Symptoms of food addiction and how to get rid of it

At first glance, dependence on food and seems like a rather strange thing, since its main purpose is to enable a person to survive. But while food provides survival, our brains are designed so that we do more than just get energy from eating food. Food is enjoyable, and this is a clear characteristic of the survival instinct. Like other substances that affect the pleasure centers located in the brain, food can over-influence these centers. This creates a level of motivation to consume food that is higher than normal.

As recent studies show, excessive consumption of certain foods can cause addiction. Among the foods studied, the most often the subject of addiction are: sugar, salt, flour products and some fats. In itself, the abuse of these products can create conditions for the transition from a common food habit to a pathological dependence comparable to drug addiction. Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in the consumption of these products, which makes it possible to judge the increase in the incidence of food addiction.

Symptoms of food addiction
1. Increased consumption for a long time. Are you constantly increasing your food intake? For example, can you state the fact that you are currently consuming more food than a year ago? Food cravings are on the rise, especially for the refined foods mentioned above.

2. Tolerance (stability) is a key symptom of pathological addiction. Tolerance is understood as the need to consume certain foods in increasing quantities in order to achieve the desired result. The pleasure that a person seeks to achieve with food is a certain emotional state, such as calmness or the elimination of negative emotions (excitement, anxiety). A sign of developed tolerance is the moment when you notice that compared to other people, you really do consume more food.

3. Anxiety against the background of hunger is another sign of pathological addiction. The difficulty in determining this symptom lies in the fact that in those moments when a person experiences hunger, his condition is characterized by the definition of “discomfort”. True, unlike people experiencing ordinary hunger, pathological addiction is characterized by the emergence of anxiety or panic against the background of hunger, which are not characteristic signs of this physiological state.

4. Concern. The next sign is that the addicted person spends more time getting the desired product, while the usual daily activities take much less time than before. A person ceases to pay the previous attention and time to social activity and his main work.

5. Unsuccessful attempts to independently interrupt food addiction. Addiction is also characterized by repeated attempts to stop overeating through diets. However, the inability to lose weight through diet does not allow judging the presence of food addiction. Its presence is evidenced by numerous attempts to switch to dietary food, ending with episodes of binge eating, and their short duration.

6. Persist in following your habits despite the consequences. Despite the fact that pathological dependence on food leads to a number of serious consequences, a person is not able to quit the habit on his own. The greatest threat is posed by such consequences as: physical, psychological problems, as well as problems associated with human relationships. These changes develop even when the addiction exists for a long period of time. For example, individuals may be severely obese or develop type II diabetes, but will nevertheless persist in their eating habits.

How to deal with food addiction
Addiction completely conquers your mind. The areas of the brain that regulate decision-making, motivation, and memory begin to be controlled with the participation of food substances. This explains the apparent irrationality of the actions of the dependent person or manifestations of character. Such people are no longer in control of their choice. The goal of treatment is to regain control.

If you suspect that you are addicted to food, you should seek the help of a physician specializing in nutrition or addiction treatment. This can be a psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed consultant. You can also see a licensed mental health professional.
Do not despair, pathological food addiction is not a hopeless disease. Of course, to overcome it, some work will be required. In order to achieve effective results, talking about the problem alone is not enough.
In this case, you will need a number of steps that will confidently lead to a positive result:

1. Detoxification. A balanced diet is an important step towards recovery. The elimination of refined foods such as simple sugars, flour products, excess fats and even salt is necessary, at least for the first time. Some new diets involve the inclusion of such foods in limited quantities, but, nevertheless, they should be eliminated from your diet, as this will free your brain from “captivity” and return the ability to control.

2. Elimination of irritants. It is fundamentally important to remove from the house all foods that you tend to overeat, even if they are not refined. Such food has the potential to stimulate binge eating and will pose a constant threat due to its availability. It is desirable that family members are in solidarity with you, then it will be much easier to achieve success.

3. Creation of the correct diet. As a rule, people who are addicted to food eat irregularly, often have snacks, and eat at an unusual time for eating. The goal of treating such people is to develop a regimen that includes 3 main meals and 2 snacks. For this, an alarm clock is often used, which reminds of the time of a meal, according to the new regimen. This ultimately leads to a “reset” of the dietary clock.

4. Support group. Communicate with people with whom you have a common problem. This is a real help in overcoming addiction. While family and friends are trying to understand you, it will be very effective to communicate with like-minded people who are ready to discuss the problem with you, help you find a way out.

5. Logging. Stress and other negative emotions become triggers for a renewed food addiction. Keeping a journal of your food intake and your emotional background makes it easier to understand the relationship between mood and increased food intake.

6. Control stress. Effective stress reduction strategies can help you manage your food cravings. Among them, the most popular are relaxation exercises, meditation, music and physical activity.

7. Exercise. Regular exercise is a significant part of treatment because it not only minimizes stress, but also promotes weight loss, increases self-control over food intake, and improves eating behavior in addicts.

8. Return to the old way of life. In the end, with the help of consultants, you will be able to create a more manageable life. Behavior caused by food addiction is replaced by sustainable behavior. You gradually give up those habits that do not suit you in life. Other things regain their former value and you achieve significant goals in life that are no longer dictated or driven by food addictions.

It is important to note that weight loss is not the main and final goal of treatment, except that it helps to regain control over eating behavior. Losing weight occurs during the course of treatment and can become a goal, the achievement of which is provided only in a short period of time.