There are over 70 million people worldwide battling food addiction. Someone who is addicted to food has similar characteristics as someone who becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Research shows that foods high in salt or sugar content trigger the brain’s pleasure sensors, giving off a feeling of euphoria. A person will binge on unhealthy food to induce those feelings of intense satisfaction. Someone with a food addiction leaves themselves open to emotional and physical issues including obesity, heart disease, and low self-esteem.
The first part to overcome an addiction is looking for the warning signals and admit you have a problem. Common warning signs to look out for food addiction include:
- Having cravings despite being full.
- Eating more than you intend to.
- Eating until you feel “stuffed.”
- Feeling guilty about it, but continuing to do it again and again.
- Making up excuses for why it is okay to give in to a craving.
- Hiding your addiction from others.
- And not being able to quit despite the physical issues you are experiencing.
If you can relate to one or more of these symptoms, you may have an eating disorder. Luckily, taking the following five steps will help you to overcome being addicted to food.
Change Your Relationship with Food
Unlike any other type of addiction, you can’t simply give up food. Food is essential to life so the only way to beat an addiction without starving yourself is to change your perception of food. Distinguish the difference between eating because you are hungry and eating out of habit.
Most importantly, stop using food as a type of reward. Instead, find rewards in other aspects of life that will improve your health like going on a walk or meditating.
Set Boundaries and Goals
Start off with small goals for changing the way you eat. Giving up everything all at once is a sure way to set yourself up for failure. You will break any type of diet you try when you go from one extreme to other. Set small goals at first like drinking eight glasses of water a day or limiting the number of meals you eat. You’ll feel a higher sense of accomplishment when you take things day-by-day.
You shouldn’t have to feel like you are completely restricting yourself when starting out. It is wise to not have problematic food in the house, but that doesn’t mean giving it up altogether. Edward Abramson author of Emotional Eating suggests to keep tempting food out of the house so that it becomes an effort to go get it. For example, if you love a bowl of ice cream after dinner, make sure that you don’t have a carton of it sitting in your freezer.
Create and Follow a Meal Plan
A better way to be sure you stay on track with changing your relationship with food is to create a weekly meal plan. You are less likely to deviate from it. Now, after a long day at work, you can come home with an idea in mind of what you are having for dinner. Want to make cooking less of a chore? Do a bunch of meal prep the week before. Take care of items like preparing meats, boiling eggs, and making up homemade snacks. With all the meal prep behind you, you will be less likely to go after something unhealthy.
Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried all of the above and are still struggling with food addiction, it is time to seek out help from a professional. Beating addiction is tough if you try to go at it alone. Working with a nutritionist or medical professional gives you the extra support needed for recovery.
Food addiction is a real thing and if unaddressed can lead to a whole lot of health problems. With the help from loved ones, professionals, and self-motivation you can change your relationship with food and become the perfect picture of health.