Last updated: 11/15/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
There’s no avoiding the need for food, whether a person has an addiction or not. For someone wanting to know how to overcome food addiction, beating the food bug may seem like an impossible feat. Statistics-wise, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases reports 1 out of every 20 Americans lives with extreme obesity while over two-thirds of adults actually fall within the overweight, obese category.
A big part of the reason for these glaring statistics has to do with the addiction component as it relates to daily food intake. This means, how to overcome food addiction has as much to do with the addiction aspect as it does the food a person eats.
Food Addiction vs. Drug Addiction
Addictions involving food, drugs and alcohol all have physical and behavioral components that reinforce one another and keep the addiction going. A comparison between food addiction and drug addiction reveals the addiction mechanism that drives a person’s behavior:
- Being obsessed with food (or drugs)
- A gradual and developing need for food (or drugs) that drives physical cravings
- Multiple failed attempts to cut back on food-intake (drug use)
- Feelings of guilt and shame associated with excessive eating (drug use)
Ultimately, how to overcome food addiction requires a person to accept the damage overeating has had on his or her life, be it failed relationships, poor health and/or limited or no social interactions.
As with any long-term goal a person sets, planning ahead is a first step when considering how to overcome food addiction. By identifying specific challenge areas, a person can better prepare for when food cravings hit. Ways to avoid seemingly irresistible foods can be addressed by replacing them with more healthy choices. In the long run, how to overcome food addiction becomes a matter of making the right food choices rather than restricting a person’s daily food intake.
Another way to counter food cravings involves replacing three big meals a day with six small meals a day. A six-meal a day diet can help better stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce food cravings overall. Even in those moments where a craving cannot be denied, adding a small portion of fruits or veggies can still help in breaking the behavior pattern that follows the craving. After a while, the body and brain will start to associate healthy foods with the craving. In turn, it becomes progressively easier to resist food cravings and automatically reach for the health food choice instead.
When asking how to overcome food addiction, always keep in mind that self-care and rewards are just as essential to success as the actual progress you make. Self-care means keeping stress levels in check at all times. As stress can be a primary trigger for food cravings, catching signs of stress as early as possible can help head off food cravings before they even get started.
As any form of change can be difficult, how to overcome food addiction means properly rewarding yourself when progress is made. Not necessarily with food, but with an enjoyable activity like buying a new outfit or spending time with friends.