28 DAYS TO OVERCOMING FOOD ADDICTION PROGRAM EXPECTATIONS:
- Be honest with yourself. In the end it’s just you and your conscience. Self-awareness begets self-acceptance, but the latter isn’t a destination so much as road of self-discovery. We all make good decisions and ones that don’t serve us as well. Examining our own motivations – without denial or defensiveness – is what invites self-acceptance.
- Allow for the fact that it will feel worse before it feels better. Having denied our addiction for so long, coming to terms with it will stir up a lot of negative emotions. Oh, and don’t kid yourself: you will go through a physical withdrawal. Giving up caffeine is child’s play compared to this. I’m not exaggerating when I say … it will feel bad. But it passes. Follow the meal plan and trust the process.
- Prepare to be uncomfortable. I mean seriously uncomfortable. Those negative emotions I just mentioned? They’re a means of self-protection to keep us from looking at things that are emotionally painful. You don’t have to deal with all of them at once, and you certainly shouldn’t try to deal with them alone. Seek compassionate and supportive friends, but get a professional therapist to help if it feels overwhelming. I did and it made the struggle much more tolerable.
- Go through the steps completely, sincerely and mindfully. You wouldn’t have been drawn to the program if you didn’t think you needed to do it. So give it your best effort. Half-assed effort earns half-assed result. Which in the case of the addiction means remaining actively addicted.
- Commit to understanding your addiction and how it affects you. Not everyone’s experience of food addiction is the same: I may be weak-in-the-knees for sweets, but maybe it’s a double bacon cheeseburger that does you in. We are here to learn about our addiction and from each other’s experiences, but they will be different.
- Create a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical environment that is conducive to healing. All addictions – from booze to heroin to shopping – have some characteristics in common. Food addiction is no different, but one important difference is that unlike heroin, for example, food is everywhere and we must eat to live. We’ll talk at length about the challenge that creates, but know that it is still possible to establish a safe environment for yourself, and in fact you must do so in order to heal.
- Prepare for pushback. Whether you choose to tell people that you consider yourself a food addict or not (sometimes I do, most times I don’t) you will encounter people who don’t believe food addiction is a legitimate affliction, who think that you simply lack willpower, or who think you need to lighten up and just have a cheeseburger. You must know in your heart of hearts that their beliefs are just that: their beliefs. They are not you; they don’t know your reality and their opinions certainly do not mean that you’re wrong in your decision not to indulge.
- Expect the process to take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your resolve. I understand that you want to get better, but rushing the process, or skipping over parts of it, will not get you to recovery any sooner. More than likely a cursory examination of your addiction will not bring success in overcoming it.
- Plan to fail. If only we could heal from our addiction in a stress-free environment that controlled for all negative input. But none of us lives in a bubble. Stress, work pressures, other people’s demands, negative pushback from family and friends, hell sometimes just opportunity (hello Snickers bar in the grocery store check out!) can all steal our hard-earned confidence and send us reeling. Call a friend, forgive yourself, clear the dead bodies and move on.
- Prepare to amaze yourself. I abused food in every conceivable way for decades and yet I no longer consider myself in active addiction. I now guard my recovery like a precious gift. At my core I know that each of us is capable of overcoming our addiction. Over time, with patience and self-acceptance, we will find our way to recovery and wellness.