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The Unique Nature of Food Addiction

  Published on March 12th, 2021
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified April 15th, 2021
food addiction

Making a lifestyle change of any significance is a difficult task or any person. For a food addict, this can seem near impossible. Food addiction is far different from any other addiction. I have realized in my time working with clients who have an addiction, that each addiction has its own identity.

For the purpose of identifying addiction, we will use the following definition: Addiction is the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable. What makes food addiction unique is that it falls within an addiction that is both related to a substance and an activity. That makes food addiction difficult to overcome and treat.


Staying Away From Triggers

junk food addiction

With clients, I often discuss staying away from triggers. This often includes staying away from people, places, and things that create triggers. For a food addict, this can very hard because oftentimes the most important people in an addict’s life can be the biggest triggers. For example, time spent together with family and friends around foods for the holidays and celebrations.

As a food addict, we cannot always avoid places that have triggers for us. We must celebrate holidays, go to grocery stores, restaurants, and other places that create triggers constantly. Also watching TV and seeing commercials are types of things that could be a trigger and are near impossible to avoid.

The best plan of attack is to prepare yourself to mentally deal with these triggers.

Plan out your meals, look up restaurant menus ahead of time, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Talk to your family and friends about the problem. They are your support system and it is important to have them understand what you are going through. Let them know that you need them to help you be a new person.


Behavior and Conditioning

A food addict has a behavior problem associated with a substance. The conditioned response that a food addict experiences is a behavior problem that needs to be modified for long-term success. I feel that there is a physical dependence and behavioral reaction created from sugar and carbohydrates. The conditioned response is a powerful thing when it comes to someone with an unhealthy relationship with food.

woman suffering from food addictionThroughout our lives, we have been conditioned to feel better through sugar and desserts. We can find a bad food choice that can relate to every celebration. We have developed a response that this food will make us feel better when something is wrong. This leads to emotional eating and using food as an unhealthy coping skill.

For people that develop an addiction, it will lead to obsessive thinking about these poor food choices.

Unfortunately for a food addict, complete abstinence from food cannot happen. Instead, a food plan that eliminates trigger foods is an absolute must. If the person eliminates this food, your brain never gets the chance to associate them with the dopamine reward, thus making it so you don’t crave them.

This is why for me the ketogenic diet is abstinence from food addiction because my trigger foods have been eliminated. Keep this in mind, as a food addict, I do not eat this way because have self-control. I eat this way because I don’t.

A food addict needs to give themselves strict boundaries when it comes to food. For me, this means planning my food. This means tracking my food. This means strict macros that I follow every day.

For many people with an unhealthy relationship with food, eating intuitively or listening to your body simply does not work.

It is possible that some people can control this, but for many of us out there it is not an option. We need boundaries for ourselves. These strict boundaries will give you power over food. Take the power from food and give yourself the power back.


Concluding Thoughts on Food Addiction

You will never be able to stay away from your triggers so you must mentally prepare to be challenged every day. You have to live your life and it can become easy to use that as an excuse to feed your addiction.

When you feed into an addiction you are starting the process of eliminating triggers over again. When you feed addictions they only grow they do not go away. Empower yourself and ultimately gain control over your addiction.


Do You or Have You Suffered From Food Addiction?

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