When we hear the word addiction, we immediately think of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs; however, there is one substance that is often overlooked even though it is causing serious health problems: food. Yes, food addiction really is a thing, and it affects more people than you even realize. Now, how to stop food addiction is a big question that many of us ask.
Addictions release dopamine and endorphins, the feel good chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are responsible for the comforting, stress relieving feelings that drug users feel when they get their fix, and many foods cause the exact same responses. Foods that are rich in salt, fat, and sugar trigger the same centers in the brain as heroin and cocaine, leading to a food addiction.
Food addiction may often be ignored, but there are several symptoms that indicate when a person is suffering from this disorder. People suffering from food addiction often continue to eat well after they are full, resulting in a greater chance of obesity.
Food addicts also tend to develop tolerances to certain foods, which causes them to eat more and more of their favorite foods than they ever did before without feeling the same sense of satisfaction.
Like substance abuse, food addiction can have a significant impact on personal relationships, behavior, and health, but many food addicts must also deal with obesity and obesity related illnesses. They know their eating habits are causing problems, but they often feel powerless to overcome their addiction even though they try to change their behavior. The good news is, food addiction does not have to control your life.
How to Stop Food Addiction for Good!
The first step in fighting your addiction is to determine whether you truly have a problem. Researchers at Yale have developed a questionnaire that can help you figure out whether your eating habits are normal, and whether you make your eating decisions based on your emotions. If any of the following apply to you, you may have a food addiction:
- Eating past the point of being full, even if you begin to feel ill
- Constantly overeating certain foods, even when you make conscious efforts to limit the amount you eat
- Going out of your way to get certain foods if they are not readily available
- Eating certain foods takes precedence over working, recreational activities, and family time
- Avoiding social gatherings out of fear of overeating a particular food that may be available
- Eating food in response to negative feelings
- You eat more and more of certain foods in an attempt to feel pleasure, even when that pleasure is no longer reached.
- You experience guilt, embarrassment, or self-loathing after overeating
- You feel as if you cannot control the amounts or types of foods you eat
If these statements apply to you, it is time for you to change your eating habits and determine how to stop food addiction. There are several things you can do to try to stop your food addiction.
The first step is to determine which foods your body actually needs for proper nutrition, and which foods are considered treats. Many of the foods you eat to feed your addiction are full of fat, sugar, and salt. These foods are considered hyperpalatables, because they taste good and your body craves them. Most of these foods are the grab and go variety like chips, snack cakes, and candies.
The best way to figure out how to stop food addiction is to begin buying healthy foods that require you to cook. You need to choose foods that are high in nutritional value like fruits, vegetables, and foods that are high in protein and fiber rather than those that are full of refined fats and sugars. The best way to do this is to always read the labels on the foods you purchase. If they are high in fat, put them back on the shelf and choose a healthier option.
Stopping your food addiction also requires you to understand how your favorite foods affect your brain. The constant barrage of sugary, high fat foods causes your brain to require more and more of them, yet the pleasurable feelings become less and less. This leads to constant overeating in an attempt to feel the pleasure you are used to.
In order to counteract these effects, you need to make a serious effort to remove the foods from your diet that you know will make you overeat. This means you need to remove these foods from your home, and in some instances, this may also mean you need to avoid certain places and people that act as a trigger for your overeating.
While these changes may seem very difficult, there are foods that will help your brain adjust to them. Healthy foods like spinach, sesame seeds, watermelon, tofu, and avocados all increase the feel good chemicals in a natural way. When these foods are eaten with foods high in fiber and protein, they will help you feel satisfied so you no longer crave the sugary, high fat foods that feed your addiction.
If you often find yourself overeating or reaching for the foods you crave due to boredom, you need to find activities to keep you occupied. Exercise is a great boredom killer, and it will help you be healthier and lose weight. You can also take up reading, gardening, or even simply taking a walk to avoid boredom.
It is important to remember that food addiction is difficult to overcome, due in large part to the sheer number of enticing foods that are so readily available. If you find yourself slipping back into your old habits, you should consider professional help. Addiction is a disease, and seeking out a psychiatrist, therapist, nutritionist, or other professional will help you stop your food addiction. There are also many 12 step programs available like Food Addicts Anonymous that will help you learn how to overcome your food addiction in a gradual, successful way. Many of these programs will also help you develop an eating plan that will help you avoid the foods and ingredients that continue to feed your addiction. Learn how to stop food addiction now!