Food addiction is a common problem in Western society. It involves binge eating behavior, cravings and a lack of control around food.
You Get Cravings Despite Being Full
It is not uncommon to get cravings, even after eating a fulfilling, nutritious meal.
For example, after just downing a nice meal with steak, potatoes and veggies, you may find yourself craving some ice cream for dessert.
You see, cravings and hunger aren’t the same things.
You don’t actually feel “hungry” because you just finished a healthy and nutritious meal, but yet there is an urge somewhere in your brain to eat something else.
This is pretty common and doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a problem. Most people get cravings.
However, if this happens often and you have real problems controlling yourself, then it may be an indicator of something else going on.
This craving is not about your need for energy or nutrients — it is your brain calling for something that releases dopamine in the reward system of the brain
You Eat Much More Than You Intended To
What harm is there in having a small slice of chocolate cake? A little bit ain’t gonna kill you. Everything is good in moderation, right?
These are two remarks that people get to hear quite often when refusing an offering of unhealthy food for one reason or another.
Both of them are valid. One slice isn’t going to do much harm and if you can eat cake in moderation then it’s probably alright.
But for some people, there is no such thing as a bite of chocolate or a single piece of cake. One bite turns into 20 and one slice of cake turns into half a cake.
This is an “all or nothing” phenomenon that is common with addicts of all sorts. There is no such thing as “moderation” — it simply does not work.
Telling a food addict to eat junk food in moderation is almost like telling an alcoholic to drink beer in moderation. It’s just not possible.
Eating Until Feeling Excessively “Stuffed”
Let’s say you’ve given in to a craving.
Now you start eating, bite after bite, until you feel full — that is, if you weren’t already full when you started.
But it doesn’t stop there, unfortunately. You keep on eating, then you eat some more. When you finally stop, when your “urge” is satisfied, you realize that you have eaten so much that you feel completely stuffed.
Feeling Guilty Afterwards, but Still Doing It Again Soon
When you do something you know isn’t “right,” something that is against your values, principles or previous decisions, you often feel bad about it.
This is called having a guilty conscience and is a very common feeling. It’s a feeling that is both good and bad.
It is good, because it means that you do actually care. It is bad, because it feels incredibly unpleasant when it happens. It’s a terrible feeling.
If you have been trying to exert “willpower” to control your consumption of unhealthy foods, giving in to a craving can lead to a guilty conscience.
You may feel that you are doing something wrong, even cheating on yourself. This may make you feel weak and undisciplined.
Yet, you soon do the whole thing over and over again.
Making Up Excuses in Your Head
When you have decided to abstain from junk food on a particular day but a craving shows up anyway, you can imagine two forces at play in your mind.
One is the logical, rational decision you made to abstain from junk food. Perhaps you decided to only “cheat” on Saturdays.
But the other force is the craving. Today is a Wednesday and you feel like having something sweet in the afternoon.
Right now you have an urge to have a piece of food that you had previously decided you weren’t going to eat on this particular day.
The logical decision you made to abstain becomes “challenged” by the new idea that you should indulge today and eat whatever it is you’re craving.
At these moments, you start thinking about whether you should or should not indulge. You may come up with some excuse about why it would be a good idea to give in to the craving and have that piece of food.