Food addiction is a behavioral problem that can have very negative consequences for physical and mental health. For this reason, controlling it becomes a priority objective.
Eating is not only a necessary activity to survive, but it can be very pleasurable for many people. There is nothing wrong with this; actually, it’s normal behavior for most people. However, when that pleasure interferes with health, that beneficial behavior becomes an addiction to food.
If left untreated, this addiction can become a serious health problem . In fact, it is currently suspected that many overweight or obesity problems have their origin in this type of addiction.
Addictive behaviors are closely related to emotions of stress and anxiety. In this case, food is used as a way to calm a very intense state of nerves. Therefore, the first step when treating addictions is knowing how to regulate negative emotions .
How to overcome food addiction
More and more people go to psychological consultation because they cannot control the intake of certain foods. Unlike in the case of eating disorders, in which the impulse to eat is actively restricted, people addicted to food abuse the consumption of food.
On the other hand, 4 symptoms present in these addictive pictures have been identified in a study:
- Voracious eating , that is, eating much faster than normal.
- Eating large amounts of food without feeling physiological hunger.
- Continue eating until you feel an unpleasant feeling of fullness .
- Develop feelings of guilt and sadness after overeating.
With all this, next we will see how to overcome addiction to food.
1. Control anxiety with other, healthier ways
As we mentioned earlier, food addiction is closely linked to anxiety. You are more likely to binge eat when you are going through a period of stress; In addition, even if you are not hungry, the lack of food produces very intense negative feelings.
For that reason, the first step in overcoming this addiction is to directly treat the anxiety symptoms . An important aspect is that it is not about moving from food to another object but continuing to maintain the addiction, as happens in vigorexia, but about lowering anxiety levels through healthier behaviors.
One way to achieve this is through relaxation. Breathing techniques or mindfulness are great allies to reduce the state of activation.
2. Establish routines and meal times
Snacking between meals is an unhealthy habit that makes it difficult to control the urge to eat. Having food always accessible means that the person can resort to it when they are in a low mood.
On the contrary, the routines and schedules in the main meals of the day help to control impulses, since they put limits on the body on when and what foods can be eaten.
This meal planning should be supervised and guided by a nutrition professional. The nutritionist will set guidelines about how many meals to eat per day, the time that passes between them and the type of food that must be prioritized in each one.
3. Learn to say “no” to certain foods
People addicted to food have a preference for a class of food. That is to say that the desire to eat is not produced by any delicacy. For example, fruits or vegetables are not appetizing and will not serve to calm the discomfort. The foods that are attractive are those with the most power to release endorphins and dopamine in the brain, that is, carbohydrates and saturated fats.
Knowing that these foods are responsible for maintaining addiction, an effective solution is to prevent them from being within our reach . The easiest way to achieve this is precisely to resist the temptation to buy them and replace them with healthier alternatives.
Get rid of food addiction to live better
Food addiction can be a real drag on your physical and mental well-being. In this regard, and according to a review published in the journal Cuadernos de Neuropsicologia , food addiction is often compared with substance addiction, since both activate the same areas and regions of the brain.
Finally, one thing to keep in mind when trying to treat an addiction is that the help of a healthcare professional is essential . One can try to calm the symptoms, such as anxiety, but for it to be a complete and meaningful job, it is necessary to consult with a mental health professional.