1) Sneaking food:
When you go to the store, do you buy a lot of “snack foods,” like potato chips, Cheetos, cookies, or other such items? Do you buy other “special” foods that you like to “nibble on” or have as a “midnight snack”? Do you have special places around the house or apartment where you put food so you can find it but no one else can? How often between meals do you eat? Where do you eat? In bed? while working on the computer? while reading? Do you nibble on food while you are shopping. Do you wait until you are alone to pull out the snack foods? What about the evidence of your eating? Do you hide the food wrappers or dispose of them in places no one will or can find them? Based on your answers to these questions, they may indicate a food addiction.
Like a drug addict or alcoholic, food addicts often seek to conceal or camouflage their behavior so it cannot be easily identified by people around them.
2) Food guilt:
Eating in secret and/or hiding the evidence of eating demonstrates conscious or unconscious feelings of guilt focused on food and eating behaviors. However, guilt in regard to food and eating can be expressed in other ways: Do you overeat, but feel guilty afterwards? Do you feel guilty about thinking about or craving food? Do you diet for a while, but then “slip,” and feel guilty about it? Worse, do your feelings of guilt make you feel depressed? But, feeling depressed stimulates more eating, followed by more guilt, in a seemingly unending cycle? Guilt feelings about food and eating have the adverse effect of contributing to food addictions rather than diminishing them. Listen to your feelings. Be aware of the guilt feelings that you have related to food and eating.
3) Health problems:
Food addictions, of course, result in the over consumption of food. That often leads to weight gained. Excessive weight gained and maintained is a significant adverse health problem. While being overweight or obese creates obvious problems such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, many people do not know that these conditions can also result in low energy levels, skin problems, digestive problems, and even poor oral health. An increasingly common problem nowadays is type 2 diabetes which is associated with poor diet and being overweight. Thus, if you overeat and have any of these problems, the food addiction is probably contributing to your health problems. Thus, these health problems may be a warning sign to do something about your food addiction to bring it under control.
Treatment: If you see yourself in this general picture of the food addict, don’t despair. Psychological counseling can provide you with coping mechanisms and positive behavioral change: The treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, crisis intervention therapy often combined with medication treatment and inpatient hospitalization for acute interventions specifically in cases where the patients are not treatment compliant in psychotherapy or lacking family support and are experiencing severe symptoms and/or adverse health issues.