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Old 10-03-2006, 09:25 PM
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Default How to break free from the power food has over you

Don't let the word addiction scare you: Experts agree that food addictions are not nearly as strong as alcohol and drug addictions. While it might not feel like it at times, you have the power to control what you eat.

Here are six ways you can loosen the stranglehold a food addiction may have on you.

Smaller plates = smaller portions.
Food addicts often overeat because the signals that traditionally tell the body to stop eating don't sound off. But according to Mark Gold, MD, chief of addiction medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, you can actually retrain your brain to feel full on less food. Begin by using smaller plates and bowls, which will force you to dish out smaller portions.

Over time (it may take a few weeks), your brain will begin to get used to the reduced portion sizes and you'll feel less compelled to keep eating. Once you've mastered that, try reducing your portions even further by leaving a little space on your plate; again, your brain will slowly but surely adapt.

Lower the "sweet" volume.
If sugar is your weakness, start by removing it from areas of your diet where you're less likely to notice. Target sauces, dressings, breads, crackers, and other "nonsweet" foods that contain hidden sweeteners (look not only for sugar but high fructose syrup and corn syrup on ingredient lists). After a while, your taste buds will become more sensitive to sugar, making the foods you really want to avoid--cookies, cakes, candy--a little less appealing.

Keep your hunger in check.
Food addicts often get tripped up by resisting food to the point of being ravenous, then overeating as a result. Rate your hunger on a scale of zero to ten, zero being starving and ten being overstuffed, then try to stay somewhere in the middle.

Work it out by working out.
Exercise can actually change the body's biochemistry, helping to make up for some of the physiological imbalances that can lead to food addiction. Also, time spent working out is time that you won't be eating.

Find other ways of coping.
Just as some addicts turn to drugs and/or alcohol to help them deal with pain and anxiety, food addicts turn to food. Instead of running away from those feelings, consider talking to a therapist or finding support from a group like Overeaters Anonymous.

Don't return to the scene of the crime.
Drug addicts get into trouble when they go back into the neighborhood where they used to buy drugs. Similarly, returning to the same patterns can trip you up. So shake up your routine. If tortilla chips are your weakness, don't go to Mexican restaurants. If the sight of a certain donut shop weakens your resolve, walk another route. If you always have ice cream while watching TV at night, read a book instead (or knit as you watch the tube so your hands will be occupied).
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