Of all my addictions, food was the most difficult to overcome. After all, I literally couldn’t live without it, even though I tried.

It all started with an innocent diet to lose around 15 pounds. I restricted calories while physically working hard at my job pressure cleaning boats at the boatyard. As the pounds started falling off, I began feeling successful; a feeling I hadn’t had before. It felt so good that I kept dieting to the point where I was wearing my nephew’s size 4 shorts (probably a size 2 by today’s standards). But I could “always stand to lose a few more pounds.”

It became increasingly difficult to maintain my skinniest weight on 600 calories a day, plus the four or five aerobics classes I was attending. So I came up with an idea; I would eat as much as I wanted and then throw it up. That began twelve years of food obsessed, living hell. I felt as though I was picking myself up and throwing myself against the wall repeatedly.
Today, more than fifteen years later, I’m able to listen to my body and feed it what it wants. I maintain a natural weight and enjoy food immensely.
So, how did I finally break free?
Although there are many practical tips and guidelines, it boils down to three essential keys…
The first key is Self Acceptance: Accept yourself as you are right now, without judgment. There is no such thing as a perfect person. Without challenges, how would we learn anything?
Question your negative self talk and ask yourself, “Is this really true? Do I know absolutely 100% that this is true?” You will likely find that rarely is anything 100% true. Then, look at what you’re doing well and acknowledge it.
Know that there is a deeper meaning to the behaviors you want to change. Using food is a temporary solution to what’s really going on. What are you feeding, stuffing, avoiding, etc.? When you discover that deeper meaning, you are on your way to recovery.
Practice gratitude for what is good in your life and acknowledge your part in creating it. Set realistic, achievable goals and take small steps toward them. Be sure to celebrate your successes along the way. And if you fall short, forgive yourself. Guilt feeds self-sabotage.

The second key is Disassociation: Separate who you are from your problem. Do not identify the problem as who you are. In other words, you are not a compulsive eater; you are someone who is challenged with compulsive eating. It’s a subtle shift, but very powerful.

The third key is Support: Surround yourself with supportive people. Reach out to a caring friend or a professional who understands addictive behavior. Join a support group.
Also, support yourself with ideas. Have a list of alternatives to binging; such as, pick up the phone and call a friend, watch a funny movie, take a walk, go to the bookstore, take a bubble bath, etc.
And finally, don’t diet. It’s only a set-up for failure.

Malou Curtis is a Certified Health Coach. She specializes in helping women end the diet/binge cycle, achieve their ideal weight, and build a healthy relationship with food, their bodies, and the world around them. Malou understands firsthand the complexities of addiction, having overcome a serious eating disorder, alcoholism, and smoking. She lives in rural Virginia with her three dogs and is currently working on shaking the salt habit. She can be reached at Malou.Curtis@gmail.com or by calling 540-651-2933. She offers a free 30 minute phone consultation to discuss how she might support you in reaching your personal goals.