It's almost a given that as soon as someone starts a diet, they think about food more. Isn't it the case that we always want what we cannot have? If we tell ourselves we cannot have food, we'll want it more and probably end up thinking about it more.
Many of you who know me are aware that I used to struggle with disordered eating. I went from anorexia, to binge eating, to bulimia. I honestly can recall days when I was so depressed I didn't want to get out of bed, but then when I thought about being able to eat, I'd muster the motivation to get up. At that point in my life, food was pretty much all I thought about.
I can see how people struggling with constant food thoughts would begin to label their relationship with food as obsessive or call it food addiction. Constantly thinking about food and nutrition can make it appear like we have an addiction. However, it seems like a normal response to think about food when we are deprived of it. To me it almost seems like a defense mechanism the body utilizes, especially when it comes to undereating.
One of the saddest things about obsessing about food it how much it distracts us from other more important things. When I was struggling with disordered eating and hyper-focused on food, there was not much else going on in my life. Looking back, I feel robbed of some pretty important years of my life since there was a lot of good stuff I think I missed out on.
Food is great; we should enjoy it, but should it be what we live for? If we feel like food and nutrition is taking up way too much of our time and attention, it may be time to examine what we are doing to create such a huge focus on food in our lives. Here are a few questions I would suggest pondering if you feel obsessed with food:
1. Are you eating enough? Trying to cut your intake to a low caloric level or tiny portions may be the cause of your food focus. Under-eating is sure to trigger constant food thoughts.
2. Are you eating too restrictively? For example, eliminating food groups or essential nutrients like carbohydrate or fat.
3. Are you denying yourself permission to eat certain foods that you really love? Telling yourself you cannot eat something may make it much more appealing.
4. Are other people the source of your food focus? Spending time with others who constantly talk about food, dieting, calories, grams of this or that, may be fueling our food focus. Maybe watching the Food Network 24-7 falls in this category too.