Recovery from any addiction is challenging, but recovery from food addiction means lifestyle changes and social changes beyond what alcohol and/or drug users may face. While it is possible to embrace abstinence as a strategy for an addiction to other substances or behaviors, food addiction requires recreating one’s relationship with food.
Isolation, loneliness and boredom are all potential triggers for relapse. Maintaining social relationships would seem like an important component of recovery from food addiction, but for many people struggling with this challenge, managing social interactions is a minefield. How can you recover, recreate your relationship with food, and maintain a healthy social life? It’s a tall order, but here are some tips:
- Use self-help groups. Go to meetings, talk to other addicts and get support. A central aspect of food addiction involves shame and hiding your eating issues. Combat shame by sharing. And get phone numbers. You never know when calling someone supportive is going to be exactly what you need!
- Get a thorough psychiatric evaluation. That sounds worse than it is; a psychiatric evaluation may be key in uncovering other disorders that impact your recovery. Anxiety, depression and other illnesses can make recovering from food addiction much more difficult than it needs to be.
- Use techniques you learned in the hospital or rehab to support your ongoing recovery. Don’t stop journaling or doing artwork just because you’ve moved on from that phase of recovery. Keep using those tools and keep challenging yourself to be more self-aware. Recovery is a process and a work in progress; expect to keep changing, evolving and growing.
- Enlist the assistance of a registered dietician. If you needed to recover from a sports injury, you’d hire a coach or a trainer, right? A dietician can help you with the nuts and bolts of proper nutrition so that you feel your best. A dietician can’t eliminate food addiction, but he or she can help you learn how to take the best care of yourself, nutritionally speaking, so that you stack the deck in your favor. Feeling lousy and eating foods that erode your body’s natural strength and resiliency will leave you at greater risk for relapse. You’re still going to be in challenging situations, but you’ll be entering these situations feeling your best.
With these tools in hand, you’ll be as prepared as possible to engage in social activities in recovery. You’ll figure out what coping skills and strategies work best for you when you’re in difficult situations, and you’ll be ready to use them. While it isn’t easy, it does get easier.