5 Ways to Recognize a Food Addiction

Midnight struck the clock, and there I was. Once again, standing in front of the fridge shaking from lack of food that day. I still see it all so vividly: delicious red apples, juicy purple grapes, fresh cheese. All the yummy healthy snacks.

But, I couldn’t do it.

Terrified of gaining any weight, I remember standing and sobbing as I choked down several carrot sticks, hoping to ease my hunger.


It always was a constant battle with no hope of escape. However, I never labeled myself as addicted. After all, addiction was characterized by drugs and alcohol, right? Well, not necessarily. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, addiction is the “inability to stop doing or using something, especially if it was harmful.”

Then, it hit me.

My obsession, my terror, my constant battle with the fridge and the mirror all indicated an addiction to the idea of food itself. So, maybe I wasn’t binging every night (that came later down the road), but I was all-consumed with the notion of food.

Food addiction is one of the worst addictions you can possibly have. Why? While it isn’t necessarily the most harmful, it is the one addiction where you cannot get rid of the substance. You probably don’t have an eating disorder that’s going to kill you, and if you do, reach out for professional help, I’ve been there! Regardless of whether or not your life is in danger, it still overtakes your mind.

See, you can live without drugs, you can live without alcohol, and you can without sex (probably not much fun but you can do it). So, what’s the difference between a food addict and an alcoholic, drug addict, or someone addicted to sex. The answer: FOOD!

You cannot live without food. You cannot go cold turkey like an alcoholic can, and there’s is no such thing as “sober” from food. Food addicts and those obsessed with things surrounding food have to learn to live with their substance. They have to learn how to reshape their minds, rewire their brain patterns, and overcome the addictive qualities surrounding the substance that you cannot live without.

That’s HARD. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest things to have to overcome. Here are my top 5 indicators of a potential food addiction.

1) You find yourself thinking about Food. ALL OF THE TIME.

  • Here’s the thing. Food addiction is not just characterized by overeating, but rather an obsession with food itself, whether you’re terrified of it and cannot stop thinking about calories or weight. If you are constantly thinking about how much you weigh, how you look, and how much belly fat you see, chances are you are struggling with a food addiction. Everything is highly encompassed.

2) You’re obsessive about anything surrounding food.

  • Do you weigh yourself every day? Are you freaking out when you go out to eat and the calories aren’t posted on the menu? Does weight gain ruin your entire day or week? Is it affecting your relationships? I’ve been there, and ask my fiancé how it has affected our relationship at times. Obsessiveness kills. It destroys joy and it’s all-consuming. The more self-aware you are, the better!

3) You aren’t hungry but you HAVE to have that {fill in the blank}, for me it’s icecream.

  • There’s really no need to explain this. I’m guilty of eating when I really don’t need to. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an addict and need major help. However, eating a certain thing out of compulsive behavior is just something to be aware of and stay conscious of those tendencies. (Pregnant mommies—you guys get an easy pass on this one!)

4) You are a consistent emotional eater.

  • Just like drugs, food is the substance abuse here. When people hurt you, food is always constant. When things aren’t going well at work, food is still pleasurable. The list could go on. It is so easy to down that box of cookies and pint of icecream, while popping popcorn. But, why? Yes, food is pleasurable, not just fuel. It’s culture, friendship, and community. But, why do we turn it into a drug to abuse?

5) Every single calorie counts

  • This is no way to live. I have meticulously tracked food for years, down to the very last gram, and it steals so much quality of life. Yes, calories matter. Essentially, everything you eat is made up of them; however, if obsession to a scale, grams, ounces, milliliters, and other strict weight measurements keep you from enjoying life, what’s the point? God did not design food this way, so why are we living like this?

I’m not saying you have a food addiction. After all, I’m not a counselor, and I don’t claim to be. I’m just a coach and a woman who has experienced the battle of food addiction for years.

If you notice some of these tendencies in yourself, don’t worry! The cycle of food addiction CAN end! I’m still growing and learning of course, even as I write this! As I continue to write about my journey, I will be sharing some of the things that the Lord has taught me in regards to relationship with food. There is freedom in food!

Reach out and contact me if you’d like to work one-on-one in nutrition coaching. I’d love to help you work through some of these mental barriers that may keep you from reaching your fullest potential!

As always, remember, in MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT- Stay Anchored.

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