Most times when people hear the word addiction, the first thoughts that come to mind are alcohol, cigarette, and illicit drugs. And when they hear of food addiction, they assume it’s nothing serious. The truth, however, is that food addiction is a serious condition and people who have to battle with it should not be dismissed.
Food addiction is the addiction to food, especially junk. It involves the same parts of the brain as other addictions and has similar symptoms. It’s usually triggered by typical junk food such as soda, fried foods, candy, and so on. When consumed consistently, they start having a strong effect on the brain caused by neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine).
Addiction to food is not due to weak willpower but the neurotransmitters that disrupt the brain’s biochemistry.
Symptoms of food addiction
Having cravings or eating heartily might not necessarily mean you have a food addiction. However specific symptoms can help you determine whether you do and need help. These symptoms include:
- Constantly craving certain meals even after eating a belly full.
- Constantly having a strong urge to eat.
- Feeling guilty after eating too much of a particular food, yet being unable to stay away from it.
- Trying to stay away from a particular food but failing, repeatedly.
- Trying to hide your eating habits from friends and family.
- Knowing overeating unhealthy foods will increase your weight gain yet being unable to curb the urge for them.
Fighting food addiction
As a (plus-sized) man/woman with food addiction, you probably fight mental battles daily knowing it fuels your weight gain or unhealthy lifestyle. And while it is a hard battle you fight, the fact that you are willing to put in the work is commendable. With continuous, deliberate efforts, you will definitely overcome the addiction.
For more guides to help you in this fight against food addiction, keep reading below.
- Come to terms with the deeper issues
The first thing you need to remember when fighting food addiction is that; you are not weak. You aren’t succumbing to the addiction because you lack the willpower. No. Food addiction, just like other addictions, goes beyond a person’s willpower.
Food addiction can either be a physiological, psychological or biological issue. This is the reason why it hard to overcome. Knowing and remembering this will strengthen your will. Thinking you’re addicted to food because you lack willpower can demoralise you and even fill you with self-loathing. This can tempt you to give up the fight and give in to food. So come to terms with the fact that there are other strong factors working against you but that you are also strong. In time you will overcome them.
- Address the triggers
As a person fighting a mental battle against food addiction, going close to tempting food sources can cause you to lose the battle. You need to identify food triggers and avoid them at all cost.
To avoid food triggers, start by asking yourself questions about the particular foods you are addicted to and where they can be found. What are those foods you constantly crave? Where are they sold? Do you have them stocked in your fridge? When is the urge to eat strongest? Do you eat when you feel emotional? Do you eat when you get bored or stressed? Identifying food triggers is a very important step to fighting food addiction as it can help you curb them.
- Break the circle
In order to win your battle with food, you need to face your triggers and work on them. Getting over a food addiction will not happen overnight. It might take weeks and some months. So the goal is to reconstruct your habits and circumstances into healthier ones until the addiction is at an all-time low.
After identifying the addiction triggers, work on limiting your contact with them. If you have the meals you are addicted to stocked up in your house, get rid of them. Avoid fast foods or grocery stores with these tempting meals/snacks. Tell friends and family not to invite you over if they would be sharing unhealthy meals. Swap your morning bagels for fruits and veggies. Avoid activities that can trigger your craving for food e.g. watching food competitions and hanging out at restaurants. And whenever the craving gets too strong, you get yourself occupied with physical activities.
A strong weapon in your mental battle against food addiction is mindfulness. Be mindful of your decisions that’ll affect your fight over the addiction.
- Get a support system
In order to overcome food addiction, you need help. You can’t do it all by yourself and remember that this does not make you weak. Instead, it means you are strong enough to ask for assistance. Talk to your loved ones about your addiction (if they aren’t aware) and tell them that you need their help in adopting a healthier lifestyle. You will be surprised at how effective the battle will be with backup.
If you live with them, they will understand your need to rid the house of junk and also do well not to indulge in junk around you. They can lend you an ear when you want to talk about how tough it’s been –which is quite therapeutic. And they can caution you at times when you are tempted to cheat. Also, be ready to encourage their supports as they’ll need your co-operation as much as you’ll need theirs.
- Talk to a therapist
Asides support from your loved ones, a therapist’s intervention can go a long way in helping you win your battle. Studies show that behavioural therapy is a great form of intervention for weight-loss success. Also, most behavioural therapists have worked with numerous plus-sized men/women who dealt with food addiction so surely, you will find reliable partners in them.
While external help from loved ones and therapists is very beneficial when fighting food addiction, you play the greatest role of all. You need to be determined to win the battle against the addiction. This determination will give you the strength to weather the tough times. During the process, you can also counter the unhealthy addiction by eating healthy meals which will be more beneficial for you!