Food Addiction: Do you have it?
The Food Addiction Battlefield
I should first start off by stating that I write this article with a lifetime’s worth of experience. I can honestly share that I understand the battle with food addiction in that I have lived it most of my life. I am compelled to share with you that while I understand the addiction side of this serious problem, I have only in the last several years begun to understand the biological and behavioral side of this problem.
Most of us who are reading this article could write a description of how food addiction looks. I rise in the morning with the complete intention of having a great healthy day. I start the morning with my healthy breakfast and then the day really starts. Stress creeps up and before I can say Biggest Loser I’m leaning toward a pastry or five. Chocolate seems to be screaming my name as I walk by and there are times when a baked good just sounds like it will be the help I need. You get the picture; you have probably lived this before.
My belief is that Food Addiction is a chemical addiction with behavior components.
Many want to claim that this addiction is all chemical and biological while others make the case that food addiction is nothing more than a learned behavior that we must unlearn. Rather than making a case for an “either or” scenario; my belief is that it is much more a “both and” answer. I think you understand my meaning. Rather than believing that addiction is either a chemical addiction or a behavioral problem, my belief is that it is a chemical addiction, which has behavioral aspects to it.
Not matter which side of this very important issue you fall upon, we will attempt to define food addiction, present some steps to recovery and share some places where help and support can be found.
What is food addiction?
My personal definition of would look something like this: food addiction is a medical condition in which certain foods chemically stimulate the brain in ways similar to drugs. This stimulation leads to compulsive and addictive behavior which, although unwanted, is uncontrollable.
The Food Addiction Institute defines food addiction:
Food addiction is a disease which causes loss of control over the ability to stop eating certain foods. Scientifically, food addiction is a cluster of chemical dependencies on specific foods or food in general; after the ingestion of high palatable foods such as sugar, excess fat and/or salt the brains of some people develop a physical craving for these foods. Over time, the progressive eating of these foods distorts their thinking and leads to negative consequences which they do not want but cannot stop.
Probably the simplest explanation is that food addiction is an addiction to junk food in the same way that drug addicts are addicted to drugs. We must realize that this involves the same areas of the brain as well as the same neurotransmitters, one of which is dopamine.
Are you a food addict?
Here are a few questions that can indicate that you might be a food addict. Please answer each question with a simple true or false.
- I find myself eating even when I am not hungry.
- I find myself pushed toward certain foods when stressed.
- My eating behaviors cause me considerable stress.
- I continue to eat certain foods even though they harm my health.
- In trying to cut down on certain foods, I struggle with anxiety and agitation.
- I eat differently when I’m alone than when I am with others.
Answering yes to two or more of these questions could suggest a food addiction.