Friday, October 7, 2011

Take apart of popular understanding of Food addiction

I came across the following article that describes someone's understanding of what food addiction is about, and their concept of treatment. The article is in green.

Food Addiction – Are You a Food Addict?
Food addiction is a contemporary term used to describe a pathological disorder; the compulsive, excessive craving for and consumption of food.  

This combines compulsive eating and addictive eating, without understanding the difference. Compulsive eating is emotion based, take any emotion, add food, and you have a reason to overeat. That emotion could be sadness, boredom, celebration, stress, depression, any thing that provides the cue to eat, followed by the overeating. This is environment and emotion issue. The typical psychological solution is to identify and address the emotion or cue, then react appropriately to food situation, weather this is to eat, or run, or some other action. We can develop cooping strategies, or pick from the many standard cooping strategics, learn them and apply them, to overcome overeating and obesity. OA is a great place to learn these.

Food addiction is chemical induced craving, which comes as a result of eating the addiction food, to obtaining the reward, satisfaction of the craving. The cause of the craving - reward cycle may be dopamine, or opioid, or insulin overshot. It does not mater, once identified total abstinence from that food is the only known solution. We should stop and sort out the severity of the addiction. Many people are addicted to chocolate, but are able to keep it to a few hundred calories, and do not have a weight or obesity problem.  I am not concerned about addiction which is not a problem for their life, or those who are unwilling to give up there drug of choice. There is no point in wasting my time with those. Live your life as you like; however, if you wish help with overcoming addiction, I will offer my help, to the extent of my ability and knowledge. Overcoming addiction is a bitch.

This condition is not only manifested by the abnormal intake of food, but the intake and craving for foods that are, in themselves, harmful to the individual. While society and the medical profession have readily understood alcoholism and drug abuse, it is only in recent years that there is an equal acceptance of the fact that persons may be addicted to food in the same way. When any substance is taken into the body regardless of its potential for harm or in excess of need, that substance is said to be abused. Individuals who abuse substances in such a way are addicts; these persons become physiologically and mentally dependent upon certain substances, in this case food.

Once again, addiction and overeating are combined, but the following questions mostly apply to emotion based overeating except for: Are there foods that are harmful to you, but you eat them anyway?

One need only ask themselves a few key questions to determine his or her addiction:

  • Do you eat when you are not hungry or when you feel low or depressed?
  • Do you eat in secret or eat differently in front of others than when you’re alone?
  • Do you consume inordinate amounts of food and then purge later with vomiting or laxatives to get rid of the excess?
  • Are there foods that are harmful to you, but you eat them anyway?
  • Do you feel guilty after eating?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions than you are likely addicted to food.
Food Addiction – Causes and Manifestations
Food addiction, as with any other addiction, is a loss of control. The individual understands that their way of eating is harmful, but continues the destructive behavior. The phenomenon of food addiction is both physiological and psychological.

This applies to food addiction:  The individual understands that their way of eating is harmful, but continues the destructive behaviour.  The trick is to identify the food, get separate, and stay separate from the addictive food.

Many individuals have what may be termed “food allergies.” These are trigger foods which when ingested cause negative symptoms and changes in the body but at the same time provoke cravings. The individual, for instance, the diabetic, may be made “sick” by the intake of sugar, but will still continue to crave it and eat it in excess, with adverse effects. Studies are also continuing regarding certain proteins in milk and wheat which when ingested produce narcotic-like effects. These chemicals mimic the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, and have thus been termed “exorphins.” Individuals may be suffering from depression, low self-esteem or loneliness; they will find a high when ingesting large quantities of food or certain foods such as salt or chocolate. The immediate high gives way to a sick feeling or guilt, leading to more depression. Because the addict is out of control, he or she will turn once again to the same eating patterns in a conscious or unconscious effort to feel better.

Applies to overeating, not food addiction.  Sugar in all forms, wheat, grains, cheese, nuts, and manufactured eatable products as separate items or combined are typical of addiction. Overeating can be anything. These two separate conditions can coexist in the same person, and must be treated separately for easy success. OA approach combines everything and does work; however, I found it much easier to understand what is going on and treat them separately in myself.     

Food addicts come equally from all age, race, and gender groups. They are overweight, underweight, and some of normal weight. They are linked by their obsession with food. The obese individual suffers humiliation due to excess weight; they may be lethargic and sedentary unable to move around freely. The underweight person may be bulimic; though they eat obsessively, they are so afraid of becoming overweight that they will induce vomiting, take laxatives, or exercise compulsively to prevent weight gain. They may also alternate with periods of anorexia, refraining from food to control their weight. The person of normal weight while appearing normal may be obsessed with food, constantly thinking about what to eat or how much they weigh. The entire subject of food is a misery to them; they count calories compulsively, eating without enjoyment.
Food Addiction – Is There Any Hope for Recovery?
Food addiction is a serious condition with many adverse health consequences. Obesity, psychological disorders, diabetes, and gastric anomalies are just a few.

The first step to recovery is, of course, the realization and acceptance of the problem. Medically, individuals must identify which foods -- the trigger foods -- cause allergic symptoms and cravings.

There is no easy way to combat food addiction; it will require intense discipline in modifying eating patterns and lifestyle. A manageable exercise program should be embraced along with dietary changes that may be maintained. Ambitious attempts to change eating patterns abruptly or to lose weight quickly rarely have long-term success.

The physiological and psychological dependency of food can best be broken when the individual recognizes that they are powerless to combat it alone. 

The remainder of this article was pushing their religion as a cure. The fist step of recovery is the desire to change and the perseverance to do it. 

1 comment :

  1. I'm not sure I agree with your compartmentalization of compulsive overeating and addiction. As I've said before, I think they are on a continuum. Yes, while compulsive overeating is clearly related to emotions, I think that the underlying mechanism is the same physiology that is responsible for addiction. IMO, it's just a matter of degree.

    I think this is similar to what can happen with alcohol. People can use alcohol to deal with the same emotions that they use food, but in some cases, this winds up spiraling into full-blown addiction characterized by the substance abuse creating, among other things, what ASAM calls "diminished recognition of significant problems."

    At the worst stage in my eating behaviors, I was coming up with lame excuses to avoid family get-togethers involving meals because it interfered with my preferred eating & drinking patterns.

    So yes, I totally get that it's not necessarily helpful to equate the two. But nor do I think they are totally different either.


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