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Monday, June 27, 2011

Food Addiction - Food For Thought?



Have you ever thought that you might be addicted to food? You may think that’s a ridiculous question. Everybody needs food to stay alive, so…in a sense, aren’t we all addicted to food? 

Normally, we eat to sustain life and naturally we enjoy the many flavors and textures of food. There is nothing wrong with loving to eat. But for a food addict, the situation is much different.

A Food Addiction is defined as a compulsive obsession with food. They may fantasize about eating alone and spend excessive amounts of time thinking about food. They engage in frequent sessions of uncontrolled eating. On most occasions they will eat until they are uncomfortable. They will eat again even if they are not hungry yet. 

And because a Food Addict will not purge themselves of the food they have eaten like a bulimic would, the end result is excessive weight gain and even serious health problems like heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke.

Some signs of Food Addiction to look for are embarrassment about eating in public or excessive embarrassment about their appearance. When a person eats very little in front of others, but maintains a very high body weight, that might be a good indication of a Food Addiction. When a person eats very fast, suffers from depressions or mood swings and has a history of weight fluctuations, these are also good indicators.

Researchers have speculated that endorphin metabolism in the brain of food addicts is abnormal and this is what may trigger Food Addiction. According to this theory, a food addict may actually suffer withdrawal symptoms when they are abstaining from overeating as well as experience euphoria when eating certain foods. The problem with overcoming a Food Addiction that is different from Drug Addiction is that you cannot abstain completely from food like you can drugs.

However, Food Addictions are very recoverable. In fact, 80% of those who seek professional counseling and therapy for Food Addiction experience a significant relief or even recover completely. The exception to this statistic is the morbidly obese with only a 2% recovery rate. 

But basically, talk therapy and medical and nutritional counseling is the main treatment for this disorder because it is thought that this disorder stems from emotional conflicts that have influenced behavioral patterns in the individual.

Support groups have been formed that offer assistance to the food addict. Meeting with others who have learned how to have a healthy relationship with food has helped many to overcome the problem. An online support group might be a desirable option since it offers the person anonymity. 

There are also outpatient and inpatient treatment centers for those who are struggling with a Food Addiction. The patient must remember that recovery is an ongoing process and skills to prevent relapse into self-destructive behavior must be learned over time.

A person could start by talking to their doctor. He/she will discuss appropriate treatment options with you and be able to refer you to a psychotherapist for counseling and therapy should you decide to go that route.

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