Learning to Overcome Food Addictions

By now you probably realize that food, being a bunch of chemicals, is addictive. Chemicals change our neurological and metabolic functions; sometimes without us even being aware of that fact. Food addiction is similar to every other addiction because it alters our brain neurotransmitters and body chemistry. As one patient described it to me, “it’s like a switch went off in my brain. I couldn’t stop.”woman stuffing fast food

Some believe food addiction is even worse than drugs, alcohol and smoking because we can’t get away from food – it’s always there, staring us in the face. It’s at work in the vending machine, on television commercials, magazines, along the roads we travel on. If we are having a stressful morning, it is so easy to reach for the donuts in the break room. Angry? Those pretzels are therapeutically crunchy!!! Lonely? We might find ourselves craving the comforting chemical found in chocolate, called phenylethylamine. Food chemically changes our moods.

It is a fact that food acts as a soothing drug when we are emotionally stressed. There is hope however. I have discovered the more I turned down donuts, processed, fast food and placed more wholesome foods into my system, the less I desired junk food. Today it doesn’t tempt me to stroll past a table covered in sugary snacks. If you also begin to select mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein, you’ll also discover a desire for more nutritionally healthy choices!

Let’s get real: self-medicating with food, drugs or alcohol does make the pain go away, but only for a short time. It changes our chemical make-up, providing pleasure, relaxing us. That’s a hard habit to give up. I urge you to reach out for God’s strength to get you through those hard times. Sadly however, many turn directly from instead of to God when hardship hits. You might even question God. Why doesn’t He give me more strength to overcome? Why would He allow me to be so weak?

“He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.”  (Psalm 107:20)

God does care deeply, it breaks His heart when He sees suffering. But He allows us, just as He has since Adam, free choice: loving obedience, apathy or self-destruction. God gave us free will. God wants us to choose what is best but in His love, He did not create puppets and will not force us to do what He wants us to do. Free Will! But actions have consequences. Choosing to consume chemically-laden, processed foods will ultimately produce physiologically destructive results.

I understand personal choice. As much as I wanted my patients to become healthier, they had to want it more than I wanted it for them! I watched as they chose a more healthier lifestyle . . . or destruction. It was either victorious or painful to watch but it had to be their choice. Change starts from within the individual.

Most people probably don’t understand the intricate, complicated processes of physiology but we do see the result of positive or detrimental choices. Isn’t this similar to how we see Jesus at work in a new believer’s life? We see the results of positive choices as well.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Please choose wisely.

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5 thoughts on “Learning to Overcome Food Addictions

  1. Excellent piece that covers the topic well. But, please remember that some binge eaters need extra help. Overeaters Anonymous, a 12-Step program, that provides moral and spiritual support to those who suffer. sd

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you energy. Yes you’re exactly right and that’s what I enjoy most about being a nutritional counselor. I’ve written extensively about that challenge previously and it’s never far from my mind. In fact I’ve written a 325 page book, “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese” including chapters on eating challenges. I’d also recommend “Food Triggers” by Rhona Epstein. Appreciate you! Blessings,

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