What is ‘food addiction’?
Food is necessary for human survival and is a crucial aspect of our wellness, in addition to being a means of pleasure and enjoyment. However, in some individuals, food becomes something of an addiction. ‘Food addiction’ is characterized by the compulsive consumption of foods, generally foods high in fat and sugar. Addicted individuals become compulsive overeaters who engage in frequent episodes of uncontrolled eating (binge eating).
Signs and symptoms of food addiction
This type of addiction is based on behavioral symptoms. Some common signs and symptoms for diagnosing food addiction are –
- Frequent uncontrollable cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full or having a satisfying meal.
- Eating the desired foods in excessive amounts than initially intended, (eg: craving for one slice of cake, sometimes turns into consuming half a cake).
- Eating to the point of feeling excessively filled or stuffed.
- Feeling guilty after such an episode of binge eating
- Making excuses for overeating, such as “I was feeling low today, so it’s okay.”
- Repeatedly failing to avoid unhealthy foods – Sometimes, individuals try to set rules like eating junk food only on a fixed day of the week, or only at parties and events. People facing food addiction usually set similar rules but invariably fail at them.
- Hiding consumption of unhealthy foods from others, possibly due to feelings of guilt.
- Going out of the way to obtain certain foods
- Decreased energy and irritability
If addiction is left ignored or untreated, it can rapidly begin controlling your life, creating negative and chronic symptoms.
- Increased risk of chronic health conditions – Obesity, Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, etc.
- Chronic fatigue, pain, and headaches
- Low self-esteem
- Sleeping disorders
- Feeling guilty, sad and hopeless
- Increased irritability, especially when they fail to obtain the food they crave.
- Avoiding social events and activities that were once a source of enjoyment
- Isolation from family and friends
- Decreased performance at work/school
Ways to overcome food addiction – getting professional help is
- Try to make a list of trigger emotions. Recognizing them can help you make a crisis plan.
- Try to avoid foods that cause cravings by not buying them.
- Try to avoid going to your usually visited fast food places. Find healthier alternatives, or cook healthy at home.
- Eat healthy foods that you know of already and which are nutritious.
Use the smart app Health Click Away for making healthy lifestyle changes. It helps you log your food intake and create healthy meal plans for yourself. Also, you can track your water intake using the app. You also get smart notifications to remind you to eat healthy meals. Don’t forget if you need help to make healthy changes, you can consult the best health and fitness coaches, nutritionists, dietitians using the app Health Click Away.