August 18, 2016

Could this be the same with a food addiction? A review of a recent study on addiction said that most addicts are able to resist the temptation of their addictive substance if there is a better option. The idea was that the ‘addiction’ is a choice rather than a compulsion over which there is no control.

We often hear people claiming that they are addicted to certain foods. “OMG, I can’t resist chocolate”, “I can’t live without bread”, or Homer Simpson’s “Ah, donuts” suggests a lack of control, at least in the mind of the person talking.  Most people are not truly addicted to a specific food, it’s just that they enjoy it and use it as a “go to” food in certain situations – whether consciously or subconsciously.

A biscuit or two with a cup of tea after dinner is a habit for some, but an easy enough one to break if the right conditions are set in place. The biscuit is convenient and it follows a specific chain of events: prepare dinner – eat dinner – clean up kitchen – put the kettle on – make tea – grab biscuits along with tea – sit down and enjoy.

Naturally any strategy will work only if the person wants it to work, so we’ll assume that they do want this. Imagine what would happen if one of the links in the chain above was changed. What if there were no biscuits in the pantry? What if the person went for a walk instead? What if they were paid $10 to have the cuppa without the biscuit?

If change is desired, a different choice can be made but it requires planning and definitely commitment. It might be planning the shopping list and then deliberately avoiding the biscuit aisle. It might be getting dressed in walking clothes before cooking dinner. It might be arranging with another person to pay the $10 when the biscuit is avoided.

Accepting that we have choices over what we eat is essential. In most cases, the reality is that nobody physically forces the biscuit into someone else’s mouth: even offering it is not forcing the situation.

Too often we use excuses to eat the foods we want but know we’d be best avoiding. It’s perfectly fine to eat these foods, but let’s be honest about the reason: “I want it.” Those who use excuses to try absolving themselves of blame are avoiding responsibility for their choices.

As adults we have the ability to make a choice.