Why are some people obsessed with food?
Last week, I saw a question online:
I am obsessed with food but I also want to lose weight. What should I do?
I get the question, but the first answer that someone had given to it completely pissed me off. You can check the video below to see what it was and why this answer can cause more harm than good.
If you'd like to read instead watching the video, then here we go:
Why Are You Actually Obsessed with Food?
As mentioned before, someone had asked the question why she might be obsessed with food and what she can do about it. She also wanted to lose weight.
Someone had answered this question, saying that all this person needs to do is leave out 4 things from her diet and then her problems will be solved.
These four things were:
- rice (mandatory to leave out!)
- bread (mandatory to leave out!)
- sugar (mandatory to leave out!)
- oil – limit to 2 tsp per day at first.
Yes, she said this mandatory to leave out! every time.
For someone who wants to get rid of her food obsession, this advice is absolute bullshit. Avoidance doesn't take away any food obsession. It creates more.
Why Are You Obsessed with Food?
Instead of throwing stuff out of someone's diet, I would first stop and ask why this person is obsessed with food. Once that's figured out, the solution becomes much more clear.
Here are some reasons why someone might be obsessed with food:
So many women under eat, usually in hopes to lose weight. I'm guessing that the person who asked this question actually has this problem as well, because he or she wanted to lose weight.
Restricting calories too far has a boomerang effect: if you starve yourself to the extreme, then one moment the boomerang will back and cause you eat all you can. If things go way overboard, it's called binge eating.
Extreme hunger is a normal physiological response that follows calorie restriction. When I was working out a ton, burning 500-1000 calories a day and living on a 1500-2000 calorie diet (approximately), I binged a lot. First once a month, later once a week.
My food obsession manifested in several ways.
During the days when I was “on track” with my diet, I was thinking about food 24/7, simply because I was hungry. I ate a small oatmeal after my long run – of course after I had weighed myself. Of course this tiny oatmeal didn't keep me satisfied because it wasn't enough. I was hungry all the time and all I could think about was my next meal.
I had to carefully measure my lunch to make sure I don't consume too much. If I ate my lunch at the university's cafeteria, I always ate the lowest calorie option, no matter what I really wanted.
Later I would still always think whether I accidentally ate too much.
When I was bingeing, I was of course obsessed with food too, because I just couldn't stop eating all the sweet stuff I had in the house. When I ran out, I would go to the store even if it was late at night, and buy some more. I stuffed my face like it was my last meal.
You're Not Happy With Your Life
Not being happy with your life can be another reason why someone becomes obsessed with food. We use food to cope with feelings we don't like to feel.
Start out by looking at two major factors in your life:
Are you happy in your relationships? Not only your romantic relationship but also your relationships with your friends or family members.
For me, my relationship with my ex was a huge reason why I became obsessed with food and often binged.
I was in a relationship that was wrong for me almost four years. It's a topic for another blog post, but I should have been honest with my partner and left much earlier than I did, because it was burning us both out.
We were missing many, many things in this relationship. We just didn't match. The biggest problem for me was that we didn't really talk… I am introverted person and sometimes have hard time chatting with people I don't know well, but with my partner, I need to talk. We really didn't do it…
Most of our interests were different. The way we saw the world was different.
I knew for several years that it's not going to work, but I stayed because I wasn't sure if I will be okay on my own, and also because I didn't want to hurt the other person. Of course I ended up hurting him even more by making this whole thing longer.
The whole situation made me incredibly depressed. My way to cope with this was to run even more, diet even harder, sometimes drink more wine… the first two, plus feeling really unhappy, are the reasons why I binged.
Your Professional Life
We want our jobs to me meaningful. I know that I want to help someone, add value to other people's lives, and I want my work to be enjoyable. After being in the PhD program for several years, I started to realize that I'm not getting these things out of my studies and my job.
I had lost my passion for what I was doing. Sitting in a library for hours, not talking to people, the situation at home which wasn't much better, not seeing my work make any impact… all that meant that I became seriously unhappy.
I was writing research articles that I didn't think anyone read. I was thinking more and more, who am I doing this thing for? Who benefits from it? And I realized that the answer was pretty much this: no one. Even not myself anymore, as I had completely lost my interest.
I remember often sitting at my desk trying to write my articles, read mind numbing texts and polishing off bars of chocolate. Not a few squares to keep my brain sharp. Multiple large bars, and then take a trip to the store to get more. That turned into another binge and I had to “undo the damage” the next day by running even more than usual.
How To Stop Being Obsessed with Food
I was definitely obsessed with food, because there were major things wrong in my life.
If you are obsessed with food too, figure out answer to these questions:
- Are you eating enough and getting enough calories? Or are you trying to create a significant calorie deficit so you can hopefully lose more weight? If that's the case, here's exactly the reason why you're probably obsessed with food.
- Do you enjoy your relationships? Do you feel loved, connected, appreciated, and do you offer love and connection to people around you and do you appreciate them? If not, that might be the void you're trying to fill with eating.
- Do you enjoy your job or studies? Is it something that you really want to do? It's not the case for everyone, but there are people who do turn to food when they don't feel like they're following their true passion and if what they're doing doesn't excite them.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions. I've talked about the calorie restriction a lot, but if you're interested in more posts about improving your relationships and finding your true passion in your professional life, let me know and I'd be glad to share more tools that helped me.
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