What is the difference between a food craving and a food addiction?

Craving is a powerful desire for something.

Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences; it can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviors. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are (1) that they are positively reinforcing. (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and (2) they are intrinsically rewarding (i.e., they activate the brain’s “reward pathways”, and are therefore perceived as being something positive or desirable).

“Addiction isn’t about substance – you aren’t addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.”Susan Cheever

chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles, phrase more, more, more stamped across them

Food Craving or Addiction?

First step towards changing a lifestyle habit or addiction is recognizing that there’s a problem.

  1. Write down your top 3 cravings.

    1. Are they cravings or addictions?

    2. What need are they supplying (Significance, Certainty, Variety, Love/Connection)

    3. How do you feel while eating/drinking it? 1 hr after? 5 hrs after?

    4. What childhood memory can you attach to this substance?

    5. What activity can you substitute that will also fulfill your need (from b)

Tips on how to cure you cravings:

1. Don’t deny yourself

a. Don’t beat yourself up

b. Celebrate all the “learning experiences”

2. Eat Proactively and not Re-Actively

    1. Don’t allow yourself to get hungry
    2. Eat for nutrients not for substance

    3. Identify what human need you are getting from the food that you crave. Create a cravings journal

3. Make Healthy eating convenient.

a. Hire a personal assistant / food prep (not a personal chef)

b. Just do it!!!! How much is your time worth?

c. Where to find this person? Craig’s list or by referral

d. Screen in the add / Skype interview / working interview

e. Check references or get a list of referrals

4. Make sure you always have food prepared

a. Pack a lunch always

b. Minimize eating out / eat prior to going out / customize your order when eating out

5. Take Care of YOU. What is it that makes you feel great?

    1. Facial, pedicure, manicure, massage, hiking

    2. Meditation & prayer

    3. Acts of Service

    4. Listen to personal development books, tapes, YouTube videos

There are also a growing number of programs that help people who are addicted to food. Some, like Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, are based on the 12-step program that has helped many people addicted to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. Others, like Food Addicts Anonymous, use the principles of the 12-step program along with strict diets that advise people to abstain from problem ingredients, like sugar, refined flour, and wheat.

Some argue that recovery from food addiction may be more complicated than recovery from other kinds of addictions. Alcoholics, for example, can ultimately abstain from drinking alcohol. But people who are addicted to food still need to eat.

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