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Do You Self-Medicate By Eating Too Much Food and Fattening Foods?

Posted Jan 15 2013 5:00am

It has often been said that overeating and eating calorie-rich food to the point of excessive weight gain are ways to self-medicate.

Exactly what does it mean to self-medicate? Self-medication is the act of giving yourself an experience that alleviates or prevents disturbing feelings and thoughts with the intention of making yourself feel good. While this can apply to all kinds of positive things you do for yourself, the usual meaning of self-medication is that you do something maladaptive to achieve the good feeling. You can do this with food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, smoking, sex, the Internet, and a number of other ways you can probably think of.

Do you self-medicate? What’s the test for self-medication?

Food, for example, definitely makes us all feel better, even if we aren’t self-medicating when we eat. Food not only quells our hunger, it also makes us feel better emotionally. So what’s the test for using food to self-medicate?

Most likely one benchmark of self-medicating with food is overindulgence. Another: there are negative consequences from the overindulgence. Still another indicator is continued use despite negative consequences. And finally, when food becomes a substitute for a more adaptive way of feeling good that is difficult or impossible for you, like having satisfying relationships or managing your life well.


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