Raise your hand or nod your head if you love food.
Bet you just did it. Because come on… who doesn’t love food, right?
Food is tasty, and it makes us feel good, and oh –– almost forgot –– provides us with needed sustenance to live and function properly.
Even though most people can control their eating habits and cravings, some people suffer because food has become a drug for them, which you just can’t let go of. That’s called food addiction.
Among those food addicted people are also obese and severely overweight individuals who need help with it, which often makes them look for easy fixes and solutions, such as weight-loss surgeries.
In this article, you’ll find a precise overview of what food addiction is about, why weight-loss surgery is not the real cure for it, and what’s most important –– how to treat food addiction.
What is Food Addiction?
Let’s get one fact straight: there actually isn’t an official diagnosis like food addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, researchers, health care professionals, patients, and the general public are using the term.
Simply put, the people suffering from an addiction to food, tasty and highly palatable foods (which are mostly rich in sugar, fat, or salt) trigger the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain as drugs trigger for a drug addict.
Gradually, food addicts become dependent on the pleasure that is obtained from eating certain foods, which, as a result, keeps people eating even when they’re not hungry. This kind of compulsive overeating can lead people to spend an excessive amount of time eating or anticipating the emotional effects of eating. This can drive men and women to different physical, social, and emotional issues.
Signs and Symptoms of Food Addiction
The symptoms of food addiction can be either physical, emotional, or social. Here you can find the most common signs that can refer to this eating disorder:
- Obsessive food cravings;
- Eating more food than you can physically tolerate;
- Continued compulsive or binge eating;
- Concealing the eating;
- Chronic fatigue, decreased energy;
- Sleep and digestive disorders;
- Avoiding social interactions and connections with other people;
- Emotional rollercoasters, eating for emotional release.
These are some of the most usual signs of food addiction that primarily can be caused by social, psychological, or biological factors, such as low self-esteem, sexual abuse, bullying, childhood traumas, etc.
As mentioned before, there isn’t an official definition or diagnosis of food addiction. However, professors have developed a questionnaire called the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) to diagnose food addiction’s purported core features.
If you or your loved one has been experiencing any of these symptoms, there’s a chance that you’re suffering from food addiction. That’s why it’s vital to seek out professional help and solve the eating disorder because if it is left untreated or ignored, it can rapidly begin damaging your life if it hasn’t already.
Can Weight-Loss Surgery Treat Food Addiction?
The short answer is no. The reason is simple: bariatric surgery simply cuts down your portions’ sizes, but this isn’t affecting your cravings for food.
So as you’ve completed the bariatric surgery, you are encountering a dilemma. Whether to give in to your cravings and fill your stomach with high fat and sugar foods, get a minimal amount of valuable nutrients, and end up in awful constipation, or eat lightly and healthily and lose a ton of weight as a bonus. Even though this may seem like an easy choice on paper, it’s quite not that simple in real-life situations.
However, to make things easier for bariatric patients, the surgeon will give them specific exercise and diet plans. In fact, during the first few post-operative weeks, you will only be able to eat liquids, purees, and other soft foods because otherwise, your new digestive system would just shut down, and you would end up in severe pain.
The chances are that this little “vacation” from all the palatable foods, such as chips, fries, pasta, cookies, white bread, sweets, and chocolate, etc., will make you forget the bad habits and jump-start your path to a new, healthy lifestyle. But still –– it all depends on you.
How to Treat Food Addiction?
Food addiction isn’t something that you can run away from –– like literally, exercising or going for a run isn’t going to fix it. Even though some people who are binge and compulsive eating are balancing their immense cravings and overeating with intense training and exercise, just so they could eat even more later, this isn’t the perfect game plan for people who are already severely suffering from food addiction and are overweight and obese.
As mentioned before, eating highly palatable foods trigger the same parts of the brain as drugs trigger to a drug addict. That’s why health care professionals tend to cure food addiction with similar methods as drug addiction. It’s essential to break the destructive habit of constant overeating.
Some of the most common food addiction treatments are:
- Medication – in addition to some more complex medicines that researchers have been testing and seeing good results with, individuals may be prescripted for medicines that relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression that might serve as a basis of food addiction.
- Nutritional counseling and dietary planning – can help the sufferer develop healthy eating habits and start meal prepping.
- Therapies – such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), trauma therapy, and solution-focused therapy can help a person find solutions to specific triggers, issues, negative thought patterns, and traumas that may be the root of the food addiction.
- 12-step programs – similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programs where people attend meetings with others with the same struggles and socially supporting each other to get rid of the bad habits.
Living with food addiction may be preventing you from enjoying a life you once lived, but just know that you’re not alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Get in touch with our expert team to determine the best action plan for you to get out of this vicious circle and become free of food addiction and everything terrible it has caused!