I’ve had the honor to work with a wide variety of people over the last two decades and I’ve discovered I really enjoy working with those who have committed to sobriety.
For many, the pathway out of addiction requires an acknowledgement that there is a substance that has excessive power over them. This realization usually leads to a lot of soul searching, facing painful histories that have often been suppressed by their substance(s) of choice. They cultivate additional self-awareness and reach a place where they commit to themselves and all they have to face in a bold “yes” to a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
These people end up seeing me because the substitutions they make are also no longer serving them. Making the transition off of drugs or alcohol is an undeniable benefit that preserves their life, but food (or tobacco or pot) often steps in as a ‘better’ choice to reach for in times of emotional disruption.
Most of us learn and grow and change over the course of our lives. My sober clients reach a place where they realize using sugar or carbs or other foods as a replacement for more deadly substances will extend life, but if underlying issues are not more fully addressed, this move may lead one to diabetes, obesity, poor energy, and early aging.
Because of the self-awareness cultivated in their path to sobriety, they often recognize their relationship to food holds patterns reminiscent of an addictive archetype and for many, this no longer becomes an acceptable substitute.
Food is essential for survival and an addictive relationship with food can certainly complicate things because, unlike alcohol or tobacco or drugs, one just can’t quit cold turkey. However, the awareness and skillset cultivated in coming to sobriety have often given these folks the bravery, perseverance, and self-compassion to take the next steps to overcome an unhealthy relationship with their food. They are less afraid to call themselves out on how they are cheating themselves of the vibrancy their spirit yearns for because it isn’t their first time doing so.
Anyone with these skills will be well-equipped to establish a healthier relationship with food, and any thoughtful and reflective person is able to deepen such skills with appropriate mentors and mental health support.
Few of us were raised with these skills and they are often hard-won, but they consistently serve us in our path to claiming the best life we can imagine for ourselves.
Nutrition is rarely ever just about the food. Humans evolved with very complex, emotional ties to nourishment that must be considered if long-term change is to be successful. This is why diet books, programs and menu plans don’t bring us lasting success. Until we change our beliefs about ourselves and what it means to nourish ourselves, we will be in a perpetual battle between our emotional needs and our biological ones.