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Why Is Food "Addiction" So Controversial?

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  • 33gail3333gail33 Member Posts: 580 Member Member Posts: 580 Member
    As someone who literally writhed and gnashed teeth with perceived "want" of certain trigger foods I can say some days it feels harder than quitting smoking.

    When quitting smoking I stopped going places people smoke, stopped hanging with people while they smoke, and they hide them behind closed doors in the shops now so I dont see them and they smell gross.

    If only the same could be said for avoiding people who eat and while they eat and that cherry covered black forest cake in the bakery case looking and smelling so inviting on the way to the checkout.

    Dont have to constantly plan life around avoiding smokers anymore 3 years later but have to look at food all the time and watch every bite. Ahh to become a Breathatarian...

    Yeah to me stopping eating certain foods is harder than stopping drinking so idk. I just can't moderate chocolate or potato chips - but I "gave up" wine last fall. I was an almost daily drinker, and now I have no problem having a glass or two of wine once in a while, and then not thinking about it again another couple of weeks. With me drinking wine was more of a habit that I associated with things, and once that habit was broken I don't crave it or anything. Certain foods on the other hand I do. Like I can have one glass of wine and stop, but I will eat all the chocolate until it is gone.
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Member, Greeter Posts: 44,775 Member Member, Greeter Posts: 44,775 Member
    My stance on food "addiction" is that you can't avoid eating food.

    Other addictions like opiates, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. CAN be avoided without the person impairing their physical health.
    Since I also believe that addictions are more mental than physical, mental health also has to be addressed when trying to deal with getting people away from what they are addicted to.

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    edited March 30
  • leiflungleiflung Member Posts: 82 Member Member Posts: 82 Member
    I think the word "Addiction" trips people up.

    Just like alcohol and opiates, overeating is a coping mechanism. This is known. The largest study ever done on the long-term health effects of childhood trauma originated at an obesity clinic, the ACE study.

    There are ways to become addicted to alcohol and opiates without having significant childhood trauma. It happens. If you have to take Vicodin every day for months to manage pain, you can become addicted. As far as I know, people don't develop compulsive eating habits that lead to obesity in this accidental way.

    That's a significant difference.

    But, your chances of becoming an alcoholic, an opium addict, a compulsive gambler or obese all increase significantly according to how much childhood trauma you were subject to.

    For many people, overeating treats a problem that will not vanish with weight loss.

    Who they are, how they feel all the time when they aren't overeating, is unbearable to them.

    That makes it almost identical to an addiction. You can really only split hairs about how that unbearableness came to be and how we understand it physiologically.

    But yes, there are people for whom not eating compulsively feels intolerable.

    I think, if we can just understand that, quibbling about whether to call is an addiction is irrelevant.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 19,499 Member Member, Premium Posts: 19,499 Member
    leiflung wrote: »
    I think the word "Addiction" trips people up.

    Just like alcohol and opiates, overeating is a coping mechanism. This is known. The largest study ever done on the long-term health effects of childhood trauma originated at an obesity clinic, the ACE study.

    There are ways to become addicted to alcohol and opiates without having significant childhood trauma. It happens. If you have to take Vicodin every day for months to manage pain, you can become addicted. As far as I know, people don't develop compulsive eating habits that lead to obesity in this accidental way.

    That's a significant difference.

    But, your chances of becoming an alcoholic, an opium addict, a compulsive gambler or obese all increase significantly according to how much childhood trauma you were subject to.

    For many people, overeating treats a problem that will not vanish with weight loss.

    Who they are, how they feel all the time when they aren't overeating, is unbearable to them.

    That makes it almost identical to an addiction. You can really only split hairs about how that unbearableness came to be and how we understand it physiologically.

    But yes, there are people for whom not eating compulsively feels intolerable.

    I think, if we can just understand that, quibbling about whether to call is an addiction is irrelevant.

    I think some of this thread is more like quibbling about whether Suzie, who likes large portions of yummy cookies and candy a bit too often, but shows no other obvious signs of feeling intolerable when not eating compulsively, is helped or harmed by a quick cultural tendency to resort to "addiction" terminology.

    I can't speak for others, but I don't think it's too far a reach to use the term in cases like you're describing, even though the use may be a bit metaphorical vs. literal. There is a deep problem in those cases.

    In other cases, where there does not seem to be a deep problem or compulsion, that terminology IMO is better for generating excuses and reasons to fail, than it is for finding paths to success. Now, obviously, we can't fully diagnose someone from a single post, and I'm in no way a trained psychoanalyst, so there can be assumptions involved.

    I'm quite confident that there are people who overeat, and get fat/obese, completely without any kind of deep psychological motivation beyond "food is tasty, and it's pleasant to eat more of it". Some of that confidence comes from having been that kind of person myself.

    Probably all of us overgeneralize too much, tend to assume others are like us, when hard evidence either way isn't necessarily present. That's sort of human nature. I've seen that cut both ways on threads, where people who overeat cookies are assumed by others to have deep psychological motivations when it turns out that they don't; and where people who may have deeper issues are blithely advised by others just to move more and eat less, which - while true - isn't helpful or responsive to a true compulsion.
  • leiflungleiflung Member Posts: 82 Member Member Posts: 82 Member
    I have no idea what obvious signs you'd expect to see. This kind of trauma is generally invisible. For the most part, you can't even ask people. They'll say they had no childhood trauma when they were raped at the age of 6.

    You aren't just making some assumption sometimes. You're always ignorant. Hiding your pain is a survival strategy.

    But I also don't know that you're providing an out. In either case there is hard work to be done. Either through self-discipline or trauma recovery or addiction recovery. In all cases, you have a problem that only you can fix. In all cases, you can easily not solve it and make excuses, instead.

    Each of us is responsible for our happiness. That is always true. I don't think calling food an addiction has any relevance to that.
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