Food Addiction?



The only argument I’ve seen against describing overeating as ‘addiction’ was that it cannot be precisely defined. Where does it begin and end – before dessert or after? One square of dark chocolate or 50? Or somewhere in between? But exactly the same problem applies to smoking, as there are those who smoke only one or two a year. There are few such smokers, but there’s still no absolute marker between ‘not addicted’ and ‘addicted’.


In calling overeating an addiction, the main problem I see is the judgment so many people have about it. It’s deeply shocking to so many to admit they’re addicted to something, as if it’s the very worst thing. It may be because I’ve worked in this field for so long, but I don’t have that kind of reaction at all.


To me, addiction is a part of being human, and as much a product of our environment as ourselves. Which doesn’t mean you’re not able to do anything about it; it’s just that you can be more compassionate with yourself about it. Realise that it’s so very easy to develop addictive eating patterns when you live in a culture that promotes it so much, and at the same time is in denial about it.


I believe it’s helpful to call overeating an addiction to food because you’re much more likely to achieve a goal that you can see clearly than one that’s hidden. Seeing food addiction – identifying it and describing it – is the first step in taking control, and a necessary one because it’s camouflaged to such a degree in our culture.


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  1. Joan

    Hi Gillian, I’ve just found your website and absolutely love what you are teaching about food and how we eat. Although I follow (and blog about) a ketogenic diet, I am passionate about women finding their own way with food and learning to nourish themselves rather than ‘dieting’. I’ll be downloading your books! Thanks again!

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