Can People Become Addicted to Food?
A Blumenthal and Gold research study carried out at Harvard Medical School found significant scientific evidence to prove food addiction is a reality and not an excuse someone uses to continue indulging. This study found the same neurobiological pathways that causes one to become addicted to drugs, also causes food addiction. Opioids (medications that relieve pain) are released with the digestion of excess fats and sugars.
It would be considered less important if this were the only study with these findings, but other studies have found similar results. In another study, brain scans were used to determine how the brain reacts to food triggers.
A study conducted by lead author, Ashley N. Gearhardt, researchers found showing a milkshake to a food addict would have the same effect as showing a beer to an alcoholic. Through research, Gearhardt and her team determined food addicts end up needing to consume more and more food to achieve the same emotional feelings of pleasure they once did.
How Do I Know If I Have A Food Addiction?
Eating excessively on a regular basis is an obvious answer, but there’s more to it than that. There are often feelings of guilt associated with food addiction. Some may try to hide their binging from others which can lead to anxiety. Most events we go to offer food, people with food addiction may try to avoid these situation. There’s also self loathing due to failures of not following the limits that one sets.
Food addiction over time can lead to physical problems such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. Emotional problems can be exacerbated due to the fact that as one increases the amount they eat, the crash becomes more intense. Then there’s the general feeling of uncomfortableness that comes form being overstuffed which can lead to agitation.
Do Certain Foods Cause More Addictions Over Others?
Through research, scientists are working to determine which foods trigger an addiction response in the human body. They have recently began exploring processed foods to determine whether highly refined foods could be to blame for food addictions. Current research information suggests refined carbohydrates and fats have the potential to become addictive sources of food.
I personally believe that processed carbs create a much bigger problem than fats. There’s excellent commentary at the Vreeland Clinic that further explains the idea that it’s simple carbohydrates to blame for the majority of food addiction.
How Can This Knowledge Help Overeaters?
As with any addiction, it takes a concerted approach to overcome food addiction. One is not simply dealing with a craving when they want a certain food. Their body has become chemically addicted to that food and must have it. Once a person begins eating their trigger food, they cannot seem to stop their consumption. It’s either no cookies or the entire box.
When a person realizes that their overeating is caused by a food addiction, they need to become aware of their food triggers. Foods like chocolate, ice cream, and potato chips are all common triggers. It behooves a person to avoid these foods as if they were a drug addict and these were their deadly vices.
To overcome any addiction, a person needs to stay focused on the end goal. Talk to a psychologist, nutritionist, or a doctor who is familiar with food addiction to help you achieve your goals.
Food Addiction Conclusion
Though further research needs to be carried out to determine whether or not food addiction can be labeled as a medically established disease, current research is heading in that direction. It will be interesting to see what develops in the next couple of years as further research is conducted.
For now, those who suffer with food addiction can feel some semblance of relief in knowing they may be able to help their addiction by approaching it from a physiological standpoint. Just as a recovering alcoholic understands they can’t simply limit the amount of alcohol he/she consumes, a food addict has to understand that he/she needs to eliminate the trigger food(s) altogether.