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WHAT IS A FOOD ADDICTION?

AM I A FOOD ADDICT?

I DON’T WANT TO BE A FOOD ADDICT!

So, you have tried and struggled with diet after diet after detox and exercise program, and nothing works. And you feel like you just cannot go on like this, but there isn’t anything else that works to do and you’ve had it with your life, you’ve had it with your body shape and you’ve had it with everything! You just want this problem to go away and you want to stop feeling so crazy about food and everything else in your life!

I understand. Really, I do. Many of my clients come to me feeling this way. Now the solution is to stop treating the symptoms and to find and fix the real problem. If you have an ear infection, you may go to your primary care physician or to your ENT. What if that doctor gave you a decongestant and a pain reliever? You would feel better, right? But not really. The infection would still be there. We would have solved the symptoms, but not the problem. The infection will return.

This is what happens with problems with food, eating and body weight. If we apply the wrong solution, we may get some relief of the symptoms, but we won’t get long term peace. So, it is essential, to find the real answer.

I don’t know what the exact right answer is for you. But I have been working with people with problems with food, eating, and body weight for many years, and I want to tell you what I have learned and help you figure out what the truth is for you.

I believe that food addiction is a genetically inherited, physiological, glitch in your body’s ability to digest and metabolize certain foods, mostly processed, sweetened, and man-made foods. It’s a weird kind of allergy – when you get some of the food your brain gets hijacked and you want more and more. Kind of like the little old lady who is allergic to cats but has eleven.

The National Council on Alcoholism and the American Society of Addiction Medicine have defined alcoholism as “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestation. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of the drug despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial”

Now if we changed that to your food use, would you say that there are others in your family with problems with food or alcohol? Do you think our society pushes us to eat more of the wrong kinds of foods, and is it hard for you not to do that? Do you often feel out of control with food or eating? Have you tried to change your food intake repeatedly, without long-term success?  Do you often minimize or avoid discussing your problems with others?

If many of these ring true for you, maybe you do have an addictive relationship with certain foods.  I never believed in food addiction either, till I began working with people who called it that; and I could not deny their experiences. I had to believe that they were having the experiences they described in our sessions.

But what convinced me absolutely were the withdrawal symptoms. When people stopped eating certain foods, they had a particular set of symptoms. Sometimes I would tell the client about the symptoms, and she would tell me she had them at the next session. So then, I would not tell the next client about the symptoms, but ask about them at the next session. These clients reported the same symptoms: nausea, headaches, strong cravings, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and diarrhea alternating with constipation. And on the same days.

Now I knew something physical was going on. You cannot have these physical reactions to withdrawal of the certain foods, if there is not a physical attachment or sensitivity ……. or addiction.

What about you. Does this fit for you? And is there a solution? Yes, absolutely there is. Let’s talk about that next.

Don’t go away. There is hope and healing and joy coming!

Please page down and leave me a comment or question. I’d love to hear from you!

Blessings to you,

Theresa

4 Responses to WHAT IS A FOOD ADDICTION?

  1. Melanie March 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm #

    Theresa, Last year I was going to a therapist – an extremely brainy lady, who also specializes in addiction and trauma therapy. She does believe 100% in food addiction, but she also 100% believes that it is a process addiction, like gambling or shopping. As a food addict, I know what I know, and she is simply wrong. I can never eat a cookie sanely and without consequences. But then sometimes I wonder…is she completely wrong? When I have had a long period of good abstinence, but I find myself yearning for excess food to comfort me, is that physiological or is that behavioral? Without any substance triggers, do I just want to repeat a behavior I know has consoled me in the past? Is it possible that food addiction is both? And maybe that’s why it is so very hard? Well just thinking out loud here!

  2. Theresa Wright March 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm #

    “I can never eat a cookie sanely and without consequences.” Do you believe what you wrote? Food addiction is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. In it, the neurotransmitters in your brain are changed, and I believe permanently. If you have had a long period of good abstinence, I hope you have found non-food ways to comfort yourself. If you haven’t , then please do that now. I don’t think there is any cookie in the world worth sacrificing a long period of good abstinence for. And I do not believe it is worth the risk of a large longterm relapse.Yes, food addiction has a large emotional component. And the triggers in America today are strong and widespread.But if you believe that you cannot eat a cookie sanely and without consequences, why would you want to repeat that behavior? Instead, deal with and process the feeling and comfort yourself in a non food way. If you want suggestions for that, please call me.Blessings to you.

  3. Maria March 21, 2018 at 4:19 pm #

    I struggle with the whole issue of food addiction as it relates to my situation. I definitely believe in food addiction, but what about someone (like me) who can “sometimes” eat bread or other processed foods and be “okay,” and at other times, this sets of a binge that can last days? Also, can you share your thoughts on “volume addiction” as it relates to food or just the process of constantly wanting something to eat? I can binge on anything–it doesn’t have to be a high sugar food or a highly palatable food. I can binge on raw broccoli which, while not very damaging in terms of overall calories, is still damaging in terms of the behavior and feeling like I always want to eating something. I suspect that the treatment recommendations would be the same for someone with a volume addiction or just a feeling of always wanting to eat (i.e., planned, measured meals), but I would appreciate hearing any thoughts you might have on the subject.

    • H. Theresa Wright April 8, 2018 at 9:37 pm #

      We will be discussing this more specifically in future posts, but this is part of the way addiction works. Often one serving, either because of what is eaten with it, or because of the way the hormones and neurotransmitters are stimulated, or your emotional or spiritual state, you have no immediate reaction. The big reaction comes the next time. And we never know when.
      Since the stomach makes neurotransmitters and other chemicals that are released into the bloodstream and then go to the brain, that might be why you want to eat excess amounts. And sometimes the constant cravings can come from a small volume of food you are sensitive to, and, not realizing, eat regularly. Or there could be emotions involved. I cannot tell without a real assessment. Talk to your physician, sponsor, dietitian, Higher Power, and other trusted advisers about this problem and how to solve it. Please don’t try to tackle this alone.

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