Food addicts usually medicate these symptoms by giving in and eating those foods they crave, relief is only temporarily. Many food addicts go on and off diets, rather than address the emotional issues causing them to obsess with food. Yo-yo dieting is only one of several signs of a possible food addiction. It’s important to know the early warning signs of addiction because early detection is the key to recovery.
Food addiction, which also is called compulsive overeating, is a modern term describing a pathological disorder involving an abnormal preoccupation and consumption of food. Although society and medical professionals have long understood the severity of other addictions such as alcoholism and drug abuse, it’s only recently that some foods have been considered to be just as addictive and damaging. Other food disorders linked with food addiction include anorexia and bulimia.
Food addicts not only eat to relieve stress or worry, but they also feel anxious when they eat. They get caught up in a vicious cycle, as their worries and anxious thoughts only lead to more eating. Then they feel anxious about having eaten too much.
Obsession with Food
An unhealthy obsession with food is a common symptom of food addiction. It’s not just eating food that compels food addicts. People addicted to food are obsessed with everything related to food, from thinking about what they’ll eat for the next meal to devising ways to find more food. They get a thrill out of anticipating, planning and consuming as much food as they can find in any given time period.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
Not only do food addicts eat too much, but they eat until they feel physically sick. They don’t just sit down to a meal and eat at normal rate. Instead, they “inhale” food as if they were having their last meal. They continue to eat everything on their plates, even if they feel full. They eat even when they don’t particularly like a food, but eat it anyway, just because the food is available.
Isolating and Hiding Food
Food addicts aren’t always noticeable by their overeating in public. Many times they can appear to be in control at parties or other social functions. It’s behind closed doors, however, that they do the most damage, overeating while alone so others won’t know they’re addicted. Just as alcoholics hide bottles, food addicts hide everything from candy bars to doughnuts in secret places, hoping others won’t find their stash.
Feeling Guilty and Fearing Food
After an eating binge food addicts may feel remorseful and guilty about all the food they’ve eaten. However, rather than realizing they have a problem and seeking treatment, they medicate their feelings of guilt by eating more food. Although the compulsive overeater gives in and overeats, he sees food as harmful and as something to be avoided. On the flip side of food addiction is the anorexic who fears the calories in any food will make him fat, undereating to the point of endangering his health.