What is a Food Addiction?

What is a Food Addiction? 
By: Elizabeth Clements

We all know that substances can become addictive, but what about food? The answer is yes, food can be addictive. Foods that are high in fats, sugars, and carbohydrates are typically associated with addictive components due to their taste. Food addiction shares commonalities with other addictions such as the compulsion to eat even when the person does not want to. People who suffer from food addiction cannot control themselves and repeatedly eat large portions of unhealthy food. Just like substance addiction, people with a food addiction know that their compulsions may cause physical and psychological harm.  

People who suffer from a food addiction might experience the need to eat alone because they do not want others to see them eat. Sometimes food is used to fill emotional needs such as sadness. A person that has a food addiction might eat until they make themselves physically ill, especially when they are eating a craved food. They might also eat a normal meal and not feel satisfied until they eat the food they were craving despite being full from the meal. People with a food addiction often feel shameful and guilty over the lack of self-control over foods being eaten which may trigger purging responses such as vomiting or compulsive exercise.  

Some studies suggest that food often activates the reward chemicals in the brain the same way that alcohol or cocaine does. Foods high in sugar and fats override the feelings of fullness aiding in overeating. Like substances, people with a food addiction can develop a tolerance to foods highly consumed leaving them unsatisfied and prompted to eat more. Food addiction leaves a person feeling they have lost control over their eating habits.  

If these symptoms sound familiar to you it is important to recognize that you might be suffering from a food addiction. The good news is that there is hope to overcome food addiction. If you would like to discuss your eating habits, please reach out to Samaritan Counseling, Michigan City Indiana (219.879.3283), and connect with a professional.