Experiments in animals and humans show that, for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and alcohol are also activated by food, especially highly palatable foods. Highly palatable foods are foods rich in:
Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once people experience pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward pathway from eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again. The reward signals from highly palatable foods may override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. As a result, people keep eating, even when they’re not hungry.
People who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less. People who are addicted to food will continue to eat despite negative consequences, such as weight gain or damaged relationships. And like people who are addicted to drugs or gambling, people who are addicted to food will have trouble stopping their behavior, even if they want to or have tried many times to cut back.
Signs of Food Addiction
Food addiction manifests itself in the uncontrollable craving for excess food that follows the ingestion of refined carbohydrates, primarily sugar and flour substances that are quickly metabolized and turned into sugar in the bloodstream.
Due to those uncontrollable cravings, a food addict’s quality of life deteriorates when he or she eats sugar, flour or wheat. It can deteriorate physically, emotionally, socially and/or spiritually.
If any of the following symptoms are familiar to you, you may be a food addict:
Physical Symptoms of Food Addiction
• Do you think you cannot control your intake of food, especially junk food or high sugar foods?
• Have you tried different diets or weight loss programs, but none has worked permanently?
• Have you found yourself vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics, or exercising a lot to avoid a weight gain after you have eaten a lot?
Many food addicts are obese and have tried numerous methods for weight control (diets, drugs, surgery, etc.) yet nothing has created a permanent solution. Other food addicts have never been obese. Their physical weight has been controlled by extreme measures such as excessive exercise, purging through vomiting or laxatives (bulimia), or the severe and unhealthy limiting of food substances (anorexia). No matter which version of food addiction fits you, all of these symptoms become more severe with time and eventually lead to physical problems that can create an early and sometimes painful death.
Emotional Symptoms of Food Addiction
• Do you find yourself feeling depressed, hopeless, sad or ashamed about your eating or your weight?
• Do you find yourself eating when you are upset or reward yourself with food when you do something good?
• Have you ever noticed after eating sugar, flour, or wheat that you become more irritable?
Food addicts notice that their emotions become more severe, intense, or unreasonable when eating the addictive substances. For many food addicts, emotional life may deteriorate into despair, depression, or thoughts of suicide.
Social Symptoms of Food Addiction
• Do you eat in private so no one will see you?
• Do you avoid social interactions because you feel you do not look good enough or do not have the proper fitting clothes to wear?
• Do you steal other people’s food?
• Are you more interested in what food is served at social gatherings than looking forward to the warmth of being with the people attending?
A food addict’s social life is affected by intense obsessive thinking about food. Making eye contact with people and taking an interest in developing friendships or intimate relationships become secondary to locating and eating addictive foods. Food addicts often hide or steal foods and eat in secret.
Spiritual Symptoms of Food Addiction
• Do you feel that life would be fine if only certain people or things would change?
• Do you pray and ask God to help you with your weight, and then feel your prayers aren’t answered?
A food addict’s spiritual life is affected by a lack of connection to a higher power, an attempt to rely on self-will, self-obsession, and a general feeling of despair. If you have identified with any of these symptoms, then seek out help.
This biochemical disease is chronic, progressive and fatal. Don’t fall for the lie that food is not a killer drug. It can be.