Many call them simply “cravings,” but food addiction is a serious problem that is now faced by a lot of people these days. The sad thing is that in most cases, individuals who are addicted to food are usually misjudged and misunderstood. Because of that, they hardly get the help that they need.
“The brain chemistry that drives the addict to seek pleasure beyond the point of satiety is similar, whether the user favours Jack Daniels or Jack-in-the-Box.” ― Vera Tarman
What is food addiction?
Simply put, food addiction is being addicted to a particular type of food in very much the same manner that a person gets addicted to drugs, gambling, or other known types of addiction.
Often, individuals 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 safe. For example, some health buffs cannot seem to function without drinking loads of protein shakes. They even go to the extent of exhibiting “withdrawal symptoms” such as crankiness and feeling sluggish.
Reasons why people develop food addiction
As with any type of addiction, various factors lead to food addiction. Perhaps the most common reason is the surge of positive feelings you get when you indulge in a particular food. Certain types of food release endorphins and dopamine in the brain. These hormones make you to temporarily feel good and comforted. However, eventually, this feeling goes away.
Pressure is another reason why people develop food addiction. With all the buzz about pushing people to eat healthily and lose weight, it’s quite natural for many people to start becoming fearful about eating something else. Some people develop the mindset that if they don’t eat a particular food, they will end up digging an early grave.
Food addiction symptoms
Unlike other types of addiction, there is no physical test to determine whether someone is addicted to food or not. 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 indulging in a particular type of food. On the other hand, those suffering from bulimia would binge on just any type of food they can get their hands on.
Another significant 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 just to tell them to quit. They tell them to, in this case, develop good eating habits. The thing is, a person who is addicted to food becomes extremely dependent on this. 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. A professional would be able to help them to make that permanent change for the better slowly.
“The good news is that detoxification is not a long process; it only lasts for a relatively short period – between one week and four weeks…” ― Vera Tarman