Food Addiction: Are You Living to Eat or Eating to Live?

Food addiction, why we eat, learning to see food as fuel
  • Food addiction
  • Mindless eating
  • Living to eat

These are all related. What do they have in common? Usually, the desire to eat foods that are not necessarily the healthiest choices, or at times when our bodies don’t need the fuel.

Food Addiction and Human Behavior

You might be surprised that most of us actually “live to eat.” But why? We’ve all had moments when we know the fridge is empty, but we keep walking back to it — as if a new snack will somehow magically appear. Usually this happens when we’re stressed with a current task and we end up unable to finish it. Food can become comfort, or a distraction at the least.

What is Hunger?

Hunger plays an important role in our relationship with food. Here’s the problem. We “think” we’re hungry because our brain is telling us we are. But really, we experience hunger when we notice its physical symptoms:

  • A growling stomach
  • Feeling weak or lightheaded
  • Fighting a terrible headache

These systems actually don’t happen often. On the other hand, our brains constantly pick up stimuli from our surroundings. It tricks us into thinking we are hungry. As if that isn’t unfair already, our bodies were created to regulate hunger and fullness. But for those of us predisposed to weight problems, this process doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to.

Our Tricky Environment

To make matters worse, marketing agencies know this. That’s why they make food advertisements colorful, exciting and everywhere you look. It’s why the pretzel or Cinnabon stand at the mall is placed strategically away from the food court. It’s clear that we are influenced by sights and smells. Are we unable to control our responses?

It’s not that easy when our schedules are so busy that they make our heads spin. Fast food is cheap, quick and very convenient. Our digital devices make it easy to get what we want when we want. We tend to neglect healthier behaviors like cooking meals at home using whole foods, putting aside time for rest or exercising when we have a free moment.

Breaking the Food Addiction Cycle

How can we stop living to eat and start eating to live? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, but the answer might lie somewhere in the ballpark of self-awareness. Try these tips:

  • Ask yourself, “Why am I eating? What is compelling me to eat?”
  • Journal your experiences and thoughts with food
  • Be aware of every bite you consume
  • Make a plan to cut out unnecessary, indulgent eating
  • When you decide to eat, do so intentionally
  • PLAN to enjoy food, but not be consumed by it
  • Learn to recognize food as FUEL, not all pleasure
  • Ask for support from a loved one or professional if you need it

Want more insight on food addiction? CLICK HERE to read the full article published by the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Producer of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.


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