Emotional Eating. Addiction?

I’ve been having a lively conversation with people on Facebook who insist that the nation is addicted to sugar. And I’ve been on Radio 5 Live this week talking about emotional eating, batting against people who think that overeating is an addiction and treating it via Overeaters Anonymous is the solution. It seems that many eating disorder experts have different opinions from that way of thinking about overeating.

I have been trying on radio to explain emotional eating in sound-bites of 5 minutes, an impossible task. Most of us overeat these days without realising it, for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. It is so very easy to use food as a usual pastime or social event, when it is all around us, accessible and legal. We all eat to change our emotional state, sometimes to have fun, sometimes to self soothe or block emotions that we just don’t want to feel.

Dieting always leads to much higher levels of eating for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger because dieting disconnects us from our normal hunger and satiety sensations. Then eating comes to feel like an addiction, you need your fix to get on with your day. You start a packet of biscuits and can’t stop at one. You feel out of control of SOME of your favourite foods. You develop an intense and toxic relationship with food because you don’t have a good relationship with yourself or other people.

But suppose it is just a really stuck habit that can be adjusted with the right kind of help.  I really believe I can provide that help. To call it an addiction..no no, I can’t go with that for everyone I treat.