and my eight month old was screaming in her crib. Luckily my three year old was fine. She was playing in her playroom. She told me she watched Mickey Mouse while I was sleeping. I was absolutely horrified. Omg anything could have happened while I was out. My toddler could've went outside or opened the door for a stranger or gotten hurt. My head was spinning with scary thoughts and what-ifs. 

How did shit get so out of control in my life? 

I should first mention that I have a very addictive personality. I am an all or nothing type of person. I find living in the middle very difficult. I either have my shit together or I'm a fucking hot mess. I'm a very intensely passionate person which gets me in a lot trouble when I'm on a reckless path. On the other hand, that same passion helps me accomplish amazing things when my head is more clear. When I was young, throughout my teens and college years, I basically dealt with everything by partying. I was a functional partier. All through high school and college I made straight A's, interned, and worked. But if I didn't have my head in a book or was on the job, I found the nearest party or bar crawl. I used partying as a coping mechanism to escape my problems and the constant torment bouncing around my brain.

But then I fell in love. Shortly after finding the man of my dreams, I wanted to get married and pop out some bambini. Life was incredible... for a minute.

Then I found myself at 262 pounds and rapidly gaining. It would be no time at all before I hit the 300s. But why? Why did I gain this weight? I had a string of many years where the sun just never seemed to want to peek out from the clouds. My brain had been filled with so much heavy shit for so long. I needed something to get by. I couldn't party like I did when I was young. I had babies. They needed me and the last thing I needed was to dive into a world of addiction. So I turned to food. I found out if you eat copious amounts of shit food, you get a high from it. So food it was. I mean how bad of a sitch could I get myself in by eating, right? Oh I found out, alright. I found out that I did in fact dive into a world of addiction after all. For over 10 years, I ate myself into food highs over and over again to try to deal with the shit I refused to face and had never dealt with.

In a short amount of time, I buried my dad, my gram (who was like a mom to me), and numerous friends, including one of my very best friends.

The worst of it all came when I had my first baby, a beautiful little girl. My Gia. She was born with an extremely rare neurological disease in which she needed constant care. She would have terrifying episodes daily which would twist her body and leave her in a catatonic-like state. Her eyes would be lifeless until the episode passed. With each and every attack she would have, a little more of my soul would die. By the grace of God, she recovered. We basically lived in the ERs and at Children's Hospital for the first two years of her life. It was a hell I can't truly describe. My heart aches for all of the parents out there who watch their children struggle with illness. 

We all have our own stories and we all have reasons why we develop addictions. Mine resulted from much loss and grief which was topped off with a sick baby.

When Gia recovered, I felt like my soul was finally standing in the sunshine. I had never been given such an incredible gift. My heart was bursting with gratitude. This was when I found out how deep my food addiction ran. The main source of my pain and reasoning behind medicating myself with food was gone. My dreams had come true and my daughter was better... But I couldn't stop eating. I couldn't stop the obsession.

So how the hell do you stop food addiction?

So here's the deal. You can't stop it. But you can lasso it and keep it tied up. Every once in a while that bastard will break free from the ropes and show up. But you can learn to loop it's neck quickly and put it back in it's jail cell.

Now before you get all upset and think, 'Well shit, this really sucks. How does this help me, Gabby? I want it to go away forever.' Listen, it really is going to be okay, I promise. The first thing you need to do is accept, and I mean fully accept, that this food addiction is real and that it will want to resurface during different times in your life. It's okay, it really is. Being aware of it and not diving into a deep depression if it shows up is how you will battle this beast. Knowledge is always power, no matter what we're talking about. If you know the source of your unhealthy thoughts and obsessions, you're already half way better.

For me, knowing that this is a deep-rooted problem that lies under the surface of my healthy lifestyle and all of my good decisions... well, it's actually a really good thing. It provides an explanation for me, a reason. I don't do well with unknowns and uncertainties. I need to know why things are the way they are. By fully accepting my food addiction, things make more sense to me. It explains why I sometimes want to skip my workout, buy a package of Oreos, and hide in a closet with a gallon of milk. It explains why all of a sudden I'm weak and vulnerable. It makes me realize how strong I really am on a regular basis to make healthy choices on most days. It also allows me to keep an eye on things so I can stay accountable.

It's like if you spot a huge hairy spider crawling on your wall. As long as you know where it is and never take your eyes off of it, you're okay. As long as you know where it is, you can scoop it up in a tissue. Adios, muchacho. But if you walk away from it and come back to find it gone, well then you worry constantly about where it went. When will it show up again? Will it crawl on me when I'm sleeping? Will it find another spider and fall in love and have six million babies?

So what I'm telling you is this... just like with horny breed-y spiders, you should never take your eyes off of your food addiction. Now should you obsess over it? No. Should you keep it in the forefront of your noggin at all times? No. But stay aware that this is an issue for you. It will help you make sense of cravings, negative emotions, and irrational thoughts. 

This awareness comes in handy for me when I'm having a crazy food moment. I'll find myself in the grocery store with several boxes of cupcakes or oatmeal cream sandwiches and I'll seriously tell myself that I'm going to go home and hide them. I want to hide them so I can eat them all without anyone knowing a thing. Or I'll wake up at 3:00am and think about the leftover birthday cake in the kitchen. It will literally haunt me. It's a horrible torture for me knowing that it's there. I'll fantasize about what it would taste like, the aftertaste, washing it down with cold milk. It's in moments like these where I'm so thankful that there is a reason for this craziness. I can tell myself that this isn't me, this is the food addiction talking. It puts things into perspective and I can be strong because I know the reasoning behind these obsessive thoughts. It also helps me not beat myself up over having them.  

If I stay in awareness, I can battle it much easier. I am not weak because I have these obsessive thoughts, I am strong because I can identify them and stop them. I'm proud of that and it took me many years to look at it like that.

I always felt like a complete loser and failure who took orders from a pan of brownies. I know better now. I know the addiction will try to make me it's bitch and usually at my most vulnerable times. But I can fight back with logic and knowledge. Crazy shit hates logic and knowledge, but it loves ignorance. When I was at the height of my addiction, I didn't understand why I would binge like an animal. A big part of me didn't want to understand it, so I subconsciously and purposely stayed ignorant. I used food as my drug. It was how I coped with my scary feelings. I didn't want to take my only coping mechanism away. How would I ever deal with my feelings if I couldn't bury them? I'd bury them under a couple dozen cookies or an entire family-sized bag of chips. I'd bury them under a sick belly that hurt so much from being full that I couldn't think of anything else. 

I still have times where I'm dealing with something very difficult and I yearn for that physical pain that makes my mind numb. I'm not ashamed that I still feel like that sometimes. I used to be, but no more. I'm human. I'm not perfect and I never will be and I'm okay with that. I think it's important to recognize that most of us develop a food addiction because of pain. We're trying to kill some kind of emotional pain. And guess what? It works, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, food addiction does in fact work in the moment. That is why we keep it in our lives.

The problem is, as with any addiction, the temporary fix actually becomes a problem... one that's often much bigger than the damn original problem that you were trying to cope with in the first place. So now what? Now you still have the original hardship you started with and now on top of that you have a whole new shit show on your hands. An full blown addiction. 

Our society is inundated with addictions. Addictions of all kinds. Damn, just about everybody is addicted to something. It's not just drugs and drink, it's everything... gambling, shopping, adrenaline, sex, shoes, sugar, video games, the list could go on forever.

Every time I talk about this, J.M. Storm's quote always floods my brain. He said it perfectly: "We're all just a bunch of addicts, struggling with our drug of choice."

We live in a time where there is so much heartache and illness and anxiety. We're all just trying to get by. It's really hard sometimes to even get through the day; stacks of bills, loved ones who are ill, personal demons, relationship discord. All of these things add up and leave us searching for a feel-good moment, an escape. It's okay that we look for a way out. It's normal that we don't want to feel all these destructive feelings and heavy worries. But here's the thing... if we try to bury all of this shit with things that end up controlling us, our chances of ever solving the first problem while actively ingraining another problem is very slim. Once you let an addiction take root, it gets a lot trickier to overcome. But the good news is if you can start calling yourself out on your own bullshit, it can be done.

When I first started my weight loss journey, I don't think anybody thought I'd succeed, especially me. I was morbidly obese and quickly approaching the three hundy mark. I was so deep into my food addiction that I was falling into food comas and waking up 3-4 hours later, I couldn't tie my shoes, and I couldn't get comfortable laying in bed. Hell, to get off the charts real with you right now, I'll go ahead and also tell you that I couldn't even wipe my ass. I'm not joking. It was so hard to reach around to even wipe my own ass properly. It was horrible. I felt like the weakest and most disgusting piece of shit on the planet. But the more I bashed myself, the more I ate. Because that is what addiction does. It convinces you that you can bury the pain. It doesn't tell you that the pain will be right there waiting for you when you wake up three hours later. It doesn't tell you that it's killing you and stripping your soul of what makes you you.

After I had lost about 60 pounds (it took me two years to lose 120 pounds), I started hearing shitty comments from people. They would say I was addicted to working out because I worked out everyday (I actually took 1-2 rest days a week). When I told them that it's actually healthy to be active everyday, I got eye rolls. People told me I should eat more (even though they had no idea how much I was eating). When I told them that I ate over 1600 calories a day, they didn't believe me. I had hardly anybody congratulate me or tell me they were proud of me, but the people waiting to tell me negative things were lined up out the door and around the corner. Finally I stopped trying to explain myself and started telling people to fuck off. Life got instantly better.  

So was I addicted to my new health and fitness lifestyle? Was I obsessed? I'm sure at many times I was. I was on a mission and quite honestly, if being addicted to finding myself and getting healthy was in fact what was happening, then so be it. I lost my weight in the healthiest way one can. I ate right and I moved my ass. No pills. No shakes. No fasts. I worked my fucking ass off.

I think the more accurate word is purpose, not obsession. I finally had a purpose. I woke up everyday excited to prove to myself I had it in me. I woke up feeling blessed that I had another 24 hours to put in a healthy day, getting one sunset closer to my goal. 

Do you want to hear something crazy? I don't think I would've ever been able to achieve my goals if I didn't have such an addictive personality. I know that probably isn't the 'right' thing to say. But dammit, it's true. I used my addictive nature for something good. I started getting addicted to feeling healthy. I had energy, I was sleeping better, my body felt tight (even though I still had a lot of fat), I loved how the endorphins made me feel, and all the healthy food was clearing up my skin, healing my irritable bowel syndrome, and making me feel incredible.

I became addicted to becoming the person I was supposed to be. A mom who could play with her kids, a wife who couldn't wait for her husband to take her to bed (with the lights on!), and a friend who stopped turning down invitations to fun stuff.

So is it good to trade one addiction for another? Well I don't know how to answer that for anyone else but me. But for me, learning a bunch of healthy behaviors and replacing all of the horrific behaviors was the solution. Instead of eating an entire package of Oreos to feel better, I'd go workout and get my endorphins kicking. Instead of buying a bunch of slop food and hiding it, I'd buy dumbbells and leave them sprinkled all over the living room. Instead of telling myself how worthless and ugly I was all day long, I started writing down all of the things I was proud of myself for. I wrote down small goals, big goals, and everything in between. 

Did I become addicted to health and fitness?  Idk I guess on some level, yes, I did. But answer me this...  is it possible to achieve the impossible and to achieve greatness without being obsessed on some level? No, I don't think it is.

I think a great indicator that whatever obsession or addictive mentality I adopted to lose 120 pounds was not unhealthy is the fact that I went about my weight loss in a very healthy way. I nourished my body with tons of amazing foods and consumed ample calories. I was active regularly, but never went overboard. I stayed within the confines of healthy measures. I have now maintained my weight loss for seven years. Nine years ago when I started my weight loss journey, I jumped into it with gusto and excitement. I put every ounce of myself into my mission. That tendency that I have, that addictive personality, served me well and provided me the focus I needed to achieve what most {wrongly} think is impossible.

Remember all the people who told me in the beginning that I was addicted to working out and wasn't eating enough? Yeah, well all of those people have since changed their tune. And almost all of those same people, who happen to also be overweight, have since come to me for advice on how to lose weight. 

We are so used to sitting back and letting life happen to us. We are so used to allowing our problems to run the show and pollute our minds. We have lost the meaning of and the importance of pursuing goals. We can't find the energy to reach our goals because we're too busy using up all of our energy on negative shit. In order to do something great, you need to find some power. And there is no greater power than what resides deep inside of you. It's always been there but you've been too busy covering it up with fear and insecurity... and Big Macs and Ho Hos. You don't need that shit to feel better. In fact, it's pulling you deeper into an abyss.

Make a decision to see your food addiction. Stare it in the eyes and acknowledge it. Then use that addictive personality of yours for good and not evil. You know how powerful it is. Hell, it's been making you it's bitch for how long now. Turn the tables and take back your power. Use it to find the passion to change. Use it to find a purpose. If you can learn to cope with your problems by eating, then you can learn how to cope by practicing healthy behaviors too. You can take control of your life and turn things around.

It's never too late and there's no such thing as impossible.

 

 

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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.

NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.

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