Given the obesity rates in this country there are a lot of people who are addicted to food. Food addiction can be very similar to alcohol and drug addictions. The difference between an over eater and an addict is the over eater simply eats too much, but could stop if they wanted and tried to, yet the addict often can’t stop eating, or binging, despite the extra money it is costing, the effect its having on relationships, or what it is doing to the their health. Food addicts obsess about food. While a large portion of obese people may be food addicts, weight is not the only basis for identifying a them. People who are thin or average weight who are suffering from bulimia nervosa or similar disorders can also be food addicts.
Perhaps you are at a party or picnic and someone has brought out a tray of chocolate frosted cupcakes. It’s not on your new diet plan to eat cupcakes, but the host has made them thinking of you, remembering they are your favorite flavor. So you decide it would be okay to just have one. You enjoy one delectable cupcake, tasting how soft and moist the cake is and how creamy and chocolate-y the frosting is. But after that one cupcake you decide to have one other. At this point you realize that you can’t stop eating them. You might volunteer to take the rest home saying you will “bring them to your family”, even though you know you will eat the rest. Or so people don’t know you have a problem, perhaps you’ll leave a little early and stop by the bakery for cupcakes, and maybe somewhere else, because ice cream would sure taste good with them. Now you are thinking about cupcakes and food too much. It has probably gotten in the way of you having fun at the party.
Whether its cupcakes, ice cream, chips or pizza, if you are like this, not able to stop eating certain foods, you may be a food addict. Food addiction is real and serious. In the United States the obesity rate has been increasing for a number of years. Surprisingly, in the fight against obesity, food addiction is not mentioned. People are told to have self-control, use their willpower, and avoid overeating. They tell us to eat less sugar and fat, and to exercise. People talk to overweight people like they don’t know this. It is just difficult for people with a food addiction. Based on many separate research studies, scientists have found evidence of chemical dependency on food. Experiments have shown that the pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered when people use cocaine and heroin are also stimulated by food. People who are addicted to food overeat because some foods trigger good feeling brain chemicals such as dopamine that gives the person a sense of feeling high. While each food addict has their own particular food or foods they are addicted to, the foods that are most addictive in general tend to be foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt.
Every overweight person may not be addicted to food. Having three brownies once in a while, eating more than the recommended portion of fries, or eating large portions at dinner, do not make a person a food addict. There are many overweight people who are not food addicts. Food addicts think about food and diets a lot. They have often tried to not eat certain foods and have failed. They have nervousness and a sense of anxiety when it comes to food. They both love and hate food. They love food because it is not only delicious, but it has been there to comfort them and help them deal with, but mostly cover, negative emotions such as guilt, anger, or depression. They hate food because it makes them overweight and feel bad about themselves. Food makes them feel out of control because they can’t help eating more and more.
People who suffer from bulimia eat copious amounts food when they binge, just like many other food addicts who are overweight, but because they purge their food they tend to be thin or more often an average weight. But they are often addicted to food, not being able to handle just one portion. They eat large amounts of food, but try to control their weight by “getting rid of” the food.