food addiction

Make a Habit, Break a Habit: Here's How:

Make a habit, break a habit. Are addictions treatable habits? Yes, but it's just a little more complicated than that. If you're wondering if you have a drinking problem, do you remember when you first started drinking, what it was you were really going for? Some of my clients report everyone else was doing it - these are usually teens.  For many the drinking provides temporary relief from stress or anxiety, a way to shed the days worries. Or, just to relax and have fun socially. Over time, a habit forms and gets bigger because it creates a craving which can become an obsession.  The habit of self-treating anxiety or stress with a few glasses of wine or a 6 pack of beer. That's when people start to feel really out of control of the addictive habit.

Is it possible to shift drinking behaviors and other addictive habits by developing new routines which become new habits?  Of course. AA members know the truth of this. Sceptical new members attend meetings where they see that seasoned members are staying sober because they've developed the "habit" of attending meetings rather than drinking.  Group support becomes part of the new habit.

What's the process to change a habit?  Let's say you have a slight drinking issue you'd like to adjust. You come home and drink a glass of wine each night with a meal and you're not happy about the weight gain. How do you begin? First of all identify the "cue" or what's driving the craving. For this wine drinking woman, the cue is stress relief. She comes home stressed, tired and a glass of wine relaxes her. The "routine" is getting the bottle out and pouring a glass of wine. The reward is the "relief" as the stress and anxiety melts away as she drinks her wine with her meal.

To change this habit she needs to look at other more positive ways to relieve stress and anxiety. New behaviors which turn into routines could be stopping at the gym and working out for an hour between work and home. Here the cue is the still the stress, but the routine is different and leads to the reward of relaxation AND weight loss. Practicing this change over 90 days will cement in the new habit. The reward of stress reduction with exercise and weight loss helps to keep the new habit in place.  (For more:  read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg)

 

PTSD & Relapse Prevention – Emotional Freedom Technique Will Help!

Relapsing is really hard and not any fun. Going to 12 step meetings, having a sponsor, all those things help but sometimes you need more.  Emotional Freedom Technique is a weird little technique millions have used to help themselves feel better fast. You really can tap yourself to what feels like freedom because you have a way to reduce cravings, stress or anxiety - all releapse triggers.

Traumatic Stress and addiction go hand in hand. Pain seeks relief and relief can come in many forms; alcohol, pot, vicidin, sex. You name it, people have used it to distract themselves from pain. Post traumatic Stress Disorder was first named after Vietnam veterans came home traumatized from war.

Here’s how Emotional Freedom Technique might help you:  If you struggle with staying sober, if you keep relapsing after a regular amounts of time – 90 days, or a year or if you have particular triggers, say, fights with a spouse that give you a good excuse to get drunk,  overreacting to anger or pain, or stress or anxiety that fuel cravings then seriously consider learning  Emotional Freedom Technique.

Emotional Freedom Technique is easy to learn and super effective to release anxiety, stress or upset and it's faster than traditional therapy. As an addiction counselor I’ve used EFT for 15 years with my clients on everything from childhood trauma to car accidents, to snake phobias, to driving phobias to simple anxiety or migraine headaches. One client reduced migraines from over 20 a month to less than 5. EFT was developed by Gary Craig, an engineer. He simplified an older process called Thought Field Therapy.

As an addiction counselor I LOVE that once learned I can send clients out the door with the instructions on how to use EFT in hand and they can go home and practice on real life situations that push their buttons. What that means is say you’re about to pick up the kids from your ex and you’re feeling anxious – you can spend a few minutes tapping to relieve anxiety. Or, let’s come back to relapse – you’re having a craving so you spend 5 minutes tapping and bring the craving down from a 9 or 10 to a 3 or 4.  Having an easy to use tool makes relapse is less likely - of course, you have to use it.

For more on Emotional Freedom Technique check out Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Anxiety (there's a FREE Mp3 download bottom of page) and/or go to www.emofree.com or call me for a FREE 15 minute Consult to see if EFT is right for what's bothering you.

Holistic Help for Anxiety & Depression in Recovery: Try Amino Acids

 

Struggling with Anxiety or Depression in recovery?  Try Amino Acids. No surprise many addicted folks are anxious, depressed or stressed and self-medicating with their drug or food of choice. Many years ago I discovered I suffered from anxiety while giving a client an anxiety assessment. (Physician heal thyself!) As I scored the clients responses, I mentally checked off and scored my own. Momentarily shocked, I realized the pit in my stomach that was so normal was anxiety based. (*For quiz & treatment see book: From Panic to Power by Lucinda Bassett)

 

I wanted natural, rather than pharmaceutical treatment for myself and clients and discovered the power of amino acid supplementation for mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Amino acids are naturally occurring substances in the body that we (especially anyone with an addiction) can become deficient in. I love them because, unlike many prescription drugs, they do not have side effects other than a mild headache if the dosage is too high. If that occurs, drink lots of water and take Vitamin C to flush it quickly out of system. Amino acids are best taken on a empty stomach. They are available at health food stores. If you’re a health care practitioner you may purchase them wholesale through Infinity Health (800) 733-9293.


Here are my top 3 suggestions:

GABA: For anxiety or stress:  (*See Julia Ross’s Mood Cure or Diet Cure books)
Recommended dosage one 500 mg. capsule on empty stomach. (Can take 1- 3 capsules depending on severity of mood 2 or 3X a day or at night if having trouble getting to, or staying asleep.)

5 HTP : For  mild to moderate anxiety or depression. Helps sleep and can lessen addictive cravings. Improves serotonin functioning in brain. (Important: Do not take if currently using an anti-depressant.)

Recommended Dosage: One-three 50 mg. capsules on empty stomach during afternoon or at bedtime. (Try 1 capsule first) (See Julia Ross’s Mood Cure or Diet Cure books)

P.S. Very helpful for the 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. low-energy dip or if you have afternoon sugar or carb cravings. Serotonin levels are lowest in the late afternoon which is why cravings get more intense then.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR ON YOUR WEB SITE?

You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Lynn Telford-Sahl, M.A. Psychology, Certified Addiction Counselor, author of Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom.   


aminoacidsL-Theanine: Amino acid found in green tea.

Supports mental calmness, focus and relaxation. Dr. John Gray suggests 200-400 mg 2-3X a day, as needed. He says taken at bedtime it melts away stress.

RESOURCES

Dr. Gray: Just released Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice)

Julia Ross: The Mood Cure or The Diet Cure

(* Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and am not prescribing any supplementation. Please take responsibility and be an informed consumer. Do your own research – see resources above)

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Food Addiction: Create a Pause Button For Sugar Cravings

Sugar lights up the pleasure centers in the brain like the 4th of July.  It seems we humans can become addicted to anything that makes us feel good. And, sugar feels GOOD. "Princeton Univeristy and University of Florida researchers have found that sugar-binging rats show signs of opiatelike withdrawal when their sugar is taken away-including chattering teeth, tremoring forepaws and the shakes." Yikes, sugar sounds like a drug to me!! (NY Times Well 9-23-12)

In 1994 I started groups for women with "food addiction" issues. My goal for the groups was to interrupt the addictive cycle of feeling stressed or upset and then going for food to submerge the feelings rather than consciously feel them. The method introduced was to become aware of the yo-yo cycle of dieting and to develop skills to deal with cravings in new, healthier ways.

We practiced breathing exercises to effectively cope with stress and develop an ability to be more centered. The beginnings of what eventually became the Pause Button formed when women talked about the uncontrollable cravings they would have with their food of choice - cookies, ice cream, salty and crunchy foods.  Awareness is the first step of change and this was new information back then. Notice we don't become addicted to healthy foods like lettuce or carrots.  (Free Mp3download of Intentional JOY's Pause Button Available).

Food Addiction treatment has come a long ways since 1994 and yet obesity is on the rise. The world is more stressful, not less. We have more coming at us, more processed foods available than ever. The pace of life, the rushing to get from here to there makes it really important to stay aware with your feelings, to take 10 BREATHS and to Pause before deciding what you're going to eat.  Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of "The Hunger Fix," (& Fight Fat After 40 - excellent) says what I did so long ago - "...that meditation and exercise can help engage the brain to overcome food addiction..."  And, to replace or find food alternatives that give pleasure but don't set off the fired up craving response - for example: a fruit smoothie instead of ice cream.  ((NY Times Well 9-23-12)