Food addiction is…

addictedtojunkfood-page2356Being full to the point of feeling sick and still wanting to eat.

Waking up and immediately thinking about breakfast.

Finishing breakfast and immediately wanting a snack.

Finishing the snack and immediately thinking about lunch.

Constantly eating until the point of uncomfortable fullness.

Getting bad news and wanting to eat.

Getting good news and wanting to eat.

Not getting any news and wanting to eat.

Eating your sorrows.

Eating your loneliness.

Eating your frustrations.

Eating your stress.

Eating your joy.

Eating your boredom.

Eating your numbness.

Eating your apathy.

Eating and never feeling satisfied because what you need isn’t food.

Not being able to stop once you realize this.

Your life revolving around food.

Food addiction is not an easy thing to explain to people who don’t have it. It’s a popular concept that you can beat this addiction by just not eating excessively. But if it was that simple, food addiction wouldn’t exist. The truth is that food addiction is a complex and dastardly issue that is incredibly difficult to deal with.

In other addictions the person suffering can go without. If the person is an alcoholic, they can avoid alcohol and places that serve it. If they are addicted to drugs they can stop using and going places where they might be tempted to use. But food is vital to human health and life itself. You’re going to be hard pressed to find places that carry no food. And even if you do, you have to eat several times a day in order to not die.

Food addiction is part compulsion. You feel compelled to eat. Not out of hunger but for every reason other than hunger. Trying to talk yourself out of it is an effort in futility. For a while, the guilt of being a fatty can stop you. But after a while, even that doesn’t matter. You’d gladly gain 400 pounds if you could have the joy of eating something again. When your weight is out of control and nothing you do stops you from eating, you have a serious problem and no amount of telling yourself to put down the fork is going to work.

But part of the problem is the overwhelming guilt and self-defeating ideas that go along with food addiction. With society telling you that all you have to do is put down the fork, the reality that you can’t just fills you with guilt, shame and feelings of helplessness. And once you accept that you’re helpless, the battle is lost.

People need to accept that food addiction is a serious problem that needs medical attention. It’s not an easy fix and simple matter that we can just solve by eating less. The compulsion to eat is sometimes born from abnormal biology, sometimes from mental illness, or emotional issues. Sometimes it’s a combination. But regardless of why someone has food addiction, the only way for them to deal with it is through support, understanding and compassion.

It’s hard for me to tell someone just how consuming and frustrating this problem is, but this is a start. The knee jerk reactions to food, weight, and weight-related issues news to shift from the automatic assumption that it can be simply cured by putting down the fork. Weight is a medical problem and needs to be handled by professionals.