Food Addiction – How to Overcome and Live Free of this Disease
Like sex addiction, food addiction is also becoming a common problem that requires attention. The idea that someone can be addicted to food has started gaining recognition and support.
Scientists have proven through various researches and experiment that food addiction plays a significant role in obesity, although normal-weight people may also be addicted to food. Normal-weight people have body systems that is simply genetically programmed to handle the extra calories they consume.
People who struggle with food addiction have developed a certain tolerance to food. They keep eating and consuming, only to realize that the food does not satisfy them. Still, their mouth and stomach will keep demanding for more. Like people who are addicted to sex or drugs, they have tried a lot of times to cut back on their intake but have trouble handling the control.
Food addiction is simply the uncontrollable craving for excess food followed by the consumption of carbohydrates, sugar, flour substances, junk food that are quickly absorbed and sent down the bloodstream. As a result of these uncontrollable cravings, the quality of life of such a person begins to deteriorate either emotionally, physically and socially.
Food addiction is a new yet, controversial term that’s similar to many other eating disorders like bulimia, binge eating, compulsive overeating and many more.
Causes of food addiction
Research in humans and animals have shown that the same part of the brain that the same pleasure centres of the brain that are prompted by addictive drugs are also awakened by food especially highly appetizing food. These are foods rich in Sugar, fat and salt.
Highly appetizing foods trigger the pleasure centres of the brain and the satisfaction chemicals like Dopamine. Once people experience desire related to increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward passageway from eating certain foods, they start getting the urge to eat again.
Some of the major causes of food addiction are;
- Biological Causes
These consist of brain chemistry abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, side effects of some medications or hereditary problems.
- Psychological causes
They include sexual, emotional and/or physical abuse, inability to handle situations relating to low self-esteem, or dealing with loss or grief. These mental issues may lead a person to turn to food to numb their pain or for comfort.
- Social Factors
Issues like child abuse, peer pressure, stressful life events and dysfunctional family problems can lead to food addiction. It can also be accompanied by substance abuse, depression or eating disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of food Addiction
If you experience of the following symptoms, you may be a food addict:
- Eating in secret
- Heart problems
- Going out of your way to find certain foods
- Digestive disorder
- Significant weight gain
- Eating to the extent of falling sick
- Chronic fatigue
- Eating more than your stomach can take
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Suicidal thoughts
Here are some questions you also need to ask yourself;
- Instead of spending time with friends and family or engaging in recreational activities, you eat certain meals in very large amounts.
- You avoid professional dinners or social gatherings for the fear of overeating and embarrassing yourself.
- Because of food and eating, you have problems concentrating or functioning well at work or school.
- You have even tried to quit eating, set rules for yourself but end up cheating the time table and unsuccessful
- You often hide your ingestion of unhealthy foods from your friends or family.
- You feel unable to regulate you eating unhealthy foods, despite knowing that they are doing more physical harm to your body system.
- You often feel shamefaced after eating certain foods, yet find yourself eating them again.
Consequences of food addiction
The repercussions of food addiction cuts across various aspects of one’s life which can be very overwhelming. Food addiction, if not treated early can begin ruining your health and life. These consequences will be grouped into 3 aspects for easy understanding;
Adverse Physical Effects:
- Unhealthy weight gain
- Kidney/Liver Disease
- Abridged sex drive
- Digestive issues
- Chronic fatigue
- Heart disease
- Chronic pain
- Sleep disorders
Undesirable Psychological Effects:
- Emotional numbness or detachment
- Increased feelings of anxiety
- Low self-esteem
- Having Panic attacks
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Increased irritability
- Suicidal thoughts
Unwanted Social Consequences:
- Poor job or school performance
- Becomes isolated
- Division within family units
- Inability to enjoy hobbies or activities
- Avoidance of social functions or events
- Threatened finances or career
How to Overcome and Live free of food addiction
When you’ve made a firm decision to overcome food addiction completely, next thing to do is;
- Make a list
You need to make a list of pros and cons to always remind yourself if it’s worth the sacrifice. Many people who have followed these steps don’t even get cravings anymore, not after they’ve made a reflective decision to stop permanently.
- Pros will include: I’ll live longer, I’ll lose weight and look good, I’ll have more strength, I’ll be able to focus on other aspects of my life etc.
- Cons will include:I won’t be able to eat ice cream and chocolate with my friends, no junks on Christmas, I might have to explain the reason for the sudden change to family and friends.
- Write down trigger foods and fast food places
Write down a list of the foods you tend to crave or want to binge on. These are the “trigger foods” you need to avoid totally. Also, write down a list of fast food places that serve healthy foods. This can prevent setback when you find yourself hungry or not in the mood to cook.
- Seek appropriate help
There are some dedicated food addiction treatment centres and food addiction rehab facilities that can facilitate your decision and help manage this addiction. A nutritionist, psychologist or a doctor vast in the area of food addiction may be able to help you break the chain of overeating.
There are also an increasing number of programs that help people suffering from food addiction. Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous are 2 of the many who are dedicated to helping food addicts through their recovery phase.
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