If you are overweight or obese you may wonder why you can’t seem to control your weight. Other people seemingly resist the urge to overeat and manage to get out and get exercise to stay at a healthy weight. Why can’t you? Is it a simple matter of willpower, or is there something else going on? The concept of addiction has been applied to food and obesity. Learn more about addiction to find out if your behaviors toward food may resemble those of an addict. And if they do, you can get help.
What Characterizes An Addiction?
Addiction is a complicated issue and experts have debated its definition for years. Traditionally, addiction has referred only to substances, like drugs and alcohol. These substances change the brain in ways that makes it very difficult to stop using them. Characteristics of addiction include intense craving for the substance, a loss of control when using it, and the inability to stop using even in the face of negative consequences.
More recently, many experts have felt that it was important to include behaviors and activities in the category of addiction. These types of addictions are called process or behavioral addictions and remain distinct from chemical addictions. Some of the behavioral addictions that get the most attention include gambling addiction, sex addiction, and compulsive shopping. Any behavior or action has the potential to become a process addiction for any person. This includes eating.
What Are Addictive Behaviors?
What chemical and process addictions have in common are the behaviors exhibited by the addicted person. For instance, someone who is an alcoholic feels an overwhelming urge to drink and be drunk nearly all the time. He also loses control when drinking. He may start out one evening with a plan to have just two drinks, but end up having 10 instead. He also continues to drink in spite of the harm it is causing to his health, his relationships and his work.
If you have a process addiction you may express similar behaviors. For instance, compulsive gamblers are always drawn to gamble, whether in casinos, online or at the track. They lose control and gamble too much money. In spite of the huge losses they experience, they cannot stop gambling. The behaviors of the alcoholic and the compulsive gambler are very similar.
Do I Have A Food Addiction?
For many addiction experts, food addiction is a real problem. Consider the three characteristics of addiction: do you feel a strong and constant pull to eat? When you eat do you often lose control and eat too much in one sitting? Do you continue to eat too much even though you know that it is harming your health and that you should lose weight? If you can answer yes to these you may have a process addiction.
To know for sure just how serious your addictive behaviors are you should seek an expert opinion. There is no absolute standard for diagnosing a food addiction, but a counselor experienced in helping people with process addictions can recognize the signs in your behaviors. A therapist can also determine if your issue is a food addiction or an eating disorder.
How Can I Get Help For A Food Addiction?
There are many counselors and therapists available who understand process addictions and who are experienced in helping people like you. A trained therapist can help you understand why you overeat and can help you make constructive changes in your life. If you are unsure where to turn to find someone, see your doctors for resources. You will never regret getting help and getting your life and your health back on track.