You’ve just finished your last bite of lunch and you know you are safe for at least a couple more hours. Safe from what, you might ask? The tormenting thoughts of your next fix. What it will be, when it will be, and where it will be. For the non food addict these questions may not arise in one’s head. Not unlike heroin addicts, food addicts get a deep craving for that oh so desirable, and palatable fix.
Ever since I was a little girl I have had the problem of allowing food to consume me and my thoughts. It should be the other way around right? One should consume food; But for the food addict, the food also consumes the person. I remember often asking my mom what we would be eating for dinner, and when. That thought always brings me to the little boy in “Dick Tracy”. “When do we eat?”, he says. This was coming from a little boy who wasn’t used to being well taken care of. That wasn’t my case. I just liked food entirely too much, and always seemed to be concerned that I wouldn’t get enough of it. As if I were to wake up one day and the food wouldn’t be there. Perhaps it has something to do with being the youngest and feeling like things would run out before it got to me, or perhaps I have always just been addicted to food. I also believe that this mentality is more common among Americans, as we can be a gluttonous people.
It hasn’t been until recently that I started to see a correlation between a food addiction and that of heroin. I’ll be honest here, so you can see what I mean. As I sat in the Starbucks parking lot with a hot chocolate in one hand and a slice of chocolate cinnamon swirl bread in the other, after having just finished a snack size serving of Fish McBites from McDonald’s, I knew I had a problem. This isn’t a common occurrence for me by any means, but the draw to head out to fast food and get something tasty after the kids had gone to bed was just more than I could bare. Not only was I getting a fix and feeding a craving, I was also feeling like I needed to sneak around. Sitting in a parking lot to consume food is embarrassing, but people do it! At least food addicts do. I know I’m not alone here either. I called my husband up on the phone and told him that I had a strong urge to go and eat something bad for me. I felt like a drug addict who just needed to get my next fix. Thoughts of chocolate and greasy food started to consume me. It had been a few hours since lunch so I was no longer safe from the compulsive thoughts of food. I was even in tears over the issue because I knew I would feel guilty afterwards, having consumed something fatty and unhealthy. With the knowledge of the imminent guilt that was about to take place, you’d think it would be enough to stop me. It’s not though. I can be a glutton for punishment when it comes to food and getting my fix.
Because I am currently in a fitness challenge, the guilt of my addiction makes things that much harder. I believe there have been periods in my life where I can be at peace with food. It doesn’t consume me and my thoughts, but I can use it for good, and for health. Unfortunately I am not in one of those places, which is why any success I have right now, is huge! This past year has been quite a challenge for me with feeling out of control of so many things in my life. I suppose food is one of those things that I feel like I CAN control. I choose when, where and how it happens. Kind of a funny though considering the food ends up taking over and controlling me!
I start dreading mealtimes because I know they are going to be a struggle. Breakfast isn’t too difficult because I’m often not hungry. Lunch is the worst because when 11am rolls around, thoughts of fast food and restaurants start to consume my every thought. The possibilities of what tasty treat I can pop into my mouth are just endless. Food is almost a reward, and a scapegoat for dealing with life. Someone else cooks it, cleans it up, and it tastes so good! I think about Panda Express and their sweet and spicy Beijing Beef, McDonald’s for a greasy Filet-O-Fish, Wendy’s for their salty french fries, In-N-Out Burger for a delicious Cheeseburger – oh boy the possibilities are endless. For a food addict, just the name of these foods can get that pleasure center in the brain exploding. It’s not enough though. The drive becomes so powerful that there is no putting the mind to rest until that craving is met. Once the need is met, there is guilt over putting these unhealthy foods into the body. Is the guilt powerful enough to stop you before your next meal? Certainly not. It’s a vicious cycle!
I would love to get to a point where I don’t worry about an upcoming holiday or event because of what food I will be faced with. I need a healthy relationship with food. That’s not to say that we can’t have unhealthy treats now and again, but it’s all about the relationship with the food.
Perhaps next time I will touch on the actual research done with lab rats. This compulsive eating food addiction thing, similar to a heroin addiction, is no joke.