Am I really an addict?
Just to make it clear, for many years I considered myself a Carbohydrate and sugar addict.
But just recently I have become aware that sometimes I enjoy certain foods. And perhaps I need to be kinder to myself. However, there is more behind the addiction than meets the immediate attention. So for example, an addict to alcohol may never be able to have just that one drink. Or the drug addict can never have just the one fix.
The word addict is used commonly in the 21st Century, and I am beginning to think that it just may be too common.
Let’s start with the Wikipedia description of addiction.
Addiction is a brain disorder characterised by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.
The most frequent addictions and those who do the most harm, because they affect people around them too, leading to crime for the individual who needs their fix; are alcohol, drugs and gambling.
But we now use the word addiction to many other things. Such as sugar, food, internet games and so on.
But do you think that there are certain words that have become distorted from their true meaning? Are we giving the name to certain behaviours that are really quite harmless, and is only a desire for something nice, particularly for certain foods or our favourite computer game. Is the word addiction becoming overused?
I know that addiction can begin with not just liking something, but finding that it gives us a high, and we are more aware now of making sure that we don’t become addicted to certain activities. Even reading books has become something to be wary of. How often do you hear people say that they are addicted to reading, running, walking, exercise, and many healthy and useful activities?
Words can mean different things to different people.
Take the word “Diet”. It simply means eating regime. So we are all on a diet! But this word has now taken on negative connotations. Because we now know that slimming diets are futile, and we need to simply change our eating habits.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have written a lot about “not dieting”. I have three books on the subject on Amazon Kindle. And there are many blogs about it on my website. http://www.patriciacherrylifecoach.com.
I am the first to say that dieting is futile and that healthy eating for a lifetime is the best way to go. But the point I am making here is that we have made “diet” almost a dirty word.
So I wonder whether we are doing the same with the word addiction?
Are we too worried that behaviour, or liking something means that we are becoming an addict?
Let me give you an example.
Recently a friend said to me that she has started to have a scone in the afternoon for her tea. And followed this with the words “I’m becoming addicted to them.”
Then a few days later the same friend said to me that I (meaning me) am becoming addicted to oatcakes. That was because she had heard me say often lately that I love humous and oatcakes and often have that for my lunch. But it was my reaction that startled me. I immediately went on the defensive and said that actually I had made the packet last a month!
Why did I do that?
Because I have been struggling with addictive behaviour around food all of my life, and now that I consider that I am mostly in control (another word that has negative connotations for addicts and dieter alike) I felt that she was being unfair and insinuating that I was an addict. But her remark was not meant to be derisory.
I see a society that is making us into victims, using the word addict to control our behaviour. We stop kids from enjoying games on the computer because we fear addiction. (I do believe that needs to be limited of course, but we need to think more about why.)
We are beginning to feel guilty if we eat cake in public. And many find themselves using words such as good, bad or too much cholesterol, or worry that they are becoming addicted.
We are still in the grip of not eating saturated fat, and the biggest sellers in supermarkets are still low-fat products. Even though it was proved two years ago that it is not harmful unless processed. Natural yoghurt, butter, olive oil, and other saturated fats are good for us. But in my generation, there are many sick people who lived on low-fat products for a very long time in the belief that they were doing the right things. Better to eat the grey, dull, so-called healthy margarine than butter which tastes good and does you good.
But I digress. I wonder how many of us deprive ourselves of the occasional treat of cake or a scone because we fear addiction.
After a lifetime of dieting, and feeling guilty over eating certain foods, and fearing that people will think I am an addict, I have been pondering recently about whether I really am an addict to certain foods, or whether I simply like them.
I must admit though that I need to watch myself. Because the occasional treat comes around to more than just occasional, I easily pile on the pounds. But, is that really addiction? Or do I just need to be more careful?
I haven’t got the answer of course, because I still have to control what foods I have in the house because I know for sure that sooner or later I would eat them all. Probably in one go!
But I count myself Free. That means that I have learnt what freedom really means. If I want a scone when I am out, I have one. If I need painkillers to dull the constant pain of Fibromyalgia, I will take them. If my husband needs strong painkillers at times, it is a comfort to both of us that we have the ones that work.
I might reiterate here about the advice we have been given down through the years about what foods are good or bad for us. The debacle with eggs twenty years ago led people to believe that they should not have more than two eggs a week. That was eventually disproved.
We all know the one about red wine and how the advice changes from day to day in the press.
Cholesterol is also a sworn enemy. But did you know that the body needs cholesterol? It is our friend. And no, it won’t be controlled by diet. Yet we have been conned into believing that we should keep the levels down. But the older you are, the higher your cholesterol is naturally. It is the body’s way of healing. Yet authorities are hell-bent on making even the frailest of us keeping our cholesterol levels down.
In case you are wondering why I say this, listen to Zoe Harcombe talking about it. She was the woman who wrote the paper three years ago, on Saturated fat, and led to a lot of media cover about Butter not being harmful.
And what does Society use to make us believe all this? Fear! Pure and simple. And the word Addict is a very useful tool for them.
So am I an addict? Well up to now I have said that I am, but now I believe that I simply love refined carbohydrates, but I need to limit the amount that I eat.
I also love games such as Colour by Numbers, and also Solitaire on my computer. Recently I have been playing them and listening to audio-books at the same time. But all that means is that I have a desire to do that to help me relax. I just need to be careful that I do not spend more time than is sensible, to prevent me from doing the other things that I love.
So, perhaps we need to be aware of how much we deny ourselves the things we desire, by worrying about becoming an addict.
But please don’t see this as carte blanche for having anything you want, to the detriment of your wellbeing. I am only sharing my thoughts, not teaching!
If you want to know more about the way to find what diet suits you as an individual, try this;