Is It Normal to Think About Food All the Time?

By October 8, 2012

It seems like I think about food all the time! Is this normal? – c.w.

Dear c.w.,

Consistently recurring thoughts about any topic, including food, happen for a reason. Many times, finding a root cause for these thoughts will help you uncover your physical, emotional or spiritual needs. For example, if you are under stress, or have experienced a recent trauma, your thoughts may signal unresolved issues in your life. When you are suffering or grieving, your brain may be stuck on “continuous play” about food, as you consider with increasing frequency what, when or how much you will eat next.

While people with eating issues tend to mask their pain by obsessing about weight loss or weight gain, others may use exercise, work, sex, drugs or even difficult relationships to distract themselves and deny the pain in their lives. Despite our endlessly creative attempts to avoid pain, there is no 100% successful pain avoidance plan. In fact, it takes more and more time and energy to keep the pain at bay, and what was once an escape route to enjoyment becomes the rough road to even more pain. The obsession becomes the consuming focus of life, further insulating us from family, friends, physical and emotional health, and draining us of all passion for life. Numbness becomes our constant companion. Ironically, our considerable efforts spent running from pain—ostensibly to free us for a better life—impede the satisfying relationships with God and others that do provide joy.

As you know by now, having wrestled with your thoughts, it is impossible to squeeze in a meaningful life between the large balls of “food fuzz” hanging out in your head. The good news is that there is a way out! Actively seeking to reconnect with God and others—not just going through the motions—is a good start. I hope you will take this opportunity to confide in a trusted friend or therapist and begin to uncover what’s eating you.