Misunderstood: Food Addiction

Food addiction has been a pretty controversial subject recently; many people deny it even exists because they just can’t fathom the fact that you can be addicted to food; others are offended because they believe the word addicted should only apply to things like drugs, alcohol, gambling, and tobacco because of the serious effects that these things have on peoples lives. I would argue that food can be just as serious because we have an obesity epidemic in this country. We are approaching 50% of our population being obese, and rising yearly. The main metabolic issues caused by obesity are a direct result of our current food environment and are overwhelming our medical systems.

 

I don’t have a problem calling it food addiction; in my opinion, it causes just as much harm mentally, physically and financially as any other addiction and shares most of the same similarities.

 

Definition of addiction:

Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.

 

How can this not be applied to food? It’s unfortunate that, unlike most addictions, we are constantly under attack when it comes to food, ads, commercials, billboards, and quick fixes on every corner and every place in our life, its the equivalent of someone with a gambling addiction that works in a casino on the Vegas strip. The past couple of years have been eye-opening working in Dr. Tros’s clinic, and I’ve recently been thinking about my own journey and struggles with food addiction.

 

I can say these issues are something we’re going to deal with for the rest of our lives; The problem is that we look at these issues with food as a weakness when in reality, they’re our greatest weapon. When I’m tempted sometimes, and that familiar voice starts to speak and justify a bad decision, I reflect back to the things I learned from my past and how bad I felt.

 

Telling ourselves we can moderate these foods is like telling ourselves we can be functioning food addicts; that’s a lie. I’ve lived my entire life fighting this battle, and from what I have learned personally and from working with others, I’m telling you, you don’t have to.

 

You have to want to get healthy; you’re not unhealthy because you’re a food addict; we weren’t born addicted to these foods; it has been a long slow process of eating these foods, using them as comfort, being triggered by constant advertising and suffering the consequences of the cravings, constant hunger, blood sugar spikes and dopamine hits of these highly palatable foods that are beyond our control. It’s not a question of willpower or strong we are; we have been fighting a losing battle since the day we were introduced to these foods.

 

Even when we realize these foods aren’t good for us, we still can’t stop eating them; I’ve seen people so unhealthy and unhappy, even facing decisions of losing life or limbs, still choose not to stop eating them, to me that’s the very disease of addiction, people will look the doctor right in the eye and tell them they’re not giving them up.

 

Most of us have this in some way, shape, or form; the hardest part of having this form of addiction is that no one sees it as an addiction; they see us as weak, selfish, and self-destructive, and they can’t relate and wonder why they should waste their time with us because we do this to ourselves “Its only food” they say.

 

Luckily there are others with this addiction, people like me that do understand and can relate and know you don’t want to live like this; you just don’t know how not to. This is a problem, I have slipped many times, and people often ask…how, after all these years, do you still slip and struggle? Easy, sometimes you can get a little overconfident, you think you have it all figured out, and for small moments of weakness, you let your guard down because, for a split second, you forget how bad it was until you fail again. Sometimes it’s easy to stay there; you start doubting and telling yourself you’ll never get back to where you were; you might as well stay off, and the backslide continues, but this is where you can’t let the addiction take control.

 

When doing this to break yourself, you have to be all in; you have to have defenses and outs in place and cultivate support so you can focus all your energy on making this lifestyle change; if you’re dealing with other things taking up your time and energy or you’re not 100% ready, it’s going to be 10x harder and what do you say to someone who has no hope and failed at every other attempt? How do you convince them this will be different? Because there is no force stronger than that next fix. One thing is for sure, the longer you stay on the food addiction path, the longer you’ll lose; every lie and every compromise you tell yourself, the further away you’ll move from who and where you want to be.

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