What is food addiction?
Have you ever had cravings so powerful that they are all you can think about?
You have withdrawals that need to be fulfilled. As the day goes on, your thoughts become more and more frantic if you don’t satisfy these withdrawals.
Typically, this is how people who are addicted to coffee, cigarettes or alcohol feel. Without their hit, they are a mess.
But it might surprise you to learn that you can experience the exact same addiction with food.
It’s called food addiction. It’s very real and can be very serious.
Of course, it’s the food that’s bad for you that’s most addictive – you don’t see people addicted to salad.
Your hit of chocolate, your biscuit-fix, your lolly habit, your morning muffin, your regular cheeseburger, your refreshing Coca-Cola…
Your exact food addiction is probably unique to you. But one thing is common…
If this food is not part of your daily routine, you experience withdrawals.
It’s because sweet and fatty foods cause you to feel good. Really, really good.
You know when you take that first bite of chocolate you get that “ahhh” feeling? Feels heavenly, right?
This is your brain rewarding you for eating sugary fatty food. And it’s that very feeling that becomes addictive.
So addictive, studies confirm that sugar can be even more addictive than cocaine 
Once addicted, you become reliant on sugary, fatty foods as a coping mechanism.
If untreated, food addiction can lead to weight gain and associated medical issues. And if you try to skip your addiction, you can experience withdrawals, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
That’s why food addiction should be treated as soon as possible – your future self will thank you.
At the Happy Body Clinic, we can help you overcome your food addiction once and for good.
Are you ready to overcome your food addiction?
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I’m going to level with you:
It’s completely normal to enjoy food.
Just because you bite into a chocolate bar and feel overwhelming pleasure doesn’t mean you are addicted to it.
Let me repeat that:
Enjoying food is perfectly healthy and does not mean you are addicted to it.
It’s when this enjoyment comes at the cost of your mental and physical well-being that you may have food addiction.
Let’s take a closer look at some common behaviors associated with food addiction.
Cravings – You frequently think about food and struggle with the desire to eat, to the point it can be difficult to concentrate.
Routine – You eat your food at a specific time each day and suffer withdrawals if you skip it.
Moodiness – You feel irritable and grumpy if you have gone without your addictive food that day.
Lack of self-control – You find it hard not to eat those foods if they are around (either in your pantry or within easy reach).
Hoarding – You make sure you have a stash of your food on hand.
Hard to break habit – If you manage to go without your addictive food for a few days or weeks, you don’t miss it. But if you have a taste again, you relapse.
Feelings of guilt – You feel guilty that you are stuck in a cycle of eating this food but can’t give it up.
Justification – You tell yourself that your addictive habit isn’t harmful – once a day won’t hurt you.
Replacement – You have moved from one addictive substance to another. You may have given up smoking, but are now using food in the same manner.
I have counselled many clients suffering from food addiction over the years. Here are a few of the common foods that they have been addicted to:
- Fruit Juice
- Soft Drinks
Fatty and Salty Foods
- Butter and Cream
- Fried Chicken
- French Fries
- Potato Chips
- Salted nuts
- Breakfast Cereal
- Buttered bread and rolls
- Salted and flavored crackers (Pizza Shapes)
While these are the most common addictive foods, you might be addicted to something completely different.
That’s the fascinating thing about food addiction? It’s unique to you.
It’s this reliance on food combined with the negative behaviors I listed earlier that can strongly indicate a food addiction.
Before you seek treatment, you should know that food addiction is often confused with other eating issues or disorders…
Compulsive overeating: When you regularly eat after you are full or when you are not hungry. E.g After finishing dinner, you go for seconds – you don’t hide the fact you overeat.
Binge Eating: Binge Eating Disorder is also a psychological illness. It’s where you frequently eat large amounts of food in private, quickly and in a single sitting – even when you are not hungry.
Then there are more serious eating disorders…
If you overeat your addictive food and then compensate by forcing yourself to vomit, over exercise, skip meals or take laxatives, then it‘s possible you have Anorexia or Bulimia.
To make things even more confusing, you can have more than one eating disorder or issue at a time (we can help you overcome any of these).
Fortunately, there is a simple test you can take to determine if you have an eating disorder, and which one. All you have to do is take a test…
The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q). This test accompanies a medical examination (called the EDE) that will be administered by your doctor, who will diagnose your eating disorder and prescribe treatment.
You can also take this test yourself online for free, however it will only reveal if you potentially have an eating disorder. It won’t provide a diagnosis or further details – you need to see your Doctor for that.
If your Doctor determines that you do have an eating disorder or eating issue that’s causing you stress, you may be eligible for medicare funded treatment under one of two different plans:
1. Eating Disorder Management Plan (EDMP) – allows eligible clients with an eating disorder to access medicare rebates for up to 40 sessions of Psychological under an eating disorder psychological treatment plan (EDPT.)
2. Mental Health Care Plan (MHP) – provides up to 20 individual and 20 group sessions of Psychology therapy per year. The mental health care plan is prescribed to treat mental health symptoms that an eating issue can trigger, such as anxiety or depression.
Please discuss these options with your doctor. Happy Body Clinic is able to provide treatment under both of these plans with a referral from your doctor.
As always, too much of a good thing is bad for you. And food addiction is no exception.
You see, overloading your body with too much fatty or sugary food can take a heavy toll on your body and mind.
Here are some of the health issues our clients have faced who suffer from food addiction:
Physical Health Issues
Long-term food addiction can lead to a variety of physical health issues, all of which can dramatically decrease your quality of life.
- Obesity – All that fatty food has to go somewhere. People with food addiction are at serious risk of becoming overweight.
- Acid Refluxstomach with fat and sugar can lead to acid reflux, cramping and heartburn. In serious cases, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or even rupture your stomach.
- High Blood Pressure – Food addiction and fatty foods can lead to high blood pressure, which puts you at greater risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Physical Problems – Replacing healthy food with addictive food reduces your intake of essential nutrients, making you more vulnerable to poor health and disease.
- Type 2 Diabetes – If you are addicted to sugar and fatty foods, you are more likely to get Type 2 diabetes, a lifelong disease.
Mental Health Issues
While the mental issues cannot be seen, they can have a worse impact on your everyday life than the physical issues.
- Helplessness – The feeling that no matter what you do, you won’t overcome this food addiction.
- Obsession – An unhealthy fixation with eating specific types of food.
- Mood Swings – Excessive highs and lows from drastic changes to your blood sugar levels.
- Embarrassment – Over sensitivity to comments from others about your weakness.
- Shame – Feelings of guilt and self-hatred, especially after failing to overcome your food addiction.
- Distress – Experiencing, irritability, depression or anxiety, especially after depriving yourself of your addictive food.
Obviously, you don’t want any of these health problems, right? In a healthy person, just the risk of these medical issues would stop someone binge eating for good.
But food addiction is a mental health issue – even knowing the worst possible outcome, you cannot stop this impulsive behavior.
That is why you need professional help, to return to a balanced mental state before food addiction causes you further health problems.