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How Food Addiction is Similar to Real Addiction – and Tips to Overcome

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burger and fries

I remember watching an interview with former guitar player from the 90’s hair band Poison, CC Deville.

I specifically remember him discussing his long term battle with cocaine addiction. He relived his overdoses, his financial ruin, the ultimate deterioration of most of his close relationships and finally the end of his promising career as a result of his “white lighting”, as he put it, addiction.

A sad story indeed, however, his story was not done. As he was working on his recovery from this “relentless monster“, he faced another addiction, a food addiction.

He started eating to calm the craving for the dreadful cocaine, the post-acute withdrawals and the pain and loss associated with his drug addicted demise.

He gained over 100 pounds and started isolating himself from the world even further.

As he reminisced about this nightmare, he said something in the process of the interview that struck me. He said that “in this society, it is better to be known as a ‘strung out coke head’ than to be a fat person”. I sat back and really thought about this, part of me believes him.

Stereotypes Related to Food Addiction

Food addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction and now even video game addiction is something that needs to be looked at more than ever.

Food addiction is one that I believe has been overlooked and dismissed for a long, long time.

If you really look around, we have been treating it all along. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and many other programs have been trying to teach people to eat appropriately for decades now.

But, have we not really focused on the actual problem? The underlying problem is that people are using food to cope with hurts, loss and low self-esteem.

When we think of this addiction, we often think of the obese person sitting on the couch eating a Burger King cheeseburger, or maybe five burgers.

This is the stereotypical image society has planted in our heads and it is a shameful one.

While I believe that food addiction should be placed in a diagnostic manual under the other eating disorders, it is still “anyone’s disease”. It does not require a poor self image to surface.

I have known many “smaller” people who use food as a crunch instead of dealing with their actual problems. They are only fortunate enough to have great genetics or a forgiving metabolism.

We use food in all areas of our life, we use it to celebrate with family, we use it as a reward and we use it to bond. How many of us have girls or guys “night out” that includes a pizza and cheese sticks? Guilty as charged.

I could go on and on. We have looked away from food’s actual purpose which is survival. As humans, we have taken a substance and have used it in a harmful way.

fried food

Tips to Overcome

I assure you that a food addiction can be just as emotionally and physically disastrous as any other type of addiction.

However it is not as recognized and it is still quite a controversial concept. Some health professionals still do not believe it is an actual, crippling disorder. It is not a documented medical diagnosis as of yet.

Obese people are often called “lazy” and referred to as not having willpower. The looks, the stares and the laughs obese people get on a daily basis are a complete dagger to the heart. Most of them are not even aware that their compulsive eating is an actual addiction.

Study after study has shown that eating for the sole relief or to medicate an unpleasant emotion will have the same type of effect on the brain chemistry as a line of cocaine. A rush of endorphins will result in the attempt to dull the ache of any mental torment.

Most people do not believe it is dangerous way of coping with life. They view eating as a safe alternative to drinking or using an illicit drug. However, it can easily escalate out of control when used to cope with emotions.

I can only assume that this addiction is probably the toughest one to treat, it probably is comparable to teaching a raging alcoholic to “only have a few”. In the world of addiction treatment, this is impossible.

The techniques used to treat this must be done by a specialized therapist with years of experience. I am sure these resources are few and far between.

Society along with the medical community undoubtedly needs to do a better job at treating this deadly disease. However I will not get my hopes up. By the time this disease is recognized, it is usually, as we addictions professionals call it, in the fatal phase.

This only means the consequences of the food addiction has either turned lethal or has done irreversible damage to the body.

Society is not ready to see food addicts as people with an altered brain chemistry that requires intervention and treatment. It’s much easier to label people as “weak”. Like any other addiction, if not treated, the results could be fatal.

The words of the guitar player, CC Deville, which by the way I had a huge crush on, ring through my head as I write this article. I can only plead for compassion for people afflicted in this torment.

It is our responsibility to obtain medical care for any illness we have, including addiction, but people certainly do not deserve the utter disdain they receive daily from others who simply do not understand.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Marshall Astor – Food Fetishist via photopin cc
(2) DYFL via photopin cc

Originally published on

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