Is it possible to be addicted to food? How can you be addicted to a substance you have to consume to stay alive?
Yes it is.
When scanning the brain of a food addict thinking about food, the scan shows changes nearly identical with the brain changes of a drug addict or alcoholic thinking about drinking or drugs. Most of the time the food being contemplated by the food addict is rich and calorie dense, such as pizza, chocolate cake and ice cream, or pastas.
Another similarity of food and other substance addicts is that they often have fewer receptors for dopamine, the “feel good chemical”. It could be that in order to feel good, food addicts have to eat more in order to reach the same state as a non addict.
Over eating leads the brain to over emphasize the sensation and pleasure of eating by decreasing the awareness of other body parts and focusing on tastes and smells. Food addicts often go through similar withdrawal symptoms as drug addicts, the symptoms include anger, depression, irritability and moodiness.
Food addiction can be controlled. Even if you’re not addicted to food the tips below can help you lose weight:
1) Keep a Journal
Writing down what you eat and how you feel when you eat can help you pinpoint danger areas. Seeing what you’ve eaten in a 24 hour period brings home just how much of your life is controlled by food.
2) Learn About Food
As strange as it sounds, many people are overweight because they don’t know that much about food. Sure, you know what tastes good and what doesn’t, but do you really know what your food is made up of, and how your body uses it? Take the time to learn about your food. It will be time well invested – when you’re aware of the ingredients, you’re less likely to put harmful foods into your body, and more likely to choose healthy options.
3) Identify Your Triggers
Once you know your triggers, you can set goals to eliminate them. Certain foods are proven to be triggers to out of control eating and if you know what they are for yourself, you can avoid them. Triggers can also include events, such as holidays, even people, if you know someone irritates you and your reaction is to eat, avoid that person if possible.
4) Focus on the Food
Focus on the food. It sounds counter productive to emphasize food when that’s all you can think about, but the idea is to focus on foods that you sincerely enjoy, not just on filling up your stomach with whatever is at hand. Food addicts in some ways have it harder than other addicts, because they can’t give up food, they need to control it.
5) Slow Down
Slow down when you eat. Use small plates, put your fork down between bites and have multiple courses rather than everything on the table or on your plate at once. Drink water between bites and take at least 30 minutes to eat your meals.
6) Consult Your Doctor
Check with your doctor and insurance to see if you qualify for a medically managed weight loss program. These doctor supervised programs can be a great way to lose weight. They are expensive, but not nearly as costly as a visit to a weight loss clinic. Meals are pre-portioned, and you attend weekly meetings. Your doctor will help you develop an exercise program, as well. If you’re considering a weight loss clinic, this may be a viable option for you.
7) Order Pre-Made Meals
Online weight loss sites are offering pre-made meals, as well. You may be able to order frozen breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks that are already correctly portioned. This can be a great way to get your weight loss off the ground, without leaving your home to attend a weight loss clinic or fat camp. Add in your daily exercise, and you’re on your way to a healthier physique.
8) Attend Boot Camp
Check to see if your local gym offers a boot camp. More and more fitness clubs are offering these high intensity programs. If yours does, give it a try. It’s a great way to get fit and lose fat in a hurry, without the expense of a weight loss clinic.
Join a support group. People who are facing the same challenges as you can provide the positive support you need. Knowing you’re not alone can boost your morale.
10) Stay Dedicated
Don’t give up. Your first efforts at controlling food consumption might not be successful, but that doesn’t mean all your efforts will fail. See the positive progress you’ve made rather than getting discouraged and sliding back into your old habits.
Check with your doctor, local gym, and online to see what help is available in your area and if you can, work with professionals to take you to the next level.