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Food Addiction

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I know this is a controversial topic, and I am not going to go into a scientific debate about the mechanisms involved. . .

I just want to share my recent experiences.

I have (finally) come to realize that I am a food addict -- and by that I mean that I habitually use food to feel good (or even normal). This, in my mind, is different from "emotional eating," because for most of my life I have been doing it without realizing it, without any "triggers," regardless of my moods.

I believe this began for me in early childhood. I didn't have the best environment, I didn't get the support that I needed, and the only coping mechanism I could come up with was to overeat. It made me feel good. It began so early for me that I didn't realize how dysfunctional it is -- I didn't know any better. And indeed, it has taken me over 20 years to realize I even have this problem.

I believe I have been depressed most of my life, and that I was self-medicating this depression with food.

Luckily, after trying 6 other antidepressants which didn't help (or made my anxiety worse), I have finally found one that helps me feel better -- Lexapro. For the first time in my entire life, I feel OK -- there is not a gaping wound inside of my heart that I need to shove food into. There is no longer a constant shadow in the back of mind telling me how worthless I am or what a failure I am -- or that I will never be able to lose weight. I am finally able to tell myself that I am good enough, that I am beautiful, that I can change my life. I am finally able to believe in myself.

And, for the first time, I realize how I was using food to medicate myself.
I believe I used overeating as a means to increase seratonin in my brain... and, as with any other drug, I became tolerant to this high and required more and more food just to feel normal again. I was in denial, because I truly felt "hungry" even when I had already eaten enough calories to sustain my body. I needed more. How on earth could I be overeating when I felt so "hungry?" Now it finally makes sense.

Not anymore. Now I feel good without food -- I can finally treat it as something with which to nourish my body (and not my mind). I no longer feel the need to consume massive amounts of calories. Simple foods taste better, because I am able to let myself become truly hungry before I eat them. Eating smaller amounts of food feels more satisfying, and the negative feedback loop has finally been broken.

I know that I will definitely have low days in the future when I am tempted to self-medicate again by overeating. I know that I will probably always battle these food addiction demons -- but, right now at least, I am winning.

I wanted to write this blog to remind my future-self that there are things I can do to feel better that don't involve food... that a combination of support, de-stressing, good sleep, medication, and physical activity is the key to my success. I hope I can look back on this blog any time I struggle and remember how I feel right now -- I feel confident and hopeful. Most of all, I feel free.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I realized that I habitually ate until I was stuffed because there's always been more than enough food in the house and more than enough served. I didn't even realize I was doing it until a few months ago. I left the table and realized I had eaten until it hurt. I knew it was time to pay attention. I've been getting a lot better at not eating so much. Do you happen to do that, eat until you are stuffed, out of habit?
    1829 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    Its always hard to admit an unpleasant truth. Be brave.
    1830 days ago
    I've been a food addict all of my life, and I always will be. It is something I've learned to manage, but I still binge.
    1831 days ago
    Taking power over an addiction is one of the hardest things to do. Every day you succeed is a win for you! Congrats, and know there are many of us who fight the fight with you.
    1831 days ago
    I can relate to this. emoticon
    1831 days ago
    So glad to hear you've found something that works for you, and helpful insights along the way, also.

    I appreciate you sharing such a private part of your own journey -- it's very inspiring to others who struggle with similar issues.
    1832 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us. Finally someone has written how I have felt for years and years and I am so relieved to find out I am not the only one who has struggled.

    I am so happy for you that you have found your way and are feeling free, such awareness will help you in the future. Thank you for sharing. emoticon
    1832 days ago
    emoticon So amazing of you to share your struggles and victories with us ! I love your honesty ~ it's really nice to hear that I'm not the only person with these types of issues :) We will succeed !!! emoticon
    1832 days ago
  • MIRAGE727
    Great blog! I look at it by thinking about burning clean fuel in my system! Stay strong and stay focused!
    1832 days ago
  • BECKYB73
    I COMPLETELY relate to this blog. Still looking for my optimal anti-depressant, but doing the head work I've been focusing on is certainly helping!
    1832 days ago
    Facing and acknowledging an addiction is a huge step. It is a constant struggle but a struggle you have to fight daily. Sure there will be days that we don't battle as hard,but we still fight. Good for you,Jamie.
    1832 days ago
    That's a very deep look at what food has meant to you in the past and what it will mean for you in the future.
    1832 days ago
    What a wonderful, honest, brave and insightful blog. I am so happy to hear that you have found a way to break the vicious cycle of food addiction, and that you've found an anti-depressant that works for you. I've been on a few. I know how hard it is to find that right match. I hope this blog helps to keep you on track when things get rough in the future.
    1832 days ago
    It's good to see that you have realized where you were and how you got there. And you've taken the necessary steps to improve yourself. Good luck to you.
    1832 days ago
    it makes me smile to see this. the self realization and the steps you took to fix it; what a beautiful thing.
    1832 days ago
    Wow. The line that struck me deeply was your last...''Most of all, I feel free''
    I am truly happy for you. As you know, I also have anxiety issues that I have not learned how to deal with. Feeling free from the negative loop/abuse of food/and that overall feeling of being trapped must feel amazing. Jamie, I haven't known you long but you continue to be a true inspiration to me and I am certain many others here at Spark. You never stop trying to figure out how to get healthy and I am so proud to be taking this journey with you.
    1832 days ago
    I've always said that weight loss is much more mental then physical. To succeed we need to know why we eat the way we do. Sounds like you are well on your was to discovery.

    1832 days ago
    So happy for you for being able to see what brought you to where you are today - the good and bad.

    Addiction is a thing that stays with you for life, it never truly goes away. I haven't smoked a cigarette in over 4 years and I still want one every once in awhile. The urge always creeps back, but it's up to us to stay strong and resist the temptation.
    1832 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    Isn't it wonderful when you have the ah ha moment and understand yourself. Congrats and keep pushing on this journey. emoticon emoticon
    1832 days ago
    emoticon it's so nice when the fog clears.
    1832 days ago
    Very good Jamie, good description and honesty. Very few people can be this open without fear of judgement. You have crossed a very important step. Congrats on your success. Your winning attitude will pull you through. Knowledge what a powerful key. LIL Racer
    1832 days ago
    Good for you! emoticon
    1832 days ago
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