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How To Overcome Food Addiction: 6 Things To Consider

It can be hard to cut out junk food from your life entirely — everyone deserves something sweet every once in a while! Too much junk and unhealthy eating habits can lead to an addiction to food. Similarly to substance use disorders, food addiction can be a challenge to break free from, especially since most of the addicting foods are easy to get ahold of.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get better when you want to overcome an addiction to food or excessive overeating — but remember, you are not alone. Addiction tends to thrive in isolation, and community can be the key. With support from loved ones and staying disciplined, you will be able to see the changes soon after deciding to get help.

The process can be difficult, but if you consider the following tips when starting your mental health and recovery journey, you can be sure to see improvements. This is the start of your comeback story, and Sober Sidekick is here to walk with you every step of the way.

What Is Food Addiction?

Food addiction is an eating behavior that involves eating highly palatable foods (high in sugar, salt, and fat) at a rate that does not match what is needed for your body. Food addiction may display itself in various ways, intersecting with other medical and psychological disorders like obesity, binge eating disorder, and bulimia.

People that are addicted to food might show compulsive behaviors or might only eat junk food, eliminating foods with proper nutrition. While you might be consuming the right amount of calories in a day (or more), you are not receiving the proper nutrients to keep you healthy and support your overall wellness.

Signs of Food Addiction

To determine whether or not you have an addiction to food, you must look at your behaviors.

  • Having food cravings even though you have just eaten and are feeling full.

  • Overserving yourself foods that you are craving (e.g., instead of eating a bowl of chips, you eat the whole bag).

  • Feeling guilty after overconsuming and lacking self-esteem about your eating.

  • Eating too fast or too much to the point that you make yourself sick.

  • Finding it difficult to control how much you are eating unhealthy foods.

  • Hiding your eating habits from others, especially when it’s in relation to unhealthy foods.

  • Making excuses for why your food cravings are justified (being on your period, having a stressful day, using it as a reward).

  • Trying to change your compulsive overeating but being unable to.

Effects on the Brain

Food addiction and drug addiction involve the same areas of the brain. The same neurotransmitters are being used in food addiction as a person who is using other addictive substances, with very similar effects. When you are eating junk food, it sends dopamine signals to the reward centers of the brain.

So, similar to how drug addiction occurs, food addiction is not a choice. It’s not a fault in your personality or a lack of strength — and you are not alone.

How To Overcome Food Addiction

Overcoming food addiction takes time and dedication. We are constantly surrounded by junk, sugary, salty, and fatty foods.

Convenience and money can play a role in how we consume, especially because fast food restaurants are both fast and cheap. With our already overwhelming lives, finding the time to cook healthy meals three times a day can be too difficult.

Luckily there are some tips that you can consider when attempting to overcome food addiction. The following will help you stay on track and make decisions that are best for your health — all while being introduced to healthy but delicious foods.

Start With Lists

The first thing that you will want to do is make some lists that relate to your food addiction. You may want to get a journal to keep track of your food addiction recovery journey (we will get more into that later).

Write out what your goals are with your relationship with food. What do you wish to accomplish? What foods do you want to cut out? What foods do you refuse to eat? What foods do you feel you cannot part with? What foods are you excited to try?

This way, you can always go back and remind yourself of your goals. You can check goals off as you make them and revise when you feel it’s necessary.

Understand Your Triggers

You will need to determine what it is that triggers your cravings. Often, compulsive and addictive behaviors are a way for your brain to cope. At the end of the day, your brain is doing the best it can to protect you from the stress and worry of every day life. But sometimes, we need to remind our brain that we got this.

Starting with finding these moments when you feel the need to employ coping mechanisms and self-soothing behaviors can be helpful. Does stress make you hungry? Do you tend to engage in emotional eating? When you can identify what triggers your eating habits, you can work towards changing how you yourself react.

If you are feeling stressed and want to snack, consider lighting a candle and meditating instead. If you are bored and looking to occupy yourself before dinner, take a nice walk outside. You may also have trigger foods that create more cravings.

If you know you have to see someone or do something at work that requires a lot of your mental energy, have a healthy snack on your person. We can’t always avoid triggers, but we can control how we react to them!

Create Meal Plans for Every Week

One of the best ways to avoid unhealthy eating is to know what you will eat in a day, a week ahead. That way, when you go into the grocery store, you are sticking closely to your list and avoiding aisles that can cause temptation.

Meal prepping is one of the best ways to help overcome food addiction. Find a few appetizing recipes, hit your nutritional goals, and shop with those in mind. For instance, if you want to make yourself a yummy parmesan and spinach risotto, consider how else you can use the spinach for the week. Smoothies and omelets are great options to use up greens.

Make enough food for multiple days, so you don’t have to think about feeding yourself over 15 different meals. Package your meals up and have them ready to take with you to work. You'll thank yourself when you have a fridge packed full of healthy and nutritious meal options.

Don't expect perfection from yourself, focus on the progress. You will have weeks that don't go as planned, the most important thing is that you recommit to the process when that happens.

Keep a Food Journal

As mentioned before, having a food journal helps with both accountability and opening up to yourself about your issues. You can track your progress and see how your attitude and behaviors towards food have changed since you first started your journey.

When you eat, you should write it down in your journal. Talk about what it is, how you made it, how it’s making you feel, any concerns you have, and if you think you’ll eat it again. Even track the times you might slip up.

Though there can be a lot of shame around eating foods you’re not supposed to, it’s important to keep track. We are human, and mistakes happen, but don’t let them be a complete setback!

Find the Foods You Love

During this process, you might be surprised by some of the foods you fall in love with. Maybe you were never a Brussels sprouts person, but after trying a new recipe, it’s all you can think about. It’s not a bad thing to crave healthy foods!

Keep track of what foods you like and what recipes you like them in. This will help you find new recipes to try throughout your journey, knowing at least one safe food involved in the ingredient list.

Soon you’ll find that many healthy foods can be appetizing and fulfilling when prepared in a way that makes you feel good. Your list of healthy foods you like will begin to grow and weed out foods that lower your energy and make you feel guilty.

Share Your Concerns with Someone You Trust

No one should have to struggle with any kind of addiction alone. It can be isolating to go through food addiction — especially because food is something that we all consume. Not everyone will understand or relate to your struggles, but they can show up for you and support you.

Sharing with someone you trust your concerns can give your needs more visibility. Sometimes having a friend try to become healthier alongside you can give you a burst of motivation. Community and connection can be the antithesis of addiction, so seek out support groups (you can find them both in-person and online).

Get Help for Your Food Addiction

Finding support for your food addiction may be why you’re putting it off. It can be isolating to deal with any kind of addiction, and food addiction is no exception. When you download Sober Sidekick, you can access community and support at the tips of your fingers.

When you join, you can share your goals and accomplishments anonymously with other sober individuals. By congratulating others and seeing how they are making changes in their life, Sober Sidekick hopes to spark motivation in all of the users.

Sober Sidekick was created because its creators understand that all addiction thrives in isolation, but when you can connect with others who understand what you’re dealing with, you can get much farther than on your own.

Sign-up today with your Android or iPhone to get the support you need to overcome your food addiction.


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