When most people think of addiction, they think of an object or action that is inherently harmful. They consider addicts to be someone who is obsessed with drinking, drugs, or lying.
But, addiction can occur with everyday things as well—like food.
It’s harder to identify a food addiction because food is a natural part of life. We need food to survive, and food can play a positive role in our social life and mental health, too. If you’re dependant on food, always thinking about your next meal, or you have a tendency to eat in abundance, though, you may be living with food addiction.
Not sure if this is true for you?
Here are seven signs of addiction to food to be mindful of in your life.
1. Overeating During Meals
It’s one thing to overeat during a special meal like going to a nice restaurant for the first time or celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s something more serious when overeating is a natural thing to do at every meal.
Whether it’s a big breakfast, an over-sized lunch, or an extremely large dinner, constant overeating is a sure sign of food addiction. You may also be overeating if you’re the one who typically tops off everyone else’s meals, like finishing their sides or asking for the last bite of dessert even after you’ve eaten everything on your plate.
2. Eating When You’re Not Hungry
A simple way to tell if you’re overeating during a meal is to pay more attention to when you start to get full. Feeling full is your body’s way of telling you that you’ve had enough to eat; eating more than that is an action that can help you identify food addiction.
This applies outside of regular meals, too. Are you the person who’s constantly snacking on something throughout the day? Do you find yourself often reaching in the pantry for snacks or pulling into drive-throughs as you’re running errands around town?
These actions may stem from more than just a craving. They could be signs that you’re working through something bigger, and trying to do so by eating.
3. Eating to the Point of Feeling Sick
Another sign of food addiction is eating to the point of feeling sick. This is overeating in the most extreme form. Whether you feel sick after sitting down to eat too much at once, or after a full day of eating this and that, this feeling is important to recognize.
It’s not healthy to eat to this point. It can cause serious health issues and lead to other unhealthy behaviors like purging or turning to extreme weight management tactics.
4. Obsessing Over the Food You Do/Don’t Eat
Speaking of weight management, take a moment to consider your go-to foods and your relationship with food as a whole. Do you have a very limited diet? Are you self-conscious about indulging in unhealthy foods from time to time?
These are trickier signs of food addiction.
Even someone who appears to have a healthy diet can be obsessed with food in an unhealthy way. If you’re constantly in a mental battle with yourself over the food you do or do not eat, it’s time to work through that. There’s no reason to beat yourself up over a burger from time to time or to spend all your days counting every single calorie you eat.
5. Eating When You’re Upset
It’s natural to look for something to comfort us when we’re upset. Some may turn to a friend or loved one, take a day to themselves, or work through their emotions with exercise or a bit of journaling. Others may turn to food, and do so every time they’re upset.
If this is what you tend to do when you’re sad or angry, take a step back to think about this behavior. Why do you turn to food? Do you do anything else to cope with your feelings, or is eating your main way of working through them?
Eating when upset is one of the more complex symptoms of food addiction. It’s often tied into other situations and experiences that are interconnected, which can make the work of overcoming addiction much harder—but also more rewarding!
6. Eating in Secret
Here’s something to think about: how often do you hide the fact that you’re eating or the kind of food you’re eating?
This may be a sign that, at some level, you recognize you don’t have the best relationship with food. That awareness is good, but keeping your eating habits/preferences in the dark doesn’t do anything to help your addiction. It only makes it harder to break.
Also, eating in secret can make you more isolated from loved ones and cause negative emotions to stir up, such as shame or guilt. It goes beyond healthy eating and creates additional hardships for you.
7. Starving Yourself to Eat at a Later Time
The final sign of food addiction is starvation. That’s right: forcing yourself to not eat may actually be part of an addiction to eating, and this sign of food addiction creates a vicious cycle.
When you intentionally avoid food for an extended period of time, you’re much more likely to overeat when you do allow yourself a meal. This pushes your body from one extreme to the other, and it can make it much harder to re-regulate your eating cycle. With this habit, noticing when you’re full or even when you’re hungry becomes more difficult, as does the work of breaking the pattern.
Take the First Step to Overcome Food Addiction
Food addiction is incredibly hard to face, but facing it is the first step to healing.
Avoiding the signs or ignoring what they’re pointing to only prolongs your addiction. But, coming to terms with this issue and asking for help sets you on a much healthier path. From there, re-defining your eating habits and your relationship with food as a whole are your next steps to putting your food addiction in the past.
So, what will it be?
Are you ready to break free from addiction and start leading a healthier life?
Start your journey to a healthier you today by finding an UnCraveRx provider who can help you work through food addiction.