Since you are reading this page, I suppose a number of things are happening in your life right now, which may indicate food obsession:
I’m Leslie Chen, Founder of Rise Lean and Creator of Lean Instinct Formula™, and I’m selected as Top Online Weight Loss Coach in 2022 by Coach Foundation based on my clients’ results.
For 8 years, I’ve helped people move past obsessive thoughts and behaviors towards food and gain unlimited food freedom — while losing weight left and right. And 16 years ago, I myself was in your shoe, and you can find my own journey here.
I couldn’t stop thinking about food. I constantly counted calories and planned meals all day. I was on one restrictive diet after another. I woke up to reading my food journal from yesterday every morning. And I was borderline binge eating and found my weight being out of control. There was a lot of guilt and shame to go through everyday, and these emotions became the perfect trigger for one indulgence after another. Had I not recover from the food and weight obsession that year, I wouldn’t have been able to have the life I’m living right now.
So my intention here is to tell you everything I know about this food matter and an authentic method to recover from it which is proven working. I understand nowadays there is too much useless and misleading information online written by all types of writers. And I promise you the information you find on this page gives you the most credible, thorough answer on the food obsession from my best knowledge from 8 years of client success so far.
Food obsession is being emotionally preoccupied by the thoughts of food and cravings towards it, and often-time not being able to perform other tasks due to this preoccupation. The person with food obsession often finds it hard to have self-control in front of food and tends to overeat because of this.
The following are typical symptoms of food obsession:
If you experience most of these, you are likely struggling with food obsession.
According to studies published on National Institute of Health, certain food do have addictive nature, particularly processed foods with added sweeteners and fats.
According to Rutgers University, sugar addiction is very similar to drug addiction by nature.
A Healthline article stated sugar could be as addictive as cocaine as it activates the opiate receptors in the brain. And this alters a person’s brain chemistry and compels him to repeat eating sugar.
Meanwhile, a 2008 Princeton Study found out that sugar triggers more neurons in the brain’s pleasure center than cocaine. And another NIH study in 2019 has confirmed that fat addiction is a diagnosable condition.
There are a lot more studies to list here if we want to. And we have all the evidence pointing out to us that sugar and fat addiction does exist. It could well mean most junk food is addictive to some extent — given the ultra high sugar and fat content they usually have.
So in a word — food addiction is real.
It’s important to clarify that food addiction and obsession are different things:
According to Dr. Alan Greene — a world renowned pediatrician and the author of “Raising Baby Green,” in medicine, the word ‘addiction’ is used in the situation when someone’s brain chemistry is altered to compel him to repeat the substance. It’s a neurological and biochemical condition. Food obsession, on the other hand, is a more ‘occasional’ word mostly used to describe a psychological state.
However, the two are very closely connected with each other. And you may have one or both. Since our brain, nervous system, emotions, and hormones are all connected, it’s very common for the obsessive thoughts and behaviors towards food to evolve into food addiction as much as the latter enhances former.
And even though this article is written specifically around the obsession aspect, you should know by solving one, you are likely solving both at the same time. Want to read specifically about food addiction? Read my articles Sugar Addiction Treatment: Stop Sugar From Controlling Your Life and How To Overcome Food Addiction
There are a number of reasons why food obsession happens to you. Some people gained it in early childhood where they got it from their weight-conscious dieting parents. Others got it through their own journey of dieting.
Say you grew up seeing your parents dieting and you inherited the belief that food is you enemy. You watch your mom counting every calorie and depriving all the ‘risky’ food. The more she struggles with food, the more her health and weight goes out of control, and the more she struggles further with eating. Having that as a part of your life, a subconscious programming that reinforces the obsession patterns got implanted in your head. You also started a wrong belief about food which leads to problematic eating.
It’s early programming which has been enhanced throughout many years. You may intellectually know that food isn’t your enemy now. But it’s still very hard to embrace food freedom and feel positively about food in everyday life.
This is because you haven’t moved past the emotional pattern that’s coded within your thought pattern around food. So you think this way, but your body and nervous system feel and react the other way.
Food restriction creates obsessive thoughts towards food. The connection is far from the scarcity mindset and the cliche that we want what we can’t have. There’s a neurological story there on a deeper level:
Studies have found the reason behind food addiction and obsession is having fewer brain receptors for dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for creating the feeling of joy and satisfaction. And here is what it means:
When you deprive yourself and say no to the chocolate, you are further lowering the dopamine level your brain wants to experience. And that, by default, leads to stronger addiction and obsession.
In plain English: when your deprive yourself, you are commanding your brain to reinforce obsessive thoughts and patterns in a powerful, forceful way,
As you know, the brain controls and determines every part of our bodies, behaviors, feelings, decisions, and choices. Hence, pushing the restriction button sends cascading effects on all levels of our experience. There’s just no way you can fix any problems when going against your brain’s basic protocol.
Regardless of the source of food obsession, fundamentally, it has to do with a core belief about food — that food makes you gain weight and is your enemy, which triggers fears about it. Self-deprivation is the result of that fear. But the more you suppress yourself on food, the more food has become the focus of your life just because of all the energy and time you actually spend on thinking about, justifying, or fearing it.
That’s how obsession starts. You became your worst rebel, using overeating to make up for self-deprivation, and ending up finding yourself in tons of guilt and disappointment.
Emotions accumulated and played the key part in extending this obsession. These emotions are your attachment towards food. And this attachment becomes obsession when the emotions are strong and negative.
To finally change your relationship with food and end the obsession, you need to first alter your emotional patterns towards food. That boils down to shifting this core belief you have about it, that food makes you gain weight and is your enemy.
By shifting how your body experiences food, and seeing in your own eyes that you can enjoy food with unlimited freedom, satisfaction, and joy, while still getting fit.
You just don’t know how to get that experience yet, and THIS is what I help you accomplish at Rise Lean.
Common physical and psychological consequences:
The list goes on and on.
If you leave this obsession unchecked, it’ll worsen and possibly become eating disorder such as binge eating or bulimia.
With hindsight, I certainly see value in that experience; for instance, it’s the reason why I’ve discovered a winning strategy to regain the elegant, blissful relationship with food which now I get to share with the world. However, I wouldn’t want to go through the pain again, simply because I couldn’t even be myself when I was immersed in the torrent of guilt and self-resentment everyday.
Looking back at those months after my complete healing, it feels like I was possessed by something that I’ve lost all my power to. I compulsively put food into my mouth despite how strongly it was against my will. I treated myself in the most horrible way by overstuffing my stomach.
And when feeling the acute stomach pain form binging, I was afraid that one day, I could kill myself by doing it. When you are torn by the vicious cycle every day and can’t feel hope, it’s hell. (You can read my story about my own healing here.)
That was what my life was like when I let my emotional patterns around food turn into the greater monster.
As eating disorders bring you tremendous stress and steal your focus away from building your life, you’ll find your health, relationships, finances, and career deteriorate and your life’s passion gone — all because you’ve just lost yourself.
But it doesn’t end here, because it’ll also impact your children. As a mother myself, I know for sure that you’ll try your best to protect your children against this excruciating pattern you are going through. But they can still get the insecurity and addiction because they are not only the beholder of your life, but also a part of it.
My best advice for you: end food obsession as soon as possible, with expert help.
Let’s look at them one by one:
The belief “I can’t eat what I want” spontaneously creates cravings. Once you make the effort to suppress cravings by disciplines, they actually become greater and consume more energy.
The chronic cravings, suppression, and the events of cheating on the rules — when mixed with a series of complex, negative emotions including guilt, fear, disappointment, anxiety, frustration, self-resentment — trigger neurological responses which generates the obsession and cement it in your psyche.
Problematic eating pattern contribute to a lot of stress which, as studies have found out, amplifies obsessive thoughts and behaviors around food. For instance, episodes of overindulgence of processed unhealthy food and sugar creates chronic inflammation and impairs the body’s hormonal balances, causing it to produce hormones and neurotransmitters that cause greater food cravings and obsession.
I talk about how our body is chemically and hormonally retaining this toxic relationship with food in my articles Sugar Addiction Treatment: Stopping Sugar from Controlling Your Life, and Addicted To Soda.
Also, from time to time, it may be hard for you to differentiate if you are addicted to food or addicted to the thoughts of food. This is because for a long time, almost every thought on food would bring you a series of thoughts that eventually bring about the cravings. Depending on where you are, you may crave bread as soon as you think about it; It’s very easy for that to happen because of the long-time deprivation mindset which always amplifies cravings.
And here, what makes it so easy to happen is the lack of boundary and total independence from the thoughts that occur to you. A big missing piece is your relationship with your own thoughts.
The above are a few essential aspects that are holding you back — your belief about food, your thought patterns about food, your relationship with your thoughts, and your body’s patterns that retain obsession.
Nobody ever told you the following truth:
The ONLY way to permanently remove food obsession — instead of being overcoming it — is OUTGROWING it.
Yes, you OUTGROW food obsession just like the 2 year-olds outgrow their thumb sucking obsession.
The word ‘overcome’ not only carries too much resistance in its energy which creates an extra layer of psychological barrier but also is misleading at the core.
That’s what turns you into a control freak — by learning useless tactics like identifying, avoiding, and resisting triggers through cleaning your pantry and putting away the chocolate.
The REAL FOOD FREEDOM is not being triggered even if your worst addiction is right in front of you — FREE to take. Let me show you the definition with my personal experience below:
@riselean You want to lose weight, get fit, and thoroughly heal your relationship with food. If you do it right, the same experience is yours VERY SOON. To learn more, simply visit and follow my page.#weightloss #sustainableweightloss #relationshipwithfood #foodaddiction #foodobsession #healthyeating #healthyliving ♬ original sound - RiseLean.com
As you can see, the key to stop obsession with food isn’t limiting yourself and your behaviors, but MUTING the triggers within you. This is how you find real food freedom.
And read the following aloud:
I’m referring to your basic sense of satisfaction, hunger, tastes, etc.
For instance, if your tastebuds are used to the flavor of ultra sweet foods, normal sweet will not feel sweet to it. In my article on stopping sugar addiction, I shared an example that many Asian find it hard to tolerate the ultra sweet American desserts to the level that it causes physical discomfort. This National Institute of Health study explains it.
The key is: tastebuds can be retrained. If you’ve been eating unhealthy for a long time, your senses towards flavors can be easily distorted and resetting them is the key to eliminate excessive cravings. In that situation, retraining it back is necessary.
Similarly, if your sense of hunger and satisfaction have been distorted, you won’t be able to ditch calorie counting or create confidence in eating. And if you always suspect yourself to be overeating, you’ll always feel guilty and insecure about eating. Insecurity is another fuel for obsession, because it keeps you questioning yourself and thinking about food.
This eliminates restrictive thinking and elevates your overall satisfaction, so that you are no longer fixated on limits and scarcity. In my coaching experience, it’s very obvious satisfaction is also the key to reducing excessive food cravings. When my clients can satisfy themselves, they naturally have much less psychological cravings.
And if you are overweight and need to lose weight, spontaneous weight loss.
This requires you to know where the perfect balance sweet spot is for you between satisfaction, practicality, and fitness.
Being able to achieve weight freedom and food freedom at the same time is critical to change the belief that food is your enemy and different versions of it. As mentioned above, this alters your natural inclination of wanting to deprive yourself. And as we discussed earlier, when you stop depriving yourself with a comfortable, trusting mindset, you stop your brain from forming addiction further.
All of the above are key steps that help you experience food differently — from how your body processes and sense food to how your weight responds to it. To change your dominant feelings and emotions towards food, you have to change your experience in food. And when your brain and body experience food differently, you OUTGROW and FORGET the food obsession vs fighting it.
The ONLY way to stop this obsession permanently, instead of overcoming it, is outgrowing and forgetting it.
Obsession is a stage. Moving past it is just like toddlers outgrowing their finger sucking obsession. When your instinct, routine, and core senses are normal and functional, it’s a natural, spontaneous process requiring very little interference.
This is what I’ve previously written in Psychology of Weight Loss Motivation. And you can see that perfect state in my ice cream video above.
When you start gaining food freedom, you’ll realize that it’s not even about mindful eating or consciously making the ‘right’ choices. Instead, it’s rather mindless eating because intuitive, balanced eating is less of an acquired skill but more of an instinct.
Think about it: you don’t count the seconds of each breath to make sure you aren’t overly inhaling oxygen. Why do you need to count the calories of every meal to make sure you aren’t overeating? To learn how to restore that instinct, I’ve given very in-depth information on my Lean Instinct Formula™ page.
That’s a lot of information so far. But what if you are still struggling with believing that you have this ability of moving past food obsession?
What if you still can’t see the possibility of gaining food freedom and weight freedom at the same time just because you’ve never experienced it in your life?
She was exactly where you are right now. Couldn’t stop thinking about food. Couldn’t stop thinking about her weight. Spent all her life dieting only to find herself stuck in a toxic relationship with food.
After learning how to reactivate her instinct for gaining food freedom and weight freedom at the same time, she muted her intense food cravings in just a few weeks. She was able to eat freely while still losing 20 pounds….in 4 months.
The same problem. The same struggles. The same history of spending a decade trying to figure this out through conventional methods of avoiding triggers but to no avail. Her result? Lost at least 10 pounds within 4-5 weeks AFTER embracing food freedom and still counting.
There are more examples there. And if you really want to learn the anatomy of why you can totally satisfy yourself while getting fit organically, read my post The Easiest Diet To Follow and An Unexpected Talk On The Secret Of Weight Loss. I show you in these articles that food per se isn’t even the culprit of the weight problem to most people.
I can give you as much information as you need on resolving this issue. If this page isn’t enough, I’ve even got a webinar for you named The 5 Best Kept Secrets To Enjoy UNLIMITED Food Freedom While Gaining A Head-Turning Body, which gives you the next-level strategy that’ll help you create a blissful relationship with food while achieving your weight goal. You can sign up for the webinar and get a 24-hour pass to watch it for free.
However, reading and researching can only get you this far. If you are ready to take the real actions to permanently rewrite our psychological, emotional, and physical patterns around food, and you are ready to learn from an expert, book a 1:1 Clarity Call with me. We’ll assess your situation and unique challenges over the phone and formulate an effective, personalized plan to help you reset your relationship and experience with food while losing weight reliably.
Leslie Chen — Founder of Rise Lean and Creator of Lean Instinct Formula™.
For 8 years, Leslie has been helping high-achieving professionals who struggle with problematic eating and weight patterns create a blissful relationship with food while losing weight left and right.
Her proprietary system Lean Instinct Formula™ leverages powerful wisdom from Asia which helps people achieve food freedom and weight freedom in weeks by reactivating their dormant instincts. Her FREE masterclass can be found here.