Making the choice to walk away from addiction is a huge accomplishment, and also a big challenge. It involves consciously making changes to the way you think, live, and approach everything in your life.
It is understandably, an emotionally challenging time, where one moment you may feel strong and motivated, and another overwhelmed and confused. This is why turning to another substance to cope with unpleasant emotions is common. It's a good idea to be aware of this tendency, so that you can quickly recognize the warning signs of a secondary addiction.
Comfort eating is quite common among recovering addicts and it can easily turn into a full blown food addiction if not recognized early on. This type of eating often begins as a kind of emotional eating, or eating because of certain feelings rather than for hunger and nourishment.
Comfort eating is very common and most people are able to engage in the behavior from time to time without it interfering with their lives. A recovering addict however, may be more vulnerable to developing a food addiction. Many people will develop emotional associations with certain foods during childhood. When they are faced with difficult or stressful times as adults, they may turn to those foods to cope with emotions.
Some of the most common emotions that trigger comfort eating include:
-Depression or sadness
-Facing relationship conflicts
-Feeling uncomfortable or uneasy in a social situation
-Any kind of failure
-Any kind of difficult or challenging situation
Emotional eating is a dangerous habit because it can be a gateway to more serious issues. For someone in recovery, having a well balanced and nutritious diet is especially important because it fosters physical and mental well being.
Regularly engaging in comfort eating can cause a person to put on extra weight, which can then contribute to lowered levels of self esteem and depression. Overeating can also contribute to increased chances of illnesses and health problems.
It is also a practice that prevents a person from facing what their true problems are. For someone in recovery, this can really get in the way of making progress and moving forward.
Because someone in recovery has a higher susceptibility to addictive behavior, engaging in comfort eating is especially risky. The first few months of recovery are usually the most vulnerable.
Someone new to recovery will need to learn how to be aware of their emotions and choose to deal with them in a healthy way. Having support during this time is also very helpful. Ignoring excessive comfort eating and other risky behaviors can signal a coming relapse.
How to deal with food addiction during recovery.
There are a number of effective strategies for anyone who feels that eating has become an issue during their recovery. These strategies can also be helpful for dealing with any other issues that arise during the recovery process. Some of them include:
-Practicing mindful eating. This method trains an individual to have a greater awareness of the emotions that arise in relation to their eating habits. Mindful eating can help a person develop a new, healthier relationship with food.
-Finding other ways to cope. Exercising, journaling, going to meetings, volunteering, or meditating are all good ways to cope with unpleasant emotions.
-Ask for help. Talking to a sponsor or therapist is always a good idea when it comes to dealing with difficult emotions.
-Face the root of the problem. Uncomfortable emotions don't just come out of nowhere. Face the problem by figuring out what your triggers are and how you can work through them. Ask a therapist or other experienced individual for help with this if needed.
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