The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has defined addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences”.

Food addiction is a chronic progressive condition.  Progressive means, it will get worse over time. Vera Tarman gives an excellent description in her book Food Junkies:

Addiction is like an elevator that only goes down, but you can get off at any floor. 

Food Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.

If general, there a few reasons why people would take an addictive drug, or in this case, sugar.

People want to feel good

Drugs can produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the high is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In the case of sugar, the high-energy is probably the most sought after feeling that people are looking for.

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People want to feel better

Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress, and depression start using drugs to try to feel less anxious.

People are curious and experience peer pressure

In this respect, teens are particularly at risk because peer pressure can be very strong. Teens are more likely than adults to act in risky or daring ways to impress their friends and show their independence from parents and social rules.

There are typically 4 stages of addiction

Pre-Disease

During the pre-disease stage, there’s really no sign of any abnormal eating.  This is just a happy person, living a happy life. If they educate themselves about addictive food, or there is no issues that develop out of this person’s live, they will continue to live like this for the rest of their live.

During this phase, education is key.  The sad part is the very person that should educate a child about nutrition (the parents) are already in the 3rd or 4th stage of food addiction.

Early stage

They are unaware and food is more the solution, than really a problem.  The problem can progress if there’s poor education about food at this stage. It’s during this stage, where it’s easy for a person to stop, but the guilt and shame is often not enough to justify any action.

There can be problems with weight management. These folks often gain some weight, go and a diet, lose it, gain some, lose it etc.  This could be early stage food addiction or a normal eater, just making unhealthy food choices.   And a person gets educated on the unhealthy food choices, they can manage their food addiction or trigger foods. I.e. they understand what food could be problematic for them.

Middle Stage

During this stage, food addicts have already tried several diets or other extreme strategies to control their eating. Their health is already suffering negative consequences, like being overweight, being depressed, and they start to live a secret life, feeling constant guilt or shame about their actions.  The consequences do not seem severe enough for them to decide to give up or let alone ask for help. Despite the guilt and shame, they are still confident that they can ‘beat’ it.

Late Stage

Food addicts know their problem is critical, but they feel their situation is hopeless. They know they are powerless and commercial weight loss programs don’t help. You can experience serious medical complications. By this time, you might be morbid obese, cannot move, have advanced diabetes, progressive heart disease.  During this stage, even though they hate themselves and what they’ve become, eating has often become the most important thing in their lives.  And though it’s literally causing a slow and painful death, it’s the only thing that they believe makes them worth living.

Final Stage

You have already suffered severe consequences, hospitalization for heart attacks, suicide attempts, inability to work, ruined relationships, house bound.

Can you identify where you are in these stages of food addiction?  Or are you still in denial?

 

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According to Kris Gunnars, these are the 8 symptoms of food addiction.

 

  1. frequent cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full and having just finished a nutritious meal
  2. starting to eat a craved food and often eating much more than intended
  3. eating a craved food and sometimes eating to the point of feeling excessively stuffed
  4. often feeling guilty after eating foods — yet eating them again soon after
  5. sometimes making excuses about why responding to a food craving is a good idea
  6. repeatedly — but unsuccessfully — trying to quit eating certain foods, or setting rules for when eating them is allowed, such as at cheat meals or on certain days
  7. often hiding the consumption of unhealthy foods from others
  8. feeling unable to control the consumption of unhealthy foods — despite knowing that they cause physical harm or weight gain.

In many food addiction circles, they will tell you if you have 4 or more of these symptoms, then there might be a problem. But I will go as far to indicate that if you have ANY one of these symptoms, you might still be in the early stage of food addiction, which gives you a much better chance to do something about it.

Again, it’s not your fault if you are having trouble breaking away from these foods. You’re not weak-willed. These foods are biologically addictive and using willpower to drop pounds and feel good again rarely works.

If you identified with one of these symptoms, I want to personally invite you join us in the 90-Day Sugar Detox Program. 

You will never ever have to go on a diet again. And what’s great, you do not need to do any exercise, unless you want to.

See you inside the community,

Petrolene