Food is a biological need, whereas drugs and alcohol are characteristically toxic and addictive. So why would someone become addicted to something as innocuous as food? Recently, however, doctors and scientists alike have been catching onto a new problem that’s reared its head during the past few decades in the industrialized nations (where food is aplenty and thus food addiction is fostered)
According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, food addiction is simply an obsessive preoccupation with food. It doesn’t mean that a food addict can’t get enough of food – it could be that they are so concerned with food, that they avoid it at all costs. For example, those suffering from anorexia nervosa are severely afraid of gaining weight and often exercise excessively and eat as little as possible. On the other hand, there is the more conventional food addict: the compulsive overeater. As well, there is the overeater who also is bulimic, i.e. he or she hides their eating habits from others and most likely will go on eating binges and induce vomiting so as not to gain weight.
Food addiction is a very real medical condition but are you a food addict just because you crave ice cream or fast food at times? It’s normal to have an appetite and a taste for certain foods, but there is a line that some cross into plain food addiction. Is your appetite insatiable? Do you crave foods even when you’re not hungry? Almost all who are obese probably are coping with a powerful food addiction that haunts them on a daily basis.
Are you a food addict? It’s normal to appreciate food and to use it not just for necessary energy to keep you on the go, but for fun and socializing. However, if you are anxious or engrossed about food, constantly wondering when your next meal will be or what your next meal will do to your body weight, then you could have an eating disorder.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you determine if you are a food addict. If you answer yes to more than a handful of them, it’s advisable that you see a doctor about your issues with food.
WebMD and Dr. Cynthia Haines suggest you answer the following questions:
Do I lack self control when I eat? Does my mind tell me to stop eating but my body disagrees?
Am I ashamed about my eating habits? Do I hide food and eat it behind closed doors?
Do I feel guilty after I eat?
Do I eat when I’m simply upset about something but not hungry?
Do I eat even though I know it will only lead to negative consequences later?
Do I eat differently in public than I do in private?
When I eat, do I feel pleasure and comfort that I can’t really seem to achieve through other means?
Is my weight adversely affecting my quality of life?
Habits of a Food Addict
1.Soothe Emotions. Typically a food addict will push down unpleasant feelings with food. Not just any food, but comfort foods. Ever have a fight with your mom or spouse and immediately hit the freezer for the container of ice cream? You try to relive the feelings without actually dealing with the problem.
The Problem: Food is a temporary fix. When it wears off you will feel worse and the original problem remains.
The Answer: Tackle problems head-on. Don't let thoughts fester and eat away at you. Deal with your emotions and your relationship problems as they occur so you won't feel the need to use food as your faithful friend.
2.Fixation With Food You think about food all the time and you are always planning your next sugar high.
The Problem: You've designed your lifestyle around food and make it one of your top priorities.
The Answer: Change your lifestyle to include activities that don't revolve around food. Exercise, for example, is one way to get a similar high as you would from eating sugar.
3.Secret Binges. Food addicts often hide food or only binge when they are alone.
The Problem: You're only fooling yourself. You won't win the weight loss battle if you continually sabotage yourself. It's faulty thinking.
The Answer: Eat scheduled meals at the dinner table. Don't keep food in your car, desk or nightstand. Lock your purse in the trunk when you go out so drive-thru restaurants aren't accessible. Find someone who will hold you accountable.
4.Eat Until the Food is Gone. Some people were raised to clean their plates and they have a hard time breaking the habit. You lack control to stop eating.
The Problem: Even healthy foods, when consumed in large quantities, pack a lot more calories than your body needs.
The Answer: Put your health first. Prepare meal plans and only eat what is on your plate. Measure foods out ahead of time into single serving packages.
5.Feeling Guilty. Food addicts tend to feel guilty after indulging in too much of the wrong foods.
The Problem: It can turn into a vicious cycle of feeling bad, overeating, feeling guilty and eating some more.