Recently I had a conversation with a client about the power of smiling. As she continued talking about the pressing issues in her life draining her energy and causing her to retreat back to unhealthy habits, she ended her montage of thoughts by saying she just wanted to smile again.
Family and work stress had caused her to eat without thought, and once again she was eating too much unhealthy food. Her focus was on the problems at hand and not on herself. She turned to food for comfort, or for a respite from the outside stress, and this was a major concern to her. She was unhappy with herself and with how she chose to deal with events that were out of her control. As she recited all her issues to me, the one thing I noticed as she was speaking was she was also smiling. When she said, "I just want to smile again," I found that ironic and said, "You've been smiling this entire time." It caused her to pause and she suddenly realized that daily, her co-workers say that she is able to smile through adversity. This sudden realization of her smile changed her attitude toward her issues.
Old habits return in weak moments. Sometimes weak moments last a long time, and people turn to addictions they believe they had already conquered, as my client did. Addictions are deeply ingrained and can wreak havoc on your life when left to fester.
I was presenting a seminar about conquering food addictions. At the conclusion of the seminar a very professionally dressed, attractive woman approached me. She introduced herself and said she was an addiction counselor. She went on to say how much she enjoyed the seminar, and her reason for attending was to take my information to her clients who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. She was going to use my points from the seminar to give her clients a different perspective on addiction. The one item she was going to stress was the difference between a food addiction and those that her clients battle.
Addictions are similar regardless of the poison, whether its food, alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling, or any other. If left unchecked and allowed to progress, the addiction will control your life. It will be the center of your attention and you manipulate plans and people in order to feed it. If left to reign, it begins to destroy relationships, careers, happiness, and health.
The important difference between food addictions and others is that you must continue to eat, while with other addictions you take the necessary steps to stop the addictive substance. I believe whichever addiction you fight is the toughest. For example: If you were asked to never smoke a cigarette or to not gamble, that may be very easy because you don't struggle with those, but to someone who does, it is life-altering and a difficult accomplishment. Those who are not addicted to food cannot understand the control food has over one's life. It's the one addiction you must continue, but also must learn how to live with and reinvent.
Food is not the center of life.
Put food in its place and avoid living a food-centered life. Food is fuel and is meant to sustain a healthy and happy life. When you turn to food for other reasons, you are neither healthy nor happy. Look for happiness and comfort in other areas. Become a people-person by enjoying the company of others, and in turn, they will want to be with you. Being addicted to food is isolating and destructive. Being addicted to life is abundant.
Find healthier ways to deal life's issues.
There will always be pressing issues and stresses in life, and the one common factor is--it will pass. When using permanent behavior to deal with temporary issues, you allow the issue to live on. The remnants of the food you turned to, remains on you. Find other ways to move through stress. Look for activities you enjoy. They will allow you to have a better perspective on current issues, allowing you to uncover a productive solution.
Recognize when food has once again taken hold of you.
Be aware of your first warning signs that you are once again clinging to food. It is the mindless and uncontrolled eating until you feel sick that must be avoided. Often there will be certain behaviors or food types that you turn to. The sooner you catch the initial warning signs, the better equipped you will be to reevaluate and choose other options. Make a concrete list of your warning signs. When you are aware of them and recognize their onset, you'll be better situated to avoid the downward spiral all together.
Learn to smile and laugh.
Put a smile on your face or laugh, even if it's forced. The benefits will surprise you. You'll find it easier to laugh daily. This will allow you to make food choices with a clear head, allowing you to conquer an eating addiction one day at a time.
Get addicted to life and enjoy all the happiness and health benefits life offers. Enjoy daily tasks even if they are not your favorites by focusing on the payoff. Spend time with or emulate others who have a zest for life. In time, and without the heavy weight of an addiction, you will be someone others want to emulate.