“But I can’t stop eating x food once I start.”
“Food lights up the reward center in the brain – just like drugs!”
“I feel out of control around food.”
I understand. It’s tough to make sense of intense desires for food or seeming inability to resist certain foods in this culture that asks us to moralize our food choices and avoid foods that are “bad.” Diet culture tells us that we are weak or somehow at fault if we find these “bad” foods pleasurable, and blaming this on food addiction makes sense.
Here’s the thing, though: we can’t be addicted to food. A little-known fact about food is that human bodies require food to survive. Avoiding or limiting intake of food is called restriction – no matter the reason for restricting. It’s restriction if it’s not eating in preparation for an orthopedic surgery, and it’s restriction if it’s eating less in an attempt to lose weight to meet narrow beauty standards. Restriction consistently, reliably increases desirability of food. Bodies don’t know that they’re being restricted from food because they don’t look “right” or because they’re starving and there simply isn’t food available. Thus, anytime the body gets food, it just makes sense that this would be pleasurable and rewarding for the brain – this is a way the brain overrides restriction. Allowing food to make us feel good is part of what keeps us coming back for more – and subsequently helping us to stay alive, which, I’d like to point out, our bodies are experts at doing!
Simply understanding that food addiction isn’t real doesn’t stop us from feeling “crazy” around food, or certain foods. So what do we actually do about that? Well, it’s rooted in recognizing when and where we restrict intake and shift instead to eating intuitively. When our bodies and brains trust that they have access to all foods at all times and that eating for pleasure is okay, foods continue to be pleasurable, and we have permission to enjoy those foods. It takes away that ramped-up desirability that is based more on being “forbidden” in either type or quantity, and we get to enjoy foods for what they are, in ways that are satisfying to our bodies.
So, no. You’re not addicted to food. Your body is working hard to keep you alive, and it’s doing a great job. To learn more about how to re-connect with your ability to eat intuitively, reach out to me or schedule your appointment now.