Food Addiction Infographic and Food Addiction Quiz

May 10, 2014
Kelly Coffey

Suspect you or someone you know might be a food addict? This Food Addiction Infographic and the attached Food Addiction Quiz may help you figure it out.

I’m a personal trainer that identifies as a food addict. At 34, I’m a healthy size 6, but by the time I was 18 I had high blood pressure and weighed in at over 300 pounds. Every day I obsessed about what I would eat. Every day I binged. Every day I felt ashamed of my lack of control. And every day it happened again.

Like so many of us, I thought dieting was the solution. I joined popular weight loss programs. Controlling portions felt like torture, and every tiny meal I ate was like an archer’s bowstring being pulled back, tighter and tighter. Always, at some point, came the moment of weakness — I would let go, and eat. And eat. There were few things as intense in my early life as the binge that followed an effort to control how much I ate.

It never occurred to me that I had an addiction. Why? Because the medical community doesn’t call it that, despite mounting scientific evidence that that’s what it is, and that it effects all kinds of people (see the chart in the infographic below). The Yale Food Addiction scale has been used in studies since 2009. These studies have shown that food addiction has no universal body type — that not all obese people are food addicts, and not all food addicts are obese.

I was both, but instead of addressing my addiction, I tried to exert more willpower. I struggled to get and stay motivated. I wondered how my desire to change kept losing out over my desire to overeat. I wasted years of my life, thousands of dollars, and tons of emotional energy trying to control that which cannot be controlled because I didn’t have the language I needed to seek help.

Desperate, I had gastric bypass surgery in 2003. Not one doctor, nurse, nutritionist or therapist ever mentioned food addiction in the pre-operative screening process. Shortly after surgery, I fell back into my old patterns. At first, by necessity, my portions were small. But like any good addict, I took in as much as I could, over and over again. Though it hurt like hell to overeat, I stretched my post-operative pouch to the size of a normal stomach in under 3 years.

Food addiction needs to be a part of the conversations we’re having around both obesity and weight loss surgery. Bringing the term ‘addiction’ to the table will introduce the language and the framework of recovery, making it possible for food addicts to get the help we need. Ever since I accepted the fact of my addiction, I’ve been empowered to develop a healthy relationship to food. Acceptance has given me freedom and pleasure far beyond anything I might have experienced through any foolish diet or weight-loss program.

Only by calling food addiction by its proper name can we begin to speak frankly about how to help one another recover. Until then, food addicts like me will continue to struggle to control that which cannot be controlled. Many will keep trying, and failing, to “eat like a normal person.” And many will decide, like I did, that their inability to change is simply a sign of weakness.

Food addiction is real. Dieting is not a solution. But recovery is possible. I’m living proof.

Food addiction infographic Lg

 Are you a food addict? Take the quiz:

(Quiz is based on the YFAS & is for informational purposes only. It is NOT diagnostic.)

For more information, help, and community, google Food Addicts in Recovery, Food Addicts Anonymous or Overeaters Anonymous


 We all feel stuck in the cycle of self-sabotage, out of control and powerless. I put together a workshop to give you practical, actionable next-steps to ensure that you feel healthier and more in control, starting now.

See the Schedule

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Showing 3 comments
  • Karen

    This was me in many ways!! Thank God im past the worse part of it and no longer crave sugar and highly processed foods! Im losing weight and feeling great and eating like a queen everyday!! For me switching to sAlads for lunch really helped…jam packed with lots of veggies and protien! Lots of water too! Once you get the sugar out of your system you will not BELIEVE what you’ve been missing out on!!

  • Tricia

    I agree with you, Karen. I dare those who are sugar obsessed to challenge themselves to two weeks without sugar. You will not believe how amazing you’ll feel (and how you won’t even want it anymore!). Great infographic!

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