Food addiction is a very serious problem and one of the main reasons some people just can’t control themselves around certain foods, no matter how hard they try. Food addiction is a real addiction, just like those related to drugs and alcohol. It most often shows up as a compulsive need to eat. People who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less.
Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once people experience pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward pathway from eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again.
Symptoms of Food Addiction
- constant obsession with what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and how to get more food
- overeating at mealtimes
- constant snacking
- Hide your consumption of unhealthy foods from others.
- eating at strange times like the middle of the night
- eating even when full
- Eat to the point of feeling ill
- eating to accompany pleasurable activities like watching TV or talking on the phone
- associating food with punishments or rewards
- feeling shame and guilt after a binge or after consuming particular foods
Complications of Food Addiction
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Digestive problems, like severe constipation
Treatments for Food Addiction
Science is still working to understand and find treatments for food addiction. The following are some of the treatment options that may be helpful:
- Psychotherapy – it helps to get to the root cause of overeating and help deal with emotions in a positive way, rather than by eating.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – It teaches the food addict how to handle negative thought patterns that can lead to bingeing.
- Medication – For some, a food addiction can result from, or develop in conjunction with, another mental health disorder. Drugs like antidepressants may help address the root cause of cravings.