When it comes to addiction, it isn’t always about alcohol or drugs. An excessive or compulsive behavior towards something, such as shopping, gambling, etc., also is considered an addiction. And one such addiction that involves compulsive eating is called food addiction. Even data published by the Public Health Outcomes Framework revealed that around 63.5% of adults were classified as overweight or obese in England in 2020/21.
Unlike substance use disorder, food addiction is not characterized by dependence, but it has more to do with how a person behaves around food and what they think about it. Food addiction takes over your body and mind. For example, people addicted to food may feel an uncontrollable urge to munch.
The reason why food addiction is worse than alcohol and drug addiction is that you cannot just give it up. You cannot turn it off entirely like smoking or alcohol, but you have to change your relationship with food from destructive to positive.
If you feel that there is something wrong with your eating habits or they seem uncontrollable and you are looking for something to do about it, here are five steps that you can take to control food addiction:
1. Try Anti-Craving Medication
Food cravings are hard to ignore. It does not necessarily begin only by seeing the food items; you can develop an appetite even by merely thinking about them. For example, there might be a sugary plate of delicious treats or specific snacks you cannot stop consuming after a single bite.
However, you can treat these cravings with anti-craving medications. Consult your doctor first to know if they are medically appropriate. The anti-craving medications help reduce cravings and maintain a positive relationship with food.
2. Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food
Food is essential for life, and one cannot abstain from it. But by making a few changes in the diet plan, someone addicted to food may benefit. Instead of being a hoarder, you will have to learn to be a potential eater. Try replacing high-sugar and fatty foods with something more nutritional such as sprouts, brown rice, quinoa, and oats. Creating this balance of food will help you to meet healthy eating habits.
While every person is different, and what works for them might not work as well for you, you must make an informed decision when planning the diet routine. You can always visit a nutritional coach for proper guidance if you need to know how to do it. Your nutritionist will also ensure you are doing everything correctly and following the diet plan to the core.
3. Stay Active
Another major step that you can take for food addiction help is to stay active. Including exercise in your routine will help you create a healthy lifestyle. While it may sound daunting initially, you can do it with just a little motivation. And no, you don’t have to sign up for a gym membership to keep yourself in working mode. All you need is for your body to move around a little. Be it by catching a game of tennis, walking around with your kid, dancing in the living room, or going for a light jog in the evening. Daily exercise also enhances your blood sugar levels, which eventually helps control cravings. Also, a workout routine improves your sleep and prepares you for the future.
4. Join a Support Group
Like any other addiction, food addiction rehab is a great place to control compulsive behaviors. In addition, the rehabs provide access to support groups where you will find people going through the same struggles you face daily. There will be people who understand you and are willing to listen to you anytime. In support groups, you can also share your experiences and receive helpful advice from others.
Of course, our bad habits were not developed overnight, and we have become so used to them that we don’t want to give up. Developing healthier habits and getting rid of the bad ones is what we should do for a happier life. But good habits also do not develop overnight either. Hence, the support groups are crucial because they help you by providing the support you need throughout your journey to sobriety.
5. Maintain a Journal
Most people aren’t aware of their eating habits, and mindless eating is a massive problem in our busy, multi-tasking lives. Hence, creating a journal or making a food diary helps you raise awareness of what exactly you put in your mouth. Jot down the times when you didn’t give in to your cravings. It also helps you get more accustomed to observing your actions, and you will have better control over yourself.
Food addiction is a severe problem that rarely resolves by our own efforts. Unless you make a conscious decision to deal with it, the chances are that it will worsen over time. However, overcoming food addiction is a responsive process. The most crucial steps of controlling food addiction include daily exercising, creating healthy eating habits, setting a fixed date to start the journey towards sobriety, and maintaining a journal. If you are struggling with food addiction problems, consider seeking food addiction help from a professional or food addiction rehab. But always remember you are not alone.