By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
Millions of Americans and people around the world are overweight and obese. The prevalence of obesity is alarming with no end in sight. To combat the epidemic, research and governing bodies have sponsored and cited ample amounts of research to highlight the positive benefits of regular physical activity, exercise, and healthy eating.
However, as a society, few people view obesity or overweight as an addiction issue. Addictions are often thought of as problems for drug addicts, not obese people.
Obesity is more than being lazy or lacking self-control
Unfortunately, obesity is thought of like a lazy person’s issue or a person’s lack of self-control when eating. In reality, there is more to obesity and gaining weight than just self-control or being lazy.
Sure, a simplistic perception of overeating would be to conclude that improving self-control will lead to less food consumption; however, most people know that simply controlling an eating behavior is never that easy.
Food addiction is a real disease, it is an addiction and therefore eerily similar to a drug or alcohol addiction, and warrants help and support.
Food Addiction is Real!
Most people may not view food addiction as a “real” addiction, however, that false notion is completely uninformed because people can be addicted to food and certain types of food, no different than drugs and alcohol.
Just like any other addiction, food addiction can and will negatively impact a person’s health and wellbeing. The goal of food addiction treatment would be similar to drug addiction treatment.
A key step in any rehabilitation and recovery protocol is to help addicts confront the problem. A person can only avoid a problem for so long and in this case, it is impossible to avoid food-related issues because a person must eat food to survive and poor food choices will always be a temptation for any person because grocery stores are full of food triggers.
In addition to grocery stores, almost every city street you drive down is lined with fast food restaurants, ice cream stations, coffee, and snack shops.
There are support groups for food addiction
While few people are aware, there are support groups to help people dealing with food or nutrition-based addictions. One group, in particular, is called Overeating Anonymous.
Overeating Anonymous is a 12-step program that aims to help individual’s recovery physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeating Anonymous is designed to help people talk to other addicts about their issues. The goal of this group is to support people struggling with negative food consumption behavior. If you know anyone struggling with food addiction, please note there is help.
You can go to https://oa.org/find-a-meeting/ to find a meeting near you.
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Rodríguez-Martín, Boris C. “Overeaters Anonymous: a mutual-help fellowship for food addiction recovery.” Frontiers in psychology 9 (2018): 1491.