Dependence on food is a serious disease that many do not recognize. Eating in secrecy and guilt after eating meals are a few of the first symptoms of food addiction. It is usually caused by carbohydrates because they release serotonin, the hormone of happiness.

The need for food even though you’re not hungry or eating because of emotions are signs of  food addiction, according to a survey of American Dietetic Association. Meals in secret, hiding the amount of food, a sense of guilt or shame after lunch, loss of control and inability to stop and feeling of relief while eating are clear indicators of addiction, say experts.

Food addicts feel helpless in their need for food – too much food. This leads to obesity, poor health and psychological dissatisfaction. It is a behavioral addiction and you gain the habit of eating when you are not physically hungry, but you’re emotionally hungry or frustrated, bored, angry, tired or when you need a distraction from stress.

Everyone knows there exists a dependence on alcohol, nicotine, drugs or medications, but hardly anyone thinks that there is an addiction to food. This dependency really exists, but not on any food. Specifically it’s about one and the same types of food – those that contain carbohydrates.

Foods that are addictive: bread, pasta, sweets and desserts, chocolate and salty snacks.

This is because carbohydrates and sugary food release serotonin in the brain, a chemical substance that releases a calming high and makes some food addicts feel “numb.” The effect is temporary and short, but in the long term can cause you to feel very bad, says American nutritionist M. Nolan.

Keeping a food diary is a first step toward accountability and control of your diet. With the diary it will be easier to assess the actual amount of food intake. Combining protein with carbohydrates will also help maintain stable blood sugar levels and slow the release of serotonin in the brain, which will prevent guilt and depression later.

The brain is the key to self-control. When you are hungry, pause for 10 seconds and think if you are really hungry and why you want to eat.

Be aware of what you eat and slow down when you eat – it’s a meal, not a marathon. Between each bite drop down spoon or fork, every bite should be as small as possible and every new bite put in your mouth when you  have previously well chewed and swallowed. In this way yo will eat far less. Choose a variety of foods, a variety of food preparation, temperatures (sometimes hot, sometimes cold) and spices. Eat more fruits and vegetables and try out foods that you haven’t tried yet – so you’ll pay more attention to what you eat.

Victory over addiction to food can seem like an impossible feat, especially since you are faced with food every day. However, small steps towards changing your approach and attitude to food can help break the cycle of overeating and mindless eating

Eating can be a pleasurable experience that doesn’t lead to pain and guilt. Find help through counselors, group meetings (OA, FA) teachers, friends, and family if you need support.

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