For many years, someone who really loved their food was just that: a hearty eater. In recent times, however, more and more emphasis has been placed on the idea of food addiction. Is enjoying your Kraft or McDonalds just that, something to be enjoyed? Or is it something more? Let’s take a closer look and explore what can be quite a contentious issue.
Is food addiction legitimate?
The general consensus in 2014 seems to be that yes, food addiction is a genuine condition. There are legitimate food addiction anonymous bodies currently in operation, and thousands of people have attested to feeling out of control with regards to their eating habits.
A number of different symptoms are associated with the debilitating condition, including:
Food cravings straight after eating
If you continually feel a craving to eat despite having just done so, then the desire is coming from somewhere other than the body's natural need to eat when hungry. Rather than focusing on nutrients or energy, the brain is seeking food because of the dopamine release it provides. This is common amongst food addicts.
One of the key habits to those with a healthy attitude to food is that they're able to allow themselves a treat without going overboard. They can easily have a couple of biscuits without having to devour the pack, for instance, or just have one slice of cake out of the whole thing. Food addicts, though, often work on an 'all or nothing' basis. The same principle applies to addicts of any kind: telling a food addict to only have a small portion is akin to telling an alcoholic to only have one can of beer or a single glass of wine.
Eating until stuffed full
Those with a healthy attitude to food will typically eat until they feel full. However, for addicts this is often not enough, and they will persistently eat until they are literally incapable of taking in any more food. Often, they will continue even after they begin to feel genuinely uncomfortable.
How to combat food addiction
There are a number of different ways that people can combat food addiction.
Know what your triggers are. It's strange, but many people have a specific trigger or feeling that causes them to crave junk food, such as when they’re bored or when they have a bad day at work. Try and keep a notebook, and write down how you feel when you find yourself craving food. Then, whenever you encounter that feeling again, do something positive such as five press-ups or going for a walk. In time, you'll associate that previously negative feeling with a positive action.
Know your limits. It’s important to work according to you, rather than anyone else. If you know that having junk food in the house means that you'll eat it, then don't buy it. End of. Again, moderation doesn't work for everyone. Ask your friends and family to support you as much as possible by not bringing unhealthy food around you.
Try and find healthy foods that you love. The best way to remove old habits is to replace them with new ones. That's why it's useful to find a list of healthy foods that you really like, that way if you do fancy a food-fest you can have one without causing any real problems.
Food addiction can be genuinely debilitating and a cause of stress. However, by admitting the problem, you can start to seek help in dealing with it.