Why do we eat food that destroys us – and we know it’s destroying us slowly?
People are so used to hating on drug addicts as if there’s some kind of magical flaw with them, but it’s no different if we smoke cigarettes and know it’s bad for us.
Or someone that’s very overweight binge eating when they know it’s not going to help them.
For some reason, drug addicts get the worst rap because we think, “oh, what a filthy, dirty habit” and make all these assumptions.
What people don’t often get is that when we do things we know are bad for us – and do them anyway – there’s a very clear reason for the behavior (often multiple reasons).
If you find yourself sabotaging yourself, some of these might surprise you.
The Painful Truth: Why We Eat Food That’s Bad For us – And We Know It
Pick Your Poison: The Art of Self-Medicating
What the critics don’t often understand is that no matter how much crap you give a drug addict – no matter how much you judge them – they hate themselves much more.
They hate themselves way more than your judging eyes could ever hate them.
The pain they are going through (to the point where they have to rely on drugs to function) is way worse than you can imagine.
This is the idea of picking your own poison – all humans self-medicate in some way.
I started drinking eating dark chocolate when I was about 12 or 13 because it helped with imagination, and it helped me get more focused when it was time to sit down and work on I needed to do to move forward with my dream of becoming a professional tennis player.
I was juggling school and home work and was building a plan on the side, and it was lots of stress.
The chocolate became my own friend, a comfort food that was a major work trigger and signal for me.
In the morning I would be a little bit hazy and unproductive and was like, “Okay, time to get focused and get it done.”
And it worked for a while.
Dark chocolate was a crutch for me for a long time, until it started giving me stomach and liver problem.
It became such a big problem for me that even knowing that chocolate would give me pain, I still eat it.
It was literally destroying me from the inside, yet I still could not quit it.
One of the reasons was that the pain – the short term and long term pain – was still not as big as the short term pleasure and gain.
Almost all of our behaviors as humans that we do in the long run, even if they are bad for us, we do them in the short run because they make us feel good.
They make us feel happy now, even if we know we are destroying ourselves in the long run.
Reason #1: Our Inner Physiology
The first reason we destroy ourselves is because of physiology.
Food functions a lot like a drug in many senses.
We show withdrawal symptoms, we show addiction symptoms, we show overeating and binge eating symptoms.
Just like whether it’s smoking a cigarette, where nicotine is very addictive and hardwires the brain, and many
other aspects of drug addiction, the dopamine rush is often the culprit.
That little rush of “ooh!” that happens when we see a Facebook blip, eat a brownie, and more is often a big driver.
Physiological addiction in one sense.
This is particularly true in food, alcohol, and drugs – the physiological impact.
Reason #2: Breaking the Chains of Habit
Because of this physiological addiction, the neural networks become much more strengthened and the habits are hard to break.
For example, some modern researchers are finding that the internet is literally rewiring the neural networks of the brain to become less focused.
Literally, we cannot concentrate as much anymore, and it’s not just made up.
The neural networks linked to concentration and focus, long-term concentrated thinking, are getting weaker if you don’t utilize them.
These jump cut videos and little snippet articles are leading people to a point where they can’t read books anymore or watch full-length films and read long articles.
It’s actually re-wiring us, which is a hard habit to break.
For me, this is was often how the chocolate habit worked. Yes in one sense it’s physiological because it gives me a little pep, but it’s also a wired habit now.
I was so used to sitting down with a nice cake of pure dark chocolate when it was time to plan, visualize, and it was such an enjoyable part of my daily routine that I didn’t want to break it.
When I tried replacing it with anything else, it just didn’t feel the same.
I finally had to put an end to it and it took me years. But I guess, by aging, it helped too.
Reason #3: The Deep Roots of Unhappiness – Filling The Void
The third reason is often because we’re unhappy.
If I know that a food is making me fat, if I know this cigarette is killing me, if I know the chocolate is giving me pain – why would I still do all these behaviors?
It makes no logical sense. And that’s because it’s emotional.
It’s so funny how many people I talk to when it comes time to lose weight, where I hear all the B.S. about what they eat, and how often they exercise.
Then I cut to the chase and ask them, “okay, that’s great. Are you happy, though?”
Then there’s a really prolonged pause, and they’re like, “uhhhh, yeah…” As if they were trying to convince themselves it was true.
Negative emotions are one of the ways that people develop negative addictions in the long run.
It’s a coping strategy for many of us who are unhappy. It’s exceptionally common.
You know when you get home and you watch tv, you’re hanging out, and there’s a little window in the evening where you’re bored, lonely, or just unhappy with your life?
That’s where food comes in.
That’s where drugs come in.
That’s where drinking sneaks in, and hard drugs sneak in.
All of us fill the void somehow, in some way, which could be as mundane as video games or having sex, to hardcore drug addiction that leads to death.
Everyone picks their own poison in some way, and it’s really important here as we talk about this to think about ourselves.
What do you use to self-medicate?
“At least right now for the next 30 minutes, I can guarantee that I’m numb enough where I don’t have to feel or care about the pain, about all the crap going on in my life.”
Right now at least, I can turn the brain off and stop feeling.
I can stop stressing.
I can stop worrying.
I don’t have to worry about the bills, the deadlines, the relationship imploding.
Life is good right now, as long as I have my little exit.
Bonus: The Short Term Relief is Better Than the Long-Term Pain
The other thing is that the short-term relief of some of us smoking a cigarette, to be calm, right now, – the benefit – is bigger than quitting, and not getting cancer later.
Or the fear that “somewhere out there,” that in ten years, we’re going to have a smoker’s cough that wakes me up at night.
Even if it’s guaranteed, right now, you know what’s more guaranteed?
The fact that we can smoke a cigarette or eat food, and feel calm.
We can drink three glasses of alcohol and not care about anything for a couple hours.
The fact that we can binge eat a bunch of Oreos and we’re good for the next ten minutes.
That’s guaranteed – the future’s not.
The short term thinking overpowers the long term thinking, just because right now I can guarantee to feel pleasure.
The long run doesn’t guarantee that I’ll get sick and fat, but I can guarantee to feel great now.
Your Tiny Daily Habit Today:
Be very conscious – do you feel like one of these reasons, the three or four here, are one of the reasons why you are smoking or drinking, or excessively partying, or watching TV in excess, or eating too much?
Are you falling prey to one of these vices – knowing it’s not aligned with your goals, with the deliberate life you want?
If so, leave a comment right here below. Let me know which one of these is the main reason you think you sometimes do something that you know isn’t aligned with your goals – and do it anyway.