For some people, food gives them the high that others derive from substance of abuse. For them food addiction is a real problem. Eating healthy food and losing weight seems just an impossible thing these people who really struggle everyday with their food eating habits.
Despite having the best intentions, they repeatedly find themselves unable to stop when food comes in sight, despite knowing the fact that it is not good for health.
Table of Contents
- What Is Food Addiction?
- How This Works
- Horrors of Food Addiction
- The Law of Addiction — Why You May Never Be Able to Eat “Normally” Again
- Food Addiction Is a Serious Problem
- Signs and Symptoms of Food Addiction
- Causes of Food Addiction
- Food Addiction Effects
- Food Addiction Treatment
- How to Know If This Is Worth the Sacrifice
- Prepare Yourself and Set a Date
- When Everything Else Fails… Seek Help
- Whatever You Do, Do Something!
- Final Word
What Is Food Addiction?
Food addiction can be defined as a condition in which a person becomes addicted to junk food in the same way someone becomes addicted to drugs. Food addiction involves the same pathways and neurotransmitters in the brain as seen in drug addicts, giving rise to identical symptoms. (1).
Food addiction is a rather new yet controversial term and no statistics are available that show how relatively common this phenomenon is. However, this condition is very similar to several other eating disorders like bulimia, binge eating disorder, compulsive over eating and others.
How This Works
Processed junk foods are thought to have a powerful impact on the reward center of the brain by influencing neurotransmitters such as dopamine. (2) Foods that are put in the junk food category as wel as those that are rich in either wheat or sugar or both.
People should know that food addiction is all about lack of will power. Rather it stems out from the intense hijacking of brain by a neurotransmitter, dopamine. (3).
Horrors of Food Addiction
Food Addiction is a biochemical disease that is progressive, chronic and even fatal. In the later stages of the disease, a food addict’s best companion is despair. He is filled with fear and feels isolated in a room full of people. They try to satisfy their souls by eating, only to find their hearts filling with more emptiness. Their self esteem vanishes and health takes a turn for the worse. They frantically search for a way out but are only met with closed doors everywhere. Food become their only source of comfort, and that too, continues to fail them every time. It is completely possible for some food addicts to entirely lose control over their life and be consumed by food. Hope vanishes in the long cup of soda and the person loses all will to live his life. The only source of light that they can observe coming from the end of tunnel is that of the blissful release from the body.
The Law of Addiction — Why You May Never Be Able to Eat “Normally” Again
- As per the law of addiction, if you administer the drug of abuse in an addict, it will lead to reestablishment of chemical dependence in him. For instance, a former smoker will become addicted to smoking again when he is exposed to cigarette smoke. There is no way a person can get around it.
- In the same way, people develop addiction to junk foods, refined flour and sugar. It is a rather cold truth that people who develop addiction to junk food can never ever in life eat these foods like normal people again. However, if they manage to stay away from the trigger foods, they can train their mind to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Truth is, complete abstinence is the key to get rid of addiction.
- An advice that can ruin the life of food addicts is that everything in moderation is good for health. This is because, addicts do not understand the meaning of the word ‘moderate’.
Food Addiction Is a Serious Problem
- Although people often throw around the term ‘addiction’ rather casually, being addicted to something is actually a serious business. Food addiction, too, is as serious a condition as drug addiction. It can result in several diseases like type II diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and depression. It also ruins your life by breaking your self esteem. It makes feel unhappy about your body and in return can make you crave more.
Signs and Symptoms of Food Addiction
Following are the associated signs and symptoms of food addiction:
- Gorging in more food than one can physically tolerate
- Going out of your way to obtain certain foods
- Eating in secret, isolation
- Eating to the point of feeling ill
- Avoiding social interactions, relationships, or functions to spend time eating certain foods.
- Continuing to eat certain foods even if no longer hungry
- Decreased energy, chronic fatigue
- Sleep disorders, such as insomnia or oversleeping
- Difficulty function in a career or job due to decreased efficiency
- Spending significant amount of money on buying certain foods for bingeing purposes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
- Digestive disorders
- Spiritual Symptoms of Food Addiction
- Do you feel that life would be fine if only certain people or things would change?
Do you pray and ask God to help you with your weight, and then feel your prayers aren’t answered?
The spiritual life of a food addict gets influenced by a lack of connection to a higher power, self obsession, attempt to rely on self-will, and a general feeling of despair. If you think yo have any of these symptoms, it is important you seek out proper help.
If the above mentioned symptoms are being displayed by you or any of your loved one, it is important that professional help be sought as soon as possible so that it can be contained early.
Causes of Food Addiction
- There are a number of factors thought to play a role in leading to food addiction. It might result from social, biological or psychological reasons. The biological causes that might be responsible for progressing food addiction include abnormalities in brain structures, hormonal imbalance, side effects due to medicines and family history.
- Psychological factors responsible for food addiction include sexual or emotional abuse, inability to deal with negative emotions in a healthy fashion, being a survivor or s victim of a traumatic event, experiencing grief or loss and chronic low levels of self esteem. These psychological factors can leave a lasting impression on the brains of the people and can drive a person to use food as a means to comfort oneself.
- Social implications that might play a role in promoting food addiction include peer pressure, child abuse, disturbed family life, stressful life events and lack of social support.
- Food addiction can also occur along with other co-occurring disorders, like substance abuse and eating disorders. Since food addiction is a serious issue, it is highly recommended that professional help be sought in order to prevent it from giving rise to serious complications.
Food Addiction Effects
If you or any of your loved one is struggling with a food addiction, it is important that you understand the effect it is going to have on various aspects of your life. If it is left untreated or is ignored, it can engulf your life completely and result in chronic symptoms. If you understand how food addiction might affect several aspects of your life, you will be in a better position to ask for help before the condition becomes magnanimous. Following are some of the effects of food addiction:
1. Physical Effects
- A food addiction can cause several negative physical consequences on the body as a result of excess consumption of food. These are expressed in the form of:
- Heart disease
- Digestive Problems
- Chronic pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Sleep disorders
- Reduced sex drive
- Kidney/Liver Disease
2. Psychological Effects
- Food addiction can have a debilitating effect on the mental health, especially if there is inadequate help or a lack of support. These effects include:
- Low self-esteem
- Increased feelings of anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or in despair
- Emotional detachment or numbness
3. Social Impact
- Finally, food addiction can leave strong effect on your relationships as well as social life. Social effects of food addiction include:
- Decreased performance at work or school
- Lack of enjoyment in hobbies or activities once enjoyed
- Isolation from loved ones
- Division within family units
- Risk of jeopardizing finances or career
- Avoidance of social events or functions
Food Addiction Treatment
- If you observe that you or a loved one is stuck in the vicious cycle of food addiction, which presents itself in the form of frustration, despair and hopelessness. If you are living with a food addict, it can make your relationship strained and stop you from enjoying your life to the fullest. But, yo should remember that it is always possible to heal it.
- If you seek appropriate help and care, you will find yourself surrounded with resources that will address your addiction in a proper fashion and take you out of this mess by breaking the vicious cycle. There are several specialized food addiction treatment centers that will provide with all the help you need in the world to treat this problem in a comprehensive and holistic manner. These treatment centers provide multi-specialty treatment to the addicts focusing and addressing the nutritional concerns and medical issues while integrating psychotherapy.
How to Know If This Is Worth the Sacrifice
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- Since junk foods have become a part of our lives, it is impossible to completely stay away from it. However, addicts need to train their mids to stay away from it and once that will power becomes strong enough, it becomes easy to keep cravings under control. However, if you are still in doubt, you can make a pros and cons list and then decide what you want to do with your life.
Prepare Yourself and Set a Date
- While you are trying to make a transition from being an addict to becoming a healthy eater, you can do the following thing to make your transition much easy.
- Trigger foods
- Prepare a list of all your trigger foods which you need to avoid at all costs.
- Fast food places
- Make a list of the fast food places that draw you towards itself. These are the places that you need to stay away from. This step is important because it will help you in preventing yourself from falling into the trap of addiction when you do not feel like cooking or are hungry.
- What to eat
- Prepare a list of healthy foods that you are going to eat when you feel hungry.
- Pros and cons
- You can try making a pros and cons list for helping you in getting over those weak moments when you are slipping into the pit of addiction. It is okay to need a reminder sometimes about why you are doing this.
- Put your weight loss regime on hold for sometime and do not plan on going on a diet during the time you are trying to get over your addiction. Handle one problem at a time. It is very difficult to over come addiction in the first place. When you throw in additional restrictions of hunger, all you are doing is setting yourself up for failure.
When Everything Else Fails… Seek Help
- If you find yourself relapsing every time and ending up eating more and more, it is time you reached out for professional help. DO not worry about the society. You are not alone to feel this way. There are millions of people, who too are struggling everyday with problem like yours.
- Relapses are indispensable part of addiction. Before succeeding, every person has a long list of failed attempts. What is important is that you keep on trying. If you are still failing, it is no shame in accepting your problem and seeking professional help. A trained psychologist or a psychiatrist will be more than willing to help you get out of this addiction.
Whatever You Do, Do Something!
- Food addiction is a grave problem that will not resolve on its own. With time, this problem is going to get worse. It is important you do something about food addiction now before it completely ruins your life.
- For people who suffer from food addiction, highly palatable foods that are often rich in sugar, fat and/or salt trigger certain chemical reactions in the brain that make the person feel satisfied and happy. This response is the same as observed in a drug addict’s brain. The same reward center of the brain is activated in both cases.
- With time, people with food addiction become dependent on the “good” feelings that they get from eating certain foods. This forces them to eat these foods whenever they are in a pickle situation, even if they are not hungry. This ultimately starts a vicious cycle in which a person continues to gorge on foods that give him pleasure. As time passes by, they start to over indulge in eating their ‘favorite’ food and then start eating beyond their satiety and normal nutrition level.
- This can result in a number of physical, social and emotional consequences, like
- heart disease, digestive issues, low self esteem, isolation and depression. Due to the need for induced feelings of pleasure, food addicts often repeatedly engage in such destructive behaviors.
- This ferocious cycle of food addiction and the dangerous consequences associated with it is crucial for seeking professional help.
People should understand that food addiction is as serious a disease as drug addiction. It can leave a person debilitated for life if left untreated. By filling the person’s heart with love instead of a dough nut and seeking proper help, we can heal a soul broken by food addiction.