Here’s the truth, I crave samosa on the regular. If I see it, I eat them and seldom stop at one. But lately, as I’ve been trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle of moderation, I got to wondering, do I love samosa and other fried goodies like bhajia and pakora, or do I have an addiction?
It got to a point where I would reach for these kinds of foods for everything, be it if I’m in a celebratory mood, in a funk, as a treat, or when stressed. I realized I was eating some form of fried food several times a week and not just at social gatherings, but by myself. This is what stimulated my research on food addictions and how to think through if I have one or not. I have since learned that I do have an addiction and am seeking help. Here are some things to consider if you find yourself in a similar quandary.
Full disclosure, I am not a nutrition or health professional. Still so, I thought my research may help others seek professional help.
You see, certain foods affect how our brains works, which eventually lead to addiction. For food addicts, it is hard to control themselves when they are around certain types of foods, no matter what they say or try to do.
We can simply state that food addiction is the tendency to be addicted to food, the way drug addicts get addicted to alcohol or drugs. The same neurotransmitters and the same areas of the brain are involved in the addition of both drugs and food.
Food addiction is a recent term, and there are no statistics to show how prevalent it is in our generation, the only studies available are the ones that support the fact that food addiction is a rising crisis. The same goes for similar eating disorders like bulimia, binge eating, and compulsive overeating.
The reward centers in the brain that involves neurotransmitters like dopamine are more easily triggered by processed, fried/fatty, and sweetened food. Foods that contain wheat or/and sugar are the most problematic types of junk food.
Food addiction does not involve the lack of willpower, or controlling oneself in the presence of food; it is based on dopamine “hijacking” the brain’s biochemistry. If you are addicted to eating pizza, you can’t pass by a pizza outlet without salivating and telling yourself you only want to try one piece.
If you think that there is a blood test that will diagnose you with food addiction, you are wrong. It operates like the other forms of addiction that are based on behavioral symptoms. Below is a list of 8 common symptoms that food addicts share:
8 Symptoms of food addiction
- Cravings for particular foods on a frequent basis despite being full after a very nice meal.
- When you give in and eat food that you have been craving, then you find yourself eating more than you wanted.
- When you indulge in the food, you crave, and you eat beyond your fill, to the point you get stuffed.
- You feel guilty after eating your addictive food, then you tell yourself you won’t eat them again, but the next time you find yourself eating them.
- You start making excuses for why you are supposed to be eating the food you are craving.
- You have tried countless ways of stopping to eat the food, and you go even further to set some rules with punishment involved, but nothing has worked so far.
- You avoid telling others about the consumption of the unhealthy foods.
- You are no longer in control of the unhealthy foods; you find yourself eating them without any question, even though you are eating what is unhealthy.
If any 4 or 5 of the descriptions above relate to you, you probably have a serious problem with some foods. If you relate to over 6 descriptions, then you are a food addict.
Food addiction is a serious issue. If you talk to a recovering alcoholic, you will probably find out that they have a history with rehabs and even jail, not to mention a visit to the emergency room at the hospital because of an overdose.
Food addiction should be taken with equal measure because the symptoms and the flow of thought are identical. The only difference is the substance and the consequences on both ends.
Food addiction can lead to serious disease like type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, cancer, cancer, heart disease and depression.
As of now, the reasons to quit are huge than an unfamiliar disease. The effects of food addictions include low self-esteem and having profound mood swings.
Look, the truth of the matter is this: a recovering smoker who takes a puff of a cigarette will almost immediately get addicted once more. An alcoholic who gets a sip of whiskey can relapse very easily, dragging back the consequences that come with drug addiction. This is a loop of destruction that never ends, and that is how addiction works.
Ideally, if you think you are a food addict, abstinence from trigger foods is recommended but I know that is easier said than done. Although moderation is the key to everything, the message can only work on people who are disciplined, but for food addicts, this message is challenging. There is no moderation in addictive foods, you have to avoid the addictive food at all times.
If you find yourself relapsing and getting back to the addictive foods, then you need to seek help. It is normal to fail to go through recovery without relapse. If you relapse on a frequent basis, then the chances of succeeding on your own are very slim. Support groups and health professionals can help you to overcome food addiction.
Does this mean if you hit up samosa at every desi gathering, you’re an addict? No. But if your relationship with trigger foods eclipses all else then going to a counselor or doctor may not only be a worthwhile endeavor, it may just be a life changer or even saver.