Are You Hooked on Meals and What’s Meals Habit?

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Are You Addicted To Food

Food addiction is not a laughing matter. And it's on the rise. Some experts believe this is partly due to the increasing tendency of manufacturers to addictive (intentionally) our food (by pumping it with sugar). That's scary considering how young they appeal to our children too.

Of course we all sometimes use food or alcohol to blow off steam, but what's the difference between this and actual addiction? It is the lack of control over food that is one of the main characteristics of addiction. The effects are devastating and lead to illness, overweight, obesity and often depression. Even so, the person appears to have no control over food.

Is Food Addiction Real?

Until relatively recently, the idea that a person might be dependent on food was controversial and there was little evidence to support it. But it has received increasing support lately, based on brain imaging and other studies of the effects of compulsive eating on the pleasure centers of the brain. Food addiction is similar to several other eating disorders, including eating disorders, bulimia, compulsive overeating, and other unhealthy relationships with food. Food addiction is a serious problem and a major reason why some people find it difficult to control certain foods – no matter how hard they try. Food addiction is especially harsh because of the inability to detoxify or quit the addictive substances as we all have to eat to survive.

Food addiction questions

Researchers at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Science & Policy have developed a questionnaire to identify people with food addiction. Here is a selection of questions that you can use to determine if you have food addiction. It is important to note that this is not a medical diagnosis. The questions only reflect what is common with food addiction and help assess the likelihood of addiction.

Do you often do:

– Do you end up eating more than you planned when you eat certain foods?

– Do you continue to eat certain foods even when you are no longer hungry?

– Eat until sick?

– Are you concerned about not eating certain types of foods or are you concerned about restricting certain types of foods?

– When certain foods are not available, are you making every effort to obtain them?

Does food affect your personal life in any of the following ways:

1. You eat certain foods so often – or in such large quantities – that instead of working, spending time with family, or engaging in recreational activities, you start eating.

2. You avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available for fear of overeating.

3. You are having trouble functioning effectively in your work place or school because of the eating and eating.

For the full questionnaire, please click here.

How to beat food Addiction

The first step is to admit that there is a problem. Often times, people don't really think they are addicted and may return to harmful behavior. But when someone realizes they are addicted, the path they are on definitely changes. Defeating any addiction is a great achievement. Psychotherapy is an essential step in finding out and addressing what could be the root cause of your addiction.

Many addicts have an underlying mental health problem or trauma in life that ultimately led them to seek refuge in mind-altering substances or harmful activities. Psychotherapy enables us to understand the many levels of complexity that surround addiction and self-destructive behavior. Therapy can also help us identify and address the clues and triggers for relapse such as stress.

One of the most important things is to follow a regular, structured eating pattern. Judith Brisman, founding director of the Resource Center for Eating Disorders in Manhattan: “Ultimately, I am firmly convinced of integrating a structure around food, for example three meals a day and two snacks – something rhythmic that can work continuously. Then listen to the body for what is needed at each of these times. "She also recommends intuitive or mindful eating (see our blog on the subject here.)

Recommended books and contacts on food addiction

Surviving an Eating Disorder: Strategies for Family and Friends by Judith Brisman

Shadow of Hope: How to Treat Your Food Addiction by Tennie McCarty

The Food Addiction Restoration Workbook: How To Cope With Food Cravings, Reduce Stress, And Stop Hating Your Body (A New Self-Help Workbook From Harbinger) by Carolyn Coker Ross.

Overeating Anonymous: Provides a 12 step (with support groups) approach to dealing with food addiction.

To find a therapist near you, visit the Irish Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy (www.iacp.ie)

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