Food Addicts in Recovery: Putting Down the Spoon and Picking Up the Fork

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In recovery, we undergo many changes. Some changes are big, some are small, but the one guarantee we have when we get sober is that everything will change in one way or another, and most of the time these changes are a good thing!

A complete lifestyle makeover is necessary in order to successfully beat the disease of addiction. But sometimes, these changes cannot always be the best. The disease of addiction is all-encompassing, and many times we experience addiction “whack-a-mole.” Once we overcome addiction in one area of our lives, it can somehow flare up in another. This rings true for food. Food addiction is a serious condition, and many of us can become food addicts in recovery.

What is Food Addiction?

Like addiction in all of its other forms, food addiction is a powerful disorder. Food addiction is the overindulgence of highly palatable foods, which are often salty, sweet, or fatty in nature.

Consuming this type of food has been compared to having a similar effect on the brain as that of cocaine or other illicit drugs. Eating these foods can directly impact the pleasure center of the brain, which, in turn, will release the “feel good” chemical dopamine.

As dopamine continues to be released, it conditions the food addict to continually seek out these types of foods in order to satisfy the “cravings” they begin to experience. These cravings, like those for drugs, will, over time, require more food to feel satiated, as the food addict begins to build a “tolerance to the food.” As such, in a relatively short amount of time, you can become a full-blown food addict.

Food Addicts in Recovery

What about the food addicts in recovery? Surely, when we’re actively working a program, we can avoid falling into the food trap? Actually, becoming a food addict in recovery is very common. In an effort to avoid relapsing on drugs or alcohol, many recovering addicts and alcoholics turn to other activities to keep themselves preoccupied. Food is a common choice due to its availability and overall acceptability. Most people do not draw a connection to food and acting out in addictive tendencies, so this type of replacement therapy can be extremely dangerous thanks to its insidious nature.

Often, as a result of getting sober, recovering addicts and alcoholics will inadvertently begin putting on weight. Due to having poor nutrition, maintaining an irregular eating schedule for an elongated amount of time, and finally having the financial means to acquire food, people in early recovery have difficulty with managing their weight gain and diet. They can very easily become food addicts in recovery without even realizing it. The same “high” they once experienced from drugs and alcohol is now coming from a seemingly innocent source, and the overindulgence can begin once again.

What are the Signs of Food Addiction in Recovery?

If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one becoming a food addict in recovery, there are several signs and symptoms of active food addiction that you can look for. By remaining vigilant, honest, and committed to combating your addiction, no matter what form it may take, you can definitely fight back against food addiction in recovery.

Some of the signs of food addiction are:

  • Eating more than planned when it comes to certain foods
  • Continually eating even when you’re not hungry
  • Getting sick from overeating
  • Going out of your way to obtain certain foods, even if they’re not readily available
  • Obsessing about eating or not eating certain types of foods

Food addiction is just as serious as any other type of addiction. It can run rampant over the food addict’s life, damaging relationships and causing serious health side effects as well. Eating an exorbitant amount of sugary and fatty foods can lead to an onset of severe diseases like heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These conditions are not only life-threatening but can be lifelong. The implications of food addiction can affect you even after you stop.

What Can You Do to Combat Your Food Addiction?

If you find yourself in the midst of being a food addict in recovery, or a food addict in general, fear not, there are many different ways you can combat your food addiction. Much like other forms of addiction, food addiction also has its very own 12-step program dedicated to dealing specifically with issues with food. Food Addicts in Recovery, or FA, is similar to other forms of 12-step programs. Members are encouraged to obtain a sponsor and work the steps in order to overcome his or her addiction to food.

If FA is not is not necessarily in your scope, or if you’re already actively working in another 12-step fellowship, there are other methods to coping with your food addiction. By opening up and being honest about your struggles with food and overeating, you can have your sponsor and support system keep you accountable. Keeping a food diary, creating a meal plan, and monitoring what and how much you eat can also be effective ways to avoid acting out in your food addiction.

What Can Be Done About Addiction?

Whether you’re a food addict in recovery or an addict or alcoholic in general, struggling with addiction in any form can be scary and overwhelming at times. That’s where Pathway to Hope comes in!

At Pathway to Hope, we’re committed to addressing and treating you or a loved one’s addiction with a variety of therapeutic techniques. With a custom treatment plan tailored to fit you or your loved one’s specific needs, you’ll rest assured that you’ll be in good hands. Contact us today at Pathway to Hope at 844-557-7585 or contact us online and get connected to one of our addiction professionals who can help you get started on the journey to recovery!

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