Being addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling is tough, but at least you don’t need those things to stay alive. But can you imagine being addicted to food? The very thing you are trying to stop being addicted to is the very thing you need to survive. Having such an addiction would have to be incredibly frustrating, not to mention hard to get over.
But is it really possible to have such an addiction? According to researchers it is. One they have tested this is by scanning the brains of people that were addicted to food. They then had them think about food. So, what did they find? They found that these thoughts activated the same parts of the brain as an alcoholic or drug addict when they thought about drinking and drugs.
Another finding was that people who were addicted to food share something else with other addicts. That was having fewer dopamine receptors (dopamine is familiarly known as the “feel good hormone”). Because they have fewer receptors, it is believed that addicts need to seek that good feeling from outside sources just to feel as good as “normal” people.
When people overeat, the brain makes food addicts experience a deeper pleasure from their eating by making them less aware of the other parts of their body. To make matters even worse, they can experience many of the same withdrawal symptoms as drug addicts. Symptoms like moodiness, irritability, depression and anger, to name a few.
But…again, we need food to stay alive, so can food addiction be controlled? It can, but it will take commitment. Here are a few things you can do if you’re addicted to food:
Think when you eat. Pay attention to the food as you eat it. This will keep you from eating mindlessly, and that will help you control the problem. Also, switching your focus from filling your stomach until you can’t eat anymore to focusing on the enjoyment of the food; savoring it. You will naturally slow down and be more aware of what you’re eating.
Write it down. Just keeping track of everything you eat will help to ease your addiction. You don’t have to share this journal with anybody, unless you choose to. That means you can feel safe writing everything down. You may be shocked at just what you’re eating and how much, but sometimes we need a jolt to get on the road to recovery.
Get help. You can get help from a counselor, your personal doctor, or a support group…or all three if you need to. Each one can help you in their own way. The main thing to remember is that you don’t have to struggle with being addicted to food alone.
Avoid your triggers. If there are certain foods that make you lose control, then avoiding them will help prevent the problem. In other words, it will be much easier to handle temptation if you are not tempted to begin with.