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Food Addiction And Binge Eating Disorder

Monitor Your Eating Behavior

Diagnosis of Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating and Food Addiction | DSM 5 TR

Keep a food journal to:

  • Record your daily food intake
  • Track any changes in behaviors associated with food intake
  • Record thoughts/feelings while eating

Self-monitoring helps you identify triggers, disturbing thoughts about food intake, and harmful eating patterns. When you decide to self-monitor, be sure to:

  • Be honest with yourself. Remember, cheating wont help you track your habits effectively
  • Fill in the self-monitoring sheet immediately after eating or binge eating
  • Avoid tracking calories
  • Record physical activity and sleep quality/duration

Comparison Between Food Addiction And Binge Eating Disorder

Last reviewed 01/2018

Food addiction is an example of a Substance use disorder.

Diagnostic criteria for Substance use disorder according to DSM-5

Substance often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period thanwas intended.

Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substanceuse.

Great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain or usethe substance or recover from its effects.

Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance.

Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major roleobligations at work, school, or home.

Continued use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonalproblems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance.

Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are givenup or reduced because of substance use.

Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.

Substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent orrecurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have beencaused or exacerbated by the substance.


Withdrawal syndrome Substance is taken to relieveor avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Overuse of a certain food, as well as substances is associated

Comparison between Binge Eating Disorder and Food Addiction

Similarities between BED and Food Addiction include:

Differences between BED and Food Addiction include:


What Is Food Addiction

Is it possible for a person to be addicted to food in the same way that someone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol? While ongoing research is seeking to study and understand the basis of food addiction and resulting implications, there exists ample research that validates the premise of food addiction.

What exactly does food addiction look like and how does this differ from compulsive overeating or other diagnosable eating disorders, such as bulimia or binge eating disorder?

According to the Food Addiction Institute, food addiction is a disease that is characterized by a loss of control over the inability to stop eating certain foods.

Essentially, a person can become addicted to the chemical reactions resulting from the consumption of particular foods, particularly highly palatable foods containing increased levels of fat, sugar, and salt. A chemical dependency on food can be likened to a drug addict who becomes addicted to the high or euphoria experienced when abusing their substance of choice.

A person dealing with a food addiction may crave and eat particular foods, even when not feeling hungry or in need of nourishment.

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Effects Of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating leads to a wide variety of physical, emotional, and social problems. Youre more likely to suffer health issues, stress, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts than someone without an eating disorder. You may also experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as well as substantial weight gain.

As bleak as this sounds, though, many people are able to recover from binge eating disorder and reverse the unhealthy effects. You can, too. The first step is to re-evaluate your relationship with food.

Similarities Between Binge Eating And Addiction

Junk Food, Binge Eating, Eating Disorder, Binge Eating Disorder ...

The proposers of the addiction model of binge eating highlight the following main similarities between alcohol and drug abuse and binge eating:

  • Cravings and urges to engage in the behavior
  • Feeling of loss of control over behavior
  • Recurrent concerns about the behavior
  • Use of the behavior to modulate negative mood and stress
  • Denial of the severity of the problem
  • Persistence of behavior despite the negative consequences
  • Repeated failure to stop the behavior

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How It’s Like Other Addictions

Neurotransmitters and the brain’s reward system have been implicated in food and other addictions. In animal studies, for example, dopamine has been found to play an important role in overall reward systems, and binging on sugar has been shown to influence dopamine activity.

Food, drugs and other addictive substances and behaviors are all associated with pleasure. When advertising or the people around us tell us that food, drug, or activity will feel good, it sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are more likely to seek it out, and we are more likely to experience pleasure when we indulge.

The Neglected Addiction: Binge Eating


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Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.

Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date.

Jenni is 18, beautiful, tall, slender, popular, a straight A student, a student body officer, and has been modeling for three years. Jenni binges most afternoons when she goes home and is by herself, eating around 10,000 calories at a time. She doesnt purge. She is distressed over her eating habits and the impact it will have on her life. She has no control over her compulsions to eat or her eating behavior. Jenny recently broke up with her boyfriend. Her mother died when she was 11 and her father is aloof.

Binge eaters come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Millions of people eat uncontrollably. The exact numbers of binge eaters is unknown but it would not be surprising to discover that there are more binge eaters than any other type of addiction population. This problem is experienced equally by men and women.

Although the reasons for the neglect of binge eating by health care professions are uncertain, a few of the reasons seem to be:

  • The unwillingness of insurance companies to address the need to help those with the problem
  • Recommended Reading: Why Do We Get Addicted To Alcohol

    Emotional Symptoms Of Food Addiction

    • feeling ashamed of your weight
    • feeling depressed or sad about your weight or self-image
    • feeling hopeless when it comes to losing weight
    • eating when upset or depressed
    • eating as a reward for a job well done
    • eating when you are not hungry
    • becoming anxious or irritable when eating certain foods or when not eating or if there doesnt seem to be enough food

    Food addiction can have an adverse effect on our emotions that lead to mood swings and other mental health problems. Some food addicts will suffer from great depression or anxiety as a result of their inability to control their eating habits despite a desire to eat less and to improve their self-image. Others are emotional eaters who eat just because they are happy or just because they are sad but when these emotions take over their eating slips out of control.

    A Future Free Of Addiction Is In Your Hands

    A First-Person Account of Binge Eating Disorder | WebMD

    Recover from addiction at home with medication and online therapyfrom the leader in virtual addiction care.

    Justin Gillespie is a recovery coach with Workit Health. He has a passion for finding alternative treatments for clients that are evidence-based. He has utilized these alternative interventions with many of his patients and speaks passionately about the balance of fitness, mental health and substance use disorder recovery in other ventures outside of Workit. Justin has his own journey in recovery from Binge Eating Disorder as well as several other co-occurring disorders and uses fitness as well as several other alternative methods to continue his long-term recovery.

    Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. Workit Health, Inc. and its affiliated professional entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

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    Prevalence And Correlates Of Food Addiction Assessed By The Yfas

    Three systematic reviews of studies that have assessed food addiction using the YFAS have been conducted. These reviews revealed between twenty-five and sixty studies using human samples have been published between 2009 and July 2017 . These studies have reported prevalence from 0 to 25·7 % in non-clinical samples and prevalence from 6·7 to 100 % in samples recruited from clinical settings. The definition of a clinical sample includes, e.g. individual with a current diagnosis of an eating disorder ), or clinical prebariatric surgery sample ). Compared to men, women showed significantly higher prevalence . In men, sexual minority orientation was significantly associated with higher YFAS scores . Inconsistent results were found for food addiction prevalence and age . Higher prevalence has been reported in samples of black persons than in Hispanics or white individuals . Additionally, a positive association with BMI has been reported. Evidence suggests that food addiction may be comorbid with eating disorders, especially BED and BN. Specifically, positive associations have been reported among binge-eating scores, difficulties in emotional eating regulation, restraint, disinhibition and hunger, night-eating scores, craving, impulsivity, reward sensitivity, depressive symptoms, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and food addiction overall scores.

    Tips For Helping Someone With Binge Eating Disorder

    Encourage your loved one to seek help. The longer an eating disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, the more difficult it will be to overcome, so urge your loved one to get treatment.

    Be supportive. Try to listen without judgment and make sure the person knows you care. If your loved one slips up on the road to recovery, remind them that it doesnt mean they cant quit binge eating for good.

    Avoid insults, lectures, or guilt trips. Binge eaters feel bad enough about themselves and their behavior already. Lecturing, getting upset, or issuing ultimatums to a binge eater will only increase stress and make the situation worse. Instead, make it clear that you care about the persons health and happiness and youll continue to be there.

    Set a good example by eating healthily, exercising, and managing stress without food. Dont make negative comments about your own body or anyone elses.

    Get more help

    Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms, causes, and treatment options for binge eating disorder.

    Also Check: How To Beat Addiction To Food

    Tip : Support Yourself With Healthy Lifestyle Habits

    When youre physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, youre better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when youre already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without binge eating.

    Make time for regular exercise. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and your energy levels, and its also a powerful stress reducer. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can help put a stop to emotional eating.

    Get enough sleep every night. When you dont get the sleep you need, your body craves sugary foods that will give you a quick energy boost. Sleep deprivation may even trigger food addiction. Getting plenty of rest will help with appetite control and reduce food cravings, and support your mood.

    Connect with others. Dont underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. Youre more likely to succumb to binge eating triggers if you lack a solid support network. Talking helps, even if its not with a professional.

    Manage stress. One of the most important aspects of controlling binge eating is to find alternate ways to handle stress and other overwhelming feelings without using food. These may include meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.

    Food Addiction: Is It Real

    Food Addiction : Binge Eating Disorders (3 Manuscripts in 1)

    Dr. Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is a therapist, researcher and author with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Doctorate in Naturopathy. Dr. Fredricks works…Read More

    Food addiction is a term that is used to describe a pathological disorder namely, the compulsive, excessive craving for and consumption of specific foods. Similarly to binge eating disorder, this condition is characterized by an abnormally large intake of food that is harmful to the individual, resulting in compulsive overeating.

    The concept of food addiction has long been rejected by the medical establishment. However, recent research has revealed the neurological similarities between food addiction and drug dependence. Additionally, some eating disorder specialists believe that food addiction is the culprit behind binge eating disorder .

    Often referred to as compulsive overeating, food addiction-like BED-is based on an obsessive-compulsive relationship to food. Researchers who completed a 2011 study at Yale University concluded that BED has many of the same characteristics as addictive behaviors, including diminished control and continued use despite negative consequences. They also said that. A body of scientific literature is building to support addiction conceptualizations of problematic eating .


    Gearhardt, A. N., White, M. A., & Potenza, M. N. . Binge eating disorder and food addiction. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 4, 201-207.

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    Clinical Implications Of The Relationship Between Bed And Food Addiction

    The relationship between BED and food addiction may have many important clinical implications. Cognitive-behavioral therapy , which is the best-established treatment for BED , effectively targets aspects of BED in a manner similar to how CBT targets aspects of substance dependence . For example, CBT for BED and CBT for substance dependence monitor consumption, identify automatic thoughts about use, develop alternative coping strategies, and identify triggers for problematic behaviors . Furthermore, most techniques associated with CBT for BED and CBT for substance dependence do not inherently conflict with one another . Thus, for BED patients that exhibit attributes of food addiction, CBT techniques used in the treatment of BED and CBT techniques used in the treatment of substance dependence could be incorporated. An important next step will be to evaluate whether the integration of other interventions developed for substance dependence or other addictive behaviors into treatments for BED provides any added benefit to treatment outcomes in individuals experiencing addictive-like eating behaviors.

    Symptoms Of Food Addiction

    There are no blood tests or laboratory exams that can diagnose the existence of food addiction. Like other addiction disorders, the diagnosis of food addiction is based on the persons behaviors. Here are the symptoms of food addiction:

  • Frequent food cravings despite being full
  • Eating big servings of the craved food much more than the intended serving
  • Eating certain foods up to the point that you are excessively full or about to throw up.
  • Feeling guilty after overeating but excessively eats again
  • Making excuses why giving in to a food craving is a good idea.
  • Repeatedly trying to quit food addiction but is unsuccessful in doing so
  • Hiding from others when eating unhealthy foods or hiding certain foods from their partner or family
  • Finding it hard to control themselves from eating unhealthy foods despite knowing the negative consequences caused by food addiction
  • Can you relate to at least four signs above? You should start to worry about having a food addiction. But if you have six signs or above, go seek professional help because its most likely food addiction.

    Recommended Reading: Addiction Treatment Centers In Nj

    Does Research Support The Food Addiction Concept

    The brain systems underlying drug addiction are the same systems that motivate us to seek natural rewards like sex and food. In theory, anything that stimulates these systems enough can lead to the problematic behaviors we call addiction. However, studies in animals report that food doesnt stimulate them nearly as much as highly addictive drugs of abuse, and this is part of the reason why the food addiction concept is controversial.

    Although stimulation of motivational systems in the brain by food is a natural and often healthy process, some researchers argue that certain modern foods stimulate these systems to a greater degree than anything our distant ancestors would have eaten regularly. Modern processed foods tend to be more concentrated in the nutrients that stimulate brain motivational systems, especially fats and carbohydrates. This may result in a stronger motivation to acquire and eat these foods, and, in some people, could lead to addiction-like eating behaviors. In support of this, research suggests that calorie-dense processed foods rich in refined carbohydrates and fats are most likely to trigger addiction-like eating behaviors, while simple, unprocessed foods are less likely to trigger these behaviors.

    Other key evidence supporting the concept:

    Figure 2: What addiction-like aspects do rodent models exhibit?

    Sugar-bingeing model

    Reference: Blanchet et al. Neuropharmacology. 2014 Oct. PMID: 24863044

    Food Addiction And Other Eating Disorders

    Compulsive Overeating or Binge eating disorder, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

    Food addiction shows significant diagnostic overlaps with other EDs as well, especially with Bulimia Nervosa , an eating disorder characterized by the presence of binge eating episodes with compensatory behaviors that do not occur in BED. Furthermore, BN is linked to impaired reward sensitivity in dopaminergic brain circuit, increasing the addictive potential . Moreover, some studies emphasize that many patients affected by BN may have a body weight within the normal range but may also be addicted to food . Additionally, even if without a systematic evaluation, some studies attest an association between FA and BN ranging from 81 to 97% . Even with fundamental differences, in fact, common overlapping symptoms between FA, BED and BN exist .

    An interesting further point ascribes food restriction, typical of anorexia nervosa to addictive behaviors . Szmukler e Tamtam suggest that “patients with AN are dependent on the psychological and possibly physiological effects of starvation. Increased weight loss results from tolerance to starvation necessitating greater restriction of food to obtain the desired effect, and the later development of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms on eating .

    The existence of food addiction as a separate entity, as well as its role in several eating disorders is still unclear and poor explored. The aim of the present systematic review and meta-analysis is to attest to the prevalence of FA in different eating disorders and its existence.

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