How to Tell if You Have a Food Addiction and What to Do About It

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Do you hide food? Do you often eat alone or in the car when nobody is around? Do you plan specific food binges? Do you medicate yourself with food when you have a bad day? Do you feel as if food is all you think about? If so, you may be suffering from an addiction to food.

A silent addiction

If you're battling with an addiction, it's not always easy to hide the truth from those around you. However, being addicted to food and binge eating is often difficult for others to see. Of course, you may gain weight, but carrying extra weight can be explained by having an under active thyroid or other medical condition.

However, while food addiction is not as easy to spot as other addictions, such as alcohol or drug abuse, it is still harmful and can have negative effects on your life and health.

Subtle signs

A food addiction may start out slowly when you begin to turn to food for comfort when you are sad, lonely, or anxious. Comfort foods are often foods connected with fond memories of childhood or other life events. You try to recreate the same comfortable feeling associated with the food you loved as a child.

Some people can enjoy comfort foods without becoming addicted. However, running to comfort foods can spiral out of control and turn into an addictive behavior. If you find yourself turning to food to solve problems, rather than finding healthy ways to relieve stress, sadness, etc., you run the risk of developing an addiction that can progressively get worse.

Serious risks

What's wrong with eating for comfort? Plenty. Not only can binge eating lead to weight gain and a host of health problems, it can cause your self-esteem to plummet. Being overweight can make you self-conscience about your looks. You may begin to neglect your appearance, because you don't like what you see in the mirror.

Diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers have been associated with obesity. Being overweight also puts added stress on the joints and bones, which can be difficult for arthritis sufferers.

Seeking help

Realizing you may be depending on food to medicate emotions is the first step to recovery. Seek out a close friend and share you struggles with food. You may also benefit from a local addiction recovery group.

If you don't feel comfortable in a group setting, counseling is usually your best option. Look for a psychiatrist or counselor who specializes in addictive behavior. A counselor or psychiatrist can help you learn healthy ways to cope when you are experiencing sadness, depression, anxiety, or other issues. They can teach you effective ways to cope with stressful days when you want to run to food.

While food addiction can easily be hidden from those around you, you are aware of its negative impact on your health and self-esteem. Taking the first step to address your addiction, and gain control of your emotions, will help you get your life under control. You will be able to conquer your food addiction before it conquers you.