Struggling with your New Year resolution to lose weight?
It’s not unusual to put on a few pounds over the holidays. Maybe you, like so many others, put on extra weight during COVID-19. Many people make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and will be all in for the first few weeks of the new year. After that, most people struggle to keep dieting, feel frustrated and wonder why they can’t stay on a diet.
Let me ask you a question. If you had an addiction to drugs would you start counting calories or carbohydrates? Would you reach out for the newest fad diet promising results? Of course not!
Some studies show that 95% of diets and weight-loss programs fail[i]. Recent neuroscience research shows that activities such as over-eating – or the consuming of high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods – produce dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter released into the prefrontal cortex of the brain[ii]. This part of the brain is responsible for willpower and when it is repeatedly compromised with too much dopamine, it can become addicted – just like that of a drug addict. Diets don’t treat addiction! With 70%[iii] of Americans overweight, when are we going to stop throwing diets at addiction?
Do you ever wonder if you’re eating patterns might be symptomatic of an addiction? Take this quiz[iv] to help you decide if you need another diet or if you need to consider a different way to change your relationship with food and eating:
- Do you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, guilty, or depressed about your physical appearance, your weight, or your eating habits?
- Have you ever felt powerless to achieve a healthy weight because you have been unsuccessful in your previous attempts to lose weight permanently?
- Do you resort to compulsive or emotional eating to escape from problems, avoid boredom, relieve anxiety, or cope with stress?
- Have you ever tried to stop or limit some aspect of your compulsive-eating behaviors, but failed in your attempts?
- Have you ever said, “This is the last time I will do that!” yet have continued to do it repeatedly in spite of the potential consequences?
- Do you ever find yourself preoccupied or obsessed with thoughts about eating or about food? Is it a struggle to stop thinking about food?
- Have your eating behaviors resulted in physical complications (such as pre-diabetes or diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other potentially life-threatening diseases)?
- Has someone close to you ever expressed concern about your weight?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it may be an indication that you are addicted to eating or to specific highly-palatable foods.
Food addiction is real. Just as with any addiction, the tools of recovery can help you along your way. Pick up a workbook[v]. Invite some friends to work through it with you. If that isn’t sufficient, add in a 12-Step meeting for food addicts and a therapist to help you uncover the underlying issues that contribute to your compulsive use of food.
Life can be better than this. You can free yourself from the compulsion to eat but it needs more than just willpower, it needs addiction recovery work.
I wish you the best in your efforts to find joy, confidence and freedom from food addiction.
[ii] Volkow, N. & Wise, R., (2005). How can drug-addiction help us understand obesity?, Nature Neuroscience, Vol 8, #5.
Gearhardt, A.,Yokum, S., Orr, P., Stice, E., Corbin, W. & Brownell, K., (2011). Neural correlates of food addiction. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 68(8):808-816.
[iv] Thacker, S. (2020). My food addiction recovery plan. https://www.amazon.com/My-Food-Addiction-Recovery-Plan/dp/B08J1RJ66H/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=my+food+addiction+recovery+plan&qid=1609818527&sr=8-5
[v] Thacker, S. (2020). My food addiction recovery plan. https://www.amazon.com/My-Food-Addiction-Recovery-Plan/dp/B08J1RJ66H/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=my+food+addiction+recovery+plan&qid=1609818527&sr=8-5
Thacker, S. (2020). My Transformation Journal, a companion-tracker to the My Food Addiction Recovery Plan. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08JF5KL15/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2
Stacey B. Thacker is a licensed marriage and family therapist, presenter, writer, educator, lifecoach and consultant who has devoted her career to walking with individuals and families during times of transition and growth. She is co-owner of Roubicek & Thacker Counseling in Fresno, CA. where she supervises associates in the art of psychotherapy. She specializes in sex addiction treatment, relationship betrayal trauma and food addiction recovery.
Stacey has provided From Heartache to Hope and Compassion Fatigue workshops for professionals in the helping fields since 1991. Her book Supporting Others From Heartache to Hope, based on these successful workshops, will be released soon. The Art of Ministering From Heartache to Hope for Latter-day Saints was published in 2018.
She has written the My Food Addiction Recovery Plan workbook and its companion My Transformation Journal. These self-help books are designed to be used by individuals beginning their recovery from food addiction. Additionally, Stacey has written the 13-part Lifestyle Transformation Workbooks designed for therapists and life-coaches working with individuals struggling with compulsive-eating. Stacey’s Author Page
Stacey teaches in the marriage and family therapy graduate program at the University of Phoenix and online for Brigham Young University- Idaho. She and her husband John have been married 41 years, raised 6 children and have 7 adorable grandchildren who fill their lives with love.