physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.
Even if you don’t initially relate to this post title, you may find it an interesting read nevertheless. Although, most people are either directly or indirectly affected by addiction (my hand is raised!).
I’ve always considered all addictions equal (and no one better than the other), as they are most often influenced by a deep-seated unhappiness, whether known or unknown to the individual at the time. I would even consider the deprivation or purging of food, as in the cases of anorexia and bulimia, to be considered a different and more severe psychological form of addictive behavior. These addictions are often fueled by a cycle of trying to quite the substance of choice (illicit drugs, cigarettes, legalized drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, etc.), doing well for a time, resorting back to the old behavior, and then the overwhelming feeling of guilt that helps to fuel the self-destructing cycle.
I have always been perplexed by American society’s negative attitudes toward those who are overweight or obese, who I would argue (in most cases) suffer from a food addiction. An individual addicted to prescription drugs or cocaine is treated with better regard than a food addict who has to eat to live and is surrounded by food day in and day out. Go to any Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and anyone would tell you that removing yourself from the environment where alcohol is around is the most effective way to beat the addiction in the beginning stages. Try telling that to someone addicted to food, which is available any and everywhere!
Some may argue that food in itself is not addictive and does not create adverse effects when without it. Inherently, this is a faulty argument given that we need food biologically and have an internal system designed to crave food. In fact, the scientific community is discovering a host of hormones (i.e., ghrelin, leptin) that influence the drive to eat, cravings for various foods, and even contribute to overeating (don’t even try using this as scapegoat the next time you are at a buffet!). On top of it all (depending on a food addict’s food of choice), a chemist and food tasting team within multi-million and -billion food companies have tirelessly researched the best way for those products to taste so delicious and addictive in fact—putting just the right amounts of fats, artificial flavors, and added sugars to create the perfect formulation. Perhaps, the obesity crisis in this country is affirmation that these people are doing their jobs right. I guess..if “right” is the correct word choice. They are just following their job descriptions.
With this said, beating any addiction is not easy and realizing that you do have the power to change is key. Proper knowledge (knowledge is power), emotional support, and the elimination of guilty feelings are just a few steps in the process.
For more on the topic of food addiction, read this interesting and relevant article published in Bloomberg News.