You have pledged to ban all those fat dripping goodies from your life and yet can’t avoid binge eating? Well, you could be suffering from food addiction or compulsive overeating disorder. It’s an increasingly growing disorder, say experts. "I come across a growing number of food addicts these days. Due to high pressure jobs, lack of a support system, failed relationships and a maddening lifestyle, a large number of people are seeking refuge in food, which leads to food addiction that could be even worse than drugs," says Prachi Agarwal, a fitness expert.
Who is a food addict?
Once food becomes an addiction, people compulsively seek it without thinking of its adverse consequences. When food addicts are not actually eating food, they are thinking about what to have as their next meal. They often eat secretly, hide food and eat even when they are not really hungry. Food addicts don’t stop eating even when they are full, and often end up feeling sick due to overeating. Food addicts also feel guilty about what they eat, and the quantity they consume. Their food plans are also quite elaborate and they spend a lot of time planning what to eat. And whenever stressed out or depressed, they turn to food. Find out if you are addicted to food
1. You are feeling down and out. One thing that can reliably make you bounce back is:
A. Raiding your refrigerator
B. A visit to a fast food joint with a close buddy
C. Any vigorous sporty activity will do
2. Do your resolutions fail miserably when it comes to controlling your taste buds?
B. If a double chocolate cake appears, it’s unfair to expect me to be a yogi!
C. It’s a routine affair; I have stopped making resolutions
3. Do you eat even when you are not hungry?
A. Give me deep fried macaroni or something special and I’ll have it anytime
B. If I’m feeling full, it is quite hard to eat anything
C. Food is bliss, what has hunger got to do with it?
4. Your boss has acknowledged your hard work and has given you a raise. You:
A. Take friends out to a new eatery you discovered
B. Head to the nearest bakery and hog on some cookies
C. Buy your favourite gizmo
5. Thoughts, images and taste of food comes to your mind:
A. Everyday, it is hard to keep count
C. Sexual fantasies don’t leave a room for such thoughts
6. Do you feel guilty after eating?
B. My guilt is reserved for more exciting sins
C. It’s quite common
7. You are planning a long trip and discover that your favourite food is not readily available at the place. You:
A. Wish it was available, but can manage
B. Feel sad and anxious
C. Doesn’t matter as the itinerary is giving you a hormonal rush
8. Whenever you see a column by a nutritionist in any magazine, you:
A. Go through it and try to make some change in eating habits
B. Read it, but sometimes, it is hard to follow such advice
C. Ignore it
9. The easiest way to put you into a trance is:
A. Offer you a rich creamy dessert
B. Play a mesmerising piece of music
C. It could be food, music, sex — depends on the mood
10. People close to you:
A. Are tired of telling you to watch what you eat
B. Envy your healthy lifestyle
C. Think you are a resource person to comment upon eateries in the city
Food addicts often complain of irritability, insomnia, mood swings, and depression. The disorder can lead to health issues such as high cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure. If you feel food has become an obsession for you, here’s how to cure it:
Dealing with food addiction
Eating a three meal diet with a snack in between helps control food addiction.
Exercise releases happy hormones in the system, which help lift the mood and fight depression and anxiety that triggers food addiction.
Caffeine, smoking and alcohol aggravate food addiction. It also interferes with sleep. Restrict these in your diet and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep.
When you just can’t control your craving, indulge in a bowl of mangoes instead of eating a pastry. It will satisfy your sugar craving while adding nutrition to your diet instead of empty calories.
Drink enough water. We often mistake thirst with hunger. Next time you feel the urge to eat, try drinking two glasses of water before you eat.
Get out of your house or office and enjoy the outdoors. Being closer to nature is extremely therapeutic.
HTC (With Inputs by Prachi Agarwal, Fitho)
1) A=3, B=2, C=1
2) A=1, B=2, C=3
3) A=2, B=1, C=3
4) A=2, B=3, C=1
5) A=3, B=2, C=1
6) A=2, B=1, C=3
7) A=2, B=3, C=1
8) A=1, B=2, C=3
9) A=3, B=1, C=2
10) A=3, B=1, C=2
What does your score say...
Between 10 - 15: You consider food as one of the many blessings that life offers.
Between 16- 22: Food holds a special place in your life and has a significant influence on the way you think, feel and behave. Try maintaining a balance between food and life’s other pleasures.
Between 23- 30: Red alert! You are a food addict. Junk food seems to have become a drug, which you frequently use to deal with intense emotions. Change your lifestyle and try alternate coping mechanisms to get rid of your food addiction. Otherwise, many physical and psychological problems are in store.
by Pulkit Sharma, Clinical Psychologist