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Busayo Oderinde: Curbing Food Addictions

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My sister is the inspiration for this article. For the past fourteen going on fifteen years, she has not had ANY carbonated drink. I repeat… ANY carbonated drink. To understand this, it includes, but is not limited to Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, Lacasera. She doesn’t drink it any of the drinks in this family.

She said while she was in Uni, she realised she was addicted to fizzy drinks especially Coke. A day could not go by without her drinking. She said she didn’t feel good about it. She wasn’t overweight or unhealthy, but she had a problem with her teeth and it led to her making the decision. She started with Coke, then she cut ALL carbonated drinks completely. And that was it, fourteen years after, she still doesn’t drink it, all she takes is juice or water.

Every time it boggles my mind or when I’m enjoying a cold, scratch that, a CHILLED bottle of coke (I am a borderline coke addict, I can’t imagine giving it up), I turn to her with an incredulous expression and ask ‘Don’t you even miss it? And she says every time, ‘not even in the least’.
But you know the irony of the whole thing? She still has a food addiction which I find totally weird. She is addicted to pouring dry foods in her mouth, garri in particular. Weird, right? This one I don’t get and it even turns me off.

Mine is chocolates! I love them. I have a sweet tooth that is legendary. I’m so easy to please when it comes to chocolates, anything with chocolates will do; cookies, chocolate covered this, chocolate filled that, it’s all fine. My ex boo used to look at me in wonder when I finish a whole jumbo box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates in a sitting. Everyone knows of my love for chocolates. If you want to please me, you are already there with chocolates. If I can’t afford the high end chocolates, I go to my neighbourhood mall am to hook me up, thanks to Asia, we have so many cheap imitations of the popular brands in the market.

That got me thinking, is it that easy to give up food you love because it is not doing you good. Is it simply replacing it with another like in her case? Is it just a case of mind over matter? Willpower? Weighing the pros and cons and choosing the healthy option. If it were that easy, everybody would eat healthy and the junk food industry will be out of business.

These high sugar, fat filled, empty calorie foods are now regular features in our lives. The negative effects are apparently not a deterrent. We consume them as much as we can, they are constantly in our faces, and need I talk about the options in Lagos traffic talk less of the average supermarket. Trust me, story for another day.
The question is once you know you are addicted to a particular food that does you no good, what do you do about it? How do you stop? Or do you just replace it with something a little less damaging like in my sister’s case.
Another addiction of mine is chewing ice cubes. People say it’s dangerous for my teeth but I can’t be bothered. It does something for me I can’t explain. Figure I will stop if it gets to that dangerous point. Why do we indulge knowingly in things that do us no good?

There are people who resort to deceiving themselves. I knew a woman who drank a bottle of Pepsi every day. But to make herself feel good, she diluted it with two parts of water. I used to laugh silently and think how does this help? You still have the sugar content in your body. My own cheat is I try and drink a lot of green tea. I hope this counteracts all the sugar from the chocolates.

Another form of deceit is going for low fat, low sugar options. This in my humble opinion is very dangerous. Most of these products are loaded with harmful chemicals like aspartame and acesulfame. These are chemicals that your body sometimes have no idea on how to metabolize. I would take the original coke and walk a few extra miles to burn the sugar than take Coke zero.

So how do we curb food addictions? Research showed me all sorts which I will try and shed more light on. Some are quite logical and others just hilarious.

I mean this is a no brainer. Exercise is good for you. It releases endorphins, the feel good hormones and the logic is if you feel good, you will be reluctant to put damaging substances into your mouth.

Good Social Life
Depression, loneliness, heartbreak and self-esteem issues lead to food addiction. Having a good and active social life, having friends who love you or being engaged in rewarding activities curbs the cravings.
Bottom-line, be engaged, do something else.

A Better Alternative
This is also very helpful. For someone with a sweet tooth, anytime I get the craves, I try and eat fruit or mixed nuts. It might not be exactly what I want but at that exact moment, it helps me get my mind off it.

Having a Support System
I think this is really important. A support system helps you when the going gets rough because not everyone has the willpower to stop something. The system is your mirror and shows you the effect your addiction is having on you. In other countries, there are so many support groups you could join to help you end the addiction. For most of us in Nigeria, it’s our friends and family.

Ice Cold Water Therapy
This was a funny one but it is said it is effective. When you have your food urges, what you do is get a bowl of ice cold water and dunk your head into it for about ten to thirty seconds. It is said that this will reset your brain (whatever that means) and kill the crave. Funny.

I found out that if you learn to calm your mind and think positive thoughts and all that, you will overcome. This was hilarious. Honestly, anytime I reach for chocolate, I should begin to chant and hum?! But I am not one to judge…whatever floats your boat.

Need I say more? We are a religious bunch and readily turn to prayer about to resolve issues in our lives? How many times have you heard someone say ‘I prayed about it and I stopped eating this or that’? I have heard it several times so I believe it works.

But there are people who deceive themselves, have you ever seen the hilarious skit from Yomi Black’s Film Company; where Michelle Dede covered a bottle of alcoholic STAR with the blood of Jesus and believed it was now turned into Orange juice. Trust me, there people out there who are guilty of this. Don’t be one; remember what I said about deceit earlier.

So, what food addictions have you battled with or are battling with? How did you overcome or what’s your on-going strategy? Please feel free to share.

Have a lovely week. Love and Chocolates.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Rocketclips, Inc.

My name is Busayo, a Food Enthusiast, I love love food, its a huge passion for me and I believe Chocolates make the world a happier place. Feel free to contact me via email, [email protected]