Weight Loss Support - To Those "Addicted to Food"

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Beach Patrol
12-17-2007, 11:52 AM
(Mods -please feel free to move this if this category is not the right place for this post - thanks!) A very interesting article.... science now says that food addiction IS REAL, and not so different from drug addiction (or other addictions). I used to always think that it is harder to stop a chocolate craving than a drug craving (altho I've never done drugs, so I don't really know) simply because chocolate is FOOD and we NEED FOOD to sustain ourselves. A body can live perfectly fine without cigarettes, alchohol, heroin, etc... but you CANNOT live without food. And yes, chocolate is food.....

to read more.... http://www.ediets.com/news/article.cfm?code=24423&cmi=2427961

Janie Canuck
12-17-2007, 12:32 PM
That is interesting. My concern, though he did address it at the end, is that giving it a powerful label like "addiction" can be disempowering, ie. "why fight it, I have an addiction?" In order to overcome food issues, we need to truly believe that we CAN do it. Being told that it's an addiction like heroin kind of saps that belief right out of you, I think.

12-17-2007, 01:01 PM
This is an interesting article. I think your concerns about using it as an excuse have validity, Janie, but I also think the acknowledgment of how hard it is gives us an understanding of how difficult the challenge will be and that allows us to be more prepared to fight through setbacks. Otherwise, it's easy to label ourselves as "out of control" or "undisciplined" or whatever instead of looking at it as the monumental challenge it is for many people.

Another sort of related concern that I have is the societal perception of the whole eating thing. It is not generally socially acceptable to do heroin, even if the consequences of the choice to do it have not yet escalated for an individual. Yet, it seems as though our culture dictates that we be thin AND eat fattening foods. So many characters in popular entertainment eat really unhealthy foods - remember all of the fattening foods they ate on Friends, and Joey's obsessiveness with jam, desserts, French fries, etc.? Yet, it was never considered socially unacceptable because they weren't fat. But - when they do flashbacks of the time when Monica was fat, her bad food choices became comedic fodder because she was fat? I'm rambling a little, but I'm a little frustrated too. It seems like it is not "okay" to be fat - which I am - and it's also not "okay" to be vigilant about food choices in public - which I am as well. It seems as though it's not socially acceptable to eat poorly if you're fat and not socially acceptable to eat well if you're thin. The fact remains that there are only a few people who can eat poorly and continue to be thin.

12-17-2007, 01:03 PM
On the other hand, a powerful label like addiction also stresses the damage it does to body, soul, and interpersonal relationships, and can inspire desire for change. Most smokers, drug, alcohol and even gambling and sex addicts tend continue their behaviors until they admit addiction. Until then, they say "I can stop any time I want to."

Janie Canuck
12-17-2007, 01:54 PM
True enough, maybe that word "addiction" is a wake-up call for some people. It might make them finally admit that their problem is serious. And you're also right, that maybe it does help people to prepare for what a challenge it can be to get the eating/weight under control. And come to think of it, I guess that my "aha moment" in terms of finally bringing my bingeing under control was admitting to myself that I had BED, and that if I could not bring it under control, then I needed to seek professional help. So in that way, I guess the label served a good purpose.

I guess it's just that for me personally, and I fit the description of a "sugar addict" (vis a vis Radiant Recovery), I tended to use that as an excuse to hang my poor choices on. Part of getting things under control for me was to admit to myself, despite whatever disorder I had self-diagnosed, that the buck stopped with me, and whether or not I inhaled the bowl of ice cream was ultimately under my control. Now, sometimes, the ice cream still wins out, and the binge mindset is always lurking, but I have been successful at gaining control over the behaviour of actually putting the food into my mouth.

12-17-2007, 01:57 PM
It has been 390 days since my last line of cocaine, and I will always be an addict. I think that's one thing that you have to learn when it comes to an addiction--that no matter how long you've been abstinent, how much control you think you have, how "over it" you think you are, it's ALWAYS going to be there. You've done it once, and it didn't quite kill you the first time, so what's one more going to hurt? Sadly, that goes through my mind quite a lot.

"Addiction" is more an empowering term than a disempowering term, if you are a true addict. It assigns you a label, and gives you something to belong to other than your drug of choice, be it cocaine, sex, gambling, food, porn, whatever. It subconsciously provides us with the assurance that we are NOT alone, that there are others struggling, and that only with the help of one another can be truly successful.

And, by the way, no chocolate craving I've ever had can compare to coke cravings. I've never had a chocolate craving that culminates in panic attacks.

12-17-2007, 02:29 PM

My first thought was, DUH! There are just so many parallels between addictive behavior and certain food behaviors among overweight/obese people, that it's a no-brainer, to me anyway.

That's why I don't keep ice cream in my house.

However, people can learn to behave differently toward food. I used to not be able to have corn chips in the house. Once I hadn't eaten them for a few months (month, not days), I found I could have them in the house IF I divided a bag of chips up into 1-serving portions and individually bagged them. That allows me to have a limit on them. But with other foods, like the ice cream, I can't manage it yet.

Many, many people are addicted to sugar/carbs! Read the book Sugar Blues by William Dufty to learn more about how this works!

Just as with any addiction, there is no excuse for continuing to engage in the addictive behaviors. "I can't help it" makes no difference to your blood pressure, blood sugar, clogged arteries, etc.

The positive part of learning that addictive processes are involved, however, is that you no longer have to wonder WHY it is so hard to stop eating certain foods. And it's easier to accept that some foods just have to be removed from reach when first starting a program. Having "just a taste" won't work in some cases, not until a good deal of time has passed--and maybe not even then.


12-17-2007, 02:45 PM
Such an interesting article, thank you for posting it! I think its important for us people who battle with our weight, to recognise it is an addiction and it isnt us being useless, weak etc etc, so we dont beat ourselves up constantly.
Its a fine line though, I also agree with Janie, we dont want to just believe that we are done for and to give up, and give in to the addiction! I would be interested to read about more of this kind of thing, has anyone read anything they can reccomend on this subject?! Please message me if you have read anything of interest, this might just be enough to scare me away from the cheese!!!

12-17-2007, 02:58 PM
I've heard the argument alot (even with illegal street drugs) that the term "addict," or even any sympathetic response encourages people not to change their behavior, but I've never seen any proof of that. I think excuses don't fall in people's lap, people seek excuses, and a person seeking an excuse will always find one (and may choose to cling to it no matter how lame). I don't think giving people one more excuse (to add to the thousands already available) increases any one person's likelihood of using one. Yes, some people might use "addiction" as an excuse to continue behavior, but I don't believe these people would have otherwised changed their behavior, they just would have used a different excuse, had "addiction" not been available.

That being said, I do think we sometimes throw the word addiction around a little too easily, especially if we consider all "addictions" equivalent on some level. Problems with legal substances have different consequences than illegal substances. Substances that cause immediate severe health effects have different consequences than substances that cause physical damage over time. Substances that trigger antisocial, abberant, violent, or bizarre behavior have different consequences than substances that do not. Trying to draw too close a parallel makes as little sense as seeing no similarities.

12-17-2007, 04:09 PM
I agree with you, Colleen, about the excuses thing. I think it's really easy to swing to one side or the other and conclude that either all behavior is excusable or it's all inexcusable. I prefer to think of my issues with food as obstacles. I have more obstacles than some when it comes to weight and fewer obstacles than others. Pretending that I have no obstacles doesn't make my issues go away, however. And pretending that they're insurmountable doesn't help at all with my problems.

12-17-2007, 05:57 PM
LaurieDawn, I like that distinction.

Kaplods, I agree that it's not possible to use a term like addiction so broadly. No one is really addicted to chocolate, although it may feel that way! :lol: But, I like to focus on behavior, and some people's behavior regarding food is much like that of an addict. For example:

- hiding food (in one's room, in the car, in a locker, etc.).
- eating food in secret (private trips to the drive-thru).
- going to different stores to find the food items of choice, so one won't be recognized.
- lying about how much or what one has eaten.
- making excuses to go out when the real reason is to buy and eat food.
- buying something and eating all of it and then hiding the wrappers or packaging.

I remember one poster on 3FC who said that she shoved some cookies underneath herself while sitting on the couch because her husband came into the room, and she didn't want him to see her eating them.

And, lots of eating-disorder behavior is addictive behavior.

The main thing is the lying, sneaking, and hiding. When you find yourself doing those things you know that something's not right.


12-17-2007, 07:03 PM
I can assure you food addiction DOES exist.

I wake up thinking about it.

It ruins much of my happiness, etc.

Spend too much money on it.

Lie about it.

Have weird rituals with it.

Can't live without above said weird stuff^

Its too real.

12-17-2007, 10:02 PM
There are no doubt that there are many similarities and I see no problem using the term "addiction" as most people use it. In a clinical sense, however addiction is a term reserved for very specific purpose. I know we were taught in graduate school that gambling, food, and drugs that did not cause physiological dependence shouldn't be considered "true" addictions, and were were taught to prefer the term "abuse." But I think as most people use the terms they are interchangeable. One of the problems I see with carrying the addiction parallel too closely, is that people could lose their jobs over food addiction, or children could be taken away from food addicted parents (and maybe some people feel they should be, personally knowing a little more than I want to about the foster care system, I tend to disagree).

12-17-2007, 11:21 PM
First of all, xtrisaratops, congratulations on 390 days clean and sober!
I think recognizing eating disorders as a form of addiction helps in treating and fighting them. Treating anorexia in a similar way to drug and alcohol addiction has proven very successful so it makes sense for over eaters too. Recovery guides you, among other things, to be accountable for your actions and choices and encourages honesty and encourages getting support from the people around you as well as people in similar circumstances -- if anything , I think viewing eating disorders this way can really benefit people.

12-17-2007, 11:33 PM
You've made many good points here ladies; I have often wondered about this myself. I have heard some people talk about this uncontrollable feeling of 'always being hungry'. Is this the body sending signals and/or the mind? Like you say, maybe there are some minor addictive similarities, but not many people will rob a store to get a bag of chippies becuz of a craving ~ lol!

HOWEVER, I have wondered if those hormones they put in some animals that make them want to eat more, hence being passed onto humans via bi-products (like cheese), could be sending signals to our body systems and brains to eat even when we are not truly in need of fuel??? This then could be said to be causing a type of addictive reaction to food.

They are always warning women to watch what they consume becuz it is then passed onto their children. If we eat and drink the products of animals that have been fed these 'eat more' hormones, then we are consuming them also, are we not? I wonder if this has ever been investigated? I know people who believe that is why their sons are all over six feet tall, when both parents and families are 5.6 and less in height.

Sorry if I have drifted OT, but I have wondered about this topic for some time now. Are food cravings physical or mental/emotional or both? I personally think they are a little of both.

Example: when my nephew was a baby; about one years old, his mother would find him foraging thru the cupboards looking for something to eat in the middle of the night. I know a little boy now (six y/o) that from the time he was a baby, all he wants to do is eat; his parents have to keep saying no and give him several small meals a day to keep his weight down and cravings at bay (by a doctors' instructions).

I have a sibling with the disease CF ~ half of this disease has a wasting-away component (the other is lung); these poor dears are starving to death becuz their bodies cannot get enuff nutrients from the food. I have been diagnosed with a severe vitamin deficiency; now that I takes supplements all day; my hair grew back after 24 years.

Now, this is just my experience and personal observations, but it does make you wonder if there isn't more of a genetic component to weight problems and eating disorders, than we might realize ... sorry for rambing ~ lol! :hug: ROSEBUD :hug:

12-18-2007, 12:00 AM
EXTRIS--when reading Beach Patrol's post I thought the same thing.
YES we need food, YES it seems additcing, and is addicting to some, obviously. But, NO it is nothing like that needing your drugs. I have been clean for 15 months, and there is just nothing like the pain that an addict experiences. I really think drug addiction is a chemical, physical additction, even the 'lighter' drugs, that makes your mind and body really messed up. It is very different from a food addiction, or internet, or porn.
Even though I DO HEAR the arguement that you HAVE to eat food to survive, just knowing what life was as a drug addict, there is just no compairison for me.

12-18-2007, 12:10 AM
I know that for me, food is an addiction. My laundry list of behaviors closely matches JayEll's list. I have been in denial about its effects on me for years. That is also an addict's mindset. It is all made much more complex because we have to eat to live, whereas a drug addict doesn't need drugs to live.

This is also why the problem will never fully go away. I will manage it, and I am responsible for managing it, but I've accepted that it will never go away. This is not a defeatist stance, this is a realist stance. The minute I think my food addiction is licked it rears its ugly head again and brings me to my knees. It may lay dormant for long periods of time at some point, but I can never say I'm cured.

12-18-2007, 12:17 AM
I'm very interested in the genetic factors of obesity. Not because I want or need an excuse for who I am, but I was adopted as an infant. I have a younger brother (also adopted, different birth parents) and two much younger sisters (my parents' biological children, after 15 years of infertility).

I've often thought of trying to learn more about my biological parents, but it's never seemed worth the costs (Catholic Social Services, through which I was placed, has several tiers of adoption search protocols that can be rather expensive if you want more than the most general details.

I would love to know their body fat histories, because I have always been so different from my adoptive family in personality, interests, and weight/food issues. I have been obese and food obsessed since kindergarten. I've always felt what I would call a strong drive to eat and eat and eat. Even full to the point of bursting, I would still want more. My mother and her mother both had weight problems, that didn't start until marriage, and got worse after pregnancies. My father's side of the family is very slim, and when they do put on weight, it tends to be at the waist (my father was slim until he retired, and now looks like a very skinny man who just happens to be about 7 - 8 months pregnant). One sister (like mom) started to put on weight in her late 20's. She's still barely overweight, but carries her weight in her hips (like Mom). The other sister takes after Dad and has never really had a weight problem. Her job isn't active, but she works out and is very health concious. The only time she has needed to lose weight was after each pregnancy (she has two sons, and is pregnant with child number 3). She joined Weight Watchers after baby 2, in order to lose 15 lbs. She did it in about two months with little problem (she always lectures the rest of us on how "easy" weight loss is).

Now my brother has never had any kind of weight problem. Since he retired, he has put on a little weight over all that "navy" muscle, but few people would consider him overweight - he still falls within the navy guidelines. He is athletic and has very active hobbies like scuba diving. His children also have never had weight problems, his daughter is very athletic like him. His son has the build and activity level (or rather lack of) more like his mom. Thin, but not muscular, and a bit of a couch potato.

It just makes me wonder whether one or both of my bio parents were overweight or had food or substance issues or OCD. I don't think it would do much more than satisfy morbid curiosity (and maybe I would feel a tiny bit less like a freak). I'm not looking to excuse my weight "I can't help it, I have fat genes" (like I said, if I were looking for excuses, I could find one with or without genetics), but I think it would be interesting to know whether I inherited some of my "obstacles."

Beach Patrol
12-18-2007, 10:45 AM
That's a very interesting point, Colleen. I have often wondered just how much our parents have to do with our weight. I mean, it's clear that if you have mom's smile & dad's eyes... you could obviously get their "fat" too. I've noticed that I definitely take after my dad's side of the family. The women are very thin when young but gain weight growing older, and we have a lot of "digestive" problems.

This was all brought more to light for me when I started reading Teresa Tapp's book Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes. Then I joined the website, and then bought some work out DVDs and seminars on CD...

Her CD seminar is really what kicked me in the rear! The fact that our blood type & body type & heritage & so forth is all related in how we gain &/or lose weight, etc. Why some people can eat like there's no tomorrow & barely gain an ounce, and others can just look at a piece of cake & feel their butt widen... And how to battle your specific problems regarding food, etc. It's really some of the most interesting reading/listening I've ever done.

For instance, I am Irish, Scottish, German & Cherokee Indian. I am A+ blood type. My Irish/Scottish/German heritage gives me my short, pale-skin look while the Cherokee Indian allows me to tan nicely & have that roundness to my face & bottom. Because of my Irish/Scottish/German background, I DO have a problem with cellulite, but I'm an A blood type so I can control the cellulite fairly easily with the foods I eat (or DON'T eat!) and exercise.

It's not really complicated, but it does take some study to understand it - and I could definitely see where not knowing your ancestoral background could mean confusion of your own body.

12-18-2007, 11:25 AM
My point of view has always been that genetics/familial influences/medical issues (PCOS) most likely could've led me to be a chunky person but my own eating habits really are what led me to being morbidly obese. I was confused as a child as to why I was overweight despite being fairly active. I did have an eating problem from a very young age. I also had 2 obese parents (father morbidly obese) who also had weight problems from a very young age.

I know a lot of people don't think its fair that they may have a deck stacked against them in regards to weight and I certainly didn't feel it was fair for many years. My solution though was really to accept it and move on. Of course not only have I had a tough time, possibly tougher than others and possibly easier than some others, but I've also had mental issues to overcome due to always being obese. Those have really been hard but I just try to deal with them as they come.

So am I addicted to food? Absolutely

I just try to control it the best I can to obtain my goal.

12-18-2007, 12:26 PM
Why not eat organic if you are concerned? Put the blame where it goes, what you decide to put in your mouth. I've maintained a 200+ pound weight loss for 30 years because I completely changed what I ate. I didn't sit back and blame it on addiction (or what animals eat - after all I hope you aren't eating a cow a day) - I eat fruit, veggies, complex carbs, dairy and meat, fish and poultry. I exercise 6-7 days a week... it worked!

If you think you are addicted to sugar or chocolate or whatever, then you have to do what addicts do and cut it completely from your diet.

12-18-2007, 05:04 PM
Abstinence is generally not the best idea for everyone. If it worked for you thats awesome. What seems to work for me when I like myself to bother is not to elimiate junk, just not stuff it down all the effin time.x

12-18-2007, 05:50 PM
I think that when it comes to talking about addiction, that we must realize that some people are more prone to being addicted to certain things...

I completely understand when an former drug addict comes here, and says that dealing with food is NOTHING in comparison to what they experienced with drugs. That is 100% true-for them.

Not everyone who is overweight has a food addiction.

For instance, I smoked for a few years when I was young. I smoked until I found out I was pregnant with my first child-and I quit cold turkey. Quitting smoking wasn't all that big of a deal to me-after the first couple days-I was completely fine with it. On the other hand, other people try for years, have to use patches/therapy/nicotine gum, and often have numerous tries before they are successful. Some are never successful in quitting-like my SIL. She couldn't quit even after she became pregnant, and probably had a Marlboro in her hand during labor. :p She would sneak around, smoking so her boyfriend and parents wouldn't see.

I love wine. I enjoy a nice glass of wine, and indulge in it on occasion. But by no means does it have the affect on me that it does on someone who is an alcoholic.

I have been to Vegas-but I am not addicted to gambling.

I think talking about food addiction might seem silly, or small, in comparison to other addictions-only if you don't have truly have an eating disorder of some kind. Downlplaying it, would be like me telling an alcoholic that having a glass of wine isn't a big deal...

Everyone is different-and I think that our personal biological makeup might make Joe Smith more prone to alcoholism, while Jane might be a compulsive shopper, and Sue might have a food addiction.

I think that JayEll's post about the behavior of someone with an eating addiction is right on. There have been instances where I, myself, have done things on that list. It isn't pretty. It is very hard to control.

The only way I can describe it, really, is I wonder how in the world I can run my own businesses, take care of my house, 3 kids, husband, and do all of the millions of things I do successfully-but there are times where I can't control myself with a piece of cake. How can I let a piece of chocolate control my entire day? How can I do so well for weeks and weeks...and then fall off the wagon and eat half a pizza, and two pints of ice cream, and end up in tears. :?:

12-18-2007, 06:24 PM
I am a recovering alcoholic (18 years) and a recovering smoker(13 years). Now I am trying to be a recovering fat person. Gads. Anyway, I sometimes have the same feelings around food as I did about alcohol. Powerlessness, for one thing. Guilt, maybe. My feeling is that maybe my other addictions transfered somewhat weakly to food. In my case, smoking was the hardest to quit, but I had the least attachement to it.

My idea of recovery from being fat, is to be able to maintain. I have always been able to diet just fine. Sometimes it takes a little time to get motivated, but I can always do it. What I can't do, is maintain - so I am looking to make the lifestyle change that we all talk about. Then I will be able to say I am in recovery.

As others have mentioned, we are all different, so your recovery might look different from mine, but we can do it!

12-18-2007, 06:31 PM
Everyone is addicted to food or we'd die. We're also addicted to water and air. I just don't buy the whole thing. I just can't believe we can compare eating too much food with heroine or crack. I do by the abuse theory though.

12-18-2007, 09:30 PM
Everyone is addicted to food or we'd die. We're also addicted to water and air. I just don't buy the whole thing. I just can't believe we can compare eating too much food with heroine or crack. I do by the abuse theory though.

I actually don't quite agree with that. I don't think you need to be addicted to food to survive and I wouldn't say I'm addicted to water and air.

I think about food 24/7... I day dream about food, I think about what I can eat next, I think about foods I shouldn't be eating, I get anxious thinking about food, I dream of ways to prepare food or food I can eat at my favorite restaurant, etc. It is hard to deal with and some of the best tactics include abstinence from certain foods while others I can somewhat control because certain foods I want to have in my life. I don't think everyone has the same feelings about food that I do. Its torture.

12-18-2007, 10:11 PM
Hey kimmieone,

There is a difference between needing something to live and being addicted to something.

No one needs heroin, or nicotine, or cocaine, etc. to stay alive--but withdrawing from addiction to those is a hellish thing.

And, no one needs Big Macs, donuts, corn chips, ice cream, etc. to stay alive. But many do experience withdrawal from those types of foods when they stop eating them. It's more emotional or psychological than physical, maybe... I'm not sure... but it can feel really bad!


12-18-2007, 10:30 PM
Addiction, abuse and dependence should not be confused. Every one is dependent upon food, that does not mean everyone is addicted or abuses food.

Even drug dependence should not be confused with addiction. My husband and I are both on medications that we cannot stop abruptly. We are not "addicted" to these medications, and neither are we abusing them. However, if we were to disconitinue the medications, they would have to be discontinued over time, not overnight. People, even some doctors often confuse addiction and dependence all. My husband's doctors have admitted that they would give him stronger pain medications, if there weren't such a legal hassle for them to do so, because the people involved in the monitoring agencies have confused addiction and dependence. If he were 80 or had cancer, they would be able to prescribe him stronger pain medications, even if his pain was half of what it is now. The amount of pain and physical injury or damage does not matter as much as how close to the grave you are. Doctors are as frustrated as patients about this, but very few are willing to put their necks on the line to change things (and I can understand why, they don't want to risk their jobs and even medical licenses).

An interest in the genetic influences of obesity does not mean that a person is blaming their genes or making any excuses for themselves or not trying to make changes. Knowledge is power, and knowing more helps a person do more. Life is not an equal playing field and most people understand that. Very little is impossible given enough effort and perseverence, but the amount of effort and perseverence is different for every individual, as is the priority they each put to a given endeavor. None of us can do everything we would like to, and we will often regret some of the things we did (and didn't do). Regret doesn't have to include blame. Blame doesn't have to be a part of any effort to change.

I guarantee that there are people that find weight loss more difficult, and people who find it easier than I do. I guarantee there are people who find weight loss a higher priority and those that find it a lower priority than I do.
I guarantee that there are people who put more effort (and less effort) into weight loss than I do.

And on the other hand, I could substitute many nouns for weight loss in the above paragraph. Family, career, finances, education, community service, activism, prayer/religion, substance use/abuse, compassion for others, legal difficulties..... There will always be people telling us that our priorities are wrong, that our goals and efforts are misplaced (some may even have a point), and we will many times have to agree to disagree.