Is ‘addiction’ an excuse to overeat?

The BBC news website questioned this week whether food addiction is an excuse to overeat. Food addiction has been likened to drug addiction and even used as an illustration for the UK’s obesity epidemic. Relabeling overeating as food addiction allows a person to have a medical name for their overeating.

Medicalisation of an illness is where a symptom or problem is classified as a medical illness, which is what occurs when overeating is relabeled as food addiction. Many other symptoms can be changed into medical terms, how many of us have said we’re depressed when in reality we are just feeling a bit low? What about using the term phobia instead of saying you have a fear? How many nights of bad sleep do you have before you say you have insomnia? Is a food addiction a true addiction or is it a habit, a desire or just that you want food?

When medicalisation occurs for a person’s symptoms it means that finally there is a reason for their symptoms, that it’s not their fault, that it requires a doctor to intervene, often with pharmaceuticals. Medicalisation makes a person believe that they are powerless to change anything about their symptoms without outside help. When told something is addictive we immediately think it will be extremely difficult to give it up, especially when told by the medical profession.

If you are the kind of person who has certain unhelpful thinking styles such as negative thinking and / or catastrophic thinking along with a brooding personality type then you will ‘buy into’ the medicalised term of an illness much more and as such you will think it will be extremely difficult to become healthy again.

When you learn to manage your thinking properly and stop thinking in a negative, catastrophic way, you can begin to put a stop to your ‘food addiction’. For more details contact a Thrive Consultant www.thriveprogramme.org.

Alecea White
Thrive Consultant