Food Addiction 101

Many call them simply ‘cravings’, but food addiction is really one serious problem that is now faced by a lot of people these days. The sad thing is that in most cases, people who are addicted to food are usually misjudged and misunderstood. Because of that, they hardly get the help that they need.

Just what is food addiction?

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Simply put, food addiction is being addicted to a certain type of food in very much the same manner that a person gets addicted to drugs, gambling or other known types of addiction.

Often, people who are considered to be suffering from food addiction are just those that can’t help but eat unhealthy foods. While that may be true, there are actually some food addicts that feel that are actually addicted to some types of food that are considered healthy or good. For example, there are some health buffs that cannot seem to function without drinking loads of protein shakes so much so that they even start exhibiting what many people would consider to be withdrawal symptoms: crankiness, feeling sluggish and the like.

Reasons to develop food addiction

As with any type of addiction, there are a lot of factors that lead to becoming addicted to food. Perhaps the most common reason is the surge of positive feelings you get when you indulge on your food addiction. Certain types of food release endorphins and dopamine in the brain. These hormones make you temporarily feel good and comforted, but eventually this feeling goes away.

Pressure is another reason to develop a food addiction. With all the buzz about pushing people to eat healthy and lose weight, it’s quite natural for many people to start becoming fearful about eating something else and develop this mindset that if they don’t eat a particular food, they will end up digging an early grave.

Food addiction symptoms

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Unlike other types of addiction, there is no physical test that you can ask someone to take in order to help you see whether or not he or she is suffering from food addiction. That being said, the only thing that you can do is watch out for these following behaviors:

  • Constant cravings for a particular type of food
  • Binging on a particular type of food
  • Becoming extremely defensive when you try to tell them that they are taking too much of a certain type of food
  • Throwing tantrums and even exhibiting violent behavior if they are not able to consume a certain type of food

Food addiction versus bulimia

One of the reasons why many people suffering from food addiction are not given the right kind of help is that their addiction is often misdiagnosed as bulimia—an eating disorder characterized by excessive food binging.

While there are a lot of similarities, there are two big differences between a food addiction and bulimia. For one thing, food addicts are obsessed with binging on just a particular type of food whereas those suffering from bulimia would binge on just any type of food they can get their hands on.

Another major difference between a food addict and a bulimic is that after binging, a bulimic would force himself or herself to throw up the food that they just binged on. A food addict, on the other hand, would just feel guilty about binging, but would not force himself or herself to throw up.

What to do?

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they know that someone is addicted is to just tell them to quit and try to, in this case, develop good eating habits. The thing is, a person who is addicted to food becomes extremely dependent on this that it would be extremely difficult for them to just quit on their own. If you believe you’re suffering from food addiction, or know someone that is a food addict, get them to seek professional help that would be able to help them slowly make that permanent change for the better.

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