When you hear the word “addiction” what comes to mind? Have you ever considered food as an addiction? Food addiction falls into the category of “process addictions” along with shopping, gambling, being on the internet, or sex. The hallmark characteristic of any addiction is the inability to predict when you will STOP the behavior once you START.
Does this describe your relationship with food? Do you tell yourself “I am only going to eat one serving of chips” then find yourself returning to the bag for more? Do you tell yourself “this time at the buffet will be different” then find that “this time” at the buffet ended in the same loss of control as it had during previous trips to food buffets? Do you find that you have an emotional reaction when you cannot indulge in the food you crave? Do you hide how much food you eat?
The following is a list of questions to ask yourself to see if you have a food addiction:
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
- Do you go on eating binges for no apparent reason?
- Do you have feelings of guilt and remorse after overeating?
- Do you give too much time and thought to food?
- Do you look forward with pleasure and anticipation to the time when you can eat alone?
- Do you plan these secret binges ahead of time?
- Do you eat sensibly before others and make up for it alone?
- Is your weight affecting the way you live your life?
- Have you tried to diet for a week (or longer), only to fall short of your goal?
- Do you resent others telling you to “use a little willpower” to stop overeating?
- Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to assert that you can diet “on your own” whenever you wish?
- Do you crave to eat at a definite time, day or night, other than mealtime?
- Do you eat to escape from worries or trouble?
- Have you ever been treated for obesity or a food-related condition?
- Does your eating behavior make others unhappy?
If you answered “yes” to many of the above questions you may have an addiction to food. Getting help for the addiction through psychotherapy and/ or 12 Step meetings is another “tool” to add to the toolbox you have acquired to help you lose excess weight.
Bariatric surgery and working with a dietician are other key “tools” in your toolbox, but often the emotional aspect of your relationship with food is not addressed.
Being willing to look at your relationship with food, identify if your relationship is unhealthy or would be considered an addiction is the first step to adding this last “tool” to your box.
(List of questions adapted from Overeaters Anonymous and taken from http://cormn.org/about/resources/food-addiction-quiz/)