So why does it seem like everyone has some sort of a food issue- big or small? Through new research, it’s become clear that there’s something about the food itself that makes it tricky to moderate our intake. The concept of food addiction has increasingly gained more support as the science shows that people tend to overeat and binge on certain ultra-rewarding foods. This food activates our reward pathways similar to other drugs and addictive substances, which explains why for many people, moderation just doesn’t seem possible.
But the truth is, there’s A LOT of food addiction skeptics in the world of eating disorders. And there are many people who believe that the solution for everyone is to eat in moderation, that is, knowing when to eat and how much to eat by attending to our body’s cues. This sounds great (in theory), but the problem is that it fails to take into account that many foods, packed with added sugar and refined into nutrition-less flour, are actually DESIGNED to make us eat more.
When we continue to eat high sugar, low nutrient-dense foods, our fullness and hunger cues get all out of whack, making our body a very unreliable indicator of when to eat and when to stop eating. It’s no wonder we can’t stop after just one handful of chips and we find ourselves snacking aimlessly throughout the day!
Finding What Works for you
Because so much of the food in our grocery stores is designed to keep us eating, it’s important to set limits around the foods that you know are likely to hijack your brain and keep you craving. If you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself “what do I know to be true about MYSELF?” If you find high sugar foods to be tricky (as they are for so many people), cutting out those foods are a great place to start. If you find snack food or dessert are difficult for you to moderate, maybe those are the foods to get out of the house. When you take out the foods that are difficult to moderate, you give time for your brain’s reward pathway to reset and you need to use SO MUCH less willpower and coping skills to navigate your day.
Be Careful of the Comparison Trap
When you’re making these changes, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to what other people are doing. When we eat according to how we think we “should” be able to eat (“I should be able to eat ice cream because everyone else is”), and ignore the reality of the situation (“When I eat ice cream, it’s hard to stop eating”), we’re likely to keep running into obstacles, frustration, shame, and disappointment.
You’re not Alone.
Know that you’re not alone if you feel the pull towards binging and overeating certain foods, feel out of control when you’re eating these foods, and have a hard time stopping. There are so many people who have the same struggle, and the amazing news is that there is a solution that works (a solution that has science to back it up!)
The most important thing you can do for yourself and your relationship with food is trusting your intuition on what feels like the best fit for you (even if that intuition is telling you to do the hard thing). When you follow that wise voice, you can get all that freedom you’ve been looking for.
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