Is food addiction real?

09.15.23 |

It’s not your fault.

I have said that to thousands of patients and clients over the years, and it’s true. Your struggles with building Habits of Health in this crazy chaotic world are not your fault because everything around you pushes you to make unhealthy choices. For some people, though, believing that their challenges with health aren’t their fault is really hard to do. They have experienced so much frustration and heartache with their health and their weight that they can’t possibly imagine not blaming themselves.

Blame and guilt are anchors. The weight of those feelings keeps us from moving forward, and, in many cases, drags us farther and farther from where we really want to be. The sooner we can overcome this thinking, the sooner we can begin building the life that you want to live, which is why I want to use our time today to give you perspective on how unfairly you’re treating yourself.

Food Addiction is Real

Describing foods as addicting used to feel like simple exaggeration. Sure, we can’t seem to re-seal the bag and put the snacks away, but actually comparing foods to the severity of drug or alcohol addiction seemed like an overreaction.

The reality: Food addiction is remarkably similar to drug addiction.

Each year, medical research learns more and more about how processed foods rewire our brains, hijacking the way our brains process rewards. Cravings, withdrawal, the inability to moderate consumption – these are all hallmarks of addiction. On brain scans, the areas that light up with cocaine use light up with sugar consumption.

In fact, some research suggests that food addiction might affect 20% of the population. That’s 1 in 5 people.

It’s Not Your Fault, and You’re Not Alone

Even though the science of food addiction is relatively new in comparison to other medical research – because even medical professionals are surprised at the power processed foods can have over our brains – the conclusion is clear. It’s simply not fair to blame yourself for your struggles with food. 

Your eating habits likely started when you were a child, long before you knew to even think about what you ate. For your adult life, you’ve been surrounded by a society that relentlessly pushes unhealthy food options. 

Addiction is a difficult thing to overcome, and good people with good intentions fall into the trap of addictions every day.

While that’s frustrating and disheartening, there is good news: You’re not alone. Thousands of people are facing the same challenge, and many of them have learned what we’ve learned. Like any type of addiction, addressing it by yourself is difficult. You need – and deserve – support and coaching. You need guidance and encouragement. You need the ear of someone who understands what you’re going through and can help you find the healthy path that suits you best.

That’s what the Habits of Health community is. It’s a refuge where you can set aside your guilt and your shame so that you can build the life you want without fear of being judged or looked down on. When you give yourself permission to have that grace and have the support of people who understand your journey, amazing things are possible.

So, don’t forget: It’s not your fault, and you’re not alone.