Monday, April 15, 2024

Can Eating Be An Addiction

Depression And Food Addiction

Do You Have an Addiction to Food?

Studies suggest that there is a solid link between food addiction and negative emotional states, including depression and anxiety. For example, adults and adolescents with binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa have shown a higher prevalence of major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse than individuals without an eating disorder. Obese individuals also have higher rates of major depression.5

Perhaps most alarming is the connection between suicidal ideation and binge eating. More than half of teenage bulimics and a third of those with binge eating disorder report suicidal ideation. 5 This suggests that binge eating, as people often do when they are addicted to food, may be related to extreme emotional distress.

Finding a food addiction treatment program that will address these underlying emotional problems is critical to a healthy recovery.

What Is The Difference Between Food Addiction And Binge Eating

Food addiction and binge eating are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, the discussion on food addiction vs. binge eating and the distinct differences of the two disorders can help individuals distinguish one from the other.

Food addiction refers to a form of behavioral addiction that develops as a result of a persons biochemical dependency on foods that have highly addictive properties, including foods that are high in fat and sugar.

This biochemical nature creates a dependency on the physical reaction that an individual experiences following consumption of such foods. On the other hand, binge eating disorder is a formally classified and diagnosable mental health condition. BED often results from a complex combination of biological, environmental, emotional, and psychosocial influences.

It is easy to confuse the two food-related issues as they can appear to be similar on the surface. For instance, just like binge eaters, people with food addiction can also engage in frequent episodes of uncontrolled eating.

Furthermore, during the absence of highly palatable foods, food addicts may experience withdrawal symptoms similar to what substance abusers go through when attempting to quit. In this case, food addiction therapy is necessary for intervention and help.

Is It Right To View Binge Eating As An Addiction

The addiction model sustains that binge eating is produced by the same physiological processes operating in substance use disorders. According to this theory, people who binge eat are biologically vulnerable to specific unhealthy foods, such as sugar and starches, and as a result, become addicted to them, becoming unable to control the amount of their intake. As they have a biological vulnerability to binge eating, they cannot cure their illness and need to learn to accept it and live accordingly.

The theory of binge eating as addiction is supported by both the similarities between binge eating and alcohol and drug abuse and neurobiological findings.

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Eating Disorders And Young People

Eating disorders in the teenage and young adult populations can have devastating effects, especially for girls. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, about 1 in 10 young women in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are the most common forms of eating disorders seen in young women. Both anorexia nervosa and bulimia are also found in the young male population, but to a lesser extent.

While the exact cause of eating disorders is largely unknown, there are certain factors that point to an increased risk of developing an eating disorder among teenagers. Those factors include societal pressures where premiums are placed on having the ideal body. Even if a teenager has a normal and healthy weight, there can be perceptions they are overweight. Eating disorders can also develop because of self-esteem issues.

For those who participate in sports like wrestling and running where maintaining an ideal weight is emphasized, teenagers can run an increased risk of developing eating disorders. Other behavioral factors and traits such as perfectionism, anxiety, or rigidity can also play a role in the development of eating disorders in young people. Poor nutrition, stress and tension, and following food fads also need to be weighed into consideration.

As outlined by the Mayo Clinic, symptoms that may be seen in young people with eating disorders include the following:

Food Addiction: Binge Eating Signs And Treatment

Could you be suffering from a food addiction?

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Food addiction is similar to other types of addictions where the addict cannot control the urge to continue eating, no matter how hard they try. Eating addiction is basically about eating junk and unhealthy foods and is considered similar to other disorders such as bulimia, binge eating, and other compulsive eating disorders. Like other addictions, it can have a negative effect on the users physical and psychological health, which, in turn, can lead to devastating consequences. Read along further to find about eating addiction, what are the signs of behavioral addiction to food, how to overcome food addiction, and all about food addiction help and treatment.

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Concerned About Overeating Heres What You Need To Know About Food Addiction

But some people have a compulsive and uncontrolled urge to eat particular foods, especially hyper-palatable junk foods. This can impact on their day-to-day functioning, and their ability to fulfil social, work or family roles.

People who struggle with addictive eating may have intense cravings, which dont relate to hunger, as well as increased levels of tolerance for large quantities of food, and feelings of withdrawal.

Rather than hunger, these cravings may be prompted by low mood, mental illness , high levels of stress, or heightened emotions.

Food addiction or addictive eating is not yet a disorder that can be diagnosed in a clinical setting. Yet patients often ask health professionals about how to manage their addictive eating.

These health providers generally acknowledge their patients addictive eating behaviours but may be unsure of suitable treatments.

Food addiction is commonly assessed using the Yale Food Addiction Scale.

The science of addictive eating is still emerging, but researchers are increasingly noting addiction and reward pathways in the brain triggered by stress, heightened emotions and mental illness are associated with the urge to overeat.

Many factors contribute to overeating. The abundance of fast food, junk food advertising, and the highly palatable ingredients of many processed foods can prompt us to eat whether we are hungry or not.

Around one in six people report addictive patterns of eating or addictive behaviours around food.

Eat Clean And Healthy Foods

If you want to overcome food addiction, your goal is to avoid eating unhealthy meals and cravings for addictive foods. So if you cant eat high-sugar, high-fat, or highly addictive food, it makes sense that you should start eating healthy. This doesnt mean, though, that you have to buy everything in the supermarket that contains low-sugar or fat-free foods because, in reality, they have sweeteners that have far more negative effects.

Start eating healthy by resorting to something fresher, like fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, and maybe something organic. Once your body gets used to not eating junk food or anything high-sugar or high-fat, you will see that you wont be having those unhealthy food cravings anymore. Also, dont forget to drink lots of water.

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Neurobiological Similarities Between Palatable Foods And Drugs Of Abuse

Just as altered brain functioning has been reported in SUDs, overeating and obesity have also been associated with changes in the neural processing of the motivational properties of food. This includes changes in systems coding the hedonic and rewarding aspects of the substance, as well as the systems involved in controlling these motivations . Volkow and colleagues have proposed a common model for addiction and obesity that involves two neural circuits that are both modulated by dopamineincreased reward sensitivity and diminished inhibitory control .

The Science Behind Food Addiction

Is Food Addiction Just a Willpower Issue? No.

Food addiction, as mentioned earlier, is thought to be similar to drug addiction. What is the science behind this? It was found that the neurotransmitters in the brain of persons with a substance abuse disorder are the same neurotransmitters that affect people with food addiction.

Processed foods have negative effects on the reward centers of the brain. These effects are the responsibility of the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Food addiction is a combination of lacking the willpower to control oneself to eat junk foods and the dopamine process in the brain.

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How To Prevent Or Overcome Food Addiction

Food addiction is difficult to prevent because its impossible to avoid food. However, one of the best strategies is to avoid overexposure to palatable foods by eating a healthy, balanced diet thats rich in natural, unprocessed foods. Eating a balanced diet and understanding the warning signs of food addiction will help you to act quickly if you suspect a problem.

Overcoming food addiction typically involves following the same model thats used to treat other types of addictionsand youll need a solid plan and plenty of support.

  • First, youll need to detoxify your body by avoiding trigger foods, such as fast food or foods with processed sugar. During this time, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to severe.
  • After you detoxify your body, youll need to work on changing your eating behaviors. You may need to avoid certain people, places , situations and foods that intensify cravings or make you more likely to consume the problem food. You also may need to break associations between food and routines or events, such as eating ice cream before bed or having buttery popcorn at the movie theater.
  • Other strategies that can help include tracking your food consumption, preplanning your meals and eating mindfully.

If you need professional support to help you lose weight, talk to your primary care physician to see what options may be right for you.

Are Eating Disorders A Type Of Addiction

Addictions Content Team

Our Addictions Content Team has been providing up to date information on substance use disorders, and co-occurring disorders for over a decade. Each piece of content is reviewed by our team of medical experts, consisting of doctors, registered nurses, and licensed therapists, as well as by our editorial staff.

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Eating disorders are conditions that affect an individuals intake of food, causing them to either severely overeat or to not consume enough food to stay healthy. They also usually involve a serious fixation on ones weight, body shape, and eating habits. But is there a distinction between an addiction and an eating disorder?

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A Loved Ones Food Addiction

  • They have become socially withdrawn and eat alone on an increasingly frequent basis
  • You notice them taking extra breaks at school or work with little to no explanation
  • They demonstrate sudden mood swings, changing from sad and irritable in one instance to happy and hyperactive the next
  • You have witnessed them hiding food amongst their belongings
  • They obsessively talk about food and calories or, on the contrary, actively avoid the topic of food when raised
  • You have recognised that their weight regularly fluctuates every few weeks or months

Swallowing Meth Leads To A Delayed Onset Meth High

Episode 35: The Emotions Around Food Addiction

When you ingest crystal methamphetamine orally, your body has to go through some steps before you can experience its effects. It passes into your stomach and your small intestines.

As it passes through your gastrointestinal tract, meth gets absorbed into your bloodstream thats when you start feeling high. But that doesnt happen right away.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it takes anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours to feel anything at all from oral ingestion of meth.

This effect is called a delayed onset, because the person has swallowed most of their dose, but not all of it has been absorbed into the bloodstream yet.

Some people prefer this effect, and, as a result, resort to parachuting. Parachuting meth is swallowing meth-wrapped ecstasy or methamphetamine and letting the drug slowly dissolve like a parachute in the digestive tract, releasing the drug.

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Consider Working With A Dietitian Trained In Intuitive Eating And Diet Recovery

Many women feel embarrassed that they need help along the way, but Id encourage you to put those thoughts aside. Its not your fault that we live in a culture that teaches us to count, measure, and weigh our foods. That just disconnects us from our eating experience!

The process of making peace with all foods helps banish the feelings of food addiction and lets you come home to your body. Its a win-win!

I know it can feel so scary to try a new approach to your feelings of food addiction, particularly when theres a strong cultural narrative that promotes an abstinence model. Youll probably agree that your past experience with abstaining from or restricting foods has not worked!

My clients agree that having the guidance and support was a worthwhile investment. My clients who embrace the process, and do the work in steps 1-4 above, find that feelings of food addiction, binge eating, and food obsession disappear!

Figure : The Seven Features Of Addiction Incorporated Into The Yale Food Addiction Scale

People who experience three of the seven features and have clinically significant impairment or distress resulting from their eating behavior are classified by the YFAS as having food addiction. Another recently developed tool is the Addiction-like Eating Behavior Scale , which is not directly derived from an analogy with drug addiction.

Despite the complexity of the YFAS, the core principle is the same as in other types of addiction: in food addiction, a person eats certain foods compulsively, despite negative consequences.

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Food Addiction Recovery Options

Recovery from food addiction is different from recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction in one simple way. You cannot simply refrain from eating all together as a part of your recovery. Humans need to eat to live, so there has to be some form of behavioral change. One thing is certain. Food addiction is a problem that is unlikely to be solved without help.

There are several food addiction recovery options available if you or a loved are suffering from this eating disorder. Treatment for food addiction includes therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy , nutritional therapies, and group support. Contact us to learn more about our food addiction recovery program or to discuss admission options.

What Are The Symptoms Of Food Addiction Withdrawal

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Symptoms of food addiction withdrawal include tiredness, increased irritability, sadness, and a craving for highly processed foods. Some of these withdrawal symptoms are likened to what drug addicts experience when trying to cut down on substance use.

Individuals who often eat highly processed foods more than intended are at a higher risk of experiencing addictive-like symptoms like withdrawal.

A recent research conducted by the University of Michigan is thought to be the first study of its kind that examines highly processed food withdrawal symptoms. The study authors asked 231 participants to report any physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms after cutting down on junk foods in the last year.

People involved in the study reported symptoms such as sadness, tiredness, increased irritability, and a craving for highly processed foods in the first two to five days after removing such foods from their regular diet.

These results aligned with the time course of withdrawal symptoms in all types of physical addictions. In general, the highest intensity of symptoms is experienced by drug addicts between two to five days of an attempt to cut down on substance use.

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Repeated Failures At Setting Rules

When people are struggling with self-control, they often try to set rules for themselves.

Examples include only sleeping in on the weekends, always doing homework right after school, never drinking coffee after a certain time in the afternoon. For most people, these rules almost always fail, and rules around eating are no exception.

Examples include having one cheat meal or cheat day per week and only eating junk food at parties, birthdays, or holidays.

Summary

What Is An Eating Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association defines eating disorders as behavioral conditions that cause persistent harmful eating habits, distress, and negative emotions related to eating.1 Eating disorders can be very serious and threaten your physical and psychological health, as well as your social relationships.

People with these disorders typically engage in one or more of the following behaviors, which can become extremely driven, similar to addiction:

  • Severely restricting eating
  • Being preoccupied with food, weight, or shape
  • Having anxiety about eating or the consequences of eating certain foods

Eating disorders often co-occur with other psychiatric disorders, like anxiety disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder . People often suffer from addiction and eating disorders simultaneously too. Some individuals may be more likely to struggle with eating disorders due to their genetics. Still, other factors like relationship problems, stress, and poor emotional health can play a role too.2

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What Are The Causes Of Food Addiction

Food addiction is likely the culmination of several factors that interplay in the overall cause of this disorder. A man or woman may develop an addiction as a result of biological, psychological, or social reasons. Biological causes that may influence the progression of this eating disorder might include hormonal imbalances, abnormalities in various brain structures, side effects from the use of certain medications, or having family members with this type of addiction issues.

It also might also be the result of psychological factors. Factors included in this category might include emotional or sexual abuse, being a victim or survivor of a traumatic event, having an inability to healthily cope with negative situations, chronic low-self esteem, or experiencing grief or loss.

Psychological factors such as these can influence an individual to use food as a coping mechanism to relieve the painful emotions that may have resulted. Lastly, there are social implications that may be involved with food addiction, including factors such as disturbances in family function, pressure from peers or society, social isolation, child abuse, lack of social support, and stressful life events.

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