At this time of the year, many people have the chance to eat “free” food. Parties, work-related events, school-sponsored programs or even a trip to a bank that puts out dishes of candy, can all be opportunities to eat food without paying for it.

For food addicts, however, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as “free” food. Even if there is no monetary price associated with the food, the costs of eating it are far too high.

In order to maintain long-term recovery, most food addicts need to follow a non-addictive food plan with specific amounts and types of foods clearly outlined. Deviating from this plan even a little most times results in full-blown relapse, which can turn into years of bingeing and massive amounts of weight gain.

It’s important to point out that some food addicts who eat this “free” food are never able to get back into recovery. Think about all of the diseases associated with obesity – diabetes, strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, to name a few – and you have a pretty good idea of the physical costs of “free” food.

Some of the emotional costs of eating “free” food and relapsing are depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. The financial costs of “free” food are also high when thinking about the price of binge foods, clothes that fit, or any of the other things that come with weight gain.

It’s important to remember the costs of “free” food before you take that first bite.