Hello I Am A Food Addict

30 May

Its been a long road to come to the realisation that I have bigger problems than what I eat. If what I ate was the problem then I wouldn’t have a problem anymore. I have been on low calorie diets, low fat diets, low carb diets and many more extreme versions. I have always kept the weight on. My obsession was always with eating food and as much of it as I could.

This has always been the case. I see three classical symptoms in my eating patterns.  (1) I am a bit of a depressive person. I cover my emotions and feelings with external addictions. The major one been food. Everyone has heard of comfort eating right? (2) My second problem is I am fixated with food. When I wake up I think about breakfast, then lunch and then dinner and then for the rest of the night I sit their trying to not eat anymore. I am hungry all the time and if I let myself have free reign over food I put on weight. I tried this with intuitive eating and it did not work. Which leads me to my next issue. (3) I have no control when I eat and can’t stop eating when I start. I seem to eat well past my hunger cues. Even when I am physically full I still want to eat.

Recently, research has begun to shed light into the possible addictive nature of eating modern day food and this can best be explained through binge eating. During binges compulsive overeaters can consume up to 15000 calories, which results in an addictive “high”. This is not dissimilar to the high experienced during drug or alcohol use. Researchers have speculated there is an abnormality of endorphin (feel good neurotransmitters) metabolism in the brain of binge eaters that triggers the addictive process. This is in line with other theories of addiction that attribute it not to avoidance of withdrawal symptoms, but to a primary problem in the reward centers of the brain. For the compulsive overeater, the ingestion of trigger foods causes release of the neurotransmitter, seratonin. Most addictive drugs also increase the release of seratonin producing similar effects.

In this day and age it is hard to avoid foods that cause these triggers. Everyday when I see food I feel overwhelmed to eat it. I would naturally seek the most saltiest, fattiest or carbiest food around. To face this battle with food addiction I definitely need an ally and I think I have found one. Humans never evolved to eat foods high in these substances. Most hunter gatherers ate foods that were low in carbs and salt, moderate fat, but high in nutrients. Im talking vegetables and meat here with occasional nuts, eggs and fruits. Everything in our modern society today is in stark contrast to this – pastries, sweets, dairy, coke etc etc. You only need to watch TV to know what I mean.  But our bodies are not evolved to deal with these foods. It wreaks havoc to our bodily systems.

So today I want to move on from my addiction and I think the only way to do this is to avoid trigger foods and eat a paleo diet. I need to start eating bland food that I am generally not interested in. This diet is very high in nutrients and I need to start seeing food as sustenance and not to get some feel good ‘high’.  I need to disassociate from the intense rewards I get from eating these foods. I believe I will undergo some sense of withdrawal. Researchers have  found that abstinence from addictive food and food eating processes causes withdrawal symptoms in those with eating disorders. There may be higher levels of depression and anxiety due to the decreased levels of serotonin in the individual. Welcome to my journey, and I hope you join me, for my battle on food addiction.

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8 Responses to “Hello I Am A Food Addict”

  1. Ewa June 2, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    I just left a comment on your ex-blog.
    You know what helps me? Planning my meals ahead.
    What does not help me is the fridge full of stuff I don’t (can’t) eat but my family wants.
    What I try to do is to put my planned food for the day on one shelf.

  2. Beth June 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    For many of us, the issue is not the food, it’s what we’re using the food to avoid. Feelings we don’t like, tasks we’d rather not undertake. Obsessions (with food, shopping, alcohol, or what-have-you) are great distractions, keeping us from having to deal with the icky parts of life.

    It’s not an easy thing to work through, and work is exactly what it takes.

    You could subsist on meat and greens and lose all of the weight you want to, but in the end all of the emotional stuff that needs to be dealt with will still be there. Paleo is great, but it’s not the golden ticket. It’s only one piece of the puzzle. I wish you luck!

  3. ken June 3, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    As someone who has struggled with food and weight since I was 7 (was in my first diet program in the 3rd grade) I have a lot of empathy and understanding for your current state. At 15 I was 353#, then lost much weight, but not the compulsion, which switched from just compulsive overeating to bulimia as well. I would kill myself to not regain the weight, but couldn’t stop eating.
    I’ve been involved with Overeaters Anonymous for about 4 years now and with many fits and starts, I’ve been able to get some sanity around food and deal with a lot of the underlying issues. May be worth a shot. And I’m an atheist and the higher Power business hasn’t been an issue, should that be a barrier.

  4. Cynthia June 3, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Hi Dan, the new blog seems good so far. If you have an addictive personality, would it help at all to cultivate a different addiction? Maybe you can direct your addictive urges toward a better outlet instead of beating yourself up for your perceived failings. I sometimes get carried away with my exercising and feel addicted to it too. When it goes well, there really is a high of sorts. On days when I don’t exercise at all or much, the eating is so much harder because there’s just more time thinking about and being around food, even though I may not be as hungry. I often think that as long as I’m out running or hiking, it’s time I’m not tempted to eat, and I usually don’t even want food then, in fact it’s hard for me to eat enough in long races. Of course, you can throw yourself into your work, and if it’s compelling or stressful enough, you won’t miss eating.

    Good luck and keep us apprised!

  5. Food Addict June 3, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    Ewa – completely agree. Planned my meals ahead this week and the fridge has only those foods in it.

    Beth – thanks it sounds like you are thinking similar to me.

    Ken – getting sanity around food is the main goal. I would rather have that than worry about what I weigh!!! As far as Im concerned you have achieved great success!

    Cynthia- I am trying to focus my attention on my work. But I am a bit of an escapist and I want to start living in the here and now. I cant keep escaping my life through different addictions.

  6. Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later June 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    Dan,

    As a fellow binger and Paleo enthusiast I sympathise. I was quite comfortable with the positioning of your previous blog, but that’s hardly surprising since half of my own blog posts seem to be about doing the right thing, and the other half documenting my spectacular failures at various points. But it’s admirable that you wanted to be even more honest about your experiences. I think my own binges are driven more by sheer greed, and less by underlying emotional drivers. I am just a rather venal. I am one week into a serious fightback, and feeling good. I hope things are going well for you.

    • Dan June 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

      Im finding more and more people ‘coming out’ and saying they also struggle with paleo. This makes me more happy that I made my decision. The paleo community and enthusiasts can give an image that the paleo diet is perfect and will be easy when you adopt it. I don’t think this is done on purpose but rather the end result. I think strongly now that the paleo diet is simply a tool to help break the addicted brain.

  7. Carla June 7, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    Hi Dan,

    I’m just discovering your blog, and I really like it. I am a recovering binge eater, and I am doing my best to find what works for ME. So far a primal/paleo lifestyle is going pretty well. But the worst thing for people with food addictions like us is to beat ourselves up or feel guilty for not eating perfectly all the time. It’s just food after all, it’s not like we robbed a bank! I can’t stand when other people are snobby about what they eat and when they talk down to people about how bad everything is that we put in our mouths! I have been doing a gradual approach, losing weight and changing my habits slowly, which seems to be good. Good luck, I’m going to read all your other posts now! 🙂

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