There is strong medical research and evidence that certain foods, along with other factors, can trigger Food Addiction. My guest, Dr Bunmi Aboaba is a Food Addiction coach and her work covers a full spectrum of food addictions including overeating, compulsive eating and emotional eating. I caught up with the lovely doctor recently to find out more about food addiction and how she helps people to build a healthy relationship with food. Hi Bunmi!
Hello! My name is Dr Bunmi Aboaba. I help men and women overhaul their unhealthy relationship with food, reach their goal weight and improve their mental wellbeing through a compassionate, holistic and non-diet approach
- What made you decide to launch your career as a food addiction coach?
I had my own struggles with food; bulimia when I was in my teens, then I switched to alcohol and then, in recovery from alcohol addiction, straight back to food. My eating was out of control and particularly with foods that were unhealthy: pizza, cake, fried chicken that kind of thing. It was ferocious and, in many ways, worse than the alcohol addiction. It came with a lot of guilt and shame and feelings of failure. I knew it was an addiction because I had the same feelings of obsession around food as I had with alcohol. Cravings, denial, compulsion and withdrawal were all the same.
- What sort of food problems do people come to you for help?
There is a lot of stress eating at the moment. Food has become a primary coping mechanism for many, meaning binge eating and food addiction. People are experiencing feelings of unmanageability around food, feeling anxious if they don’t binge and guilty when the binge has finished. This all can impact daily life, relationships and mental health, where many report lower self-esteem and self-worth and poor body image. The list goes on.
- For helping clients achieve a healthy relationship with food, what approach(es) do you tend to use?
The R4 method is a simple and effective road map that will steer the client in the direction of healthy eating, that is not a diet and doesn’t need willpower.
The steps taken along the way looks at the root cause of our food issues – which is R1. R2 is reframing a person’s beliefs and attitudes around themselves and also the food. R3 is building the resilience needed to diminish cravings and R4 is pulling it all together with a nutritious food plan which is not restrictive but nutritious and filling; along with lots of kindness, compassion and support along the way.
It is not a linear process, its constantly in flow but it a framework that allows the person to feel a sense of safety in the process.
- As you have had many years experience in this field, what is it about your job do you enjoy or gives you the most satisfaction? The downside?
I love the wide eyes when I explain what they are struggling with and the realisation that they are not lazy or greedy or lacking in willpower. They have a disease and it’s called food addiction. Once the client gets this it’s like an epiphany or them and they are ready and willing to start the process.
Also, I love how they start to find themselves and get to know who they are, what makes them tick, what they want and don’t want in their lives. I suppose that’s empowerment at work. Seeing them blossom, increase in confidence, and every aspect of their lives starting to improve.
The weight loss is kind of a by-product of the process, That we get to realise it’s a “Me” problem and not a weight problem.
- Do you offer one to one coaching or do you operate online?
I offer one-to-one, as well as group coaching and it’s all online which suits many.
- Growing up, did you always want a medical career, or did you want to pursue a completely different direction?
I wanted to be a criminal lawyer but my Father said no. Back in the day there weren’t really any black lawyers and my Dad wanted me to do medicine, where I stood a better chance of gaining positions. I grumbled at the time but looking back he was right and I am deeply grateful for his guidance. It stood me in good stead.
- You are creator of the The R4 Method – a Food Addiction Certification. Who would benefit from the certification and what does the R4 Method cover?
It benefits any health and wellness professional wanting to help any of their clients with issues around the relationship with food. It’s also good for people who may want to help family members or friends.
- As you are based in the UK, are your services available just for UK or is it also available worldwide?
I am based in London but work worldwide.
- Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Oh Goodness! Since the pandemic, my style has gone to pot. I need a stylist to revamp/resurrect me!
To go out, jeans, boho shirts, leather /suede jackets – I usually shop in Selfridges. I used to be a converse fan until my knee operation and now I’m into Fitflop, which are stylish and great for comfort walking.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Yes, Fitflop, Selfridges, Asos, ME+EM, Om & Ah, AllSaints , Sweaty Betty, Moncler.
- What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Khaki leather biker jacket; Misty lounge set
Boots or Shoes?
BOOTS BOOTS BOOTS – all the way
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Great to talk to you Bunmi and I am so pleased that you love a leather biker jacket and boots! You rock!
All photographs have been published with kind permission from Dr Bunmi Aboaba (apart from the header pic, pin photo & the cheese platter photo – © LindaHobden)