We all like to eat tasty food, some more than others. And most of us have struggled at times to keep our cravings and our weight in check. But at what point does that go beyond the realm of normal behavior into addictive behavior? We have been hearing about food addiction lately, and we have wondered if that’s a real thing? And if so, what to do about it?
The truth is that it is indeed a real problem for many people. These people are addicted to food, in terms of being unable to control their cravings, and consuming large amounts of unhealthy, fattening food. This becomes an addiction when the craving overpowers one’s self-control, and seeking and consuming food becomes a prevalent obsession to the point that it disrupts normal daily function. It can be a serious problem, with direct adverse effects on health, and also have long-term detrimental social, mental, and financial effects.
These patients have the right intentions to eat well and stay healthy, or at least not overeat habitually, but they repeatedly find themselves eating large amounts of unhealthy foods — despite knowing that it may cause them harm. To make matters worse, many of the unhealthy food items have high sugar and/or salt content and possibly other neurotoxins that make it hard to show restraint while consuming them.
Typical signs of food addiction include:
- Cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full and having just finished a nutritious meal.
- Eating much more than intended, often to the point of feeling excessively stuffed.
- Feeling guilty after eating particular foods — yet find yourself eating them again soon after.
- Making excuses in your head about why you should eat something that you’re craving.
- Trying to quit eating certain foods or set rules for them, such as cheat meals or days.
- Hiding your consumption of unhealthy foods from others.
- Feeling unable to control your consumption of unhealthy foods — despite knowing that they cause you physical harm, including weight gain.
Food addiction is indeed a serious problem and it is being recognized as such. It needs a two-pronged approach where there is an emphasis on its diagnosis and awareness in general, and practical steps taken to offer these people support. In the early stages, simple steps as making a list of trigger foods and knowing what you’re going to eat instead, and constantly reminding yourself why you’re doing this helps to keep things in check. But when it is a full-blown addiction, the patient needs a comprehensive program that is designed to keep the patient’s unique psychological profile in mind as well as the nature of the addiction itself. It needs to involve active counseling with support and feedback, along with counseling family and friends who can play a huge role in the recovery process.
Pacific Bay Recovery has a dedicated staff of highly trained professionals who help create personalized programs for patients and adopt a comprehensive approach to help them recover and lead a healthy life.