Food addiction is an eating disorder. Other eating disorders we are familiar with include anorexia and bulimia. The psychological issues associated with eating disorders are similar to those that accompany addiction. The American Psychological Association estimates that about 5 million Americans suffer from a diagnosable eating disorder. And according to a 2007 analysis of government data, roughly one-third and one-quarter of people with bulimia and binge-eating disorder, respectively, will also have an alcohol or drug problem at some point in their lives. However, when attempting to overcome a food addiction, it is important to understand that it cannot be overcame the same as other addictions. As mentioned early, this is one addiction we truly cannot abstain from.
So what do we do? The key to overcoming a food addiction is uncovering the underlying issue.
Here is an example.
I have had the privilege to get to know many of the past contestants from the Biggest Loser. When a contestant goes on the show, their main goal is to lose weight by exercising 8-10 hours a day and eating between 1200-1500 calories a day. By doing this, you will lose a lot of weight. The issue here is that if you don't understand why you gained the weight in the first place, you will most likely gain all of the weight back.
Addiction is a mental game. You need to understand why you are doing what you are doing in order to correct it. For myself, at the age of 20 I knew needed to stop the destructive behaviors if I wanted to see my 21st birthday. I can remember the night I decided I needed to stop drinking and taking drugs. Luckily, I was able to quit "cold turkey." Over the last 33 years, I have been drunk one night, and that was for my bachelor party. I realized that certain things in my life were not as bad as I was making them out to be. I rediscovered my relationship with God—I knew my life had meaning.
As over eaters, we typically don’t realize our addiction until we are 40, 50 or even 100 pounds overweight. There are shows on TV that help us recognize we might have an addiction, shows like Biggest Loser and Extreme Weigh Loss with Chris and Heidi Powell. One thing I've learn while traveling with the Biggest Loser RunWalk is that people identify with the contestants on these shows. Their stories are their stories, so many can relate to what has happened to them in their own lives. But just like any addict, there is usually a breaking point in his/her life that forces him/her to make a decision—a decision to fight the addiction and change their life.
We all need to hit the bottom before we can climb out of all the crap under which we have buried ourselves. Speaking from personal experience, it's not fun! And the older we get, the more difficult it is to make those changes.
So what do we do when we have an addition like overeating? We seek help, just like any other addict. We must also seek strength and support from those around us. And don't forget to seek spiritual strength as well. When I started my journey almost 5 years ago, I did not have people around me that gave me encouragement and strength, but I did have my relationship with God. Many days and nights I prayed for strength and support and found a true inner peace with what I was trying to accomplish.
Know that you have resources. Know that there are people you can reach out to and places you can go to seek help. These resources include organizations like OA (Overeaters Anonymous), your doctor, a registered dietician, and perhaps a licensed therapist or behavioral specialist—someone to help you identify the root cause of your over eating and deal with the issues at hand.
Is there anything I can do to fight my addiction?
To be continued…