Jan 07

Food Addiction – Six Tips to Beat It

emotional eating food addiction

What triggers your desires to feed your addiction?

“I worry most about those who say they don’t have a bad relationship with food.”

When my weight-loss-surgery support group’s visiting psychiatrist Dr. Aileen Oandasan made that statement, I thought, “Phew, I’m safe. I know I have a problem with food. I know I have an addiction.”

Seriously? What a bunch of bunk. Truth be told, I’m not safe. Although admitting an addiction is a huge part of the process of beating it, it’s only part of the battle.

I fight every day. And recently, with numerous major life changes occurring — my mom passing, resigning from my CEO position after 10 years, relocating back to Georgia from Pennsylvania and selling my family’s 65-year-old homestead  — food is more alluring than it’s been since my weight-loss surgery 16 months ago.

Food as an addiction is a huge topic, but here are some of the points that stuck with me during the support group meeting as we discussed it.

addiction [uh-dik-shuh n]

Noun — The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Changing our relationship to food (addressing our addiction), certainly can be and for most of us is a challenge at best, if not truly traumatic.
Dr. Oandasan suggested we consider the television show Intervention. The show is dramatic for many reasons:
  • Seeing how far down the people have gone due to addiction
  • Realizing many are near death
  • Asking how the addicts could get to that point
Addiction affects multiple parts of the brain, and thus emotions, impulses and control . Among food addicts:
  1. Food often equals love, as it is often the center point of family gatherings
  2. Memory processes forget the negative reactions/effects of the addictive behavior so we can go back to our addictive activity
  3. Impulse control is clouded
  4. Food fulfills emotional needs and helps them get through a day

Six Tips for Beating Food Addiction Behaviors

Here are a few steps to help attack and keep poor addictive activities (mindless eating) at bay:
  1. Open your mind and heart to the problem. Embrace the problem. Don’t avoid it.
  2. Identify poor patterns of behavior. This means becoming aware of negative actions and things that trigger them.
  3. Do a self check when the urge to eat mindlessly overtakes you. Ask yourself, “Where am I? Am I lonely, sad, bored?”
  4. Avoid dangerous times. If you’re an in-front-of-the-TV snacker, avoid that time. Do something else. Or, at least, do something other than eat while watching TV.
  5. Make sure you have a sounding board or multiple support outlets friends, in-person support groups, online support groups, like our sister Facebook Page Gastric Bypass Support and Journals
  6. Determine if you’re truly hungry or if you’re experiencing head hunger, an emotional need for food. If you’ve not eaten properly and you’re truly hungry, make sure you’re following a proper eating plan.

How Does Addiction Affect the Brain?

An in-depth article on addiction and the brain posted on GracePointWellness.org.

By: A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, Kaushik Misra, Ph.D., Amy K. Epner, Ph.D., and Galen Morgan Cooper, Ph.D. , edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.

The brain is the most dynamic and complex organ in our bodies. The brain’s proper functioning ensures our very survival. When our brains function well, we are constantly adapting to our environment (our surroundings). Ironically, it is the brain’s ability to be so adaptive that contributes to the formation of addiction. Addiction causes changes to the brain in at least four fundamental ways:

1. Addiction causes changes to the brain’s natural balance (homeostasis)

2. Addiction alters brain chemistry

3. Addiction changes the brain’s communication patterns

4. Addiction causes changes to brain structures and their functioning

About the author

Laurie Lee Dovey

LLD is a writer, photographer, marketing and media consultant, hunter, angler, RVer, sports nut, poker player, and wife.

1 comment

  1. Christy beal

    This has been very educational.

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