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Are You a Food Addict? What It Looks Like And The Way Out

By January 2, 2019January 27th, 20235 Comments

You can run (although I hate to), but you can’t hide from food.

If you’re addicted to it, you can’t quit “food.” That beast will stare you down all day long—three meals a day plus most moments in between. There is no “cold turkey” with calories. You have to eat. (Tell me why I am still thinking about the word “turkey.” Argh!)

Did you know it is possible to be a food addict?

Addiction recovery is all over the internet. Google “addiction recovery” and you’ll get 402 MILLION responses in a few seconds. 402 MILLION! In a quick scan of the top articles, you don’t find food addiction. So, I tried a new search: Food Addiction Recovery. Guess what? There are 130 Million articles.

But here’s the kicker: you need food to survive.

What does this mean for a food addict? Unlike other addictions, you can’t walk away or stop cold turkey. But recovery is ABSOLUTELY within your grasp.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about addiction over the past year—even being a food addict.  

  1. I am an addict. How do I know? Addicts cover up what they do so no one knows. When I caught myself hiding several candy wrappers in the trash can, I was horrified. But, accepting that I am an addict was also liberating. Yes, you need food to live. But you don’t live for food. Do you see the difference?
  2. Addiction is emotional for me. When was the last time you ate something you called “comfort food.” Why do you consider it comfort? Are you eating it to nourish your body or your emotions? My comfort foods are ooey, gooey, sugary carbs. They taste oh-so-good at first but are laden with guilt after the dopamine rush subsides.
  3. Addiction involves a mind change. Ask yourself this question: why am I eating what I’m eating? I discovered that more often than not, I ate only to put something in my mouth. Anything was okay whether it was nourishing my body or not. For me, what has to happen (and I’m still working on this) is a mind shift. Food is fuel for my body. It is a medication (of sorts) necessary to strengthen my bones, muscles, and internal systems. What fuel I use matters. Over-medicating is also dangerous, which is what I was doing.
  4. Exercise doesn’t overcome a food addiction. Eating a treat and thinking I’d exercise later that day doesn’t deal with the addiction. It covers it up. That logic makes an excuse for the addiction. To combat this problem, I had to count everything that went into my mouth.
  5. Food is my idol. The Bible tells us that anything we use to meet our needs instead of going to God is an idol. What a sobering realization this is. I wanted to think of an idol as something shiny, sitting on a mantle surrounded by candles or incense. Nope. I had an idol staring me in the face—Remember #2, comfort food. When my emotions were out of whack, I turned to food for comfort instead of turning to God. The crazy thing is that He’s the only one who can comfort me. He promises to be near to the brokenhearted, to comfort those who mourn, to bring joy, and to be present with me always.
  6. My self-limiting beliefs ruled. Recently, in this health battle, I faced a self-limiting belief. Being within two pounds of the lowest weight I’d been in five years, I believed that when I got to that weight, I’d become ill. It’s what happened the last few times I’d seen that number on the scale. So I began self-sabotaging. You know, just a small bite of something, not fuel here and there— nothing too drastic, just enough to gain a couple of pounds. When I admitted my fear to my husband and asked God to help me overcome this self-limiting belief and prove He would keep me from getting sick, I had to mentally and emotionally call the fear what it was.
  7. All food is acceptable. This is a huge issue. It’s not the food that damages me; it’s my choices related to it. Portion control matters. There is no food I CAN’T eat. What I choose to use as fuel for my body matters. Therefore, I do take pause meals or days. But then the next day, I focus on the foods I know bring health to my body. I control every aspect of my food choices. These are my mental and emotional decisions related to food.
  8. Addiction is addiction. When my husband and I walked through his recovery from pornography addiction, I watched him battle daily, sometimes minute-by-minute, to take captive every thought, to live life without his addiction. This current battle I’m in is the same. There are days when it is a minute-by-minute choice to change my mind about food and its role in my life. I battle daily to take back my life from this addiction. The truth is that addiction is addiction just like sin is sin. Once again, I’m choosing a way out that leads to abundant life.

Can you overcome food addiction?

Yes! Each day I learn something new about addiction recovery. And, each person’s recovery looks different. As controversial as it sounds, food addiction is like any other addiction. It causes the same neurotransmitter responses in the brain as other addictions.

My key this past year has been identifying my why. Why do I want to be healthy? The reason I’ve told very few people about my journey is that my why needed to be for me and no one else. If I didn’t believe I was worthy of being healthy, then no amount of encouragement from anyone else would bolster my why. I had to look in the mirror and tell the person looking back at me that she was worthy of health.

Healthy living involves your whole being

Maybe you can’t relate to this post at all. If so, I’m thankful you don’t have this struggle. Good for you. However, may I encourage you to look at those who do with a new compassionate understanding?

Maybe you’ve read every word because you identify with the deep longing for health. I encourage you to run (or swim, or bike, or row . . .) after it with everything you have. You are worth it! Your family wants you around for as long as possible. Run to Jesus with your desires. He longs for you to be healthy. He said so!

Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!

Jesus has been faithful every step of the way in my health journey. I can’t say the same thing for me. But each time I fall, He picks me up, forgives me for turning to my idols instead of Him, and teaches me anew about walking hand in hand with Him today. Those bruises remind me of the oceans of grace He’s given me.

If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.

Here’s to a holistic healthy new year.


  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.

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