Okay, I need to admit something...
I haven’t been communicating effectively.
My message is getting lost in translation.
I’ve been saying things like “we have an addiction to food,” right? .
Well, scratch that. There are a few legit reasons food cannot *technically* be considered an addiction.
👇 BUT, MORE ACCURATELY👇
Food is addictIVE.
We have an addictive RELATIONSHIP with food.
When we eat, the “happy chemicals” (dopamine and serotonin) are released in our brains.
Because we can’t live in constant fight/flight mode, we are designed to seek out serotonin when our stress (cortisol) rises. The primary source of serotonin (the dominant coping mechanism), for some people, is food (or dieting).
This is why a recovering drug addict, who’s been clean for decades, might relapse. Under stress, without other coping skills, their brain’s neuropathways are wired to use the drug for relief. It’s science.
Similarly: no matter how free, flexible, and intuitive we may be around food, if our primary coping mechanism was, at some point food (or dieting), we will still get the urge to eat (or restrict) during periods of distress or trauma. Like other addicts. Because science.
When we give up the habit of overeating (or under-eating), we experience symptoms of withdrawal (anxiety, stress, fear, sadness, etc.). Like other addicts. Because science.
When we stop using food (or restriction) to feel better, we are exposed to emotions that had previously been numbed or avoided. Like other addicts. Because science.
Only we can’t stop eating.
Unlike drug users, we can’t give up our source of comfort.
So our solution isn’t abstinence.
This is why, if we are emotional eaters/dieters:
Our solution is mental health.
Our solution is better coping skills.
Our solution is alternative sources of happy chemicals.
Our solution is using things other than food (or restriction) to feel good.
Food is not a drug.
Food affects us like a drug.
Food is used like a drug.
Food feels like a drug.
Maybe it’s not an addiction.
But it is addictive.
And I still believe we have to treat it that way.