By Cynthia J. Turner, PhD
Are you addicted to food? Food addiction is a major cause of obesity and it is a very real issue. We must take a proactive approach if you are at risk.
The holidays can make situations even harder because food is everywhere. Your holiday gift to yourself is to get your arms around this issue so you can reach and maintain a healthy weight and mindset.
About. An addiction is a compulsive behavior which becomes destructive, causing problems with health, job performance, marriage, and relationships. Developing insight into this problem for our bariatric patients can lead to a major reduction in compulsive food habits that, if left unchecked, can cause both slow weight loss early in the postoperative period. Food addiction not only makes weight loss difficult in the early postoperative period, addiction may be strongly associated with weight regain at about the 18 months postoperative time-frame.
Signs. Ask yourself how many of these you may have experienced. A feeling of loss of control over certain foods; compulsive thoughts about food; hiding foods; eating secretly; problems with trigger foods which you can’t stop eating until the food is gone; using food excessively for comfort or as a close friend; centering all your activities around eating; overconsumption of harmful foods; feeling ashamed and guilty after consuming a large amount of food; eating very large amounts of high calorie foods; consuming trigger foods, such as ice cream or other sweets, on a daily basis; drinking large amounts of sodas, sweet tea, or other sugary beverages daily; hitting the drive-thru daily for high calorie foods even if you are not hungry.
Symptoms. Food addicts often report depression, loneliness, grief, and loss following weight loss surgery, as they have lost their best friend and most treasured coping mechanism. This void must be filled, or you may find weight regain or worse, poor coping mechanisms and psychological distress.
What to Do. Physical activity, walking, journaling, meditation, social activities, new relationships, psychotherapy, and support groups are some of the many ways that this void can be filled. Please contact your bariatric program if you are struggling with these issues so that professionals can provide you with support and guidance. We understand and are here to help you like we have with so many of our other patients just like you.