I’m a food addict. I clearly remember one time during grad school that I bought a bag of miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I took out a few and ate them, but before I knew it, I was digging into the bag and had binged on half it before I was able to stop myself. It was one of the many times in my life that I wished I could just avoid food altogether instead of having to figure out how to limit myself, because clearly, I thought, something was wrong with me. I took the rest of the bag to class to give to anyone who would take them to release the grasp they had over me.
And this wasn’t an isolated incident. On countless occasions I threw or gave away food to get it out of sight. I knew I couldn’t be responsible around certain foods, yet occasionally I’d cave, thinking “this time will be different”. What usually ended up happening, unfortunately, was that it wasn’t. I’d buy something tempting, invariably binge on it, all the while thinking “I’m so overweight anyway, what does it matter if I eat this?”, feel guilty, then get rid of the rest.
The biggest problem with having food issues,–whether it’s being overweight or anorexic–is that, unlike overcoming most other addictions, it’s impossible to entirely quit food. Food issues don’t necessarily lead to the more immediate ruin that a drug, alcohol, or gambling addiction can. But they undermine our health (so many diseases are linked food-related issues), cause unnecessary pain, incur costs (medical treatment, money on excess food, money on weight-loss strategies), drain us emotionally, and may expedite our mortality.
Even though I lost and have kept off a ton of weight, I’m still a food addict. It’s only because I’ve found strategies to cope with overeating that I am able to successfully maintain a healthy weight. But there are still some foods I encounter that I find difficult to leave alone if I end up with more than one portion. I consider these trigger foods, so I make sure I only occasionally have them around, and if I make them, I try to make a specific number of portions and plan when I will eat them.
We have to eat to stay alive, so the only way to address food issues is to figure out how to eat in moderation. But it is possible to make changes that will help to get you to a healthier, happier place, where your relationship with food isn’t a daily struggle. It’s just a matter of deciding to be done with diets and embarking on making a wholesale change.