6 Signs of Food Addiction – From a Recovering Food Addict!
Food addiction is a real thing and most people are struggling with it and don’t even realize it. Almost 36% of the population in the United States are obese and society has labelled them as fat, lazy and gluttonous. Overweight people are looked at poorly – people think “Why can’t they just control themselves, I mean it’s so easy – just eat healthy and workout.”
Yes, the solution may sound that simple, but the fact that we are missing (as a society) is that the food produced nowadays is HIGHLY addictive. Sugar and its other tricky names that it can go by (high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, etc) – was found to be 8X more addictive than cocaine. They put these ingredients in most processed food – which makes up most of the American diet. Therefore, we have over 1/3 of the people in the US addicted to this food and then told it’s their fault – and to just stop eating it.
What is food addiction? Food addiction is a behavioral addiction that is characterized by the compulsive eating of palatable foods (aka, high sugar, high fat and high salt foods) which activate your brains “feel good” sensors like dopamine. These same sensors are shown to activate in the same way as someone who consumes highly addictive drugs such as cocaine or heroine. Therefore, food that contain high levels of sugar, fat and salt are extremely addictive, both physically and emotionally.
The average Americans health is declining because of this addiction. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease (I had mine removed at age 26), osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, etc. The list goes on and on – and most people are going to the doctor and taking a pill for these symptoms. This doesn’t actually solve the problem – you are just taking something to stop the symptoms that your body is giving you.
Here are 6 signs that you might have a food addiction:
1. All or Nothing.You are stuck in the vicious cycle of dieting and bingeing. It’s either black or white – eating healthy or eating junk food. No in between. Another sign is when you start the day with good intentions of eating healthy, then slipping and throwing caution to the wind and gorging. You’ll try again tomorrow… or Monday.
2. Making Excuses.“You don’t understand – I looooove chocolate – and I read that it’s good for your health, so it’s ok for me to eat this whole candy bar. I mean, it’s healthy for me.” Sound familiar? Making excuses and rationalizing a particular food to yourself is another trick your addicted brain will do to get you to cave in.
3. Watching too much food porn.Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good Food Network show. However, I realized that when I was on a “diet” I would watch more and more of these shows. I call it – food porn. You can’t touch it, you can’t smell it and you can’t eat it. This is a form of torture that you are doing to yourself – and the craving in your brain for these foods gets amplified when you are dangling it in front of your face. But you just can’t help it, you have to look.
4. Hiding food or eating in secret.You stash your food in secret hiding places around the house or your desk at work. Then you run out to the grocery store and grab a quick candy bar to shove in your mouth before anyone else knows. Before you know it, you are eating chicken strips, ranch dripping down your face, in secret in the car before school pickup – even though you aren’t actually hungry.
5. Emotional reaction.Do you run to food when you are stressed or emotional? Does the thought of eliminating certain foods make you feel anxious or upset? Emotional eating is extremely common, but the downside is that you are training you subconscious to turn to food when there is conflict. This can also tie into making excuses for why you need a certain food during a stressful time.
6. Craving and gorging on food, even when you are full.You can find yourself searching the pantry for something, anything to eat – even though you aren’t hungry. Or continuing to eat past the point of when you are full. You might even have a craving so bad, that if you can’t find some type of junk food to eat – you leave the house for a snack run to go get it.
Now, I’m not saying that if you have these that means that you are a food addict. However, if you have some or all of these signs, you might want to look more into food addiction and how to have a healthy relationship with food.
I went over 30 years having an extremely unhealthy relationship with food and was highly addicted to sugar (consuming on average 18X the recommended amount). I am a recovering sugar and food addict. I don’t believe that the solution is just as easy as eating healthy and working out to lose weight.
Anyone can lose weight if they want to – but it’s keeping it off that’s the tricky part for most. When you look at losing weight as going on a short-term fad diet and don’t address your unhealthy relationship with food – you will have short term success. Followed by self-sabotage with your addiction rearing its ugly head eventually.
Like being stuck in a conference room full of donuts, cookies and chips and not being able to control yourself. Gorging on food until you feel physically sick only to then turn around and beat yourself up for doing so. Feeling ashamed and guilty that you ate like that and promising to try harder tomorrow.
Don’t beat yourself up anymore! Just try something that you haven’t tried before to have the success that you crave – shift your mindset and your relationship with food. Realize that the foods that you crave are highly addictive and have the knowledge on how to address your food addiction. Knowledge is power and once you know – you can choose to do something about it.
Life is What You Choose