From most people changing diet and giving up unhealthy addictive foods is not easy.
Everybody, including health coaches, nutritionists, dieticians and healthy eating gurus, has some sort of psychological food dependency.
Just ask yourself a couple of questions to find out if you have a food dependency. When you are in a restaurant with an ‘all you can eat’ buffet how much food do you put on your plate? How many times do you go back to refill your plate? What kind of food do you choose?
What are addictive foods? For most people these are: sugar, coffee, chocolate, cheese, fried foods, pizza, chips, French fries, cake, bacon, sugary breakfast cereals. You will find that most of these foods contain artificial chemical additives, colours, flavour and taste enhancers which make these foods“hyperpalatable.”
These foods are designed by the food industry to be addictive.
Start with a food dairy.
To make the process of changing your diet easier it is important to find out what food dependencies you have.
Start a food dairy and take a note of everything you eat and drink during a week. With this information it will be easy have a clear picture of your eating habits and to identify times of the day and situations when you are most likely to eat addictive foods.
It is also a good idea to take a note of WHY you eat addictive foods. Is it a habit like eating popcorn in the cinema? Is it a social situation – coffee and cake in a café with friends? Is it because you are stressed or bored? Is it because you need to fill a void in your life with food? Is this the easiest way to get some positive emotions in your life?
Sometimes having a clear understanding why you get cravings for a certain addictive food is enough to deal with addiction to this particular food.
Make a list of addictive foods.
Making a list of all unhealthy addictive foods in your diet helps to identify those foods which are the easiest to give up and those which are the most difficult.
Start with the food that is the easiest to give up.
It is virtually impossible to eliminate all the addictive foods from your diet at the same time. So it is probably a good idea to start with those which are the easiest to give up and gradually move to those foods which are more difficult.
It is better to make a slow and steady progress replacing addictive foods with healthier alternatives. If you try to do too much it is easy to slip back to the old eating habits and binge eating after a few day of super healthy diet.
A lot of people find it quite easy to start with sugar. There are plenty of healthier alternatives to sugary snacks and drinks. Working with one addictive food makes it easier to plan for those occasions when you are most likely to eat or drink something sugary.
Try different approaches.
You can experiment and try different approaches and see what works best for you.
It could be gradually decreasing the amount of sugar in your tea or coffee, replacing sugar with honey or drinking something different – fruit juices.
Another approach is to give up sugar (or any other addictive food) completely for a month. This will allow you to see how strong your addiction to sugar is, how you are going to feel without sugar in your diet and more importantly you can appreciate all the health benefits of life without sugar.
If after a month the craving should go away completely or subside significantly. But if you feel that you really, really need sugar you can reintroduce it in easier to manage smaller amounts.
Some of the addictive foods have healthier alternatives. There are healthy and tasty vegetable oils fats, sugars (fructose), fried food can be replaced with baked ones and refined carbs can be replaced with whole grains.
Leave the foods you are most addicted to till you are ready to deal with them.
If you cannot live without chocolate, if you cannot imagine your life without coffee or cheese leave them in your diet for now. Dealing with the most difficult to give up foods will become easier as your diet becomes cleaner from junk and your body gets a real taste of fresh, live fruits, vegetables and healthy food.
When you see the first positive results of eating for health and when your body has eliminated some of the toxins and waste from the system your will feel less dependent on the unhealthy addictive foods and eventually you will be able to give them up completely.