There is a pattern behind food addiction, as with all addictions: imbalances perpetuate themselves. The first stage of addiction is loss of balance. Once an imbalance takes hold, it can eventually lead us to lose control of our life.
Food Addiction & Other Lifestyle Imbalances
Food addiction is similar to many other forms of addiction. A common misconception is that addictions must come from bad habits and unhealthy activities. But, this is not always the case.
For example, productive contribution to the world usually requires work. But, it is possible to develop an addiction to work as there are many who battle as work-a-holics. We may start out by working more and more and the amount of time dedicated to it can force us to the point where we feel as if we are never doing enough. At that point, the work is controlling us. It can be the same with exercise and working out, or any other healthy activity.
Addiction to Food & the Yin and Yang Philosophy
In macrobiotic practice, we follow the principles of yin and yang. You can learn more with about them with a quick read through Wikipedia. Once we start to become too yin (empty or dispersed), we start to crave more and more yin to feel satisfied. We continue to move in this direction until we can no longer sustain the excess, and then collapse. It could be a health issue, loss of job or family, arrest, or any major loss of control over life.
Once we start to become too yang (heat, activity, and pressure), the same pattern takes place. Common results of yang addiction are serious illness, bankruptcy, or driving loved ones away. Addiction is not about will power, discipline, moral character, or anything of the sort. It is about an imbalance which perpetuates itself until it hits an extreme.
Food addictions can be towards yin, or yang, or a combination. Another extreme is clean-eating, which can possibly lead towards other health issues such as anorexia. By the time we are addicted to something, we have lost a lot of our perspective of balance, and the imbalance is usually too powerful to overcome on our own.
External help and support is needed, usually through counseling, education, and support groups. Trying to overcome addiction by oneself often creates more pressure. A strong support system helps relieve enough pressure to make recovery and a new healthier pattern possible.
The Strengthening Health Approach to Food Addiction
Addictions are fueled by frustration, be it emotional (commonly feeling inadequate or not treated fairly), social, work-related or financial. The greatest frustration comes from not satisfying biological balance or nutritional needs. Trying to stop the addiction only fuels it, because when we feel we are losing something, it becomes that much more important. The approach of cutting down, quitting, reducing or restricting often leads to relapse under pressure.
For example, trying to drink less makes each drink seem that much more valuable and enjoyable. The same can be true with smoking, eating, or working out.
A truly effective and lasting approach to addiction of any type, is to create a new pattern of balance. If you take an approach of adding things that are balanced, concentration shifts from losing to gaining. If you love red meat or pizza, you can add healthy plant-foods that are denser, richer, and concentrated. You will start to crave the healthy things more over time.
The strengthening health approach to the macrobiotic diet treats addiction by creating a new pattern through adding foods, activities and lifestyle practices to restore our natural sense of balance. Over time, we naturally become uncomfortable with extremes. In addiction, we can become more comfortable with those extremes.
Furthermore, the more passionate you are about adding healthy things and practices into your life, the more successful you can be. True recovery comes from adding healthy foods and practices that are biologically and emotionally satisfying.
Our founder, macrobiotic counselor Denny Waxman, has noticed over his long time observation of people they usually lose interest first in the very foods they thought they could never give up. Then, they begin to crave healthy foods and activities that lead to further healthy lifestyle decisions.