Is Food Addiction A Real Condition
Theres a current debate among healthcare professionals who study food and addiction about whether there is such a thing as food addiction. Some would rather call it food obsession, or refer to conditional names such as problem eating, emotional eating, or overeating to describe variations on eating problems.
Regardless of the debate, the idea that one can become addicted to food is gaining traction because the science is starting to point in that direction. Recent experiments conducted on both animals and humans indicate that, for some, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are activated by addictive drugs ex., heroin and cocaine can also be triggered by foods rich in sugar, fat and salt. Highly palatable foods can increase brain chemicals like dopamine in the same way addictive drugs do.
Clearly there is a feel-good factor here. When someone eats certain foods and experiences the pleasure associated with rising dopamine levels in the brain, they may quickly feel the need to eat again. In fact, the reward signals created by consuming highly palatable foods may even supersede other important signals like the ones that make you feel full or satisfied. Some have also suggested that people can actually develop a tolerance to food. When that happens, the more a person consumes the less they are satisfied.
Food Addiction Tests Quizzes And Self
Food addiction tests, quizzes, and self-diagnosis tools are readily available online and through other resources. The purpose of such assessments is to determine whether a food addiction condition is present and to what degree. They are a great start toward defining the problem and beginning the recovery process.
Things To Know About Shopping Addiction
- Although widespread consumerism has escalated in recent years, shopping addiction is not a new disorder. It was recognized as far back as the early nineteenth century and was cited as a psychiatric disorder in the early twentieth century.
- As with other addictions, shopping addiction is usually a way of coping with the emotional pain and difficulty of life, and it tends to make things worse rather than better for the shopper.
- Despite its long history, shopping addiction is controversial, and experts, as well as the public, disagree about whether shopping addiction is a real addiction.
- People who struggle with shopping addiction typically spend more time and money on shopping than they can afford, and many get into financial problems as a result of their overspending.
- Shopping addiction can involve both impulsive and compulsive spending, which produce a temporary high. That said, people who are addicted to shopping are often left feeling empty and unsatisfied with their purchases when they get home.
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Avoid Alcoholic Drinks And Caffeine
As much as you can, avoid alcoholic drinks and caffeinated beverages . Evidence shows that drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages triggers poor eating choices.
Coffee can cause the body to crave sugary drinks or sweet foods. In addition, too much caffeine can cause anxiety, and an anxious person may end up resorting to binge eating comfort foods to feel better.
Drinking alcohol may also cause you to become hungry. For sure you have experienced this. After a night of drinking or bar-hopping with friends, eating whatever you see on the fridge, even junk food seems like a good idea. Because alcohol causes poor judgment in many people, so this can break your recovery.
Also, avoid soda because it has addictive substances and has high sugar contents. Dont make it a part of your every day life to consume sugar because this can trigger addiction to your brain.
Surround Yourself With Supportive People
You can only overcome and cope with an addiction if you have a support system that is strong and reliable around you. Stay close to friends and family who understand your position and inspire you to cope with your addiction. Removing all triggers from your life, such as people, objects, images, phone numbers, and more can be a great way to be surrounded by positivity. You can also work with many support groups to make a group effort that motivates one another. You can also surround yourself with people by sharing your goals and aspirations to win their support and attention during a time of need. Going for drug rehab would also be great for you.
The Irony Of Diet Culture
Despite some progress through movements like body positivity and Health at Every Size, modern culture still prizes thinness.
In order to achieve that thinness, many people diet incessantly.
Heres how that backfires:
When you think you cant have access to something , you end up wanting more of it.
This is called the limited access paradigm, and it explains why very restrictive diets not only often fail, but may even make people more likely to overeat and binge eat.32
Thats why recovery from compulsive overeating and food addiction often focuses on body awareness, mindful eating, and developing a positive relationship with foodnot dieting.
Interested in checking your bias towards thinness as a coach? Read: Are you body-shaming clients? How well-meaning coaches can be guilty of size-bias.
Coping With Food Addiction
Modafinil may be a bright spot on the horizon for those who struggle with food addiction, but it still needs further clinical trial before its considered a viable treatment option. And even if those trials support its use in combating the disorder, medication cant cure addiction. It can be a helpful tool during recovery, but it takes a network of supports to help someone address an addiction, and medication is just one of them. Thats why its crucial to support yourself by finding new ways to cope with food addictionin addition to any medication you use to supplement your recovery.
Be Kind to Yourself
The first thing you can do in learning how to cope with food addiction is to understand that food addiction is an illnessnot a choice. When you start on your journey towards recovery, your addiction may feel largely out of your control. Breathe into that by giving yourself the freedom to make mistakes, and make sure not to shame yourself when you do. Being in recovery is a process, one that comes with gains and setbacks and just about everything in between. Youll get there eventually, but resisting food cravings takes time and perseverance, and you dont have to get everything right the first time. Relapse is part of the processnot a sign of weakness or failure.
Put a Support Network in Place
Work Towards Replacing Food with Other Rewarding Activities
Tip 5 Feed Those Impulses With Healthy Coping Strategies
So you cant have cheese and cake anymore, now what? It is never enough to look at the biological underpinnings of behavior, especially if a given behavior has been repeated over several years time. Practicing new habits is difficult, especially if food felt so good that it was your go-to strategy for dealing with overwhelming feelings. I always say that food feels like a big warm hug. If you can relate to that, then this tip is for you.
It is no secret that we prefer to do what feels good. Feeding our impulses generally feels good and taking away the foods that fed the impulse to feel good feels bad. It can even feel like a loss. If you need to mourn the loss of food, I respect that and you should too. Starting on the journey of giving up foods that make you feel out of control is not something to be taken lightly. Food became your way to cope and now it is time to mourn the loss of that maladaptive coping skill and replace it with a coping skill that will enhance your life rather than hurting you.
Remember this: Food doesnt always have to feel good or be hyperpalatable. Food should fuel our bodies, not our emotions.
Is It Normal Shopping Or An Addiction
So what is the difference between normal shopping, occasional splurges, and shopping addiction? As with all addictions, what sets shopping addiction apart from other types of shopping is that the behavior becomes the persons main way of coping with stress, to the point where they continue to shop excessively even when it is clearly having a negative impact on other areas of their life.
As with other addictions, money problems can develop and relationships can become damaged, yet people with shopping addiction feel unable to stop or even control their spending.
This difficulty in controlling the desire to shop emerges from a personality pattern that shopaholics share, and that differentiates them from most other people. Often low in self-esteem, they are easily influenced, and are often kindhearted, sympathetic, and polite to others, although they are often lonely and isolated. Shopping gives them a way to seek out contact with others.
People with shopping addiction tend to be more materialistic than other shoppers and try to prop themselves up by seeking status through material objects and seeking approval from others. They engage in fantasy more than other people, andas with other people with addictionshave a hard time resisting their impulses.
As a result, they are more susceptible to marketing and advertising messages that surround us on a daily basis.
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How Many People Have Food Addiction
A recent systematic review examined the total prevalence of food addiction in people all over the world8Pursey K, Stanwell P, Gearhardt A, et al. The prevalence of food addiction as assessed by the Yale Food Addiction Scale: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2014 6:4552-4590.. Some interesting findings from this review emerged:
- The global prevalence of food addiction is 19.9%.
- Females had higher rates of food addiction than males .
- Overweight/obese people had higher rates of food addiction than normal weight people .
- People with an eating disorder had much higher rates of food addiction than people without an eating disorder .
Some people think that food addiction is just another term for binge-eating disorder.
The evidence does not support this, because more than 40% of people with binge-eating disorder do not receive a diagnosis of food addiction9Linardon J, Messer M. Assessment of food addiction using the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0 in individuals with binge-eating disorder symptomatology: Factor structure, psychometric properties, and clinical significance. Psychiatry Research. 2019..
This suggests that the food addiction construct is not entirely overlapping binge-eating disorder.
Ways To Ease A Food Addiction
How to break free from the power food has over you
Don’t let the word addiction scare you: Experts agree that food addiction is not nearly as strong as alcohol and drug addictions. While it might not feel like it at times, you have the power to control what you eat.
Here are six ways you can loosen the stranglehold a food addiction may have on you.
Smaller plates = smaller portions.
People with food addiction often overeat because the signals that traditionally tell the body to stop eating don’t sound off. But according to Mark Gold, MD, chief of addiction medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, you can actually retrain your brain to feel full on less food. Begin by using smaller plates and bowls, which will force you to dish out smaller portions.
Over time , your brain will begin to get used to the reduced portion sizes and you’ll feel less compelled to keep eating. Once you’ve mastered that, try reducing your portions even further by leaving a little space on your plate again, your brain will slowly but surely adapt.
Lower the “sweet” volume.
If sugar is your weakness, start by removing it from areas of your diet where you’re less likely to notice. Target sauces, dressings, breads, crackers, and other “nonsweet” foods that contain hidden sweeteners . After a while, your taste buds will become more sensitive to sugar, making the foods you really want to avoidcookies, cakes, candya little less appealing.
Keep your hunger in check.
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How Common Is It
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.
However, some people report a lack of control over their eating, beyond liking and wanting, and are seeking help for this.
Around one in six people report addictive patterns of eating or addictive behaviours around food.
While food addiction is higher among people with obesity and mental health conditions, it only affects a subset of these groups.
Do You Have A Food Addiction
All addictions share similar behavioural symptoms. It is not a lack of willpower that keeps people using their drug of choice no one wants to be an alcoholic or drug addict, nor does anyone want to be obese and addicted to food.
The following questions can help you determine if you have a problematic relationship with food:
If you answer a resounding yes to more than half of these questions you probably struggle with an addiction to food.
Not surprisingly, those in addiction recovery are more susceptible to becoming addicted to food. Replacing one addiction with another is not uncommon, and those formerly suffering from drug addiction may find they begin to use foods addictively.
How To Get Help For A Loved One
Remember that an addiction disorder has exceeded ones ability to manage it. Simply telling one to stop eating or attempting to restrict household foods may backfire. Rather, it is important to become informed about food addiction and treatment options while being as supportive to your loved one as possible. Further, this may require you to make lifestyle changes as well. For instance, if you also engage in problematic eating, you may support your loved one by eating healthier and setting a positive example.
Participating in treatment is also recommended so long as your loved one and therapist agree that it is a good idea. Also, do not forget that the process takes time. When your loved one struggles, even more support is needed. The more into this you are together, the greater likelihood of recovery.
How To Help Someone With Binge Eating Disorder
Since binge eaters often try to hide their symptoms and eat in secret, it can make it tough for family and friends to spot the warning signs. And you cant always identify a binge eater by appearance, either. While some are overweight or obese, others manage to maintain a normal weight.
The warning signs that you can spot include finding piles of empty food packages and wrappers, cupboards and refrigerators that have been cleaned out, or hidden stashes of high-calorie or junk food. If you suspect that your loved one has binge eating disorder, bring up your concerns. It may seem daunting to start such a delicate conversation, and the person may deny bingeing or become angry and defensive. But theres a chance that he or she will welcome the opportunity to share the struggle.
If the person shuts you out at first, dont give up it may take some time before your loved one is willing to admit to having a problem. And remember: as difficult as it is to know that someone you love may be have an eating disorder, you cant force someone to change. The decision to seek recovery has to come from them. You can help by offering your compassion, encouragement, and support throughout the treatment process.
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Tip : Take Back Control Of Cravings
Sometimes it feels like the urge to binge hits without warning. But even when youre in the grip of a seemingly overpowering and uncontrollable urge, there are things you can do to help yourself stay in control.
Accept the urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as urge surfing. Think of the urge to binge as an ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out the urge, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, youll see that it passes more quickly than youd think.
Distract yourself. Anything that engages your attention will work: taking a walk, calling a friend, watching something funny online, etc. Once you get interested in something else, the urge to binge may go away.
Talk to someone. When you start to notice the urge to binge, turn to a friend or family member you trust. Sharing what youre going through can help you feel better and discharge the urge to binge.
Delay, delay, delay. Even if youre unsure if youll be able to fight the urge to binge, make an effort to delay it. Try to hold off for 1 minute. If you succeed. Try to stretch it out to 5 minutes. If you delay long enough, you may be able to avoid the binge.
Binge Eating Recovery Tip : Develop A Healthier Relationship With Food
Recovery from any addiction is challenging, but it can be especially difficult to overcome binge eating and food addiction. Unlike other addictions, your drug is necessary for survival, so you dont have the option of avoiding or replacing it. Instead, you need to develop a healthier relationship with fooda relationship thats based on meeting your nutritional needs, not your emotional ones. To do this, you have to break the binge eating cycle by:
Avoiding temptation. Youre much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. Remove the temptation by clearing your fridge and cupboards of your favorite binge foods.
Listening to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and dont have a rumbling stomach, youre probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.
Eating regularly. Dont wait until youre starving. This only leads to overeating! Stick to scheduled mealtimes, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day.
Not avoiding fat. Contrary to what you might think, dietary fat can actually help keep you from overeating and gaining weight. Try to incorporate healthy fat at each meal to keep you feeling satisfied and full.
Fighting boredom. Instead of snacking when youre bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.
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