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Food as an Addiction


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Hi all hope everyone is well. So a little background on me; I will soon graduate with a degree in psychology and for the past two years I have worked closely with drug addicts in recovery. Those two items along with my own experience and the testimonials of others for the basis of this theory. Honestly I don't thinks it's necessarily a theory as I'm sure most of you will agree with what I'm about to say.

I honestly feel that food is one of the strongest and most accepted addictions that we have in our society today.

Recovering addicts often have "use" dreams in which they are using their drug of choice and these dreams are very real to them. This is also a common theme in the early and latter stages of the Whole30. I call them "food use" dreams. Dallas and Melissa often say that you must listen to your body and I think that "food use" dreams are a sign from your body that you are cutting out all the right foods. I think the strangest food use dream that I had was eating chicken nuggets made with chocolate chips.

Another common item that we find between participants of the Whole30 (especially in the early stages) and drug addicts is a battle between will power and cravings; also the fact that a lot of your cravings can be triggered by stress or idle time. Personally for me the hardest time that I have staying on plan is over the weekend period for the main reason that I have a lot of down time at home and there is a lot of non-approved food around (my family isn't on board with the program).

There's also the fact that we have built up a support group, which is wonderful by the way; almost like aa/na would be.

Now those things being said I also want to say that I'm not comparing the things that I'm going through with my Whole30 to that of the struggles of a recovering drug addict and if you are an addict in recovery I commend you on your achievement. But I do think that there is such a thing as food addiction and I think I am a food addict. And once I came to that realization, that I was addicted to food, it was almost as if a light bulb clicked on, and somehow my Whole30 Challenge took on a new meaning. So if you are finding it extra difficult or if you think your a food addict your not alone.

~Food addict in recovery~

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It's really interesting that you posted this because this has been running through my head for the past few days. I agree with you 100% that food addiction is quite possibly one of the worst addictions and as you said the most accepted. I don't want anyone to think I am downplaying any other type of addition because that's not what I am doing. I don't wish addiction on anyone. Food is everywhere - we can't escape it. :)

I've been trying to Whole 30 on and off for a long time now. It isn't until I bought Dallas and Melissa's book that I've been able to put things in a little better perspective and realize that this is so much more than cleaning up just my diet. I feel I am learning to eat all over again, 3 times a day and with control. It's very liberating.

What I keep thinking more and more about is that I am doing a Whole 30 and I keep reading that people are taking "days off" after it. I seriously can't do that. I know I have an addiction to all things sugar. Fruit I can eat in little servings but give me dessert, a pepsi and I am off the wagon for days, weeks, months! I will start hiding food, sneaking treats, going out for fast food. Once I start, I can't get off the hampster wheel. I can't handle sugar and it makes me want to eat any kind of crap food I can get my hands on. I can admit that and I am OK with that. I am an addict and I am treating this like it's sobriety. It's the only way I can succeed. I honestly don't care if I make anyone mad by turning down food at at party, holidays. I have to do what's good for me and this is what I have to do. We don't give cocaine to a cocaine addict and I consider it the same situation.

I've only realized this in the last few days and I have to say that I finally feel better about things. I am 2 days "sober" from sugar. I'm going to start telling people this too. I don't care if they think I am crazy! Haha

Best of luck to you fellow food addict.


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@Renee Thanks for the support, it means a lot!

@Tom thanks for the welcome.

@Amazon-ing Yes i find that my bout with food is constant one. One weekend day down and one more to go.

@Adagio A sugar, grain, etc. addict may have been a better choice of words but in my early days of my transition and even now into the inital days of my Whole30 I sometimes find that in my moments of being bored or idle it's not just sugars, grains, and crap food that I crave....it's food in general; and i'm not hungry when I crave it. Food is just always how I have coped and dealt.

@formercupcakejunkie I pretty much do the same thing as far as telling people how many days "sober" I am. Most people already think i'm crazy so they just endear me when i say these things. I also find that doing things like this sometimes causes people to ask questions like, "what do you mean?" I use those instances to tell people about the Whole30 and all the great things that are happening in my life because of it. Keep up the great work....I'm thinking about starting a Food Addicts Anonymous lol.

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My oldest brother is a recovering drug addict, and is currently still in rehab. When he first got there in March, myself and a few other family members participated in a family day. The day was structured around several different classes to help us understand where my brother had been, but from his point of view. They taught us about addiction, and how it controls your life - that's when I started looking at my issues with food in a different light. They had a list of all of the things an addict would do to satisfy their addiction... and I was sitting there saying to myself - I do that, and that, and that... just substitute the word drugs or alcohol with food, and I'm right there with them. I wanted to check myself in pronto!! Instead of checking myself in, a few months later I ended up downloading how I felt to one of my greatest friends - who had converted to paleo living a few years ago.. She said, that's what I've been trying to tell you for the past two years!! She recommended ISWF - and the rest is literally history!

Thanks for sharing your story, Tyler. Welcome, and best of luck to you. My transition has been relatively easy because my husband is on board with W30, but I know you will come to a point where the weekends will just be like any other clean day. If you haven't already, you should start a log in the 'Your Whole30 Log' thread, I would love to follow your progress along the way!!

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Oh man I'm right in the same boat as you. Family not on board weekends being the hardest. I do say that my family eats mostly all organic though. They are just not on board with paleo. I noticed you were looking for an accountability buddy. I'm on day 3 so pretty close to you. I'm looking for someone that I can text back and forth with pretty easily. I had someone else lined up but after it being 3 days before I got a response I knew it wasn't going to work.

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I am a major food addict..totally carb intolerant. The Whole30 helps SO much with overeating. I've always had an issue with food but it got worse when I quit smoking 11 years ago. Basically I traded one vise for another. Today is day two of doing the program. I've done Paleo about 60% of the time before so the transition is ok.

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OA and EDA already exist and are the same thing you are talking about/dealing with! They stand for overeaters anonymous and eating disorder anonymous. They do the 12 steps just like the other AA/NA/HA/CA programs. They share their experiences of going to food, hiding food, bingeing, restricting, being food addicts of either carbs/sugars/all foods and just eating to eat. You should look in to them especially if you are in the field. The brain is different however with a food addiction than with a drug/alcohol addiction but the neuropathways are still being built and pathed in a negative way. We all have to retrain our brains and build new pathways but each time we don't go to food for sadness, fear, lonliness, boredom, or caving to our addiction we build a new pathway that can be stronger than the food addict one! Good luck on your journey! I am on day 2 and oh man is all I can say! I got this though!

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I agree with you 100% Tyler: that's why I think other 'diets' only work on a surface level, because they only treat the symptoms (weight issues) and not the cause (psychological/hormonal issues). I do find it hard to explain myself to others that do not have these issues with their eating, but I am getting more and more confident and assertive in making sure that I put myself first, and I am now on day 28 of my first Whole 30 - no slips, no cheats, and I'm excited to continue.

I'll certainly be reading your blog, and if you need any test subjects for any projects on overeating/binge-eating/disordered eating - then feel free to shout! ;-)

I feel sure you're on a positive path, so no need to wish you luck!

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  • 4 years later...

Food Addiction is real.

Food sober. Reaching the 1 year mark is a major accomplishment.

Going Cold Turkey with Whole 30 was the first part of the journey.

I don't bounce in and out of sugar with insulin excursions. If I did, I would fall back into food addiction relapse. 

Others may be able to eat sugar at will, I cannot. I used to get plastered every day with sugar.

The Law of Addiction = Administration of a substance to a food addict will cause reestablishment of chemical/sugar dependence upon the addictive substance. Instantly. 

Everything/sugar in moderation for the food addict can end up in a full blown relapse.

If you can bounce in and out of sugar with ease, you are not a food addict.

In the beginning of a food addict's life, the body will go along with the cycles of food addiction. Gradually, over years, the body becomes less and less receptive to compensatory measures.

At this point, the body and pancreas is becoming very sensitive to glucose. You've hit the wall or critical mass.

The frequency and number of insulin excursions are increasing and your natural balance is gone.

Year 1 is critical for food addiction recovery. It is at this point that many fall right back into food addiction, especially after releasing a major amount of weight.

After a relapse,they rebound with every single pound.

You've got to push through the one year mark when you are a food addict. You won't be able to return to your old 'normal' way of eating...not without constant relapsing over the months and years.

You have to create a positive food management plan that you can live with for the rest of your life.

One that is sustainable and without misery. If you don't learn to do that, you live to repeat the destructive cycles of food addiction, over and over and over again.

If you can easily bounce in and out of sugar, you are not a food addict. Be happy about that.

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