Addicted To Food? - Rhona Epstein

Addicted To Food?

Food addiction is a disease-causing 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 highly 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 a person’s thinking and leads to negative consequences they do not want but cannot stop.

  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
  • Do you eat large quantities of food at one time (binge)?
  • Is your weight problem due to your grazing on food all day long?
  • Have you ever wanted to stop eating and found you just couldn’t?
  • Do you have feelings of guilt and remorse after overeating?
  • Do you think about food or your weight constantly?
  • Do you binge and then use vomiting, exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging to try to control your weight?
  • Does your eating behavior make you or others unhappy?
    Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to insist that you can control your eating and weight whenever you wish?
  • Do you eat sensibly before others and make up for it alone?
  • Have you ever discarded and sworn off food, only to retrieve and eat it later?
  • Do you eat in secret?
  • Is your weight or your feelings about your weight affecting the way you live your life?
  • Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting success?
  • Has a doctor or family member ever approached you with concerns about your eating habits or weight?
  • Do you eat to avoid your feelings?
  • Have you ever been treated for obesity or a food-related condition?

If you have answered yes to several of these questions, you may benefit from receiving help for addictive eating.

“one bite is too many and a thousand isn’t enough”

Latest Research on Food Addiction

  • A drive to keep eating, particularly sugar and other refined carbohydrates, once an individual ingests even a small amount of those foods.
  • Serotonin deficits, fewer dopamine receptors, and an imbalance in the release of endorphins and enkephalins have been documented in individuals with binge-eating disorders.
  • A desire to eat in obese people is very similar to drug cravings in addicts.
  • Dopamine deficiencies in obese individuals may perpetuate pathological eating, as dopamine is involved in the modulation of the rewarding properties of food.
  • Food cravings can be reinforced by endogenous opiate release, which is similar to the effects of morphine, and ingestion of sweet or other palatable foods can also produce analgesic effects.
  • Carbohydrates can be used as a form of self-medication for depressive symptoms similar to other addictive substances.
  • Withdrawal symptoms have been found when people quit eating refined carbohydrates and sugar.
  • Dopamine (the feel good chemical) is released in anticipation of sweet foods.
  • There is a similarity in behavior patterns and brain chemistry between substance abusers and food addicts.
  • Intense sugar has been found to be more addictive than cocaine.
  • People who overeat on a regular basis can develop hormonal changes that cause them not to experience normal signals of feeling full.