Food Addiction Manifests Differently Depending On The Person Learn The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Food Addiction
Food is not just a necessity for life, but it is also a means of social engagement and a source of pleasure. Humans use food beyond its nutrient value as a source of comfort, to celebrate special events, and to reward loved ones. For some, however, the desire and need to consume food can become uncontrollable and compulsive.
Food addiction has been a somewhat controversial topic in scientific circles, but the disorder has gained legitimacy thanks to several studies. It has now been shown that both sugar and fat produce opiates in the body. While a physician still will not give a food addiction diagnosis, the overeating and resulting harm associated with these activities are very real.
Fortunately, now there are also food addiction recovery services available for those who suffer from this type of eating disorder. Here are just five things you should know about food addiction, including a pathway to recovery.
Depression And Food Addiction
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.
Eating Much More Than Intended
For some people, there is no such thing as a bite of chocolate or single piece of cake. One bite turns into 20, and one slice of cake turns into half a cake.
This all-or-nothing approach is common with addiction of any kind. There is no such thing as moderation it simply does not work .
Telling someone with food addiction to eat junk food in moderation is almost like telling someone with alcoholism to drink beer in moderation. Its just not possible.
When giving in to a craving, someone with food addiction may not stop eating until the urge is satisfied. They might then realize that they have eaten so much that their stomach feels completely stuffed.
Eating until feeling excessively stuffed either frequently or all the time may be classified as binge eating.
Trying to exert control over the consumption of unhealthy foods and then giving in to a craving can lead to feelings of guilt.
A person may feel that they are doing something wrong or even cheating themselves.
Despite these unpleasant feelings, a person with food addiction will repeat the pattern.
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Complications Associated With Food Addiction
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 35 percent of the adults in the U.S. are considered obese, which indicates that overeating is a serious problem nationally. Not everyone who suffers from food addiction is overweight, however. Regardless of whether a food addict is obese or not, this is a serious disorder that can have some lasting consequences.
Obesity and poor nutrition can lead to such issues as type 2 diabetes, increased risk of heart disease, and digestive issues. Bulimia can cause heart failure, tooth decay, and damage to the esophagus. These are just the physical complications. Often a food addict also suffers from depression, anxiety, and may even have family or financial troubles associated with overeating.
Unable To Quit Despite Physical Problems
Which foods you choose to eat can significantly affect your health.
In the short term, junk food can lead to weight gain, acne, bad breath, fatigue, poor dental health, and other common problems.
A lifetime of junk food consumption can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers, dementia, and even some types of cancer.
Someone who experiences any of these problems related to their intake of unhealthy foods but is unable to change their habits likely needs help.
A treatment plan thats designed by qualified professionals is typically recommended for overcoming eating disorders.
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What Is Food Addiction
Food addiction is defined as unhealthy habits or addiction to junk foods . Evidence shows it is similar to other eating disorders like compulsive overeating and binge eating disorder. This explains why many people with food addiction find it hard to adhere to healthier diets. They may develop obesity for this reason.
You Are On Your Phone In Social Settings
Social settings and occasions are meant to be enjoyed, and the purpose of these settings is to talk to the people all around you instead of being on your phone.
However, most of the times, the people at social gatherings are glued to their phones.
If you are on your phone more often at these social gatherings, then chances are that you are addicted to your phone.
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Identifying If You Suffer From A Food Addiction
Food addiction carries a number of tell-tale signs. These signs are commonly known as symptoms.
- You eat food in order to cope with negative emotions such as stress
- Your mind is constantly preoccupied with food to the point of obsession
- You eat food even though you are aware of the negative health consequences of doing so
- You eat so much food that you suffer from nausea or to the point where you vomit
- You do not possess any self-control when it comes to your appetite
- You lie about how much food you eat
- You feel a sense of self-disgust about your appearance and you eat to drown your sorrows
- You wake up in the middle of the night to eat food
- Eating is more about pleasure than satisfying your appetite
- You hide food around the house/office
- You hide food away from your loved-one
- You feel depressed/regret/guilt after binge eating
- You eat long after you are full
- Binge eating episodes last for around two hours, but sometimes lasts an entire day
- You get very angry when food is not available/denied to you
Although an addiction to food may begin at any age, most sufferers will develop the addiction in their adolescence or early adulthood.
How To Overcome Food Addiction: The Best Solutions
We all know how delicious junk foods, ice cream, or processed foods are. They are called comfort foods for a reason, and you can easily get addicted to them. But did you know that these comfort food have certain effects on the brain that make it hard for other people to avoid them?
The scary part is that food addiction is similar to substance abuse disorders or drug addiction. It is real, and its a hard habit to break, no matter how hard some people try. This article is all about food addiction and how to overcome it.
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Effects Of Being A Food Addict
If you or your loved one had been struggling with a food addiction, you may understand the implications this may have on the various aspects of your life. If food addiction is left ignored or untreated, it can rapidly begin consuming your life, creating damaging and chronic symptoms. Understanding how this may affect the different aspects of your life may encourage you to get the help you need and deserve. The following are some of the effects of an addiction to food:
Food Addiction Epidemiology And Relation To Obesity
Evidence regarding the prevalence of YFAS defined food addiction is still somewhat preliminary30 however, in surveying over 130,000 women enrolled in the Nurses Health Study, Flint and colleagues found that nearly 6% of women met YFAS defined criteria for food addiction, with a positive association between higher BMI and food addiction diagnoses.45 Using much smaller, general population-based samples, the prevalence of food addiction in overweight/obese subjects, one study found the prevalence of food addiction to be approximately 7%, while another found the prevalence of food addiction to be approximately 15%.46,47 In a clinical sample of obese patients seeking bariatric weight loss surgery, nearly 54% met criteria for food addiction.
Yvonne H.C. Yau, Marc N. Potenza, in, 2014
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Signs And Symptoms Of Food Addiction
How do I know if I have become addicted to food? Are you asking this question? Youll soon know if you recognize any of the signs and symptoms below:
- Despite eating a meal, you feel immediately desirous afterwards for a particular type of food or foods. You may then decide to sneak away and eat, or you may come home after a large dinner and continue to eat more.
- You go out of your way to get the food you are craving, even if you have to make special trips to get it. For instance, have you ever wanted a snack item so badly you got up in the middle of the night and drove to a 24-hour mini-mart just to get it?
If these seem familiar, you may have a food addiction. You can also learn more about the signs and symptoms of a food addiction here. At the end of this article, weve included a short questionnaire that can help you determine if its time to see a professional to finally get your food addiction under control.
The Psychology Of Food Addiction
Your psychological relationship with food is based on how you think about and behave around food. When you have a food addiction, you lose control over the types and amounts of food you eat. You become dependent on the feel-good effect that certain foods have on you, even though the good feelings dont last.
Heres what it doesnt mean to be a food addict: It doesnt mean you have an eating disorder. Food addiction has never been classified as a true eating disorder, like anorexia or bulimia. But while food addicts may not have a diagnosed eating disorder, they certainly show signs of having an unhealthy relationship with food.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Additionally, dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations in a pathological state in which an individual pursues reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. The terms food addiction and food addict were coined because the behavior of a food addict resembles that of an alcoholic, drug abuser, or gambler, all recognized addictions.
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The Slippery Slope Of Food Addiction
Someone doesnt just that she wants to feel out of control with food. Instead, its often a slippery slope that leads a person into an addiction with a particular food. Below are some of the warning signs and common traits among people suffering from a food addiction:
- Changes in mood
- Labeling food as good and bad
- Restrictive dieting
- Thinking about food all the time
- Feeling unsatisfied even after meal times
- Weight fluctuations and/or difficulty managing weight
- Body dissatisfaction
- Feeling disgusted, guilty or upset after eating
- Feeling stressed or tension that is only relieved by eating
A Culpable Food Industry
Many people believe the food industry spikes food with processed sugars and flours knowing this will lead to food addiction.
Indeed, many supermarket premade dishes contain more sugar than a bar of chocolate! The sweetness of these dishes is often hidden by an infusion of salt and spices.
In fact, some even say processed sugar is more addictive than cocaine!
I recommend you read the book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.
Studies conducted on rats exposed to junk food prove the rats suffer withdrawal symptoms when the junk food is removed similar to that suffered by rats addicted to drugs or alcohol.
This was particularly the case for rats addicted to sugar. When sugar was withdrawn, the rats suffered several withdrawal symptoms: shaking, anxiety and a change in body temperature.
Scientists say youre least likely to become addicted to unprocessed natural foods such as vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds.
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You Do Not Mind Responding To Messages Or Checking Your Phone While On A Date
Dates are meant to be occasions where you give your undivided attention to the person you are with.
However, with phone addicts, the situation might be a little different.
They will keep checking their phones and responding to messages even while they are out on a date.
Such behavior definitely seems rude to the other person, especially if they want to talk to you and get to know you better.
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How To Spot The Signs Of Food Addiction
Being addicted to food is just as serious as any other addiction itâs just rarely taken as seriously.
âBeing a food addict isnât very different from a normal person who overeats. The food environment weâre in today is actually pretty toxic,â says Vera Tarman, MD, MSc, FCFP, author of Food Junkies: The Truth About Food Addiction. âThe food industry makes food intentionally addictive there are even some commercials that say âcrave.â So if a person canât stop at one, itâs not because theyâre a food addict itâs because theyâre exposed to food that was made addictive.â
And if addiction runs in the family, it could make someone even more susceptible to developing an addiction themselves.
âThereâs a subpopulation who gets that hook like everyone else, but then theyâre vulnerable because of a previous addiction or genetics,â Dr. Tarman says. âItâs like an alcoholic who canât put down a drink itâs similar with food. Once they get going, they canât stop.â
Dr. Tarman uses a series of questions to determine whether someone is addicted to food or not. Some examples are below, but itâs important to note that this is not a medical diagnosis. The questions merely reflect whatâs commonly seen in cases of food addiction and help gauge the likelihood of addiction.
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Prevention Of Food Addiction Relapse
Anyone who has become addicted to food can suffer from a relapse. Thats why so many food addicts follow the steps below to help prevent turning back to food. They can also use these steps if they do relapse and want to get on track with a healthier lifestyle:
- Not eating any of the foods that trigger their food addiction. This can be very difficult, as it means quitting some foods entirely. Most food addicts discover they cannot eat the foods they crave, even in moderation. In essence, they have to rid their diets of the trigger items completely. Its a small price to pay for getting out of the cycle of addiction.
- Going into therapy. Therapists can help food addicts determine the root of their addiction. This enables the food addict to work on the underlying causes that have led to an unusual relationship with food.
- Going to AA meetings or AA-style meetings. The basic tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous have proven to be useful for food addicts in addition to alcohol addicts. AA meetings can help a food addict focus on the end goal, which is achieving control over food.
- Asking for help when things get tough. Getting help when youre feeling anxious and are about to turn to food may not be simple, but it can stop a craving and halt a binge eating episode. If you think you or someone you love may be suffering from a food addiction, .
Take Our Quiz And See
Food addiction can show itself in many different ways. We thought we lacked willpower or self-discipline. Many of us had self-discipline in other areas of our lives, but not with food. Or if we sometimes restrained our eating while on a diet, it never lasted very long.
We heard people express feelings of low self-esteem, fear, doubt, insecurity, shame, guilt, and hopelessness around their relationship with food. We hated to admit that we had a problem and that we were not normal with food. Over time we became aware that these were symptoms of food addiction.
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Why Am I Addicted To Food But Not Everyone Else Is
Think about it 90% of the population drink alcohol which is an addictive substance. Not everyone is an alcoholic.
It boils down to susceptibility.
Some people are more susceptible than others to addiction, but that doesnt mean you cant beat it if you get the right help.
Have a great week!
A Solution To Food Addiction And Obsession
Most people are familiar with the concept of alcoholism and drug addiction, and the idea that certain foods and quantities of foods can be addictive is gaining acceptance.
Food addicts are powerless over where, when, and how much they eat, although many have tremendous willpower in other areas of their lives. Food addiction tends to remain unrecognized because of the focus on the symptoms rather than their underlying cause addiction.
Symptoms of food addiction include
- Compulsive exercise and dieting
- Obsession with food or weight
- Depression, shame, isolation, and hopelessness related to food, weight, or body image.
FA is a program for those who want to stop eating addictively. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, FA treats food addiction as a threefold illness: physical, mental, and spiritual.
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