Are you addicted to food? Food was definitely my drug of choice for many years. Food as an addiction has been a point debated by experts for many years. Some say it can’t be addictive because we need it to survive. That would be like being addicted to oxygen or water. Well, let me tell you, when we’re having an emotional meltdown and don’t have food to soothe us, it can very much feel like being deprived of oxygen!
What Makes Food Addictive?
One of the biggest contributors to food addiction is that most of us eat highly processed food. When we eat food from a box or package, it has undergone rigorous experimentation to adjust the salt, fat and sugar to make it more appealing and by design, more addictive. I have yet to see someone who feels like they will lose it if they can’t get their self-soothing broccoli. In brain scans, sugar lights up the reward system in our brains just like cocaine. Yale identified a test for food addiction which you can take here: Yale Food Addiction Scale. Unlike other substances, food tends to be viewed as more socially acceptable than other addictive behaviors or substances. This makes it easier to diminish the negative impact food is having on your life.
What Fires Together Wires Together
Hebb’s Law is a theory that surmises when two things are activated at the same time, they will become fused together. What does this mean for food addiction? When certain foods light up our brain, we want them more. When we use food to solve an emotional problem and feel better (even temporarily) we want to do it again and again. The more we engage in emotional eating, the stronger the connections become in our brain. This folks, is why a diet never works long term to solve your relationship with food! Most people don’t realize this. They think they are lazy or a failure which leads to another diet and the cycle of shame begins.
Healing Your Relationship With Food
By addressing the underlying emotional components leading you to seek out food for emotional support, addressing nervous system dysregulation and giving you tangible skills to use before the urge to eat occurs, you can create healing in your relationship with food. If you are interested in learning more about how counseling can help, learn more about the services I offer through this link and contact me today!