Food addiction, or binge eating disorder, can make you have an uncontrollable desire to eat that is not related to hunger. But patients who compulsively overeat don't necessarily struggle with fluctuating body weight.
What a Food Addiction Looks Like
You may be addicted to food if you:
- Eat even though you do not feel hungry
- Continue to eat even though you feel full
- Experience feelings of remorse or guilt about your eating behavior
- Eat to help you cope with strong emotions
- Have a compulsive urge to chew
- Find it difficult to stop eating certain types of food once you start
Food Addiction and Weight-gain
Karen Dwyer-Tesoriero is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in NYC. She works with clients on issues related to food addiction and binge eating disorder. She says some patients who struggle with compulsive overeating do things like exercising or cutting calories to avoid gaining excess weight.
"Not all people who have a food addiction are morbidly obese. Some are overweight and use exercise or eliminating other meals to compensate for their addiction or binges," Dwyer-Tesoriero says. "Most are overweight but not all are. People turn to food, usually at a young age, as a way to cope with feelings. We are socialized around food and sharing meals for happy occasions and more somber occasions and people who experience childhood trauma or other trauma turn to food for a feeling of fullness which never comes. Other people have disordered thoughts around food and will cut calories to avoid gaining weight which can lead to other food disorders."
Tips for Overcoming Food Addiction
If you’re struggling with food addiction and you want to regain control, here are some tips to help you.
- Recognize and avoid triggers: Make a list of the foods that cause you to overeat. Try to eliminate these foods completely. Some of the most addictive foods include French fries, cheeseburgers, chocolate, and ice cream.
- Eat healthy foods: Try to keep the transition to healthy eating easier by eating healthy foods that you’ve eaten before and enjoy.
- Seek help: Remember that you are not alone. There are organizations out there who can help, such as Food Addicts Anonymous(FAA), Overeaters Anonymous (OA), and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA).
If you have a food addiction, you struggle every day. It can affect many aspects of your life and health. Don’t be ashamed to reach out for help. There are many medical experts and support groups that understand this condition and can help you overcome it.