Before You Label Yourself As A Food Addict
“I just can’t eat sugar. Once I start eating I just cannot stop.”
“If I don’t eat sugar, I don’t seem to crave it much, but once I start eating it the cravings come back full force.”
“I’ve tried everything to manage my weight and I’m really thinking I may have a physical addiction to food.”
While I don’t doubt that some of us may have undesirable physical responses to such foods, I don’t immediately assume you are a sugar addict just because eating sweets in moderation is a struggle. In fact, there are at least two things I recommend you look at before you label yourself as addicted to food.
Take A Look at These Two Things First
Step 1: Take a Closer Look at the Ingredients
If you feel like a specific food is problematic, I suggest taking a closer look at the make-up of that food. For example, cookies. You may feel that once you start eating cookies, you just can’t stop. Does this mean you are a food addict and are responding to the starch and sugar in this food? Not necessarily.
Are You Really Satisfied?
You may be responding to the fact that cookies are missing some key ingredients that help us feel satisfied. For satisfaction, carbohydrates and fats are important, and cookies provide both of those. However, protein, fiber, and fluid-containing foods are also important for satisfaction, and cookies lack those. So, you may keep eating. And eating. Searching for satisfaction.
Fix The Nutrition Piece First
Cookies eaten as a snack vs cookies as part of a well-balanced meal may feel quite different to you. Even cookies with a glass of milk, to add some protein, may be enough of a modification to help you feel more satisfied. I encourage you to play around with combinations first before throwing in the towel and assuming you can’t eat something because they are addicted to it.
Step 2: Take a Closer Look at your Opinions
Moving on, if you are still focused on eating more of the same foods after you’ve corrected the balance, the next thing I would look at is what you think about the food. Often your opinion of specific foods plays a major role in influencing how much of them you eat or how often you reach for them.
Do you believe you shouldn’t eat a particular food because of the calories, fat or sugar it contains? That can lead to feelings of deprivation, which may actually make you think about it more and end up eating more of that food in the long run as deprivation can trigger binge eating.
Evaluate Your Relationship With Food
If, after experimenting with different combinations and truly giving yourself permission to eat the food, you still experience increased hunger and intense food cravings, then I’d recommend you take a closer look at whether or not something physiological is going on.
However, starting with food addiction may be putting the cart before the horse. Ruling out balance issues and evaluating your relationship with the food is a better (and easier) place to start.
Are there any foods that you’ve changed your relationship with through this process?