In the past, food was never seen as an addiction, but science and fellow researchers have recently caught up. It has shown that since food can offer the same pleasure centers and rewards as illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine, food can be just as addictive as drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. This is mostly true in foods considered highly palatable such as sugar, fat, and salt. The highly palatable foods will trigger brain chemicals known as dopamine. They can increase the need to eat these types of food over and over again and result in withdrawal symptoms when someone doesn’t get the foods they crave.
Signs of Food Addiction
It can be difficult knowing whether or you have an addicted to food or simply are enjoying it, though there are some things to look for in your behavior and attitude toward food that might signal an addiction. Common signs of food addiction include continuing to eat some foods even when you’re not hungry, eating much more than you planned one eating of some foods, eating to the point where you feel sick, have intense worry about having to cut back on certain foods or not being able to eat some foods, and going out of your way to get something you want. There are also signs relating to your relationship with food such as eating in place of other activities like spending time with your family or going to work, are not able to function well at work or school due to your eating, and avoiding certain social situations with food because you can’t control your eating.
You should also watch out for certain withdrawal symptoms when you quit eating the foods you seem to be addicted to, such as fattening or sugary foods. For example, if you’re addicted to fast food meals but don’t have them for a few days, do you notice an increase in body weakness, headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, anxiety, agitation, or violent outbursts? These are all symptoms of withdrawal which signals an addiction to food.
Treating Food Addiction
Since addiction to food is a relatively new concept, there are no set treatments for food addiction. IN many people seeking treatment from their addiction to food, they will help treat other areas of their life that led to the addiction to food, such as anxiety or depression. There is also a program called overeaters anonymous, based on a 12-step program, similar to alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous.