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What is Food Addiction?


A couple years ago, I was at a checkup and my doctor and I were discussing my weight. I've always had a hard time losing weight. I can do it, but it takes a LOT of effort over a long time to make small strides. Putting weight on, however, is as easy as breathing. After my hysterectomy, the struggle got even more intense.

"I know what to do," I told her. "I just have a really hard time making myself do it." I would sometimes watch what I ate all day and then have way too much for dinner, continuing to eat even after I felt full. I would eat too much of the things I loved, even though they made me feel awful. I would think about food - what to eat or what not to eat - all the time. Eating often made me feel guilty, especially when I was overdoing it or eating junk. I would sometimes sneak food to avoid judgement, even though no one was judging me except me. All of this caused quite a bit of anxiety. Sometimes it felt like I was powerless to resist eating, which in turn made me powerless to lose weight.

She asked if I'd ever heard of food addiction. I thought that was ridiculous. How can you be addicted to food? You need to eat. You can't just... not. She told me about Food Addicts in Recovery. I began to read what it was all about and realized that all of the things I mentioned above were symptoms of food addiction. On their "Are You a Food Addict?" quiz, I answered yes 15 out of 20.

I started researching food addiction and discovered that the most common culprit is sugar. Sugar taps into the pleasure centers of the brain. It triggers the release of dopamine. We crave it. We believe we need it. This then extends to things that break down into sugar in our bodies: carbohydrates. For a food addict, the feeling is akin to a beer for an alcoholic, a cigarette for a smoker, or a cocaine for a cocaine addict. Even when we know it's wrong, we do it anyway.

So what do you do? You avoid your trigger foods, especially sugar. It's the only thing you can do. Sounds simple. But that always sounds simple to someone who isn't an addict. It is a constant battle. Unlike other addictions, a food addict can't abstain from their vice. You need to eat to live. But you need to control WHAT you eat, and you need to be diligent and consistent.

If you can't go it alone, Food Addicts in Recovery has meetings all over the country. Look for one near you. Or talk to your doctor, a psychologist, or nutritionist for help.

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Food Addiction and a Keto Diet

Now that you know what food addiction is, let's talk about using a ketogenic diet to combat it.
Could a Keto Diet Help with Food Addiction? In a word, yes! Food Addicts need to abstain from trigger foods and sugar. Trigger foods are more often than not, processed carbohydrates. What to do you eliminate on a keto diet? Sugar and processed carbohydrates. Is it easy? Not at first. Spend a week or so adjusting to new eating habits and it becomes second nature. You don't have to think about it. Set your macro goals, log everything you eat, and prepare snacks and/or meals in advance whenever possible to avoid making poor choices.
But Does It Really Work? Again, yes! I wasn't even thinking about my addiction when I decided to try a keto plan. I lost weight right away and began discovering other benefits of this lifestyle. After about 2-3 weeks, I suddenly realized that I had almost completely lost the desire to overeat. I wasn't hungry and I wasn't thinking about food al…