Thoughts by Emily

Confessions of a Compulsive Eating Food Addict

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.

About the author

Emily Buys

17 Comments

  • Hey, I’m right there with you. Not only do I have an addiction to food, I’m an emotional eater on top of it. I grew up on fast food and unfortunately have not totally broken the cycle with my own kids (although I do cook a lot of home cooked meals). I have had a doctor tell me that he thinks I should go for the bypass surgery for weightloss, but how is that going to help me with my food addiction or emotional eating?!
    I’d love to hear how you battle it.

  • I also a food addiction. I know how hard it can be. People can be very dismissive about it. OA rey helped me, (they have online meetings and phone ones too) as has weight watchers. But especially OA. Think about it…

  • You just described me perfectly! I have been in the battle since I was a child as well. I’ve never been without food and never had a reason to crave it the way I do. It is like a drug. I constantly think about food and my “next fix”. It’s a painful place to be. Thanks for putting this out there. I can tell you I’ve been on so many diets and diet pills it’s not even funny. Of course I was born to a thin mom (who did not pass down her skinny gene). I don’t want my kids to struggle with food the way I do. I’m in a good place right now where I have to actually make myself think about my food before consuming it. It’s helping, but I’m always terrified of what happens when I fail or the temptation just becomes too strong. Like holidays! Really glad you shared this.

  • This has been a struggle for me my entire life. Thank you for sharing your heart! I’m proud of you for at least staying thin. You may say that you’re not but to me you are, based on your photos. I am not! Last weigh-in found me at 417 pounds. No, that is not a typo. I have all sorts of health issues: low thyroid, hypertension, insulin dependent diabetes, anxiety/depression, water retention, horrible lower back pain, sleep apnea, year-round chronic sinusitis and ZERO ambition.

    Food is evil and yet my best friend. It is what consoles me, celebrates with me, nourishes me and the very thing that is slowly killing me. When I am full I can’t wait until I have made some room for more. When I wake up I wonder what kind of goodies I will consume that day. But get this- I HATE COOKING!!

    I sneak around a lot, too. I hide food in drawers of my computer room so I can munch while I’m in there and hubby can’t hear me go in the kitchen to scrounge. As an older teen I would buy a box (that’s how they came back then) of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, consume the entire thing, and then proceed to rip the box apart in tiny pieces so I could hide them in a soda can. I still hide wrappers and such so my “affair” isn’t found out. I’m 42.

    So, I say all that for a couple reasons:
    1. To let you know that you aren’t alone
    2. As a sort of therapy for me to ‘verbalize’ it.

    Good luck!

  • Changing my relationship with my body is helping me to overcome my food addiction. I’m learning to accept and even love myself the way I am today. Check out this website http://www.beautyredefined.net/. Furthermore, I believe that dieting creates a vicious cycle that leads people to crave the forbidden. I also agree that control issues are at the heart of it. What mom doesn’t feel out of control?

  • I hear ya! It can be a painful place to be. I think some type of acceptance needs to take place. If our kids feel our fears about food, then I think they too can develop issues with food, which isn’t healthy. Tough balance!

  • Thanks for sharing CatMama! Verbalizing is a big step, I believe. Recognition with all things is the first step to change. Good luck to you, and feel free to comment and share your progress anytime!

  • Thanks for sharing the link. I will have to check it out. Dieting can be a vicious cycle for sure. Quick fixes don’t change what’s going on in our head too, so that is something people need to recognize.

  • Emily,
    I think to some extend I am wired this way as well. I get up in the morning and think about what I am going to eat that day. I never “forget” to eat and have plenty of excuses or justifications for every “splurge”.
    More recently, however, we have switched to a nearly paleo diet and don’t often stray. I feel so much better and it has cured my kids allergies. The motivation to eat clean far outweighs the urge for the junk food. In fact, I have cleansed my body so well that it often makes me sick now.
    Now if we do splurge we get soft-serve ice cream, a pizza or Chipotle but not even once a week. I still like to eat but my cravings have changed. Nuts. Protein. Even veggies.
    From what I know (which isn’t a ton), cravings are chemical. They stem from an insulin response in your body due to carbs and sugars and other chemicals. When your body raised your insulin levels it can no longer remember how to use existing fuel to power your body and sense signals to your brain that you are hungry. The more of this kind of stuff you eat, the more your body is tricked into thinking it needs it.
    Frankly it’s not even a conscious decision on your part. It’s not easy to break free of it but I think you can refocus those cravings with a huge ton of temporary willpower while you reprogram your body.
    I’m not sure you were looking for advice, I know it had to be a difficult post to write, but I just wanted you to know that it’s not hopeless.

  • Wow! I could have written this. I am in the challenge too and really tend to do well when I put my mind to it. My problem is that I have never learned to properly deal with the cravings. They are crazy sometimes and they often seem uncontrollable.

  • You are not alone, my dear, and your writing spoke to me as if I had written it myself. I wish that those of us with this problem could find a balance-a way to indulge without losing our heads (and waistlines). Regardless of your impulsions, you are a beautiful person, both inside and out, and you need to remember that. (((HUGS)))

  • I appreciate this post and all the responses. My husband and I both struggle with weight and food cravings. We do really well for a while then something throws us off routine and we are back at square one. I fall into more of an emotional eater. And hormonal eater, if it exists! I’ve thought about getting a juicer. I’ve heard juicing makes you not only feel better, but aides in healthy diet as well. Good luck to you all!

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