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What's Behind the Disease of Addiction?

Food addiction is not taken as seriously in the healthcare communities as other addictions. Many healthcare providers dismiss food addiction because food is legal and seen as harmless. The medical community generally does not classify food as a mind-altering substance which has the potential to be abused. Until medical professionals get rid of such cognitive biases, food addiction will keep destroying lives.

Food addiction is when a person’s need to eat becomes compulsive and uncontrollable. Often this is a result of an emotion such as stress, sadness, or anger. Essentially the individual uses certain foods as mood-altering substances.

Using food to habitually alter mood is not different from using drugs to do the same thing. They are both substances used as crutches to numb emotions. For many, food in fact is a drug. The sad part is that it’s usually never healthy food. People with food addiction tend to binge on unhealthy food. Rather than reaching for lean proteins and vegetables, they seek comfort food. This can include but is not limited to chips, candies, processed foods, breads, etc. Regardless of which food is being consumed, the underlying principle for addiction remains the same.

The addict is in great misery and is using food as a tool to deal with the pain. Until we understand this, we can never help people dealing with food addiction. It does not take a medical degree to understand that empathy and love are the only things that can help any addict achieve long term recovery. Rather than focusing entirely on getting the addict to stop eating, we should listen for their pain. By listening to their pain, we give the food addict a chance at overcoming their need to numb themselves to their own emotions. Essentially, we are replacing the comfort they seek from food with genuine human connection and relationships.

Food addiction is just as dangerous as any other addiction. The only difference is that its more socially acceptable to hide emotions with eating than to do so by getting high. We must remember that social acceptance does not equal recovery. Both food and drug addictions are dangerous and both are diseases which need to be treated. Addiction involves physical, mental, and spiritual suffering. People cannot physically control themselves from eating certain foods. It's become a compulsive habit. The mental aspect of addiction is the obsessive thoughts about the food. Since food is a source of comfort, the addict cannot stop thinking of it until they get it.

The spiritual suffering is the self-centeredness the addict faces while experiencing their addiction. It makes them feel that they know what's best for themselves and no one else can help. This lack of humility makes any sort of spiritual connection almost impossible. As mentioned earlier the best thing we can do for any kind of addict is offer empathy and understanding. This is what will lead the addict to eventually feel ready to get help and change. Until the addict seeks change from within, no external psychologists of doctors can help. The addict will evolve when and only when they are ready.

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