Psychology and Psychiatry

Food addiction

Food addiction is one of the forms of psychologically determined addictive behavior, expressed in the inability of a person to resist the need for food intake. At the same time, the need is not due to the physiological feeling of hunger or thirst, but to the psycho-emotional state, which entails such an activity as the absorption of food.

Food in modern society becomes a drug, legal permission to have fun, relieve stress, make an appointment or take time out. The secondary benefits presented by the process of absorption of food are enormous - they will help the shy youth to communicate with the girl, and the person filled up with work will not be convicted after leaving for lunch, unlike a walk in the park that takes the same amount of time. Food collects people in certain companies, where easier and more pleasant communication is established - remember the cheerful laughter on the smoking room or near the coffee machine, and how it stops when people leave these places.

Signals of the emergence of dependence is a change in the former way of life and behavior, irritability and anxiety appear, relationships change, and the main part of a person’s thoughts revolves around food and there is an inability to refuse to reflect on this topic or from an extra piece of food. This dependence manifests itself mainly on sweet, spicy, fast food products, usually it is a junk food containing fats and carcinogens.

Causes of food addiction

Hunger is not always a factor of dependence, you can feel the need not for food, but to pamper yourself with tasty food, choosing a certain type of product - then there is a certain level of chemical dependence caused by certain products, where the degree of influence of the organism’s biochemical work is not on the receptors. After eating sweet and carbonated foods, the natural tastes of fruits and vegetables do not irritate the receptors of the tongue to the proper degree, and there is no feeling of fullness. The same thing happens with smoked meats and products containing monosodium glutamate - after them other food seems tasteless, so even after dinner, I want such things. A similar effect is removed quite quickly, by a method of forcible refusal within a few days (of course, there will be a break) and taste buds are restored, it is harder to break the mental habits of buying chips after every quarrel.

There is a predisposition and this type of behavior is fixed in childhood, and deliverance has the same stages as any other psychological one, since there is no chemical component here. The need for seizing up stress (as a means of self-complacency) can be shaped by the style of education (when a bun was stretched to the child instead of psychological care). Feeling your own physical and psychological needs may be disturbed, when parents decide how the child is standing - then the attitude is formed that the more food is eaten, the better the attitude of the elders will be, or at least punishment can be avoided.

It is a mistake to believe that a person with food addiction is overweight, because you can make an effort and be normal, while losing all control over your own behavior at the sight of chocolate cake. Just food addiction has its manifestations in the lack of weight, having its manifestation is not overeating, but rather rejection of food. Any deviations in food behavior and its construction not on the basis of the feeling of hunger are addiction, but it can manifest itself both in excessive absorption and in refusal from food altogether. In terms of human relations, this is called addiction and counter-dependence, in terms of behavioral psychology, this is bulimia and anorexia.

To understand how to deal with food addiction, one has to investigate the aspirations of the individual and understand what brings joy besides food, since the main substance derived from the products chosen by the addict is serotonin. And if there is no place to take joy in one’s own life, it is taken from food, and life problems accumulate, so the circle closes, which must be broken considering psychological features and mechanisms.

Getting rid of food addiction begins with the definition of symptoms, including an increase in portions of food, frequent overeating, inability to refuse supplements. In addition, there is a craving for sweets, flour and spicy, guilt after eating, the desire to absorb food secretly, to induce vomiting after eating. With such symptoms, you should begin to get rid of dependence, starting from the search for its appearance.

The causes of dependence on food can be hidden behind physical or mental pain. In the first case, the food serves as a consolation and gives some anesthetic effect, saturating the body with serotonin, in the second it helps to relive a feeling of sadness or even cope with loneliness. Stimulating the oral area at an unconscious level is associated with breast sucking and brings sedation. The mechanism is activated for those stuck on the oral stage, and then they are looking for similar ways to overcome emotional difficulties in adult life - alcohol, cigarettes, food, kisses, everything related to the oral apparatus and its stimulation. Food also helps to cope with low self-esteem, blocking negative experiences and delivering the necessary sense of happiness to the shortest, but not the most productive, road, in many cases leading to an even greater decline in self-esteem, self-blame.

Eating disorders are often companions of mental disorders, sometimes remaining the only area that is available to human control. Since mental activity is no longer reliable to him, and manifestations of reality may be illusory, in order not to fall into the abyss of uncertainty, panic and anxiety, a person resorts to calming down with the help of food. Also, in disorders related to self-perception and acceptance of one’s own body, poorly obsessed care for it, food addiction arises, the purpose of which is to reduce the number of defects or bring one’s own physical manifestation to an ideal state.

From emotional experiences the constant companion of any overeating is a feeling of inner emptiness and not fullness of one’s own emotional life. Since our mental and physical are inextricably linked, such mental hunger at a certain stage begins to give signals that are perceived as physical, and a person who does not pay attention to his soul begins to feed himself, hoping that it will become easier. But the feeling of food saturation will not come, and the absorption will be similar to throwing food into a black hole, as in the movie “Route 60”, since the real emotional need remains unfeeding.

Situations of internal emptiness arise because of the absence or loss of meaningful goals, landmarks, meanings of life (for example, both divorce and wedding can lead to a similar state, throwing misunderstanding how to live further). Age and life crises, transitional stages and traumatic situations are those events that knock the ground out from under their feet and ruin their former way of life, forcing them to hiccup new ways of being, the meanings of their further aspirations and organization of space. And if a person is stress-resistant enough, has experience of getting out of crisis moments, he will find new ways of adaptation easier, whereas for those who have not faced global changes or have lost something extremely valuable, finding a way out will be problematic and will require emotional painkillers. Some in such cases go to psychotherapy, some to the bar, and some to the candy store.

Biological factors can also provoke an incorrect attitude to food (changes in hormonal background or metabolism entail changes in eating habits), but unlike psychological moments, such failures may require medical intervention, acting solely as a symptom. In such cases, it is pointless to go on a diet, monitor and control, including awareness, your behavior, since this only aggravates the underlying cause.

The tendency to food addiction is laid when parents manipulate food. For example, the mother may try to manipulate the behavior of the infant with the help of feeding, at a more adult age for the child decide what kind of food, in what quantities, and at what time he will eat, ignoring the needs of the child. With such upbringing, a person's sensitivity to the needs of the body is disturbed, the feeling of hunger can be distorted, and food is perceived as a way to achieve approval (“well done, I ate everything”), reward (“do your homework, get candy”), protest (do not finish it or not do not eat during quarrels). Then food becomes a way of communication and loses its primary functions, and the relationship with food reflects the relationship with the world, increasing its importance in the personal assessment of the environment.

Types of food addictions

Speaking about food addiction, many imagine a girl who will not miss the shop window with cakes, although in reality the varieties of such a violation are much larger and the forms are also more serious.

Taste dependence focuses on the need for a particular product and its taste. Food with serotonin (chocolate, bananas) or having a tangible effect on the body (coffee, seafood) is widely spread among taste-dependent people. Pleasant sensations from the taste of the product dilute the negative, boredom or fill a pause, like a cigarette smoker, and the use and taste dependency itself is like entertainment, although it does not exclude dysphoria with a prolonged absence of a favorite delicacy.

Overeating is a more serious problem when a person is not able to control the required amount of food, as a result of which obesity begins. Usually due to stress factors or a decrease in mood and self-esteem. It is completely solvable when working through psychological problems and changing life strategies.

The next type is starvation, which has various forms of manifestation. This may be the refusal of certain products (in an effort to lose weight, products are excluded, according to the person, contributing to the deposition of fat) or refusal of food in general. The reason is often the desire to lose weight, and this leads to a violation in the psycho-emotional sphere, anorexia nervosa, dystrophy, and a number of both psychiatric and physiological problems. Anorexia reveals irregularities in the perception of one’s own body, which seems complete even with insufficient mass. At the initial stage, a person is quite able to independently regain a healthy attitude to the food process or use the support of relatives and a psychologist, and at the stage of more serious development, medical therapy is necessary to restore both physical (restoration of metabolism and proper functioning of the digestive organs) and psychological health. (considered one of the diseases of the psychiatric clinic).

The opposite of anorexia is bulimia, which is characterized by outbreaks of hunger, the absorption of food in large quantities, and the choice of products, as in the first case, taste dependence is not important, the amount is important. This is usually a rather painful condition for the body and the next stage of absorbing a huge amount of food is an artificial induction of vomiting or a laxative effect. The fear of overeating is caused by the induction of vomiting, but the possibility of voluntary control over eating is absent, the person is really subjectively experiencing a terrifying feeling of hunger, right up to the pains and spasms of the esophagus, seeing the only way out is to immediately absorb a huge amount of food. Just like anorexia, with its extreme manifestations, it is treated in a hospital.

How to get rid of food addiction yourself?

Dependency, albeit not a narcotic, but food is not such a simple problem, so you should learn how to deal with food addiction yourself from experts, rather than rely on luck, worsening the situation. And above all, one should exclude biological failures in the work of organ systems, knowing in advance that the main problem is in the psyche, then it is necessary to reveal one’s own motivation for deliverance, without which there will be no improvement in the self-healing Excellent analysis helps such a lifestyle, and considering the prospects for where it will lead in ten years.

The mechanical and quite simple stage consists in drawing up a diet plan that includes permissible products (with a distinction in what quantities and how many times a day or a week each of them can be consumed), portions and frequency of meals. You should always have an ideal list at hand, but you shouldn’t demand immediate and strict adherence to such a diet from yourself. Old habits, supported by physical sensations are quite strong and after a week, you can wake up near the fast food stall, eating the sixth shaurma. Allow yourself sweets and harmful goodies, but gradually reduce their volume.

While adjusting the food side itself, do not forget that the cause of any dependence lies in the psyche and without paying due attention to the causes of dependence and changing your life situation, all efforts to improve your diet will be meaningless. Resolve old problems that undermine your mental resources, find ways to fill your inner emptiness (look for emotions - new hobbies, interesting travels, people). Playing sports and filling yourself with positive emotions are allies in the fight against addiction.

Further, there will be a deeper and more serious work to increase your own self-esteem: find things that develop you and encourage yourself for any, even a small achievement. Just do not eat - give yourself a new experience, buying a movie ticket or ride a horse. If you have won a maths competition, please yourself with a subscription to the pool, if you have protected ksm, update your haircut, successfully passed the project, go on a picnic. Try to make your activity varied and develop your various aspects. Your main task is to normalize your life, learn how to cope with stress and resist external onslaught instead of jamming problems.

Food Addiction Treatment

The treatment of any eating disorder includes the joint work of a person with a psychologist or psychotherapist on intrapersonal problems leading to such a state, and the duration and program are determined individually and depend on the severity of the manifestations and the specifics of the clinic. The main goal of such work is not the normalization of weight, but solely the normalization of eating behavior, violations of which led to the consequences of a change in body weight.

An integrated approach usually involves working on getting to know and maintaining principles of informed eating that excludes violent dieting methods, after which breakdowns occur. Conscious nutrition is aimed at increasing the sensitivity to the needs of your own body and its responses to food (this includes both the type and amount of food).

Intensive work is carried out with the internal settings in relation to food and to the self. Permanent companions of eating disorders - reduced self-esteem, lack of self-esteem, inability to build productive contact, life in past problems, and other traumatic situations that cause a person to seize constant anxiety.

Usually, rehabilitation takes about two months with regular individual and group psychotherapy, where personal causes of addiction are revealed and the most authentic ways out of this situation are developed, without the use of strict measures that frustrate the psyche. Most often, treatment is carried out with periodic visits to the psychotherapist and support groups, but in some cases hospitalization (sometimes compulsory) is required in cases of physical disability or the need for psycho-emotional correction. Compulsory treatment in the hospital with anorexia is especially important, since deaths are possible, as well as irreversible changes and disorders, and possibly a failure in the work of the organs against the background of exhaustion and starvation.

The most relevant in work with food addictions is cognitive-behavioral therapy, aimed at eliminating inappropriate behavioral patterns and developing a new pattern of behavior. Активно подключается телесно-ориентированная и динамическая терапия для лучшего контакта, чувствования и понимания образа тела, а также его потребностей.

Group therapy has proven very positive in treating any kind of addiction, where it is possible to get support and come closer to accepting one's own problem as an existing one, which is the starting point for rehabilitation. In addition, family therapy is actively involved, since eating behavior takes its roots in the family system, always closely borders with the sphere of interpersonal relations and is one of the markers of family distress.