About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Toughest Addiction Out There

When most people think of addictions, thoughts come to mind of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and gambling. Most people don't even consider food, but food can also be a powerful addiction to many people. In fact, I would argue that food is the absolute toughest addiction to break and I'll tell you why I think that a little later in this article.

Addiction is defined as "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." I think food follows that definition for some people. Those of us overweight feel a sense of being enslaved by food and trying to stop can cause trauma both mentally and physically.

Addictions, no matter what kind, are hard to break. In order to overcome an addiction, you must be able to face both the mental and the physical symptoms during the withdrawal (cessation) from the addiction.

For food, the physical manifestations come in the form of hunger. If you body is used to eating a certain amount of food and then you begin to eat less and deny the body all that food, it is going to let you know by making you hungry. Hunger can be hard to deal with especially if it’s nagging at you all day long. There are also other physical symptoms you can face when dealing with food addiction. Some people get headaches or feel rundown when reducing sugar or caffeine intake. Others may see digestive issues like gas, bloating, etc.

The mental side of food addiction can also be just as difficult. Any time you are lonely, sad, depressed, angry, or any other emotion that your brain associates with over-eating, you will feel that need to indulge to make you feel better. The cravings will come in the form of the flavor that suits the mood and your mind will beg you for just 1 slice of pie or 1 bag of chips.

Now earlier I made the statement that food is absolutely the toughest addiction to break and here’s why I think that:

There’s one trait about a food addiction that makes it unique from all other addictions out there. Food is the only addiction that cannot be quit entirely! Think about it, you have to eat to live and you have to carefully manage how much you eat in order to maintain proper health. Imagine if you told a smoker that when they quit smoking, they still had to smoke 3 times a day but absolutely no more. Or what if you told a gambler that they had to gamble sometimes but not too much? Food is the only vice that can’t be given up completely. With all other addictions, the physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms lessen over time. No matter how well you do, you will always have the physical symptom of hunger, it will never go away.

Now don’t get me wrong, smoking, alcohol, and many of the other addictions out there can be extremely tough to break and can have physical and mental stress for years after quitting, but all would be that much tougher to quit if they were an essential component for survival.

When it comes to being addicted to food, you must learn to control the problem rather than eliminate it. This makes maintaining a proper diet a huge mental game that must be played each and every day. Some days will be better than others, but if you keep at it over time it will get easier. Like any other addiction, the first step is recognizing you have a problem. Are you addicted to food ?


  1. This is an interesting argument, although I'm not certain I entirely agree with it though. I've done the quit smoking thing AND the quit Diet Coke thing, and thus far, for me anyway, losing weight's been much easier. The problem with food addiction though, is that it isn't an addiction that you're done with in a couple of months or so (physically speaking). You have to battle this for months, sometimes even years to get the weight off of your body before you can even think about maintaining a new weight. This is a great post! I'm heading off into my brain for awhile now to gnaw on this...lol

  2. Thanks for the comment! I think you help to illustrate my point; food will never go away because you can't live without it. As the recovering alcoholic gets control of their illness, the symptoms and effects of the addiction get lesssened and lessened as the years go by. The food addict will have to think about food every day for the rest of their lives.