Is food addiction real?

Short answer: yes. If food addiction wasn't real, gastric bypass surgery wouldn't be as popular as it is. Although, use of the term "addiction" is controversial.

Like the rest of the world, I love to eat. What's so special about that?  We're supposed to enjoy eating—that's why we have tastebuds and that's why "nutritious" food tastes so dang good. So where does devouring a zesty pizza cross the line into addiction?  

When you eat all of it, every time. When you obsess over eating healthy and cruelly berate yourself for eating something you shouldn't. When you go for a taste of peanut butter and end up eating nearly half the jar. When you go to a concert, but the fantasy of food trucks or new restaurants steals the show.

Food addiction is real. It's arguably one of the most difficult addictions to overcome because of how pervasive food is. Your friends pressure you to go out; your coworker brought in fresh-baked cookies; it's your birthday—there's always something. And the food industry dumps loads of money into advertising—like $13.4 billion in 2017. On top of that, you can't abstain from eating. We need food to live. Granted, fasting can yield health benefits if done right and for the right reasons—but if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, a fast could easily become disordered (i.e., anorexia).

How do you know you actually have a problem? Chances are you already know, but maybe you aren't ready to admit it. Healthline identifies eight signs of food addiction—all eight resonated with me.

If you're like me, you might still be in denial. "But I don't eat junk food that often; I usually eat pretty healthy!" Well, when you're eating half a jar of peanut butter or five pounds of blueberries that's a little overboard. (Yes, I've done both of those.)

What pushed me over the line was realizing how my obsession with food affects my fiancé. We recently went on a trip to Grand Rapids, MI for our fourth dating anniversary and I worried more about where we were going to eat than I savored his company. And I'm not proud to admit this, but I sneak bites from his meal prep when he's not around. (And yes, he knows about it.) And when I overeat, I feel bloated and disgusting and yes, it affects our love life.

So what do we do? I don't have a perfect answer. The first step for me was honestly acknowledging it and withholding as much judgment as possible. Yes, I have a problem.

Next was asking for support. It was easy to open up to my fiancĂ© because he pretty much knew already. For me, I need gentle support. I told him I didn't want him to guilt-trip me whenever I slipped—I get enough of that from myself. I also asked him to move the scale out of the bathroom so the temptation to weigh myself doesn't torment me every morning. Think about what you need from a support system.

Ready to work on overcoming food addiction? Check out my article, "5 tips for overcoming food addiction."


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