Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Is Food Addiction An Eating Disorder

Common Eating Disorders Today

Food Addiction: Eating Disorder or Substance Use Disorder?

Understanding some of the most common eating disorders that are prevalent in both women and men is essential to determining whether you are suffering from an eating disorder or whether someone you know may be struggling with their own eating habits each day. Knowing how to properly define various eating disorders is a way to find the best resources that are tailored for your needs and most suitable for recovery in any case, regardless of the severity of the disorder.

Building Resources And Gathering Support

Opening up to close family members, friends, and those you trust can help to take a weight off of your shoulder if you are feeling upset, anxious, or angry about any eating disorder you are struggling with on your own. Building a support group with those you trust in your life is a way to stay strong when coping with an eating disorder and when you begin to research various solutions that are available near you, including both local and online resources.

The more support you have when working towards a happier and healthier life for yourself, the less likely you are to feel as if you are incapable of completing treatment programs or any therapy you have sought out for yourself or even for someone else in your life who is struggling. If you do not feel comfortable with talking to family and friends about any eating disorder you are struggling with, consider the option to do so online with online programs, communities, and outreach blogs. There are also anonymous programs for those who are suffering from everything from fast food addiction and binge eating to bulimia and anorexia.

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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Binge Eating Disorder Vs Food Addiction

by Lisa Ortigara Crego | Oct 3, 2017 | Binge Eating Disorder, Cravings |

Do I have Binge Eating Disorder or is it Food Addiction, or Could it be a Combination of Both?

Have you ever gone back for an extra serving of food when you werent hungry? How about mindless eating between meals on occasion? Im sure most of us at some time or another took an additional serving of food or ate unplanned meals especially during holidays, birthdays, and long weekends. Lets face it temptations to over-indulge are all around us.

So, what makes the difference between an occasional over indulgence, or binge eating? What about food addiction? When is it a food addiction? To make matters more confusing, when is it binge eating disorder and when it is food addiction? And, could it actually be a combination of the two?

When was the last time you binged a bushel of apples or a bucket of broccoli? Im willing to bet not too often. How about a box of cookies, bag of potato chips, or chocolate bars? Ahhitting a nerve am I? If you look around I am certain you will see at every turn someone who binge eats. Do you?

Does Research Support The Food Addiction Concept

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

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

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Preoccupation With Substance Use

Given obvious constraints, no animal studies assessed the characteristic of preoccupation as it relates to food addiction. However, Tuomisto and colleagues found that self-identified chocolate addicts were significantly more susceptible to hunger compared to controls, possibly indicating a heightened preoccupation with food . Additionally, Merlo and colleagues found that in children, food addiction symptoms were significantly associated with greater preoccupation with food .

General Profile Of Participants

Respondents included 4,076 participants aged between 18 and 28 years with a mean age of 22.07 . Of these, 54.9% were female and most were single. Many participants were 2nd year students , came from science backgrounds , belonged to upper SES , and resided in urban areas . With regard to BMI, participants were classified as underweight , normal/lean , overweight and obese .

A sizeable majority had specific fitness goals , and 42.9% reported that they had gained weight compared to pre-COVID-19 period. Many reported having guilty feelings about violating food rules , moderate problem-solving skills , and good social interactions . With regard to tobacco-smoking, most did not smoke, with minorities reporting active and former smoking.

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Transferability Of Criteria Of Addiction To Food And/or Eating Addiction

The second purpose of this review was to examine whether established criteria for addiction may be used to quantify food addiction and/or eating addiction. Table 1 shows the original DSM-5 substance dependence/addiction criteria. Using the DSM-5 paradigm as a mode for creating a food-specific criteria has been proposed and a subsequent corresponding assessment has been created.

Table 1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for substance dependence, possible food addiction equivalents and plausibility of a transfer to food addiction

* The last column of the table was taken from a publication by Meule. However, it should be pointed out that we only agree with these statements if the following three points are noticed: First, food, within the concept of food addiction, cannot be seen only as a single substance, but as a complex composition of ingredients. By this, the substance dependence definition of the DSM-5 would not fit properly. Secondly, the process of eating should be considered. Thirdly, the criterion withdrawal in our opinion is not transferable by plausible means.

Table 2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for non-substance-related disorders, definitions of the criteria and plausibility in the context of eating addiction

How To Overcome Food Addiction

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

The effects of certain foods on the brain make it hard for some people to avoid them.

Food addiction operates similarly to other addictions, which explains why some people cant control themselves around certain foods no matter how hard they try.

Despite not wanting to, they may repeatedly find themselves eating large amounts of unhealthy foods knowing that doing so may cause harm.

This article examines food addiction and provides tips to overcome it.

Food addiction is an addiction to junk food and comparable to drug addiction.

Its a relatively new and controversial term, and high quality statistics on its prevalence are lacking .

Food addiction is similar to several other disorders, including binge eating disorder, bulimia, compulsive overeating, and other feeding and eating disorders.


Food addiction is a highly controversial concept, though most studies suggest it exists. It works similarly to drug addiction.

2 ).

Processed junk foods have a powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain. These effects are caused by brain neurotransmitters like dopamine .

The most problematic foods include typical junk foods like candy, sugary soda, and high fat fried foods.

Food addiction is not caused by a lack of willpower but believed to be caused by a dopamine signal that affects the biochemistry of the brain .


Food addiction is thought to involve the same neurotransmitters and areas of the brain as drug addiction.

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Food Addiction Help And Treatment

If you or a loved one has found yourself stuck in the vicious cycle of an addiction to food, you have likely experienced a roller coaster of emotions, including despair, frustration, and hopelessness. Living with an addiction to food may be preventing you from enjoying a life you once lived, though the possibility for healing always exists.

There is also a myriad of support groups that you can become involved with, such as Food Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. These groups are 12 step-based programs that effectively address this on the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects, offering much-needed support to individuals seeking to heal from their addiction to food.

Attempting to deal with your addiction to food alone can possibly further draw you into fear or isolation. Having guidance, help and support from an eating disorder center that treats food addiction, specialist, or support group can provide you or your loved one with the tools and resources you need to recover and heal from an addiction to food.


The Yale Food Addiction Scale

The Yale Food Addiction Scale has been developed by Gearhardt , as a first categorical attempt of the concept of FA.

The YFAS is a 25-item self-report questionnaire that adapts the diagnostic criteria of substance dependence of the DSM IV-TR to eating behavior or abuse of specific foods. Currently, it is the only validated tool for assessing symptoms of “food addiction”.

It has several categories of scoring: symptoms count and a diagnostic threshold that reflects the criteria for the diagnosis of substance dependence .

Up to 11.4% of the general population may show symptoms of food addiction, while approximately 2542% of obese patients meet the YFAS criteria .

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Food Addiction Vs Eating Addiction: Why A Single Word Makes All The Difference

After a tough or emotional day, I will sometimes go home and eat ______ until I’m sick.

How people answer this question is at the crux of an emerging debate about obesity and food addiction. Is food addiction real, and should food industries be held accountable for engineering hyper-palatable sugar-salt-fat bombs that override feelings of fullness? Or is it more accurate to describe overeating as an eating addiction a disordered relationship to all foods that can and should be brought to heel by the individual?

“Sitting in the room with clients, you never hear people say, Oh my god, I came home after a hard day and I was just craving broccoli and cauliflower so bad that I had a massive binge on these vegetables, said Ashley Gearhardt, Ph.D. to the Huffington Post. Thats part of the reason I think its important to recognize that not all food is problematic its a certain class of foods that people seem to struggle with the most.

Gearhardt compared the struggles of people with food addiction to alcoholics trying to keep their habit under control.

“Often they will try to have their own rules, like, ‘Im going to try to not drink until after 5, or, ‘Im going to try to drink water between each drink, said Gearhardt. “But when they start drinking, the intensity of the alcohol makes it really hard something similar might be happening with food.”

How Is A Food Addiction Different From An Eating Disorder

Obese Woman With Unhealthy Food, Eating Disorder Stock Photo

While both may have similar symptoms and causes, food addiction and eating disorders are distinct conditions, with a number of symptoms that differ from each other.

Anorexia nervosa is the extreme and pathological fear of gaining weightor becoming fat, which may result in extreme restriction of food and excessive exercise to prevent any weight gain. People who suffer from anorexia also tend to have extreme body dysmorphia, in which they do not accurately see their bodies as they actually are, and sometimes believe they are grossly disfigured in some way .5

Bulimia is the uncontrollable consumption of large amounts of food, followed by the use of vomiting or laxatives to prevent any weight gain. It is also a compulsion driven by an extreme fear of both food and what they perceive to be excessive weight. Body dysmorphia is often present here too.6

One eating disorder that could be considered quite similar to food addiction is binge eating disorder, which is recognized in the DSM-5.

Criteria for binge eating disorder are:7

  • Eating excessively large amounts of food in a specific amount of time.
  • Eating whether or not youre hungry.
  • Eating very quickly while bingeing .
  • Eating to the point of physical discomfort or pain.
  • Bingeing episodes typically done in secret .
  • Experiencing distress, depression, or anxiety about bingeing behaviors.
  • Going through periods of trying to diet, while not losing weight.

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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.

Tip : Find Better Ways To Feed Your Feelings

One of the most common reasons for binge eating is an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. When you have a bad day, it can seem like food is your only friend. Binge eating can temporarily make feelings such as stress, sadness, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. But the relief is very fleeting.

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Compulsive Overeating Vs Food Addiction

It is frequently difficult to distinguish between compulsive overeating and food addiction, especially since many recovering people as well as the professionals who support them use the terms interchangeably.

At ACORN, we have come to use the terms compulsive eating and addiction to food to define two distinctly different problems. We use the term compulsive overeating to identify what is now called binge eating disorder by psychologists. This psychological disorder derives from unresolved trauma and family dysfunction as well as a lack of cognitive feeling and behavioral skills to deal with difficult emotions.

Tips For Helping Someone With Binge Eating Disorder

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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.

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What Is Binge Eating Disorder

All of us eat too much from time to time. But if you regularly overeat while feeling out of control and powerless to stop, you may be suffering from binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a common eating disorder where you frequently eat large amounts of food while feeling powerless to stop and extremely distressed during or after eating. You may eat to the point of discomfort, then be plagued by feelings of guilt, shame, or depression afterwards, beat yourself up for your lack of self-control, or worry about what compulsive eating will do to your body.

Binge eating disorder typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, often after a major diet. During a binge, you may eat even when youre not hungry and continue eating long after youre full. You may also binge so fast you barely register what youre eating or tasting. Unlike bulimia, however, there are no regular attempts to make up for the binges through vomiting, fasting, or over-exercising.

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