Are all addictions bad? The term addiction is usually used when someone is addicted to a harmful substance but an addiction can either be a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble) or be an unusually great interest in something. If we are using the definition as “an unusually great interest in something” then an addiction could be actually be good thing.
So according to this definition not all addictions are bad, there can exist positive addictions. William Glasser, M.D., is a world-renowned psychiatrist actually wrote an entire book about it titled, “Positive Addiction”. He defines a positive addiction as a repetitive activity that you do non-self-critically, that has a beneficial effect on your mind and/or body.
But unfortunately, most addictions today are not positive. And, we often do not even realize we are addicted to something, that is negatively affecting the well-being of our minds and bodies.
Beating The 5 Biggest Lifestyle Addictions Sabotaging Your Health
1. Sugar Addiction Through Processed Food
The scary reality is that according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, Americans consume about 64 pounds of sugar per person per year and some studies suggested even much high amount – up to 150 lbs. per person per year.
This is because about 70% of the food we are eating today, consists of processed artificial food; food that comes in a bag, box, can and is loaded with unnatural ingredients such as preservatives and artificial flavorings.
Sugar is found in desserts, snacks, fruit juices, fruits, prepared foods and beverages. Now you may be reading this and thinking “nah not me, I am healthy, I eat organic”, but even healthier grocery stores chains carry a lot of processed foods.
For example those “healthy” protein bars you have been eating, may not be any better for your health than a candy bar (OK, slight exaggeration but some really are not). If you find you have cravings for a certain snack, chances are they have got you hooked. They are the big business good manufactures who design addiction into foods.
The big take away here is to start reading the labels of everything you buy, yes even food that looks “healthy”.
I know, you probably already know, you may be addicted to this one, but did you know that 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day according to Harvard News. That is a lot of coffee!
Honestly, 1 cup of coffee a day is not that bad, it is usually what you are adding into your coffee that is killing you and adding to your coffee addiction– Sugar and antibiotic and growth hormone creamer.
Upgrade your coffee addiction by weaning off the white stuff. If you like your coffee sweet, try swapping refined sugar for a more natural sugar such as coconut palm nectar, then eventually weaning off all sweeteners together.
3. Checking Your Phone For Social Media, Texts And Email
Hooked on Facebook or Instagram? Cannot stop checking your phone for the incoming onslaught of texts and emails? Well, you are not alone. According to Time Magazine, American’s check their phone 8 billion times per day, that is an average of about 46 times every single day.
Phone addiction is real, next time you are in public just take a look around and you will likely notice 8 out of every 10 people glued to their phones; whether it be sitting at a red light in traffic, standing in line at the mall, or even while working out in the gym.
Social media addiction is bad, real bad. How do you know if you addicted? Well, how many times a day do you check your social media per day? Is your phone glued to your hand?
It is sad but being addicted to social media has created a lot of disconnection between people and “real life” relationships. Next time you are out to eat look around the restaurant, it is not uncommon to see two people sitting across from each other glued to their phones instead of sharing each other’s company.
To beat this addiction I recommend turning your phone off or putting it on silent at a certain hour in the evening. Also, not bringing it to the table when eating, especially when with friends. Try scheduling times to check social media throughout the week and sticking to your schedule. Turn off push notifications for social media to not be tempted.
It is important to understand that the goal of each social site is user engagement (aka time you spend and interact on their platform) so they can sell and serve you more and more ads leading to more and more money for them. Simply put, they want you on their platform as long as possible!
Do not let them have your most precious asset – your time. Do not get me wrong, social media can be pretty awesome especially if you are a small business owner or run an online business and can be used to do many amazing things like connecting with friends.
The key to not becoming a phone and social media addict is – to use social media and not let it use you!
The average American watches about 5 hours of T.V per day. Studies have found that watching T.V, puts us into a mild state of depression. Today it is very easy to get attracted by an awesome T.V show and end up neglecting an important project, healthy habit like exercising, cooking or even an important relationship.
Most commonly people watch T.V after work or right before bed which can disturb sleep cycles because of the exposure to blue light. I think it is safe to say that the average American is addicted to watching T.V. Could you be using this time for something more productive and healthy?
I got to admit, I am a bit of a chocoholic. Slowly but surely eating a piece here and there I soon found myself craving chocolate all the time.
Are you a chocoholic? The Mayans and Aztecs viewed chocolate as a sacred food and for good reason. Chocolate has many health promoting effects and can also be addicting, because it contains both sugar and fat. Not all chocolates contain high amounts of sugar and fat, but generally most chocolates do.
Some chocolate is better than others and by “better” I mean healthier. Eating high quality chocolate containing at least 70% cacao or higher is much better than eating milk chocolate loaded with sugar. Nonetheless, chocolate is still high in fat and contains sugar, so it is best to limit your intake to a few pieces of high quality chocolate a day at most.
The One Stop Solution To Any Addiction
As with any addiction the key is really finding balance, which can be hard but nevertheless is possible. The first step in overcoming an addiction is always developing a keen awareness that you have an addiction. It is essential to be self-aware of the forces that compel us to act.
There are many simple strategies that work to bring these lifestyle addictions back into balance, depending on the type and severity of the lifestyle addiction.
We all live unique lifestyles so some may work better than others depending on the person but again the first step is always simply realizing you are addicted.
The next step is either getting support via a therapist, health or life coach, or a counselor or creating some boundaries and strategies to develop a plan to find more balance with whatever it may be – sugar, your phone, caffeine, watching too much T.V or eating too much chocolate.
In the end, what we are all really looking for through these addictions is more happiness and peace in our lives. Choose your addictions wisely and notice when they are out of balance.
Wishing you freedom!