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Do You Have A Food Obsession? | The Michigan Dietitian

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Do you feel like the only thing ever going on in your mind relates to food? You may have a food obsession. Don’t worry, I’ve got the answers you’re searching for.

What is A Food Obsession?

A food obsession is exactly what it sounds like- being obsessed with food. Though there is not yet an official consensus as to how this is categorized, we are slowly getting more research!

As with all things food and eating-related, nothing is easy or straightforward.

A 2018 study described why food obsession/addiction is so tough to categorize. ‘[B]ehavioral addictions involve dependence on a behavior, not a substance; however, addictive-like consumption of highly palatable food involves both a behavior (eating) and substance (food). Some classic substance addictions, such as tobacco use disorder, also appear to include behavioral dependencies.’1

Basically, the study is saying on one hand it could be classified as a behavior disorder similar to gambling. While on the other it could be seen as a substance disorder. In the case of food obsession, the food itself would be the substance.

Do you understand how tricky this is now!?

To make it more problematic, in many cases, the issue of food obsession comes about from disordered eating habits. This could be restricting, leading the person to constantly be thinking about the food they don’t allow themselves to have.

Another example of a habit leading to food obsession could be from binge eating. Binge eating is a DSM-5 classified eating disorder. But, due to this, the person may think about food and plan their binges.

One who is experiencing an eating disorder may just be understanding it as a food obsession or food addiction.

woman with food obsession eating chips

Signs of Food Obsession

It is difficult to put every single potential sign of a food obsession into words. Every person has their own individual experiences with food and may describe them differently.

Some potential signs may be:

  • Constantly thinking about food, what you want to eat, what foods you are avoiding
  • Eating to a point of uncomfortable on a relatively regular basis (i.e. more than just specific occasions)
  • Worry about food options and availability
  • Hiding food
  • Avoidance of eating with others
  • Lying about consumption
a woman with food obsession eating carrot

Why Am I Obsessed With Food?

There are so many reasons you may feel obsessed with food!

A few potential causes are:

  • Undereating/Overeating
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Using food as a coping method
  • Mentally-driven
  • Emotionally-driven
  • Hormonal imbalances (very small research on this one)

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Everyone experiencing food obsession may have a different cause. Food and eating is very personal and intertwined with many other emotional and physical factors.

Unfortunately, you may never get a 100% answer to what the cause is.

The Issue With Diet Culture

Diet culture needs its own space here. The world we currently live in has an obsession with body size and aesthetics. With this, a food obsession can result.

Without even realizing it, social norms may be guiding you towards obsessing over food and what you look like.

Diet culture will have you thinking that having more than a single-sized bag of chips in a sitting is an awful habit. What!? Not only is diet culture confining the normal limits of consumption, it also normalizes undereating.

Only allowing yourself organic, all-natural, pasture-raise (insert any other trending health claims) is also an obsession. Diet culture has also normalized this way of consumption.

two young women having fun while eating their pizza

What Do I Need To Do To Fix My Obsession with Food?

In order to fix your food obsession you have to fix the true cause. If an eating disorder is occuring a food obsession is more of a side effect.

You may not be experiencing a full blown eating disorder but you may have disordered eat there may be room to work on your relationship with food.

Side note: an eating disorder and disordered eating are very similar but not the same. An eating disorder can be classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5) while disordered eating is any way of eating that is disordered yet not classified as an eating disorder. Confusing, right?

Back to what to do about the food obsession. This obsession may actually have nothing to do with an eating disorder or disordered eating all. I’m sorry- I know I keep making this difficult!

If the obsession is not related to disordered eating or an eating disorder, there is still hope! It is difficult to combat this on your own. I recommend speaking to a therapist and a dietitian. In conjunction, you will have a team of experts on your side to help guide you and work towards answers.

Food Obsession Frequently Asked Questions

I am not addicted to foods like candy and chips, is it still an obsession?

It is more likely to gravitate towards sweet, processed foods with fat, but that isn’t the rule! It is very possible to feel obsessed with foods considered ‘whole’ such as carrots or nuts.1

How do I know if I am actually addicted to food?

There is no medical test for food obsession. At this time, there is not too much research on understanding biological factors that may support a diagnosis either. If you feel there is an issue, there likely is.

Where does food obsession come from?

There are endless sources that a food obsession could form from. It could be from a reliance on food as support, a safe space, comfort, etc. It could also be a hormonal imbalance (minimal research), genetic predisposition, or caused from another concurrent issue.

A Word From A Registered Dietitian

Don’t feel alone. Food obsession is more normal than you’d expect. With help from a dietitian and therapist this issue can be overcome.

Reach out via email (hello@themichigandietian.com) or my nutrition consultation interest form to speak about this further.

If you feel as though you struggle with food, not matter how miniscule or manageable it may seem it is worth working on. By carrying on, it may worsen and end up causing severe harm.

Do you have a food obsession pin image

Craving More?

If you are interested in reading further on food and nutrition check out some of my other posts! If you are interested in working on your food obsession with me, send me a message through the nutrition counseling page.

Want more nutrition information, food freedom content, and delicious recipe? Follow @the.michigan.dietitian on Instagram and other social media platforms!

Disclosure

Information in this post should not be taken as medical advice. Speak with your healthcare provider for making any changes to your reginim.

Citations

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946262/





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