When people suffer from food addiction they struggle to control their eating habits. They may repeatedly eat large amounts of unhealthy foods — despite knowing they may cause negative physical and emotional consequences.
It’s a common problem that can affect people of any size or age. The good news is that there are things you can do to overcome it.
1. Be mindful while you are eating.
Practicing mindful eating is a simple and effective way to break bad habits around food and create healthy, lasting change. Mindful eating is all about paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and sensations while eating.
Observe what you are eating through your senses and focus on the smell, taste, texture, temperature, and appearance of the food. This can be a wonderful way to connect with your food and appreciate the effort that goes into growing, delivering and preparing it.
The key to practicing mindful eating is not to feel like you have to do it perfectly, or even at all! This practice can be challenging at first, but it is a powerful one that can make you more conscious and aware of your relationship with food.
2. Practice portion control.
One of the best ways to combat food addiction is to practice portion control. Proper portion size varies depending on the type of food, but it’s important to learn how much is a healthy serving.
If you are struggling with bingeing or overeating, try dividing the foods that you crave into single-serving sizes. This will help you reduce the amount of these foods that you eat and prevent overeating.
Practicing portion control can be challenging at first, but it’s very helpful in achieving and maintaining your goal weight. It also helps you avoid overeating in the future.
3. Avoid trigger foods.
Identifying and eliminating trigger foods is key to beating your addiction. These foods are usually highly calorie-dense, high in fat and sugar or salt and can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
Once a person has made the decision to abstain completely from trigger foods, they may find that their cravings disappear or become significantly less intense. If there is some hesitancy about this, write down a pros and cons list to help weigh the benefits of abstaining.
Foods like chips, cookies, or ice cream can make you feel out of control, as if you can’t stop yourself from overeating. This is because these foods activate the pleasure center of your brain and cause you to crave more, even when you’re already full.
4. Eat healthy foods.
One of the most important ways to overcome food addiction is to eat healthy foods. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and protein-rich foods can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you have a family or friends who support your efforts to eat healthier, that can help you stay on track. Have them help you plan meals and give you healthy recipes to try.
A healthy diet can also help you reduce your risk of developing a number of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Avoid processed foods and replace them with nutrient-dense choices such as fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy.
5. Get help.
Overcoming food addiction can be a challenge. It is important to seek help from health professionals and support groups, like Overeaters Anonymous.
Overeating can take a physical and psychological toll on an individual. It can lead to weight gain, depression and increased risk of obesity-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.
People who have food addiction may also suffer from feelings of guilt, shame and low self-esteem. Treatment for this disorder involves learning healthier coping strategies, such as exercising or going for a walk.
There are no medications for food addiction, but therapy and support groups can help someone struggling with this disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals identify the triggers of their food cravings and provides healthy coping strategies.