Food Addiction, An Autoimmune Love Story
There is one word that wreaks havoc on a food addict more than any other, restrictive diet. I know because I was a food addict. I remember several years ago I went to a weight loss clinic and the practioner asked me why I like to eat. She prodded me for answers that didn’t exist. She wondered about a dysfunctional childhood, intimacy issues with a significant other, something dark from my past. The answer was simple, I like food. She seemed genuinely disappointed that I wasn’t harboring some deep, dark secret that sent me into a food frenzy. I dont’ think she grasped the idea that someone could actually be addicted to food. After all, what was the harm in that?
Looking back over the years, my addiction to food started pretty early. “Sneaking” food was a mainstay in my life. I spent the better part of my life eating what I wanted, when I wanted. Sometimes with others, and sometimes alone. Sounds sad, but the reality is, food addiction accounts for 78 million obese Americans in this country. I am talking about the addicition of eating. I am not talking about anorexia or bulimia, that would be another topic all together. It is staggering to think about how many people are suffering in this country. I know, I was one of them.
The habits creep back every now and then. However, after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease it is difficult to feed the addiction, pun intended. I am now on a very strict, very restrictive elimination diet. You might as well put me in a straight jacket and put some delicious cheese in front of me. I might likely chew through the restraints to get to the cheese. Sound drastic doesn’t it? Food addiction is a very serious issue, yet so is my autoimmune. Finding balance is tricky, but not impossible.
5 Signs of Food Addiction
- The inability to stop eating once you have started. Eating the entire carton of ice cream, not just a scoop.
- Thinking about food constantly. As a planner, I likde to think about what I’m going to eat. I liked to watch cooking shows and fantasize about the food I could make and eat. Luckily my food planning now involves healthy, whole food options only.
- Emotional eating. I’m happy, I would eat. I’m sad, I would eat. Bad day at work, I would eat. Great day at work, I would eat. You get the idea.
- Eating in private, away from others. This was a big one for me. I ate in my car, in my apartment alone with the blinds closed. Who was I hiding from? Birds? It was very covert. It was actually very sick.
- Trying and failing a variety of diets. I have been on more diets than I can count. It wasn’t until I stopped the madness and got healthy did this yo-yo dieting behavior stop.
I realized recently that perhaps being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease may have been a blessing in disguise. Of course I don’t want to have it. The truth is having this disease has made me realize how poorly I treated my body for years. It is a fact that lifestyle plays a big factor in how you get this disease. Years of being a food addict has led me to this stage of my life. I am now paying the price for my addiction. A wake up call of massive proportions. Yet through it all, I am actually okay with it. I may or may not be a little obsessive with this diagnosis. I may or may not be addicted to eating the healthy, correct way for my diagnosis. Whatever the case, I am getting healthier, mind and body.
I have moments of regression, it just shows up differently. I may have something not on my elimination program and I suffer with symptoms of my autoimmune disease. I then realize I should not have done it. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, but I am recognizing it for what it is. Food addiction and restrictive diets couldn’t be more opposite. The biggest commonality is control. I used to have an addiction I controlled and lived with on my terms. It doesn’t differ much in approach. I still plan my food, think about it and enjoy it. I just am more open about it. It’s all a healing journey anyway.