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. Developing insight into this problem can lead to a major reduction in compulsive food habits that, if left unchecked, can cause both slow weight loss early in the post-operative period, but particularly regain which often appears about 18 months post-operatively.
An addiction is a compulsive behavior which becomes destructive, causing problems with health, job performance, marriage, and relationships. Symptoms of food addiction include: 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.
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 mood issues and regain will become a problem. 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.