Do I Have a Food Addiction?

Attic Film Festival Ask Documentary

My weekend was rather busy, celebrating my husband’s 30th birthday in Dallas. And while Friday was consumed by it, I decided to make a point to attend a film festival the next day. It was the Attic Film Festival, a series of redemptive films, that I felt would not only be a great addition to my own personal growth but also prime content for my job.

So I went. I didn’t have much time due to the long drive back to Dallas but I was able to catch one film that really surprised me. It’s a documentary titled, ASK. Originally, I went in knowing what I was about to watch, an exploration on addiction — mainly drugs, alcohol and the like. However, what I came out of the theater with was very different. I noticed over and over again correlations between people experiencing addiction and myself.

I never saw myself as having a food addiction. I just live life, eat about three meals a day and maybe have a dessert. But I wasn’t looking at addiction correctly, I didn’t have it defined in my head correctly. This is how I saw addiction, in it’s most dramatic form: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

When I look at a definition like that, I feel exempt. However, when I hear addicts define addiction, it’s a completely different story. The documentary presents it as a cycle:

  1. Feel restless, irritable and discontent- There’s several things that can lead to these feelings. Stress being number one. When I’m stressed out, I’m likely to cut corners and order fast food so I can move towards focusing on my source of stress. Then there’s the really bad days that feel like they only be cured by a pint of pizza and perhaps a pizza too.
  2. Use- So, I eat based on emotion, not on logic. If I’m stressed, I’m going to take the easy way for dinner. If I’m sad or frustrated, a sweet cocktail or cupcake with soothe my tears. And guess what? I feel better. Of course it’s only temporary but it works, confirming that perhaps I’ve made the right choice.
  3. Physical Allergy- The documentary presented the idea that many of us are wired towards a certain type of addiction. We’re more susceptible. They call it an allergy. This “allergy” allows something that seems simple like a bite of cake to be taken too far. We can stop, we can’t have just one bite. I go from trying to be careful to eating more than I had ever planned or wanted.
  4. Binge- So I binge. I realize I’ve already messed up, might as well keep going. A simple party snack can turn into a full fledged feast. Sometimes I get completely fed up with trying to make good decisions that I throw up my hands and eat uncontrollably for several days in a row. It’s self-destructive.
  5. Promise to stop- When I get my head right, I promise I’m going to stop eating badly. I’m going to diet, exercise more and make good decisions. I’m going to change my life. I really mean it this time.

And yet the cycle continues that one time I’m vulnerable and am feeling restless, irritable and discontent. Yeah, it certainly sounds like addiction when I look at it this way. And so begs the question, where do I go from here? I wish I had a more concrete answer but one thing the documentary revealed is that it’s an internal issue, a heart issue. Something’s going on psychologically that needs to be discovered and addressed before true healing begins. And so the journey inward starts for me.

Who would have guessed that a work assignment could lead towards a complete life change? You’re welcome to watch the documentary yourself for free here.

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