I absolutely believe food can be addictive. I’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve been running, but I used to (& okay, sometimes still do) used food like an alcoholic would drink. If I was sad or had a bad day, I ate. If I was happy & had a good day I ate to celebrate. The binges were always for sadness, loneliness, nervousness, the bad days. I would eat till I was sick, & keep eating. I ate things I knew were horrible for me. Sometimes I would actually think to myself, “I wish I could eat till I exploded. I want to eat myself to death.” Regular exercise helps your body regulate sugar & I think that’s why the running helps so much with my eating, along with just generally making me feel better so I don’t need to eat that way as much. I have far less cravings & binges.
Part of this uses a rat research finding I’ve blogged about before, but they’ve pulled in a few other articles. A big take-home point for me is how deprivation affects us, which is how traditional dieting works.
…sugar-binging rats show signs of opiatelike withdrawal when their sugar is taken away — including chattering teeth, tremoring forepaws and the shakes. When the rats were allowed to resume eating sugar two weeks later, they pressed the food lever so frantically that they consumed 23 percent more than before.
I would say in my own experience that’s true. One thing that really made sense for me, which is the opposite of the usual thinking, is from When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. They suggest that instead of restricting your access to the foods you crave, your trigger foods, you give yourself a plentiful supply. Think about how much you could possibly eat at once & keep three times that much around at all times. When you get over the initial spree of having it around all the time, it becomes mundane & loses its power. It worked very well for me when I was able to do it.