Understanding Food Addicts


Food addicts eat an abnormal amount of food, become obsessive about it and have cravings for foods that they know are harmful to them. We are only beginning to understand and accept the fact that people can be addicted to food, similar to drugs, alcohol, gambling and sex.

When someone overeats to the point of becoming sick, they’re avoiding some emotional issue and instead of dealing with it, they’re escaping into food. Eating gives them immediate gratification and for a short time there is relief of pressure and they don’t have negative thoughts. They calm down. They’re lost in food – but once they stop eating they become depressed and angry at themselves.

Thinking negative thoughts makes you feel down, and the worse you feel, the more you need relief. For the alcoholic it means drink. For the food addict, relief means more food. This becomes an ongoing cycle of abuse.

Food addicts? Could be you.

Do you eat when you’re down, alone or depressed?

Do you eat secretly or differently when you’re alone or in the company of others?

Do you eat foods that are harmful to you?

Do you overeat and then purge by vomiting or laxatives?

Do you have guilt feelings about food?

Answering yes to any one of these questions can mean there’s a problem.
Try another eating attitude test.

How food and addiction relate

As with other addictions, food addicts feel a loss of control. They know better, but they still continue their behavior. This is not only damaging physically, but similar to other addictions, food addicts feel powerless and guilty and lose self esteem.

There are ongoing studies regarding certain proteins in mild and wheat, which for some people may produce a calming effect. These chemicals are similar to our natural endorphins which act as our bodies painkillers. Ingesting large quantities of food or carbohydrates, salty food or chocolate can bring on a temporary ‘high’.Then the guilt, and the obsessive eating and the cycle repeats.

Too much eating –or too little

Food addicts come in many shapes and sizes, races and genders. Some are underweight and others normal or overweight. The commonality is the obsessive eating, or not eating, binging and/or purging. The subject of food causes misery and guilt. This prevents them from enjoying life to the fullest, socializing and creating powerful productive lives.


As in any addiction there obsessive eating has recovery. Here are a few steps.

1) Similar to any addiction the first step is to realize that you have a problem and accept the problem. Accepting the problem is very important. If you accept your behavior, you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Feeling guilty leads to bad feelings and feeling badly leads to food.

Accepting the problem is just that – accepting your behavior. You don’t have to like what you do, but you do it. Take responsibility so you can move on and change.

2) Avoid your trigger foods eg. Chocolate, breads, pasta, whatever leads to a binge.

3) Keep only healthy food in the house.

4) Join a manageable exercise program and keep at it.

5) Don’t starve yourself or go on crash or fad diets.

6) Don’t procrastinate or give yourself excuses - “tomorrow’.- for anything you have to do. (more guilt).

7) Learn how to calm yourself without food: music, talking on the phone with friends, going out, meditation etc. Keep busy – cravings don’t last more than 20 minutes or so, they just feel like they do. Self hypnosis can also be helpful You may want to join a self help group to get support, or seek counseling to break your pattern of

8) Don’t feel sorry for yourself. You don’t have to be a victim of this behavior. Tell yourself “enough is enough! It’s time to move on.”

You may want to join a self help group to get support, or seek counseling to break your pattern of food addicts Thinking negatively is a sure bet for failure. If you think you 'can' - guess what? You can't. Just like an athlete, you have to tune-up your mind to win. You have to turn your thoughts around.

When people are addicted to food, smoking seems to go hand in hand. This site can help you

More help for eating less

There is no easy solution.

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Food addiction is an obsession that can drive you crazy. Tell your story. Here's how to share it

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