Are you a food addict? Or, do you know someone who shows signs of being one?
Food addiction is become more of a common eating disorder nowadays. It may sound absurd but it may happen. This is because the centers of the brain involved in pleasure and reward, which are also the areas involved in drug addiction, can be satisfied by food. Highly addictive foods are those foods which are high in fat, sugar and salt. Once consumed, these highly addictive foods trigger chemicals in the brain that make the person eating feel pleasure. This is because of increased dopamine release and transmission in the brain affecting the areas responsible for pleasure and reward. Eating these foods make the person feel full and satisfied; yet since these foods do not contain the much-needed nutrients of the body, the person feels hungry again even if he or she had just eaten. This vicious cycle repeats itself as the person craves more and more of these foods, yet upon ingestion, they still are not satisfied, giving rise to binge eating. These people eat these foods even when they are not hungry.
Over time, tolerance happens in these people. They develop a tolerance to food so that they eat more and more of it, yet they feel that the food does not satisfy them. This vicious cycle of food addiction and food tolerance is what's responsible for obesity. Though most food addicts are overweight or obese, people of normal weight may also suffer from this condition. People who are at high risk of developing food addiction are those who experience frequent stress in their lives, and those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or to some bad habits.
So, how do you identify a food addict? Some experts have pointed out for several characteristics you have to watch out for. A person who has a food addiction often ends up eating more than planned. He or she often eats food even if he or she is not hungry. Food addicts are affected and often worry that they are not able to eat certain foods. These people often try hard to get out of their way just to eat foods that satisfy them.
Food addiction often has negative impacts on the person. The food addict often disrupts work because of overeating. He or she often has functioning problems at work or at school because of food. As a result, the food addict tends to feel guilty about himself or herself that he or she may avoid social situations that make him or her overeat food. Once they cut down on food, food addicts often feel a variety of feelings such as irritability, anxiety, depression and other symptoms.
Food Addiction and Impulsive Behavior
A recent study has confirmed that food addiction is associated with impulsive behaviour, the type of behaviour which is linked to other addictions such as drug addiction, alcohol addiction and smoking. In this new study by researchers from the University of Georgia which was published in the Journal Appetite, it was found out that people who are impulsive are also food addicts. They have a compulsive way of eating that is similar to using drugs or alcohol. In turn, these people developed obesity or being overweight. The researchers hope that this will open the eyes of doctors and other experts to the growing problem of food addiction so that they can plan treatments and other strategies to help people deal with food addiction. This can also lead to the encouragement of a healthy lifestyle.
If you are a food addict, or if you know someone who is a food addict, it is best that you consult a doctor, a nutritionist or a psychologist. The causes of food addiction must be identified and dealt with to stop this eating disorder. If you think that you feel happy when you eat a lot of food, you should find means of distracting yourself and turning your attention to other types of more pleasurable activities such as sports or other hobbies.
For healthy eating tips, please check our other articles on this site.