America’s new pleasure addiction is food abuse
by Carol Bardelli, Examiner.com
Not long ago, sexual addiction was the latest disease to plague us. Now food addiction is rapidly taking its place. Despite the poor economy, lines at fast food drive throughs get longer, buffet style meals get cheaper and more popular. We are now a nation of overeaters. See videos below.
Abuse and addiction touches nearly everyone in one way or another. On the other hand, thet do not have to be an endless cycle handed down from generation to generation. Many end the cycle with proper treatment.
A very different form of abuse is the little addressed topic of food abuse. Also known as food addiction, food abuse like drug abuse, is a self inflicted and misunderstood problem. And it is as widespread as any other form of abuse or addiction.
Millions of people abuse food every day. The whys of food abuse are numerous; people overeat because it soothes, distracts, entertains, and in many creates a near drug-like high. Food becomes their friend, companion, lover, drug of choice. Food covers up or stuffs down emotions like loneliness, frustration, anger, fear, boredom, and is used in place of sexual satisfaction.
Food addiction includes such symptoms as food obsession or constantly thinking about food or eating, lack of self-control around food, eating for reasons other than physical hunger, using food for entertainment or as a companion, deriving unnatural pleasure and comfort from eating, bingeing in spite of consequences, and often being overweight or obese due to over eating on a regular basis. Some people who abuse food feel helpless around food.
What are the consequences of food abuse? The obvious one is weight gain and obesity (unless the food abuse is combined with a purging disorder such as bulimia, or exercise anorexia, or compulsive exercising). With obesity comes a number of health risks like heart disease, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancers.
Beyond the physical consequences come social consequences. Although more of us are overweight or obese than ever before, prejudice against fat people persists. Overweight and obese people earn less, are less likely to be promoted in the workplace, have less choices in partners, often marry less desirable partners. Even medical doctors and therapists have been found to hold negative views toward overweight patients. On July 25, 2006 a “flaming session” got out of hand at the Kevin M.D. website’s comments section. Insults between posters claiming to be physicians blasted the overweight and obese, and fat acceptance people blasted back. This went on for page after page. (Kevin M.D. was not personally involved.). And the list goes on.
Many food abusers react to the emotional distress of weight prejudice and weight gain by eating more and a vicious cycle is set in motion. A food abuser overeats to soothe emotions, later feels guilty for overeating, faces the prejudice of others, feels bad again, and overeats again to escape and feel better…temporarily.
If you suffer from food abuse or addiction there is help. You can enter recovery, mitigate and sometimes reverse the damage to your body, your physical and mental health, and your social life.
Resources for Help:
- OA.org – Overeaters Anonymous offers a program of recovery from compulsive eating using the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA.
- ANAD.org – the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
- Eating Disorder Nation – a great pro-recovery blog/site aimed towards eating disorder awareness and recovery.