Food Addiction is Real!May 8, 2023
Food Addiction is Real! Have you ever wondered why someone can take one square of a chocolate bar and put the rest away for later? Why are some people satisfied with one bite of cake, while others can stuff their mouths with frosting until they are ill? Why can one person save the leftover pizza for lunch the next day, while another recklessly finishes off the pie (while at the same time desperately wanting to lose weight)?
The reason is this: Our brains react differently to the same foods.
Some people’s brains are wired in a way that makes cravings overpowering and overeating an inevitability.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, I am talking about Food Addiction.
Addiction is defined as: an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior despite known consequences and the genuine and persistent desire to stop.
You might be addicted to food if:
- You start and fail diet after diet
- Your weight is causing health issues, yet you find it hard to change your eating
- You hate being overweight but continue to overeat
- You often eat to the point of being sick
- You feel guilt/shame around your eating
In the same way that some people easily enjoy just one glass of wine while others just can’t stop until they are blackout drunk, some people can enjoy just one cookie while others can’t stop until they have finished the whole box.
It comes down to brain science. Some people’s brains react strongly to the release of pleasure hormones that occur when we eat processed foods or foods high in sugar and flour. Some people’s brains will develop a dependency on these “feel-good” hormones that make it almost impossible to stop coming back for more. Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others. These people are not lazy, undisciplined or lacking in willpower. The addictive pathways in the brain hijack rationality and make suppressing food cravings almost impossible (without the right treatment).
Why is this important?
As you know, Bariatric Surgery only fixes our stomachs, not our brains. While most people will lose a significant amount of weight during the post-surgical “honeymoon” period, cravings and disordered eating will unfortunately return after about six months to a year. After this time, weight loss trajectories will change and patients often begin to regain weight.
Unfortunately, education around food addiction and its treatment is sorely lacking. As a result, many of the professionals bariatric patients turn to when struggling with their eating receive advice that is GUARANTEED to keep them in cycles of overeating and despair.
If you struggle with food addiction, you need a tailored plan to help you reset your brain. A plan of food addiction recovery involves identifying and eliminating triggering foods. Just as an alcoholic needs to abstain from all alcohol to achieve recovery, abstaining from triggering foods is the most powerful tool we can use to quiet overwhelming food cravings. Turning to professionals who promote including all foods in moderation, cheat days or intuitive eating without also acknowledging the foods that light up a food addict’s addictive pathways is truly misguided.
It is also helpful to work with a professional to help you address the reasons why you continued to turn to food in the first place. An excellent food addiction recovery program addresses both the physical dependency and the mental resilience required for recovery. The great news is, with the right plan, a food addict can gain control of their eating. A life free from food obsession and overeating is possible!
Giving up some of our favorite foods can be a difficult pill to swallow. The good news is that dealing with our food addiction, finally quieting the mental chatter around food, gaining control and confidence in our lives and achieving a comfortable body size make it all worth it over and over again. Food Addiction therapy is not about restriction and control, it’s about overcoming our personal hurdles to become our best selves. You deserve to shake off the dark clouds of compulsive overeating, and to shine your light into the world.
If you are tired of failing diet after diet and want to finally change your relationship with food FOR GOOD, I recommend starting with a Food Addiction Assessment. It may be the missing key to your weight loss journey.
Pamela Mekuz is a Food Addiction Counselor at Life Is Sweet Counseling that specializes in bariatric clients.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pamela Mekuz is a Food Addiction Counselor at Life Is Sweet Counseling that specializes in bariatric clients. She helps pre- and post-operative individuals treat the underlying addictive brain patterns that cause overeating. As a bariatric client and a food addict in recovery, Pamela understands first hand what it takes to finally eliminate cravings, stop binging and achieve sustainable weight loss.