Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Dieters Think About Food More Often Than ‘Normal Eaters’
It’s almost a given that as soon as you start a diet, you think about food more. There are physiological and psychological reasons for this. Both hinge on the fact that if food is restricted, we end up thinking about it more.
Do you constantly have food thoughts such as:
- “I really want to eat that but I know I shouldn’t.”
- “I wish I hadn’t eaten all that.”
- “How many calories have I eaten?”
- How much will that cookie put me over my daily limit?”
Research shows that “normal eaters” think about food 15-20% of the time throughout the day, but dieters often will think about food 25-65% of their day. That’s a lot of time you could be putting to better use instead of having thoughts like the ones above.
Has A Food Obsession Started Taking Up Too Much Of Your Life?
Food (Questions) for Thought
- 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.
- Are you eating too restrictively?
Eliminating food groups or essential nutrients like carbohydrates or fat can drive cravings. It’s your body telling you you need these things.
- Are you denying yourself permission to eat certain foods that you really love?
Telling yourself you can’t eat something may make it much more appealing, if it’s just done to manage weight. (If there’s a real food sensitivity behind it, that’s a different story.)
- 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 your food focus. Is it time to declare a diet-free zone in your life?
If your answer is yes to most of these questions, your reasons for thinking about food all the time might have to do with some of these behaviors, which can be changed with a bit of awareness.
Food Obsession or Disordered Eating?
Food was pretty much all I thought about
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 you have an addiction. However, it’s a normal response to think about food when you are deprived of it.
Food is one of the greatest pleasures of life.
But should it be what you live for?
One of the saddest things about food obsession is how much it distracts from other 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; you should enjoy it, but should it be what you live for? If you feel like food, nutrition, calorie calculations, and carbo-phobia (I made that word up, but the premise is very real) are taking up way too much of your time and attention, it may be time to examine what you are doing or not doing to create such a huge focus on food in your life.
To learn about how Green Mountain can help with behaviors, such as binge eating, food addiction and food obsession, read about our our women’s healthy living retreat that pioneered the non-diet approach to health.