There are some people who believe that food addiction is a phantom disease - something made up by all the fat people to excuse their bad habits. I sincerely wish that was the case.
Food addiction is a struggle, as with any other addiction, and it's not just a struggle for overweight people. It's more than overeating, though overeating and binging is a huge portion of it. Food addiction also brings with it a total obsession with food, and a huge amount of guilt and shame. It usually carries a back story, the ever-looming question of, "Why do I do this and what am I trying to "replace" or "accomplish" with food?"
As a food addict, I have to make very serious adjustments to my life to accommodate the addiction, because it will spiral out of control very quickly if I'm not overly cautious. So what does overly cautious look like for me? Well...
- Having my husband hide all sweets in the house (really well, because I absolutely will look for them) and rationing them out so I can't binge
- Planning out any meals at restaurants before going to a restaurant, so I'm not tempted by the high calorie/high fat meals and foods once I get there
- Not allowing the purchase of high calorie/high fat/not nutritionally dense snack foods, even for my children, because I will get into them
- Working diligently to not wait too late to plan dinner, because if it gets too late (later than 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon), I will resort to fast food, delivery or take out
- When dealing with a stressful or emotional situations, I make a very diligent attempt to fill my time with exercise, or some other distraction if exercise isn't possible, to avoid emotional binge eating
- Never allowing myself to go more than 3-4 hours without food, because if I get overhungry, I will overeat.
- Keeping a healthy, car-friendly snack, such as a fiber one bar, on me at all times, in case I get caught out and need to eat, because if I get hungry, I will run through a drive-thru, and will not make healthy choices.
In addition to making these, and other adjustments, to my daily life, I am also having to do a lot of soul searching and looking within myself, because as noted above, this is a mental struggle. And if I don't work to identify why I am addicted to food, I will never fully recover from my addiction, regardless of my weight. And just as with any other addiction, it will be something I will have to keep in constant check, because it will be very easy to end up right back where I am with my weight without ever realizing what happened if I become too complacent.
Is it difficult? Very.
Is it conquerable? Without a doubt.
Will it ever completely go away? Unfortunately, probably not.
Is that okay? It is with me.
Why is it okay with me? Well, here's the thing: I'm not thrilled about having this struggle in my life. However, I am so much more than my struggles. I will not be defined by my addiction. It may be a part of my life, for the rest of my life, but it is not who I am. Sure, I will have to be on my toes, make more adjustments than most, and continue working to make sure I'm not eating for any reasons other than to fuel my body; however, my life is so much bigger, grander, and more awesome than a few extra steps to ensure I'm as healthy as I can be.
I'm a food addict. And though that affects my journey, it won't cause me to fail my journey. I will overcome this. I will succeed.