How To Deal With The Eating Disorder- Food Addiction?

  • 3 mins read
  • Wellbeing
  • Written by: Dr. Jatin Bhide
How To Deal With The Eating Disorder

We usually toss around the word “addiction” lightly. We say that we’re addicted to the new show on Netflix or to the pastry in our neighbourhood bakery. Somewhere in our hyperbolic speeches, the seriousness of things gets lost in translation.

One such issue is altered eating behaviours which lead to eating disorders. We’re going to talk about a serious eating disorder called food addiction.

What is food addiction?

The term food addiction is pretty self-explanatory- the addiction to food. Eating disorders or altered eating behaviours may develop due to biological, psychological, or social reasons.

People who are addicted to food have a compulsive urge to eat certain kinds of food. This feeling is not related to hunger but can be brought on in response to some emotions such as anger, sadness, stress, etc.

What’s the link between food addiction and the brain?

You must have figured out that since food addiction is related to emotions, somehow our brain is involved. When we eat food, our gut sends signals to the hindbrain about the food we are eating.

This interaction takes place via the gut-brain axis. Food addiction is thought to involve the same chemicals and areas of the brain as drug addiction.

What kind of foods trigger food addiction?

Foods that have high sugar, fat or starch content are highly palatable. While they are not inherently addictive, their flavour makes them easy to compulsively eat.

However, any foods that a person finds comforting can lead to uncontrollable urges.

Some examples of these “trigger foods” include chips, fries, candy, chocolate cookies, ice cream, etc.

What does a food addiction look like?

Food addiction can present itself in the form of physical, emotional or social symptoms. Be it obsessive food cravings or keeping themselves preoccupied with obtaining and consuming food, at times to the point of physical discomfort or pain.

People addicted to food indulge in continued binge eating and even make attempts to stop overeating which is often followed by relapses. They experience a need to eat food for some kind of emotional release. They often eat alone so as to not draw attention. Food addiction takes a toll on family life, social interaction, and finances.

Mindful eating hacks to overcome food addiction

Mindful eating can help us be more in control of what we eat. We tend to watch our portion sizes and eat healthier by practising mindful eating. This could potentially help people with food addictions.

● Chew the bite fully and to completion before starting the next one.

● Enjoy the taste slowly and fully for early satiety.

● Put the fork or spoon down after each bite. Don’t pick it up until you finish your bite.

● Do not multi-task. Eat without distractions. Avoid doing anything else while eating, such as watching TV or scrolling social media.

● Avoid buffets when possible to prevent overeating.

Lifestyle tips to adapt

Making some of these lifestyle changes can help you overcome your food addictions.

● Swap out all junk food within your reach with healthier options

● Eat more home-cooked meals

● Eat three balanced meals every day

● Exercise regularly and get enough sleep

● Reduce stress at the workplace or in a social setting

With a little help and conviction, you can overcome your food addiction. If you find it difficult to do it alone, seek support from friends and family or join a support group. If nothing helps, seek out the help of a doctor.

References

1. How to Overcome Food Addiction Available at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-overcome-food-addiction

2. Food addiction: Symptoms and management Available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319670

3. Mindfulness and (Addictive) Eating Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfulness-insights/202003/mindfulness-and-addictive-eating

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