Addiction is a word used often in today’s world. We all know there exist many harmful addictions. One can say addiction itself is harmful in one or other way. Though food addiction is common, addiction to food is one that is not so commonly discussed. As much as it is something not discussed commonly, it is increasing alarmingly with the changing lifestyles.
With detrimental long working hours, extreme conditions of stress at working place and the house we have a fast pacing life. A variety of food available at the drop of a hat, all we today have fallen prey to this addiction towards food. This is even without the knowledge of the consequences of this addiction.What seems like a harmless indulgence by periodical and continuous occasions can eventually lead to an addiction. The person is not aware of it at the subconscious level. One needs to be vigilant of his or her eating habits and lifestyle and make it a point to not fall prey to this evil pit. There have been recent scientific developments on the theories pertaining to food addiction. It deals with its symptoms and how to overcome the Food Addiction.
As described by science, Food Addiction is a behavioural addiction. This is characterized by over-consumption of high fat or sugary foods. The psychological factor behind this is the unknown forceful drive to access and consume the food whether healthy or otherwise.
A more colloquial word used for Food Addiction is “Binge Eating”. This refers to people involved in overeating unhealthy amount of food with an impulse of having lost the sense of control. The physicians dealing obese patients chant in their ears first to fight this addiction if they have some of it.
The addiction is a game of the mind and the control over the mind. It is not a result of any addictive chemical properties of the food. Food Addicts have an impulse to continuously think of food. In cases when denied they tend to show behaviours which are deceitful. This is something like stealing and lying.
Food Addicts succumb to the positive or good feelings. These are stimulated by the consumption of certain foods. ( Even deeply fried oil may smell good but inherently it has a lot of negative factors ). This instigates an urge to eat continuously despite a full stomach. The higher the happy feelings generated from food, the higher are the chances to fall prey to Food Addiction. There are various physical, emotional and psychological consequences. They are digestive problems, heart disease, depression, obesity, and isolation.
Symptoms Of Food Addiction
Food addiction is the most vulnerable addiction that one faces, and in most cases it is not by choice. It is unlike a personal decision to have drugs or alcohol, it is a compulsion to want to have food frequently.
It is the little things that are the signs and symptoms of falling prey to this addiction. You need to be vigilant and keep a check on these symptoms, some of them mentioned below:
- Consuming more food than one can physically tolerate
- Feeling ill or breathing heavily after eating
- Continuing to eat specific food even after the hunger subsides
- Eating in secrecy or isolation/ Hiding away and eating
- Indulging in various weight loss and diet control programs. In addition consuming huge quantities of food
- Avoiding social gatherings due to lack of concentration on the congregation compared to the food
- Feeling misfit in social events with feelings of not looking good
- Decreased energy, increased fatigue and/or chronic pains
- Lack of concentration
- Eating when depressed or upset
- Eating as a reward for a job well done
- Becoming anxious, irritable and/or hopeless about certain food
- Digestive disorders
- Constant change in mood
- Avoiding socialising/ interactions for intense food cravings
It may be possible that the person falling prey to these symptoms might not be able to recognize these patterns and habits.
The loved ones and friends should keep an open eye to recognize any symptoms pertaining to food addiction. They should make the individual consciously aware of this.
There are several ways to cope with Food Addiction but is more important to identify that one has fallen prey to this addiction. So as to save them from the adversities that this addiction can cause in the long run.
How does one overcome Food Addiction?
Once you have realised the symptoms of food addiction, it is also important to be aware of the process to control it. Recovering from Food Addiction, will require efforts from friends and family and primarily from one’s SELF. As much as it requires efforts from self to control the urge to consume food.
There are several ways you can practice of bringing the urge under control. It starts with small steps to taking bigger leaps in the process of controlling the addiction.
1A healthy relationship with Food
One needs to develop a healthy relationship with food in order to control the Food addiction. There is a dire need to recognize the food patterns of a food addict and to make reasonable changes in the food habits of the person. One can set the logical limit of food once cognized of this problem having been crept in. Particularly the limit should be on the choicest and the tasty things.
One needs to make a conscious decision to make a healthy relationship with food. They need to rationalise between the need and the desire for food. Recognize food that is healthy and also pertaining to the choice of food of an individual.
2Set a Boundary with Unsafe Food
The process of segregation between the healthy and unhealthy food has been done. Once this is done, one needs to move ahead with setting a boundary with the unhealthy food.
Most of the food that contains are high sugar content or are processed food, are unhealthy. Limited or controlled consumption of these food does help keep in check the adverse effects of these food.
3Making a Diet chart and following it
The most convenient and best way to control Food Addiction is to prepare a healthy diet plan. This can be done with the help of a dietician. Then one has to follow the plan rigorously.
Since the victim has fallen prey to food addiction, he/she might try to cheat through this plan and break the food addiction again. It is required that a close family member or friends help them sail through this phase.
In a case where required, a close family member can also follow a diet plan along with the food addict. This is to help them keep a mental stability and the persistence to follow the diet.
4Learning Healthy Coping Strategies
It is not only the food habits that needs to be controlled. It is also required to maintain the emotional and mental stability of the person addicted to food.
One needs to learn to control their emotional desires to eat food. The emotional vulnerability that the lack of food can cause, especially in a case of extreme food addiction.
It is also advisable to use mental coping strategies like Yoga or exercise, to maintain a healthy state of mind in times of the desire for food arising.
5Professional Help/ Counselling is also a good option
Overcoming food addiction is a long and tedious process. This, in more cases than one, can take a toll on the emotional and physical stability of a food addict.
There are licensed professionals who can help cope with this addiction in a step by step manner. It is advisable to take help from these professionals in cases of extreme food addiction.(Read this….)
The friends and family should support their decision to take help from professional. They should accompany the food addicts on regular visits to these professionals.
It is very important for a food addict to be completely honest with these professionals in their state of mind. They should also help to control their desires to consume food, so as to make the most of the help offered.
Food addiction is not an incurable disease. It is a self-induced condition by the human with an ugly lifestyle that they have fallen prey to. It is an individual’s responsibility to recognize any ill habits or addictions that they are falling prey to . They can learn the ways out of addictions. Happy Eating!!