Food Addiction and Relapses
What is Food Addiction?
Food addiction is an uncontrollable craving for certain foods, usually refined carbohydrates, floury and sugary foods, fast foods, and junk foods that, once ingested, quickly turn into sugar in the bloodstream. Food addicts are unable to control their food intake, and although many have tried a variety of diets and weight loss programs, none have helped for any length of time.
Is Addiction to Food Like Addiction to Drugs?
Addiction to food is like all addictions. For a food addict, ingesting certain foods activates the pleasure centers in the brain and delivers an irresistible and immediate “rush” of physical and emotional well-being. Processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat are especially stimulating and cause the brain to release the same feel-good chemicals that are released by drugs and alcohol. The only difference between a food addict and other substance abusers is that the food addict cannot abstain from eating.
What’s the Difference Between Food Addiction and Other Eating Disorders?
There isn’t a lot of difference between overeating and food addiction. Both conditions are characterized by eating too much on a regular basis and being unable to stop. Binge eaters overeat periodically rather than constantly, whereas anorexics are addicted to not eating. Bulimics are addicted to eating that’s followed by purging.
How Do I Know if I’m a Food Addict?
Food addicts are powerless over their food intake and must keep increasing the amount they eat to maintain a consistent level of satisfaction. Scientists believe that being addicted to food may play a role in obesity, and that it might explain why some people find it so difficult to lose weight.
Most food addicts gain weight, but some exercise compulsively to burn off the excess calories. Others use laxatives to eliminate what they consume. Some over-eaters alternate between binge eating and anorexia; they may lose weight even though they are still addicted to food.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you think you might be a food addict:
o Do you crave food even when you’re full or not hungry?
o Do you often eat more than you want to?
o Do you eat until you feel stuffed or sick?
o Do you feel guilty about how much you eat?
o Are you unable to control what, when, if, and how much you eat?
o Do you hide your eating from others or eat alone so no one will know how much you eat?
o Is your eating creating health problems?
o Do you obsess about food?
What Behaviors Characterize Food Addicts?
Food addicts tend to be secretive about their eating habits and often hide their eating behavior from friends and family. They may avoid social situations, because they are afraid they’ll be unable to control their eating. Overeating episodes are usually triggered by painful emotions and followed by guilt, shame, and self-loathing.
What is a Food Addiction Relapse?
A relapse occurs when a food addict who has been eating normally for a period of time resumes overeating, binge eating, anorexia, or bulimia. A relapse can also describe “a history of attempts to recover without lasting success.” If you think that you might have a problem with food, get outside help as soon as possible.