It is 3 o’clock in the afternoon. There is an office birthday party with a cake. Everyone but you is enjoying some. Your co-workers ask if you want some. You reply, “No, that’s okay. I don’t like cake.”
But that’s not true. You love cake. Cake is delicious. You aren’t eating it because you are avoiding it.
You keep thinking about that cake. Even after all that’s left of the cake is an empty box in the trash. Even after you leave work. You are still thinking about that cake. You try to distract yourself but you keep coming back to that cake. You feel like you are obsessed with cake.
What Is Food Obsession
Food obsession is more common than you think.
Food obsession is feeling like you think about food 24/7. Even if you try to distract yourself with other thoughts, obsessive food thoughts creep back in. You may obsess about what foods to eat when to eat, or what other people think about your eating. Unfortunately, you may find it difficult to stop obsessing over food.
How Can You Tell If You Are Obsessed With Food
Still not sure if you are obsessed with food?
- Have constant food thoughts?
- Have trouble going out to eat because you aren’t sure what to eat?
- Feel like your food thoughts/food obsession is runing your life?
- Feel like you can’t control yourself around food?
Are you saying, “that is 100% me”?
You may be obsessed with food.
And it can be scary. I’ve been there. When you have food obsessions, you feel like you have a food addiction. But, rest assured. Being obsessed with food doesn’t mean you have a food addiction.
Why Food Obsession Isn’t Food Addiction
You’ve heard it before. Food is addicting. Sugar is addicting.
Would it surprise you to know that it isn’t true? Even when you feel out of control, even when you think about food all the time. It probably isn’t a food addiction.
You aren’t addicted to food. You aren’t addicted to overeating. It feels like you are, but you aren’t.
But…but…what about that study you heard about that.
Spoiler alert: a lot of the food addiction research you hear about is research done with mice.
You heard that right. Mice. Not humans. And, on top of that, the mice in these studies have been starved for long periods of time. Are you a starved mouse? Probably not.
Don’t let these studies scare you.
Your food obsessions have very real reasons behind them. And I’ve got great news for you! They are reasons that you can change.
Let’s find out why you are dealing with food obsession.
Why Are You Obsessed With Food
1. You May Be Dieting
The simple truth is that dieting may be why you are obsessing over food. When you diet, you are likely to be in a calorie deficit. This means that your body is using more calories than you are eating.
Guess what? Your body doesn’t like dieting. It doesn’t want you to starve.
This is normal! So what does your body do?
Your body tells you to eat. It does this by making you feel hungry. If you deny your body the food that it wants, you will likely get thoughts of food. These thoughts can be very powerful and they won’t stop until you eat.
2. You May Be Restricting Some Foods
Another reason you may be obsessing with food is that you restrict certain foods. When you restrict foods, you avoid them. People may avoid foods for many different reasons like diet culture, bad nutrition advice, or food fear. What you might not know is that food restriction can lead to obsessing over food.
Sadly, this is the number one thing I see with my clients. They’ve decided to “cut out” a certain food and then they can’t stop thinking about it.
Why does this cause food obsession? You may be missing important nutrients. Plus, when you deny yourself food, your brain keeps thinking about it.
Different foods contain different nutrients that your body needs. If you don’t get those nutrients, your body will direct you to eat them. If you continue to avoid the food, you will continue to obsess over it.
This obsession with “healthy” eating can sometimes be so severe that it is called orthorexia.
3. The People Around You Can’t Stop Obsessing Over Food
Believe it or not, about 30% of Americans are on a diet. That means there are a lot of people that likely struggle with food obsession. Think about all the people that you know in real life or virtually.
The truth is that some of the people in your life are also struggling with food obsession. Listening to these people talk about their own food obsessions can actually drive your own.
What this means is that if you are struggling with ending your food obsession it can be harder.
So How Can You Stop Obsessing Over Food?
You felt the struggle with food obsession for so long. It feels like ending this obsession is nearly impossible. I hear you. It is tough.
I hear this from clients all the time. I’ve even experienced it myself.
Do you want to know how my clients have overcome food obsessions?
They stopped restricting foods. Stopped dieting. Stopped letting others impact their relationship with food.
Yes, you heard that right. It sounds simple, doesn’t it?
But here’s the kicker:
It can hard. You’ve probably been dieting and avoiding certain foods since you were a teenager. That mindset is hard to change.
But just keep reading the foolproof tips that I share with my clients.
An RD’s Tips for How to Quit Obsessing Over Food
1. Stop Dieting
You’ve heard the advice millions of times: if you are in a larger or fat body, you need to lose weight.
But the truth about dieting is that it isn’t necessary for your health. In fact, dieting is pretty bad for your health. Dieting can lead to weight cycling which is bad for your heart.
So if dieting doesn’t work, what should you do instead? Stop dieting! You can start by ending any fad diets that you are on and start focusing on the nutrition basics.
Focus on the Nutrition Basics
- Including protein, fat, and carbohydrates in your eating pattern.
- Eating enough food.
By adding these simple steps you can stop your obsession with food that is caused by dieting.
2. Stop Restricting Foods
Let me tell you:
Those foods you are avoiding? You can eat them.
There are no good and bad foods. All foods can be a part of a healthy eating pattern. You are actually creating your obsession with foods by restricting them. What’s more, you may even be causing nutrient deficiencies in your diet. It is these deficiencies that can make us feel obsessed with food.
What can you do? Give yourself permission to eat. Even if the foods are ones that you used to avoid. This can be hard. Your food fears may be deeply ingrained.
All you have to do is…
3. Practice Eating Without Judgement
Your food judgments can cause you to diet or restrict some foods. A judgment is when we think a certain way about food, determining if it is good or bad. Eating without judgment can help you relax your food obsessions.
The next time that you eat, enjoy your food mindfully. Focus on the way food tastes, smells, and looks. Don’t think about if food is good or bad. Don’t think about what you heard about a food on social media. Just focus on the food itself.
4. Stop Participating in Other People’s Food Obsessions
Do you usually get involved with other people’s negative food talk? It’s time to stop.
That may be hard to hear. You want to be involved in people’s conversations. You want to contribute. But, in this case, being a part of the group is actively hurting you!
Here’s What You Do Instead:
- Stay out of these conversations.
- Try to change the subject.
- Share your feelings.
- Curate your social media accounts.
Remember: Not everyone is ready to stop obsessing over food like you are. Your biggest priority needs to be you and your mental health. Protect it.
Yes, You Can Quit Obsessing Over Food
But, the bottom line is this- you can do this. It is within your power to stop your obsession with food.
It’s simple when you get down to it. Dieting and food restriction is not serving you. It is only causing your obsession with food. Give yourself permission to stop. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Feel like you need support? I’ve helped other women find their way through the health and wellness maze. Let me help.