People with food addiction struggle everyday with the inability to stop eating foods that are high in carbohydrates, fat, salt, sugar, or artificial sweeteners.
They often eat until they are full and want to keep eating, and then feel ashamed and loathed about themselves.
Food addiction is a new topic with complex causes and yet uniformly defined.
It has similarities to other addictions such as drugs, alcohol, gambling. Also, it is similar to binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating.
Data show that the number of food addicts in the United States is likely to exceed 100 million in 2023, which was 70 million in 2016.
That number will continue to climb as fast food delivery becomes more convenient. This will exacerbate the high obesity rates in the United States.
Most food addicts say they are addicted to high-fat and high-sugar foods and can’t stop consuming them. This is because our brain still retains the original mechanism.
When you eat food high in fat and sugar, the brain will not only feel excited, but also want to eat more.
Because the brain still thinks in the way of our primitive ancestors, thinking that we can’t eat food that is good for energy storage every day to survive the winter.
The primitive mechanisms of our brains remain, but we can already eat enough food every day, and we have heating for the winter. The mechanism seems a bit redundant now.
What Are The Symptoms Of Food Addiction?
The symptoms of food addiction are mainly manifested in eating behavior and emotional changes. Check out the symptoms below.
If you have 4 symptoms, you may be developing a food addiction. If you have 6 or more, it’s likely a food addiction.
- Frequent cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full and having just finished a meal
- Often eating a craved food much more than intended
- Eating to the point of feeling excessively stuffed or ill
- Often feeling guilty after eating particular foods, but eating them again soon after
- Worry about not eating particular foods
- Feel insecure when you don’t have a stock of certain foods
- Sometimes making excuses about why eating particular foods
- Force yourself to quit particular foods briefly to ease your guilt
- Hiding the consumption of unhealthy foods from others
- Feeling unable to control the consumption of unhealthy foods, despite knowing that they cause physical harm or weight gain
What Foods Should Food Addicts Avoid?
One study investigated addictive eating in 518 people using the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) as a reference, the most commonly used tool for assessing food addiction.
Researchers found that 92% of participants exhibited addictive eating behaviors towards certain foods. They repeatedly want to wean them off, but are unable to do so.
The study also revealed the most addictive foods and the least addictive foods.
Top 10 Most Addictive Foods
- Ice cream
- French fries
- Soda (not diet)
Top 10 Least Addictive Foods
- Brown rice
- Corn (no butter or salt)
The least addictive foods are almost whole foods, not highly processed. So, following this list, food addicts should reduce their intake of processed foods and buy and hoard less.
Try Mindful Eating
You don’t need to know what mindful eating is, just to adopt some practices of mindful eating. To relieve food addiction, you should follow these principles:
- Eat slowly without distraction, such as not watching streaming videos.
- Follow physical hunger cues and stop eating when you’re full.
- If you are eating a craved food, maybe it is unhealthy, don’t be guilty.
- Don’t gobble down your food. Appreciating the color and smell of your food before eating can help you slow down.
- Identify triggers for eating cravings, such as stress or sadness, and find ways to relieve them outside of eating.
- Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” Stop eating when you aren’t hungry.
The above practices require you to have willpower, and you must always remind yourself to stick to these practices before eating.
Try to eat different colors of food. Different colors of food are usually vegetables and fruits. Rich colors can put you in a good mood, especially if you use a nice plate.
Reduce The Number Of Times You Eat Out
You can’t finish eating at fast food restaurants every day, and eating burgers and fries every day will only lead you deep into the quagmire of food addiction. It’s not that you can’t eat these foods.
Sometimes you work or go shopping outside for a long time, and fast food restaurants are very convenient.
When you’re at home, or when you’re free, when you don’t have a social gathering, take the time to make a meal yourself.
Reduce Processed Food Stocks
Please don’t hoard too many processed foods at home, especially pre-made pizza, cookies, chocolate, cakes. Cut off the possibility of you eating uncontrollably late at night.
It is recommended to buy vegetables that can be eaten raw for salads, such as lettuce, arugula, bitter chrysanthemum, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, and strawberries.
For salad dressing, you should choose one with a carbohydrate content of less than 20 grams per 100 grams, and vinegar must appear in the ingredient list.
Cut Consuming Carbohydrates
An important factor that affects hunger is blood sugar levels. Keeping blood sugar levels stable can reduce your hunger.
The nutrient that most contributes to blood sugar swings is carbohydrates.
Eat whole foods and avoid high-sugar fruits. You can only eat carbohydrates at noon, and eat vegetables, meat, nuts, and cheese at other meals.
Dietary fiber and fat can increase satiety, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce appetite.
Keep Yourself Busy
Keeping busy is about taking your mind off food. You can learn an instrument, read a book, write or exercise, or go for a walk.
Set a goal for yourself and go for it, not just a diet-related goal. For example, read 10 pages a week or exercise 3 times a week.
When you achieve milestones, you will get a huge sense of satisfaction and become more confident.
Consider Seeking Help
Food addiction has the potential to be as hard to break as drug addiction.
If you’ve tried and failed many times and your cravings for a particular food don’t decrease, seek help from a health professional and a nutritionist.
Or share the steps you have taken in social forums and learn from others.