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Do a Google search and you’ll get hundreds of thousands of results, most of which are promising you “new and exciting” ways to treat your “addiction”. You just need more willpower, more exercise, more money, less food, more dieting, blah, blah, blah…
Scroll through your social media feeds and you’ll likely see friends, family, and health experts talking about how they are addicted to food and just can’t stop. They are gaining weight, then restricting, then binging, then restricting again, then gaining more weight, then banging their heads against the wall because they feel like they are broken.
Utter failures as humans…
“What the hell is wrong with me?” they scream into their pillows at night.
Nothing is wrong with you. I promise.
Why the “Food Addiction” Label is Dangerous
Today I would like to challenge this concept of “food addiction”. You cannot be addicted to something that is required for life. That’s like saying you’re addicted to air or water…
When we start applying labels of addiction to people it dramatically impacts their mental and physical health because, with labels, comes shame, embarrassment, and eventually a withdrawal from life.
Can certain chemicals and substances in foods create what seems like an addiction? Yes, absolutely.
It is no secret that processed food manufacturers use special combinations of flavors and aromas (largely chemical) to influence our taste buds to want more and more. These companies have dedicated teams and spend large sums of money to research and develop foods that will take us to our “bliss point” and essentially re-wire our natural senses of taste, pleasure, and satisfaction.
Ultimately this all leads to more money in their pockets, an increase in weight for their consumers, and a decrease in health and vitality for the world.
Things like sugar and fat can seem especially addicting, especially to those who have been chronic dieters, food restrictors, or struggle with challenges like binge eating and emotional eating.
It’s important to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sugar and fat when eaten in a way that is respectful to our bodies. But when our taste buds and brains become rewired to crave more and more of these foods, it can lead to feelings of addiction and being out of control around them. This is a situation where quality matters. Sugar and fats from processed, refined foods are vastly different than healthy fats and unrefined sugars.
This is not our fault. This is the fault of the food manufacturing companies and a lack of education in our society (thanks to bad science and corrupt political agendas) regarding what actually constitutes good nutrition.
When it comes to “food addiction”, I really want to steer clear of labels because ALL of the time, this “addiction” comes down to something much deeper in our body and soul that needs to be addressed. It could be emotional, it could be metabolic, it could be a combination of both.
This applies whether you are binge eating, overeating, emotionally eating, or whatever other kind of eating you feel is not working for you.
Another reason I don’t like the term “food addiction” is because you can’t quit food!
You NEED food to live.
You CAN quit cocaine, heroin, alcohol, etc.if you are addicted, but you can’t quit food. You have to have food to live. You don’t have to have any of those other substances… so, in my opinion, “addiction” is a word that is misused in this context.
What we need to understand that being “addicted” to food almost always means being “addicted” to a small group of foods (like sugars and fats), not to food as a whole. As one of my mentors, Emily Rosen says:
“Calling oneself a food addict is a 100% false diagnosis that does not exist in nature. We cannot be addicted to that which is natural and necessary for biological survival. What I notice happening far too often is that people are calling themselves food addicts as if they are addicted to eating food, and need to find a way to rid themselves of their appetite or desires. They see themselves as being defeated by the enemy called food. If only they can control their need for food – then they would be happy, have the perfect body, and have their real life.”
Our world has a lot of work to do here…
Reframing Your Struggles with Food
In my own life, and my work with clients, I always like to reframe things into a more positive light. When we do that, even if we are struggling, it helps us feel like we have more power in the situation and removes the limiting belief that “I am not enough” or “I am broken”. (pssst…this is exactly why diets also do not work. They are 99.9% of the time based on the idea of “there’s something wrong with me”.)
So, if you or someone you love is struggling with unwanted behaviors around food, please know that you are not “addicted” and you are not broken.
It is very likely that this “addiction” is serving as a way to help protect you and serve your very primal needs for comfort, love, acceptance, etc. This can happen for a gazillion different reasons, but some of the most common things are:
- Trauma that was not fully realized and processed
- Abandonment or fear of abandonment
- Lack of purpose
- Lack of feeling like you have a voice in your world
- Not knowing how to process emotions
- Not having solid stress reduction techniques
- Not practicing regular self-care
- Food sensitivities (when we eat foods our body is sensitive to, we can often create a neurochemical response that wants us to eat more and more of those foods)
- Poor food quality in our overall diet
- And a gazillion more reasons
It’s important to know, and really allow ourselves to believe, that our challenges and unwanted behaviors around food and body are a doorway. They are calling out to us and saying: “hey! there’s something here that you need to look at.”
They are not here because we are failures as humans.
They did not arise for no reason.
Every challenge we face around food and body has a very good reason for being there…we just have to figure out what that reason is. Our struggles are an invitation to dive deeper and move into a higher level of consciousness.
It’s important to start cultivating awareness around our food choices, the emotions that drive our eating patterns, and our overall beliefs about ourselves and our lives. These are very powerful areas to work in and can provide incredible healing around food and body.
Healing is possible. It takes time and it takes work…but there is freedom, peace, and a vibrant life waiting for you to grab it and hold it tight. You just have to take the first step and be brave.
If you are struggling with these issues and have not had luck unraveling things on your own, it might be time to ask for help and work with someone who can help you uncover the deeper meanings behind these unwanted behaviors so you can see WHY those behaviors are there. And then you can work together to support your growth and transformation out of those behaviors. This is exactly the work I do with clients and my passion for this work stems from the fact that I have been there. I have struggled with food, and weight, and worth, and depression, and fear.
You can do this. And I’m on your side. To YOUR health, with love!
P.S. If you’re ready to say goodbye to the years of feeling out of control and compulsive around food (resulting in body shame) and shift into a place of peace and freedom then I can help. Come join my 7-day Food & Body Freedom eCourse (it’s free!) here.
This eCourse came from my passion for helping women transform their relationships to food and body. What you desire IS truly possible if you are ready, open, and willing. It is time to say goodbye to the years of control, compulsive behaviors, limiting beliefs, scarcity of joy, and actions driven from a place of fear and feelings of unworthiness, once and for all. Learn more and sign up here.