So, based on some Overeaters Anonymous literature I have read, as well as a few Oprah-type shows on addictions, I am worried about replacing my food addiction/dependency with other addictions.
I never thought of myself as having an "addictive" personality, because, thank goodness, I never had problems with alcohol or drugs. However, looking at my dependency on food has caused me to look at my behavior in other areas. Shopping, for example. There was a time when I would overspend in stores without needing the things I was buying. Shopping gave me something to do and temporarily made me feel good about myself.
Of course, since becoming overweight, shopping for clothes made me feel terrible. I actively stayed away from stores to not have to face my increasing size. Recently, I have had to buy a few new things, because some of the clothes in my closet are starting to not fit. While I can justify my purchases so far a necessities, I am worried about my shopping becoming a habit as I continue to go down in size. Will I have the self control to know when I need to buy a few smaller size pieces and when I am going overboard? The last thing I need is to get into debt because I am replacing eating with shopping.
Do any of you have similar fears about replacing eating with another harmful habit?
11-17-2011, 04:01 PM
I do too. I replaced smoking with eating. Which added 25 pounds to my already heavy body. I don't have the answer, but I wanted you to know you're not alone in that fear.
11-17-2011, 11:52 PM
There are substances which are highly addictive, whether or not the user has any history or inclination towards substance abuse.
There are other substances which have abuse potential, but only a fraction of people who try the substance will become dependent on the substance (the fraction may be 1% or 99% depending on the substance - alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocain, heroine, meth....).
Is food like alcohol (where most people are able to use it socially), or is it like some strong narcotics like heroine (so addictive that almost anyone could become hooked if they were exposed to it enough or over long enough period of time).
I used to think that I had an emotional problem that had to lie at the source of my food addiction. But I was never able to get at the root of it.
Then I learned that I'm not food addicted, I'm carb addicted (and not just any carbs, the fat/salt/sugar combination that David Kessler describes in his book The End of Overeating).
When I don't eat these foods, not only does my "food addiction" disappear, so do the emotional problems (I'm more emotionally stable on a lower carb diet. The blood sugar spikes probably are one component to the emotional rollercoaster that high-concentration carbs put my body through).
Even lab rats tend to overeat these types of foods, so it may not be "addiction" so much as inborn instinct (because in a natural world, where these foods would be exceedingly rare, but also exceedingly valuable, there is survival value in being drawn to and taking advantage of these foods).
So are we dealing with "true" addiction (and underlying mental health issues) here, or are we dealing with physical "dependence."
I think it depends on the person. I've actually been extremely pleased to learn that I don't seem to "reach for another addiction," although it's still been very hard to master the dependence on the carbohydrates (especially after the first bite).
I've learned that I cannot (and probably never will be able to) use high-glycemic carbohydrates responsibly. Avoiding the first bite, is easier than avoiding the second or thirtieth bite.
The biggest obstacle is in treating these foods like the physically (not just psychologically) addictive substances they are.
It's hard to take a "drug" seriously when everyone, even your dear, sweet grandma seems to be pushing them.
Even if a person does have a predisposition towards addictive behavior, just being prepared for the possibility seems to help people prevent a new "as-bad" addiction.
Sometimes it's possible to substitute a "positive addiction" (such as to exercise or to a hobby).
The "positive addiction" used to be considered less harmful, but still harmful. That has changed though. Most of the experts now say that the positive addictions actually helps keep people from relapsing.
I think the important thing to keep in mind is that addictions do not appear full-blown. They develop over time, it's a process, and if you're prepared, you're protected (not addiction-proof, but addiction resistant).
11-18-2011, 09:16 AM
Interesting question. The word "addiction" seems to be used these days for many kinds of behaviours that the person knows are excessive or counter-productive but engages in anyway. They might not be physiologically-based but emotionally gratifying.
I could never wear attractive clothes, just whatever was available in plus sizes. Now that I have lost 40 lb and still losing, I shop for clothes at Value Village every week and sometimes regular retail. Not going over my monthly budget, but aware that I'm doing it more for gratification than real need. I think I have substituted this for my old habit of over-eating; am recognizing that it needs to stop but having trouble putting the brakes on.
I had to get new clothes with every 10 lb lost--didn't ever think that I would go down so many sizes so bought for each size I reached. Now I should stop.
This post has made me think hard about my excess shopping, however "justified". I need to substitute a more healthy behaviour.
So yes, guacamole, I do have the same fear that you do. But your post has been helpful in making me confront it. I have a couple of hobbies that I plan to restart, so maybe that will help.`
11-18-2011, 09:47 AM
I'm experiencing the same thing! I've never been a real clothes hound, but I find that as my body shrinks, I'm more interested in owning figure flattering clothes. Plus, for work, I want to have enough clothes to get through a week without having to do laundry. Trouble is, I keep buying more. I think about going shopping, and I want to go shopping and finally I go shopping! I could get through two weeks now, and all of these clothes will be too big in another 6 months or so! Stupid! If I would just hold off....
I've seen myself do things to be instantly gratified. I have eaten an entire bag of gem donuts due to _________ (depression, anger, frustration..... fill in the blank....basically eating my feelings). I've also gone shopping to do the same.
Yesterday, though, I was mad so I got on the treadmill. I felt better. I suppose that's an addiction I can live with.
11-18-2011, 10:15 AM
I think of myself as a recovering sugar-addict. I went to sugar when I was nervous, stressed out, upset, and happy, basically all the time. :dizzy:
Once I cut it out of my life it was like a huge rock was lifted off of my back. I can't say I've really replaced it with anything either. I probably drink a bit more coffee and chew a lot of gum but not to any dangerous extreme.
11-18-2011, 04:19 PM
Yes, I have the same fear shopping will become an addiction. I gave away my whole "4 sizes too big wardrobe" wardrobe and bought all new clothes including very expensive new bras for my 80G breasts. I just realised that I have 3 pairs of trousers, 4 shirts and a skirt that I didn't even wear yet... and they are already too big. I love shopping, I can do it for hours and hours, trying things on, store after store... without eating. Yes, it's a replacement.
Thank you for your post: it's an eye-opener.
Shannon in ATL
11-18-2011, 04:53 PM
I have channeled my OCD and addictive personality into exercise. I just have to be careful not to kill myself and overdo it.