Weight Control Therapy

Does Valentines Equal Chocolate Binge Eating?

Every year without fail Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 around the world.

Did you know Valentine’s Day is NOT about eating chocolate but rather it is actually based on a true story? The Catholic’s religion recognizes several different saints named Valentinus and the actual saint celebrated on Valentine’s Day is officially known as St. Valentine. How about that!

So, it’s not about eating chocolate or going out to eat but rather it’s about a saint that was assigned to watch over the lives of lovers.  St. Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages. Hmmmm, I never ever thought about that when I was in the throes of indulging in chocolate to the point of a chocolate coma.

The Chocolate Blues

Valentine’s Blues

In the past, I truly thought Valentines was a sad day. I was so caught up in the “me” that I didn’t think past it. I, along with a host of others, fell for the commercial side of Valentines, thinking everyone was out with their Valentine celebrating when that might not be so true. Many people are lonely and many are alone.

Today,  I think of Valentine’s Day as a lovely day to show kindness to everyone. It’s a day of love for your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend, the cashier in the grocery store. And mostly Valentine’s Day is a day of love and kindness towards your self.

As I was taking a wonderful walk this morning, listening to the birds singing…the sky as blue as blue can be…and flowers blooming, I was thinking about what Valentines represents to me today, versus years ago before I understood my out-of-control challenges with sugar-laden chocolates.

In the past, chocolate for sure was my first thought with Valentines. And, I think it still is. The difference is I don’t “act” on it now. I just think back fondly…sort of like an old lover. You could say I romanced the chocolate for sure. In fact, just looking at it makes the brainwaves tingle just as a hard core drug addict would.

Can chocolate be addictive? Many question if we can actually have an addiction to chocolate.

Chocolate on any given day can be considered a healthy food promoting good heart health and other days compared as addictive as cocaine. The article written by Abby Perreault, Can You Become Addicted to Chocolate , makes this very point. She notes symptoms of food addiction can resemble drug addiction.

Chocolate a drug?

Yes, chocolate bathed in sugar is like an illegal substance for me. Sort of a sobering thought isn’t it.? How could something so sweet and delectable wreak such havoc in my life.

I recall many times making a “chocolate run” in the middle of the night and sometimes  not in the best neighborhoods just to get my fix.  As an addiction specialist,  working with drug addicts, I see many similarities with the chocolate addict.

Perreault goes on to say both addictive drugs and particularly tasty foods have been found to cause a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter of pleasure, located in a region of the brain known as the reward circuit.

For sure I’ve tapped into that reward circuit more times than I care to admit.  I have a chemical imbalance and when I put sweetened chocolate, sugar, flour, and wheat into my system I can’t stop. Something clicks in my brain and I start to volume and binge eat.

I learned after falling many times that I cannot cure this addiction, but I can live a life in recovery. Just like the cocaine addict cannot have one little line, for old times’ sake, because she/he will jump right back into the illness from one little snort, the food addict can not as well.

A  Day of Gratitude

So, what can we do? We can look at Valentines through a new lens. What does Valentines mean to me today? It means total gratitude. My body is nearly 100 pounds lighter than its highest weight.

I am clear in my mind. I love my bike rides and walks as much as I loved the chocolates (okay…not quite…but close!). I am able to help hundreds of people move past this chronic, progressive, and fatal disease known as food addiction. They learn to have “healthy” relationship with people rather than chocolate.

The price of giving up decadent chocolate for your life back is definitely worth all the preparation and vigilance put forth to break free from chocolate.

It’s evident that as a foodaholic who binge ate, I was obsessed with food, particularly sugary, high-fat food, laced in some way with chocolate. I could and did consume large quantities of these foods to physical, emotional, mental, and relational destructive consequences every single time. I never thought about who I might hurt, including myself. I only I worried about how fat I’d get.

You Can Change Your Life…

You CAN change your life now, there’s still time, no matter how old or how sick you are with your consumption (or lack of) foods. And perhaps Saint Valentine will lend a loving hand. Here are a few steps to start you in the right direction:

  • Admit you have an issue with food
  • Define what it is you are doing with food
  • Plan strategies to let go of bad habits
  • Turn to Spiritual Food instead of Junk Food
  • Recognize your accomplishments no matter how small
  • Ask for help when you know you are not able to get out of this alone
  • Bathe in stillness…often in stillness answers and direction come
  • Take a walk, bike, dance, swim, anything movement, but always in moderation
  • Eat foods that are real not in a box or bag…
  • Consider therapy with a certified eating disorder professional
  • Find a 12-Step group that fits your needs if you want company and group support

Happy Belated Valentines to all of you!

I am thankful and grateful

May your day bring you love, peace, and joy.

Hugs to you! I care….

Dr. Lisa

Do you struggle on or leading up to Valentines Day? Are you a food addict? What books are you currently reading that help you in your recovery? Share your experience(s). I’d love to hear from you. Together we can change food addiction one addict at a time.

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