by Kay Sheppard, LMHC, CEDS
To help you in your search for knowledge of yourself and the disease of food addiction, consider this information concerning addiction:
Men and women who are allergic to and compulsively persist in the use of mind-altering foods and chemicals have a disease. This disease is an addiction with recognizable symptoms and a definite progression. Continued use of the addictive substances produces physical evidence of loss of control or powerlessness in the following ways.
The physical need for the food of choice grows as does the inability to go anywhere or do anything without it. Mental difficulties and physical misery can be caused by alternate binging, dieting or purging.
Use of addictive foods aggravates physical disorders such as arthritis, diabetes, migraine headaches and certain heart conditions, to name a few.
Physiological conditions involving the heart, respiration, kidneys, gallbladder and circulatory system are negatively impacted by the addictive process.
Are you powerless over an addictive chemical in the form of food? You may be able to identify in your own life the following symptoms of the illness of food addiction:
- Use of food to relieve tension — the addicted person finds temporary relief from aches and pains or emotional tension arising from boredom, anger, depression, self-pity and other emotions.
- Preoccupation with binge food — addicted persons often fortify themselves before a meal or party, sneak more during a meal or party, avoid non-eating occasions and plan their stash in order to avoid being without binge food.
- Loss of control — the first bite triggers the compulsion to keep on eating.
- Use of alibis and rationalizations to excuse unacceptable behavior — blaming abnormal eating behavior on everything and anybody to try and maintain dwindling self-esteem.
- Growth of irrational behavior patterns — you may exhibit an increasing hostility toward those who show concern, followed by extravagant gestures to make up to family or friends for failures in the relationships.
- Breakdown in human relations — you may cease to be involved with or be considerate of family and associates and begin seeking the company of other food addicts.
- Increasing physical disability — lethargy interferes with daily activities; vital organs such as the heart, liver and brain degenerate, requiring hospitalizations, surgery and other medical intervention.
- Loss of spiritual contact — as feelings of being a ‘bad person’ increase, loss of faith results.
These factors contribute to the unmanageability of life. The food addiction adversely impacts the addict socially, materially, spiritually and emotionally.