Want to stop overeating, coffee addiction other common compulsions?

You’re talking to someone who’s been there, and overcome many of them.

Me and coffee addiction, and everyday addictions like shopping, Netflix…

Some people would say I have what you’d call an ‘addictive personality’.

Some others – myself included – don’t believe in an essential collection of traits called ‘personality’: I just believe I have patterns of emotional avoidance, and will find ways to do so until I’m more capable of feeling my feelings, even the uncomfortable ones.

I studied how to stop overeating.

I used to be a binge eater and bulimic, and then an ordinary overeater. These days I’m an expert in why we overeat after work, and a certified food psychology coach.

Coffee addiction and other compulsions took over at one point!

I have been a smoker, a 6-cans-of-diet-coke-a-day girl, a coffee abuser, which has also extended to green tea, cocoa, and decaf coffee. I have compulsively shopped charity shops, watched Netflix until the light came through the curtains, and more.

I no longer drink Diet Coke, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, drink coffee, or binge eat. Huge win! And it’s in part thanks to the books I’m about to share with you.

I hope they are very, very helpful.

The Gift of Our Compulsions, by Mary O’Malley

Eating psychology book cover shows a shell design and is of Mary O'Malley's The Gift of Our Compulsions

You know how you kindof know that your overeating is emotionally-fuelled, but you don’t really experience it that way?

Mary O’Malley does such a great job of showing us how our emotions are truly key to our compulsions.

She uses the metaphor of our psyche being like a house with our feelings shut away in the basement out of our consciousness, and our intellect showing us movies of how life ‘should be’ up in the attic. It’s great!

Atomic Habits, by James Clear

This book on habit change is full of examples, including the phenomenal opening story of how the author recovered from a head injury, that remind us of the power of tiny changes made consistently over big diets and bootcamps.

From involving your whole future identity of who you’d like to become in your motivation, to understanding how to interrupt unwanted habits and reward or positively reinforce new ones, this book takes you through every stage of the habit loop.

Book cover for habit change book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Text reads 'tiny habits, remarkable results'

That Sugar Book, by Damon Gameau

This book was on the coffee table at my dentist’s, and I was drawn in by the gorgeous arty design inside.

It’s the story – I think based on a documentary film – of how the author takes on the challenge to eat the average person’s daily sugar intake in the form of ‘healthy’ foods like fruit smoothies. And the toll it takes on his body.

The basic point is how heavily we have been ‘sold’ sugar, and how badly it impacts our bodies.

Book cover shows dripping toffee apple and reads That Sugar Book by Damon Gameau

Brain over Binge Recovery Guide, by Kathryn Hansen

Brain over binge recovery guide, by Kathryn Hansen

This workbook is the follow-up to Brain Over Binge, the book that eschews ’emotional eating’ causes of binge eating in favour of pure habit.

I agree on one level: We may have begun emotional eating for an emotional reason, but we continue decades later because our brain has a binge eating habit.

However, I see emotions and cognitions as part of the habit pattern, rather than as a separate phenomenon.

I like the part at the end when she talks about different ways to give structure to your eating without getting restrictive.

The Alcohol Experiment, by Annie Grace

The Alcohol Experiment, Annie Grace

I started, and I haven’t wanted a drink since.

In this nifty book, Grace goes through every ‘reason’ and justification why we think we ‘need’ a drink, and applies cognitive disputation to create such a disillusioning intellectual intervention, that you know for sure the excuses your brain is offering you simply aren’t true.

Embarking on an experiment, rather than trying to ban or ‘cut out’ alcohol, really worked for me.

She has an online community if you need some support while you give it a shot.

Caffeine Blues, Stephen Cherniske

There are so many books and memes and jokey quotes relating to this normalised addiction, but if you’ve ever wrestled with it as I have (coffee, green tea, tea, diet coke, even cocoa), you’ll know it’s no joke.

But almost nobody has the guts to call it what it is: stress chemistry. Nothing more.

This book isn’t just polemic, there’s medical evidence, as well as a round-up of the environmental impact of coffee production too.

Caffeine Blues, Stephen Cherniske

The Easyway to Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr

Allen Carr is so great at just calling it brainwashing. The way you have been marketed to and they way you are ‘addicted’ to all the ideas and language and paraphernalia of smoking a lot, and the nicotine just a little.

When I have done smoking cessation hypnotherapy with clients, we use these kind of cognitive interventions a lot in the lead-up to the final hypnosis session.

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