Understanding Fast Food Addiction
When people hear the word addiction, it often calls to mind additions to alcohol or drugs. While these particular substance abuse disorders account for a significant percentage of addiction struggles nationwide, there are several other behavioral challenges one may struggle with, which ultimately qualify as addiction. People may struggle with addictions to technology, gambling, sex, shopping, exercise, and even eating. Although not the case for all of the above, some of these other addictions meet the criteria for listing and diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition .
In many cases, treatment for any of these specific addictions is available at addiction treatment centers like Meadowglade. In the addiction treatment setting, trained therapists can help you examine the root causes of addictive behavior, including fast food addictions, to help you develop better coping strategies and attain long-term recovery. If you are concerned about fast food addiction, it is essential to reach out for help. Ongoing addictions to fast food can cause other physical and mental health effects, including significant weight gain, new or worsening heart conditions, new or worsening respiratory conditions, and challenges with your muscle or skeletal system due to potentially increased weight.
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What Does Food Addiction Do To The Brain
Despite our conscious brains best efforts, our strong-willed self-deprivation is no match for our reptilian survival instincts. So, resisting when your Lizard Brain takes over is almost impossible!
It is not a failure of your willpower but rather your innate biology working to ensure you survive.
The tension between our conscious brain trying to restrict and our subconscious mind telling us to EAT IT ALL NOW eventually drives us crazy. We feel addicted and cant live without modern, hyper-palatable, engineered foods.
Work On Stress Management
Theres almost always an emotional component behind cravings. Sure, you really need the brownie because you like the flavor. Or your blood sugar is low and you need an energy boost. Youre more likely to grab the Cheetos or leftover cookies when youre upset or stressed by something.
Consider how you may be eating as a way to stuff feelings, distract yourself, or procrastinate. Try to be compassionate to yourself and do some gentle exploration. Practice redirecting yourself when you feel the urge to reach for food instead of doing what needs to be done, or saying what needs to be said.
Healthy stress management tools include:
- taking a walk or run
- talking to a trusted friend or family member
- doing something creative like painting
Experiment and find what works best for you. If your stress feels overwhelming, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They can offer emotional support and suggest other effective, healthy, non-food coping methods.
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This Past Year Perhaps More Than Ever People Were Looking To Fast Food For Its Convenience And Comfort
This past year, perhaps more than ever, people were looking to fast food for its convenience and comfort. But did this create a fast food habit in your daily or weekly routine? Or were you already struggling with a fast food addiction before quarantine? To determine if you need to take a break from the drive-thru, here are some questions to think about:
- Is it your morning habit to grab coffee from the local shop or corner store?
- Do you get fast food as a pick-me-up when you’re stressed or having a bad day?
- Once you start eating the meal, do you eat more than you had intended?
- Do you spend more on fast food each week than you do on groceries?
- Do you try to hide fast-food wrappers or eat it in secret from others?
If you answered yes to these questions or even just a few of them you may need to rethink your fast food choices. Something as simple or innocent as grabbing your morning coffee at your favorite spot can indicate a troublesome habit or dependence on fast, convenient food. And the idea of hiding the containers and wrappers suggests that there’s an underlying shame in the food being eaten. And ignoring that discomfort seems easier than facing it.
If you or your family has a fast food addiction that needs to be broken, it’s never too late to make positive changes! Here are three simple hacks you can use to let go of your fast food habit.
Consider Relocating To A Different State
The prospect of moving to another state may seem extreme. However, moving to a state with a smaller number of fast food restaurants may help you by limiting your options. You may be surprised to learn that New York, New Jersey, and Vermont have the fewest number of fast food restaurants per capita, while Alabama and other states in the South have the highest per capita number.
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Its A Serious Problem
Though the term addiction is often thrown around lightly, having a true addiction is a serious condition that typically requires treatment to overcome.
The symptoms and thought processes associated with food addiction are similar to those of drug abuse. Its just a different substance, and the social consequences may be less severe.
Food addiction can cause physical harm and lead to chronic health conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes .
In addition, it may negatively impact a persons self-esteem and self-image, making them unhappy with their body.
As with other addictions, food addiction may take an emotional toll and increase a persons risk of premature death.
Food addiction increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Excessive weight may also affect a persons self-esteem.
Completely avoiding junk foods may seem impossible. Theyre everywhere and a major part of modern culture.
However, in some cases, entirely abstaining from certain trigger foods can become necessary.
Once the firm decision to never eat these foods again is made, avoiding them may become easier, as the need to justify eating or not eating them is eliminated. Cravings may also disappear or decrease significantly.
Consider writing a list of pros and cons to think through the decision.
Write everything down no matter how peculiar or vain it may seem. Then compare the two lists and ask if its worth it.
If the answer is a resounding yes, be assured that its the right decision.
What Types Of Fasting Do I Prefer
Im more a fan of intermittent fasting. I find that this is easier for me to apply in my day to day life. And, it works very much for me like it does for many others in that it helps me to maintain higher energy levels and mental clarity for longer periods of time.
If I break my routine of intermittent fasting I find that it can pull my productivity and energy levels down. This can take me 5 to 8 days to completely recover from when I do take steps to get back in the swing of things.
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How Long Does It Take To Break A Food Addiction
The time it can take to truly break free of your food addiction might not be so far off!
A lot of feeling full, satiated, and satisfied comes down to how well you hit your bodys nutrient requirements. Once you begin dialling your intake of protein and nutritious foods and dial back on your consumption of carbs and fat, you will start refilling your nutrient stores. This is the process we guide Optimisers through in our four-week Macros Masterclass.
As you begin to give your body what it needs when it needs it, it will keep your body from searching aimlessly for more nutrients in hyper-palatable foods and meals. Thus, you can keep your mammalian instincts and lizard brain at ease and away from falling into infinite autumn. While it can take some people longer than others to begin refilling these nutrient buckets, your food addiction will become easier to manage the sooner you start.
Aside from nutrient deficiency, hyper-palatable processed foods tend to also put you on the blood sugar rollercoaster. Focusing on protein and fibre can move you away from significant blood sugar swings. However, learning how and when to eat using your blood glucose as we do in our Data-Driven Fasting challenges can further accelerate your hunger control and keep you from falling victim to your cravings.
Overcoming Fast Food Addiction
Many people struggle with the idea of fast food addiction. Because food is a vital part of life, it is hard to view food intake as something negative or harmful. However, food addictions are real, and fast food addictions can be harmful if not properly treated at an addiction treatment center, those like Meadowglade, where treatment specialists are skilled in helping you understand the physical and emotional consequences of fast food addiction. One of the most effective ways to avoid developing a fast food addiction is to follow a healthy, balanced diet rich in natural, whole, and unprocessed foods. Eating a balanced diet and understanding possible fast food addiction warning signs can help you act quickly and seek treatment if you suspect a problem.
The process of treating and overcoming a fast food addiction generally follows the same treatment models used in addressing other types of behavioral addictions. It is important to have a plan in place to overcome your addiction and a reliable support system to turn to when experiencing triggers. It is also vital that family and loved ones in your home environment support your healthy eating goals. It can be challenging to maintain recovery and avoid relapse upon completing treatment without a strong support structure that promotes and encourages healthy lifestyle changes.
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Teaches That Discomfort Bad
Fasting is arguably the most countercultural of the spiritual disciplines. In a time of unprecedented conveniences when every atmosphere is climate-controlled, food can be ordered with the press of a button, entertainment can be perfectly curated to personal taste, and we feel entitled to satisfy every desire immediately anything uncomfortable seems like a wholly unnecessary annoyance. We expect to be ever full, ever satiated.
Yet fullness isnt always good, and emptiness isnt always bad. The constant craving for pleasure can be detrimental, and occasional discomfort can be exactly what we need.
Richard Foster writes of coming to this insight in The Celebration of Discipline:
The first truth that was revealed to me in my early experiences in fasting was my lust for good feelings. It is certainly not a bad thing to feel good, but we must be able to bring that feeling to an easy place where it does not control us.
Culturally, we have come to an understanding that the pain of exercise is necessary if we want to improve our physical health. But we rarely carry this acceptance into other areas of life, where it is just as true. Sometimes, almost always in fact, you have to make yourself uncomfortable in order to get better.
Sometimes you have to empty yourself to be filled.
How Water Fasting Helps Addictions
Water fasting is an extremely powerful tool to help overcome addictions caused by smoking, drinking and drugs in general, as well as any food addictions, such as those caused by sugar, salt, caffeine, chocolate, flavour enhancers Unfortunately, the list is almost endless.
On a physical level, addictive substances cause changes to your biochemistry which induce your body to demand more of the given substance in order to sustain homeostasis that is, the stability of your metabolism.
On an emotional level, addictive substances manipulate the way you feel about and relate to a given type of food, drink or drug, so that you want more of it. More than just simple desire, you actually need more of the addictive substance in order to sustain your mood or emotional homeostasis.
Because the physical and emotional elements of addiction are so closely intertwined, its all too easy to find yourself in a downward spiral. For instance, that bar of chocolate elicits biochemical physical changes in the brain as dopamine and other hormones are released. This makes you feel good emotionally. As a result, you crave more and grab for another bar, thereby repeating and intensifying the cycle in a feedback loop.
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Tips To Beat Food Addiction
Are you are self confessed chocoholic? Are you addicted to sweet foods? Its a pretty common assumption that sugar is addictive, just like substance or alcohol abuse, but is this actually the case?
Ive definitely had moments when Ive craved chocolate or needed something sweet after dinner so I can relate to the notion of needing a fix.
The Downsides Of Thinking In Terms Of Food Addiction
However, the problem with thinking of food as addictive is that we become disempowered.
Once you define yourself as someone who is addicted to food, you see yourself as a victim with no control over your own destiny.
With this mentality locked in, we start to see all food as bad instead of choosing more optimal foods that will empower us.
Instead of feeling grateful for having it, enjoying it and celebrating it for nourishing us, we begin to fear it. All food becomes our enemy.
Food addiction constitutes a medicalisation of common eating behaviours, taking on properties of disease. The use of this medical language has implications for the way in which society views overeating and obesity.
If we medicalise our behaviour, we are less likely to take responsibility for our choices.
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Reward Yourself As You Hit Milestones
The path to a fast food-free lifestyle is not always a smooth one. You may have periodic setbacks or find yourself succumbing to your cravings. And staying on track can be especially difficult if your friends and loved ones dont share your same dietary goals. Given these challenges, its important to celebrate your accomplishments and milestones you reach. Here are some ways to reward yourself for hitting your goals:
- Splurge on a new outfit or accessory youve had your eye on for a while
- Treat yourself to a lunch or dinner at your favorite healthy eating establishment
- Book a vacation to Vermont the state in America with the lowest number of fast food restaurants per capita
Fasting Can Break The Power Of Addiction
Ive experimented with a number of disciplines over the years to become a better version of myself. One of them thats stayed with me to this day is fasting. American culture is all about consumption. We have this idea that the more we consume in food and material the happier we will be. Food-scarcity rather than food-abundance was the norm throughout human history. The human body is adapted to go long periods of time without food and drink. The ancients, even those who lived in food-rich cultures, knew how powerful fasting was when undertaken on a voluntary basis. Doctors like Hippocrates commonly prescribed fasting to treat a number of mental and physical conditions. Im glad that approaches like intermittent fasting have gained popularity in recent years. More and more people in the modern world are realizing that fasting can be a powerful tool to change their lives.
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Sugar Fasting Wont Necessarily Bring You Closer To God And It Definitely Wont Heal You Of Your Obsession With Food
Fasting from sugar has only one effect: it makes you obsessed with it. The more we think about avoiding something, the more irresistible that thing becomes.
If you are struggling with binge eating sugary foods, creating more rules about those foods isnt going to solve the problem its only going to make it worse. Sugar isnt a problem in our lives because its sinfully delicious and addicting, its a problem because weve allowed its role in our lives to become distorted. Rather, the solution to binge eating is to heal your relationship with those triggering foods, such as sugary ones, by eating them more often. Ive seen this to be true in my own life as well as countless clients and patients Ive worked with over the years, and this is precisely the reason I feel so strongly about the subject.
I personally have been harmed very deeply by the false messaging in the diet industry, and Ive see that same hurt in so many other lives, too. Its heart breaking, and makes me angry, because I missed out on nearly seven years of my life due to a disordered relationship with food. I think that breaks Gods heart, too. Fasting from sugar didnt make me more holy, it made me more self-absorbed, more obsessed, and fed my idolatry with food and my body.
One of the most healing things I ever did mentally, physically, and spiritually was making the decision to eat more sugar, not less.
Youre Not Hungry Youre Addicted
One of the reasons fasting is so hard for most people is because of the way that we eat. Most of us eat a lot of processed carbs as well as refined sugars. These foods are incredibly addictive. If your body is accustomed to eating these foods and you suddenly stop it will cause severe withdrawals. In fact in many studies of sugar, it has been found to be 10 times as addictive as cocaine. In a study from 2007, rats were given access to an unlimited supply of water containing sugar and water containing cocaine. 43 out of the 45 rats chose the sugar.
If something is bad for you but your body keeps making you crave it, its because you are addicted to it. Even though the negative effects are not seen as quickly, many people are addicted to certain kinds of foods the same way that people get addicted to drugs, and it can be almost as hard to quit. Fasting while addicted is hard, but it is a vital first step in breaking that addiction.
If you have ever spoken to someone who has fasted for a week or more theyve probably told you, It get easier after the third day. The reason for that is after roughly 3 days your body is through the hardest part of carbs and sugar withdrawal. Even though its been 3 days since you have eaten, you really dont feel that hungry.
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