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That Food You Just Can't Get Enough of May Be an ADHD Hyperfixation

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Everyone has a favorite food. It’s that food that makes your eyes light up and you could talk about for hours. However, if you have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it may go a little bit deeper than that.

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Is this familiar?

You have ADHD. You try a food and maybe it’s something you’ve had before, or maybe it’s something completely new, and you’re blown away by how it tastes. So much so that you go out of your way to have more of it in rapid succession and you can’t get enough of it, until you’re absolutely sick of it. Next thing you know, you don’t touch that food for a long period after, or you’re even repulsed by it. 

If this sounds familiar, then you know what it’s like to experience food as a hyperfixation

Hyperfixations are usually spoken about in regards to hobbies, but not as much about food. In reality, I like to think (once again, I’m not a medical professional) anything can be a hyperfixation and it only makes sense that food, something that we do get pleasure from (for the most part) is one of those things.

This is fine and dandy, except depending on the length of the food-based hyperfixation, it can help reinforce disorganized or even disordered eating patterns. 

An example:

During the beginning of quarantine, I discovered Oui branded yogurt. I’m not a yogurt girl, but I loved this yogurt so much that I ordered almost 15 at a time, and ate three a day. A few months later, I struggled to eat half of one jar, and even now I’m tired of it after a little taste.

A year ago I had key lime pie for the first time, and it’s like I tasted something angels themselves had crafted. I started going absurdly out of my way to get more key lime pie. Now after two bites of key lime pie, I throw the rest out. 

For a while, I had an obsession with California Pizza Kitchen. Every Saturday for four months straight, I went to CPK and ordered the exact same meal. This example isn’t like the other ones because I actually still frequent CPK, but very rarely do I get that meal anymore.

All of these foods were hyperfixations, and the way I interacted with eating and food in general was completely warped because nothing tasted as good as the food that I was yearning for.

Disordered eating patterns are different from eating disorders in the same way that abuse is toxic, but toxicity isn’t inherently abuse. Having a disordered eating pattern that’s shaped around your hyperfixation is essentially a losing battle because at some point it’s going to end. Whenever I’ve experienced a food hyperfixation, that food is all I have a taste for, and whenever the hyperfixation ends, I feel lost. I don’t want that food, but I’m also unsure of what else to eat because the only thing I’ve continually been eating and craving is that one food. Sometimes I find another food hyperfixation very shortly after, and other times I don’t and I just float around because nothing else fills me with the same amount of joy and the dopamine hit isn’t the same.

Do I think that having a food-based hyperfixation is a bad thing? Not really. I think it’s more inconvenient and annoying than anything especially since ADHD can also cause issues with remembering to eat, but it really is up to the individual. If you have ADHD and you notice you’ve been enjoying and eating one specific food over any others, only to eventually hate it, now you know! You probably had another hyperfixation.

Getty image by Grace Cary

Originally published: September 24, 2022
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