Food addiction is plaguing the country like never before. It’s time we learned what it means to be addicted to food and how to overcome food addiction.
Food addiction is a new term in modern culture, and many people do not take it seriously, but we would like to tell you that it is as real as an alcohol addiction
. Even though it isn’t as harmful as other addictions, it does considerable damage to one’s physical and emotional health, and can even be the source of an illness, if continued for a long term.
Thus, it is important to learn and educate ourselves about food addiction and find effective ways to design a plan, control our cravings and finally, break out of it.
What Is Food Addiction?
Food addiction is a controversial topic amongst people these days. Many people do not agree with this kind of addiction, but according to studies, it does exist that the addict even shows compulsive behavior.
Thus, food addiction is simply an addiction to junk food, and yes, it is quite similar to eating disorders like binge-eating, bulimia, compulsive overeating, etc.
Like drugs, highly palatable food (sugar, fat, and salt) trigger the feel-good chemicals in the brain, including dopamine and thus, people get increased dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway through certain foods.
Signs of food addiction
There is a proven test to understand the signs and symptoms of food addiction. However, experts reckon that the signs of food addiction can be deciphered via certain behaviors-
- Frequent cravings to eat certain food even after finishing a meal a few minutes ago
- Eating a craved food and ending up stuffing one’s stomach with the same
- Feeling guilty after eating certain foods but eating them again after a while
- Often eating a craved food and ending up eating it in excessive and much more than intended
- Making excuses about why responding to food cravings is a good idea; trying to convince others about the same
- Unsuccessful attempts to quit the craved food; repetitive attempts as well but of no use
- Not able to control the consumption of the desired food
- Attempts to hide the consumption of the food from others and more
- Eating to the point of puking or feeling ill
If more than 4 of the above symptoms apply to a person, they are on the verge of food addiction. If someone identifies with more than 5, it is likely a food addiction.
How does it work?
The first thing one needs to understand is that food addiction triggers the same areas in the brain as drug addiction. When a person eats a certain food, the brain considers it right since it feels so good. This releases feel-good chemicals, including dopamine, a neurotransmitter that the brain identifies with pleasure.
The problem with modern culture is that there is such an abundance of junk food that the brain has become used to its pleasure. If you have a bowl of vegetables, your brain will not feel pleasure as high as a pack of your favorite potato chips.
Foods rich in high fats and high sugar affect the brain in the same way as drugs such as heroin and cocaine do. This highly palatable food makes the person repeatedly have them in their meals, which releases the dopamine repeatedly, which eventually downgrades the regulation of the neurotransmitters.
When the brain observes the receptors being produced in large quantities, it balances the system by removing the receptors. Now that the receptors are few, one feels the need to eat more junk to reach the same level of feel-good feelings, that is, more dopamine production – this is tolerance.
When people do not get the exact amount of food to increase the dopamine activity and experience the same feel-good effect, they start feeling unhappy – withdrawal.
The tolerance and withdrawal signs confirm that one has become an addict; in this case, it’s food.
Steps To Overcome Food Addiction
If you pass the pointers of food addictions, it’s time to devise a plan to overcome it. We have prepared a few suggestions for you to make your journey easier and full of positive results.
- Make a list of all the foods that you think you are addicted to
- Reframe the addictive urge related to them as merely a thought and remind yourself over and over the same.
- Be consciously aware of the cravings and urges and breathe deeply, reminding yourself why you have decided to change your lifestyle.
- Start thinking about what foods to eat – you can choose healthy ones but do not push yourself in the beginning. If it takes bread to replace a pastry initially, so be it. Slowly, you can switch to a healthy diet.
- The triggers will come up. Be honest with yourself and prepare yourself to deal with them. Be patient and do not give up. Love yourself through the process, and sooner or later, you will get out of it.
Is it a serious condition?
Food addiction isn’t as serious as other forms of abuse such as drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. Even so, it triggers the same areas of the brain as any of the substances above do, only it does not lead to serious consequences.
However, food addiction can do a lot of physical, emotional, and mental damage to the body, leading to serious illnesses in the future. Food addiction can also negatively impact the self-image and confidence of a person and thus, make them unhappy.
Plus, the emotional turmoil that one goes through because of it can lessen their life. Thus, it is important to take this condition seriously and heal oneself.
Consider seeking help
If it seems like too much to handle, it is advisable to find a therapist or psychologist who has experience in food addiction. It is possible to get over food addiction without anyone’s help, but many people attempt several times before they finally succeed in losing their cravings.
So, why not seek professional help if we know that it will surely help us feel better? You can also join support groups to learn about other people’s journeys and seek inspiration from them until you tell your own success story.
Proven Ways To Beat Food Addiction
Before anything else, remind yourself that recovering from food addiction is a journey that you shall take to reach a destination. It might be slow, but you are good as long as you are improving. To help you with the same, here are some ways to beat your addiction.
When the craving strikes, try drinking at least two glasses of water. Sometimes, our body gets thirsty, but our brain misinterprets it as craving or hunger. When you constantly keep doing this, soon, your craving will lose its grip, setting you free.
Research has proven that even taking a 10-minute walk in the park can lessen one’s craving to a large extent. It is a good way to build your health while saying goodbye to food addiction.
The best part is that you do not have to indulge in strenuous workout activities, and you can go ahead with yoga, jogging, running, dancing, or anything that makes you active and happy.
Do you know that stress and tension play a major role in generating food cravings? If not dealt with for a long time, stress causes many people to crave sugary food.
Reducing stress doesn’t require an effort but a simple practice of deep breathing until your body feels better. With regular practice, you can easily release stress from your body and thus, avoid food cravings.
Every time your craving knocks at the door, eat foods that are rich in protein. According to research published in the Obesity journal, overweight males who increased their protein intake in their total calorie intake showed a significant reduction in food cravings and hunger pangs.
Give in to your cravings sometimes
When you start controlling your cravings, that’s when you will crave it the most. However, it is not advised to give up taking your craved meal completely, and it might lead to unhealthy or negative consequences in case of addiction.
Thus, you can plan a time to indulge in your cravings. However, it is important to be disciplined enough to get back to your meal plan and stick with it until you no longer crave food.
Try intermittent fasting
We recommend intermittent fasting to beat cravings because it is easier to convince your brain to not eat at all during certain hours than to eat healthy, especially when you are only starting with your new meal plan. Many people follow the 16/8 method, where they fast for 16 hours and eat in the 8-hour window.
It would help if you learned to accept that you might have an unhealthy addiction to food and that you have to make a conscious decision to change your eating habits.
Talk to your loved ones, seek therapy, go to support groups meet-ups – do whatever it takes to come out strongly on the other side, and we promise you that the world will feel better and more beautiful to the healthier and stronger you.
We hope the insights that we shared in this article will help you understand, and more importantly overcome or help others overcome food addiction. If you thought the ideas were beneficial, give us a shoutout on social media so that others can benefit from them as well.
If there are more queries, comments, and experiences that you would like to share, our comments box is eagerly waiting for your words.