AM I A FOOD ADDICT Friday, August 18, 2011
By: Rose Aguilera
We??™ve all heard about drug and alcohol addiction. So, is there such a thing as food addiction And if there is, do you have it
Have you ever asked yourself what is food addiction Truth is many people who suffer from food addiction are also dealing with a long list of other health-related illnesses, both physical and emotional.
Food addiction, like any other addiction, is a loss of control. Food addicts are preoccupied with thoughts of food, body weight, and body image, and compulsively consume abnormally large amounts of food. Even though they understand the harm caused by their behaviour, they just can??™t stop. Food addicts tend to crave and eat foods that are harmful to their bodies. For example, people with food allergies may crave the foods they are allergic to, while diabetics may crave and overindulge in sugar, despite the adverse effects. Many food addicts have turned to using food as their ???drug???. Food becomes the cure for
dealing with the underlying problem. But, just like any other substance abuse, the habit becomes extremely difficult to break without getting professional help. Food becomes an obsession and the person will turn to drastic measures in order to feed the urge.
Sadly, food addiction affects tens of millions of adults and children. The constant need to over eat and indulge on food literally takes over one??™s daily life. Often one??™s social life is drastically affected and the person who is the addict will either isolate and completely seclude themselves, or, only willingly be with others who share in the same habit.
It is common for people to reach a point of crisis when they finally ask themselves ???what is food addiction??? ???Do I suffer from it??? This crisis is commonly a serious health problem. But first, why is it important to know if you are a food addict Well, fact is that those who are addicted to food are actually suffering from a form of substance abuse. It is similar, though not the exact same, as any other serious addiction.
Why Because food is being used and abused just as any drug or alcohol may be. The long-term effects of food addiction can cause extremely dangerous health risks and side-effects. These can lead to physical problems and diseases such as:
High blood pressure
Stress and anxiety
Some research into food addiction suggests that people who are ???controlled??™ by food show similar characteristics to people who are addicted to substances like drugs, alcohol and nicotine. By stimulating the release of natural opioids in the brain, sugar and fat could have a similar effect to addictive drugs such as heroin, according to John Hoebel, a psychologist at Princeton University in New Jersey.
Consultant Clinical and Coaching Psychologist Dr Suzy Green says, ???Many individuals dont ???fit??™ into clinical diagnoses like anorexia and bulimia. But there are definitely people who do rely on food as a major source of comfort and/or use it to reduce negative emotions like anger, sadness and fear.???
We all reward ourselves with treats from time to time, but overdoing comfort eating means that, for some, the brain becomes ???trained??™ to see eating? certain foods as a type of ???quick mood fix??™; although this is really only a problem when it starts to become a major or controlling part of life.
Foods that people might find themselves addicted to:
Caffeine: Most people have heard and know that caffeine can be addictive. Caffeine is a mild stimulant that can be found in a variety of foods, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and – of course – soft drinks with added caffeine. While there is still much debate as to whether caffeine is good or bad, many people would agree that any substance that causes addiction is not good.
Sugar: Few people would argue today that sugar is a good additive to have in food. Not only is sugar highly addictive, but it also has been proven to be bad for ones health. Sugar, in its many forms, can lead to many diseases, the most well-known being Type 2 Diabetes.
Salt: Salt is added abundantly to many processed foods and so it is easy to become addicting. Most Australians eat far more salt than is necessary and, like other foods, they can become addicted to it, craving more and more as time goes on.
Fat: One now-famous study published in Nature Neuroscience in March 2011 demonstrated that rats who became addicted to high-fat foods experienced withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced by drug users, and they found it difficult to quit the fat. Fatty foods can be addictive to people as well.
Food addiction almost always leads to obesity. Most food addicts are already obese, or at the very least are ???at-risk???. It is often a life-long battle and most people do not have the support system, tools, education or motivation to make a change. For those who feel that they are too far gone in their addiction, even if they are curious enough to ask what food addiction is, still will not be able to reverse the addiction because they simply feel that they just can??™t.
Food addicts will tell you that food will always feel good, and food will never turn on you, tell you you??™re fat, and remind you that you are a failure. Food doesn??™t talk back and food is a friend. A relationship is built between the person and food, and unfortunately it is like the silent killer if not treated and caught early enough
The problem almost always stems from an underlying issue of feeling unworthy of leading a normal, healthy life. Emotional scars left over from say one??™s childhood or marital abuse is often examples of the cause that leads a person to turn to food as their comfort. If you suspect you have food addiction or disruptive eating behaviour, specialised help is a must and your doctor is a good place to start. Dr Suzy Green suggests, ???Instead of food, try to identify other ways to comfort yourself i.e. talking it out, laughing with a friend on the phone or face to face. Your doctor might refer you to a psychologist who can help you to get to the bottom of unresolved issues and offer practical solutions for getting your behaviour under your control.??? However, just asking yourself what is food addiction is the first step to getting help and the good news is that food addiction is curable and obesity can be reversed.