Blissful Belle

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Food Addiction: The Overlooked Addiction


For years, health classes have taught students to be aware of all types of drug and alcohol addictions, but one addiction never seems to receive any attention. It is the one addiction that cannot be overcome by going cold turkey, and it is for this reason one of the most difficult addictions to conquer. Here’s what you need to know about today’s most underrated and widespread addiction: Food Addiction.

Sometimes a habit may become uncontrollable.

Just as with any other addiction, the victims of food addiction know the negative health effects of being overweight or obese but that makes no difference. It’s just like if you were to ask a smoker why they continue to smoke despite the proven links to cancer or why a cocaine user continues to use despite knowing the lethality of his or her actions. The answer is always the same. They just can’t stop. An addiction has the ability to override the idea of “a choice”.

Those who have never suffered from food addiction or from being overweight may say to a victim, you can choose to not be fat anymore. Sure a food addict can “choose” to make a change, but it’s not as simple as it seems.

Is it possible that the reason why 70 percent of Americans are overweight today is because there are an overwhelming number of people suffering from food addiction? Dr. Mark Hyman, a practicing physician and contributor to the Huffington Post, believes it is possible.

“New discoveries in science prove that industrially processed, sugar-, fat- and salt-laden food — food that is made in a plant rather than grown on a plant, as Michael Pollan would say — is biologically addictive,” according to Hyman in an article by the Huffington Post.

Hyman went on in the article to reaffirm the fact that the ‘just say no’ approach to drug addiction won’t work for industrial food addiction, either.

“There are specific biological mechanisms that drive addictive behavior,” said Hyman. “Nobody chooses to be a heroin addict, cokehead, or drunk. Nobody chooses to be fat, either. The behaviors arise out of primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal willpower and overwhelm our ordinary biological signals that control hunger.”

If food addiction is so prevalent and so easy to overlook, how do you know you are suffering from it? Here is a scale created by researchers from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity that can help determine whether or not you have a food addiction.

  1. I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating much more than I had planned.
  2. Not eating certain types of food or cutting down on certain types of food is something I worry about.
  3. I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or lethargic from overeating.
  4. There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often or in such large quantities that I spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreational activities that I enjoy.
  5. I kept consuming the same types of food or the same amount of food even though I was having emotional and/or physical problems.
  6. Over time, I have found that I need to eat more and more to get the feeling I want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure.
  7. I have had withdrawal symptoms when I cut down or stopped eating certain foods, including physical symptoms, agitation, or anxiety. (Please do not include withdrawal symptoms caused by cutting down on caffeinated beverages such as soda pop, coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.)
  8. My behavior with respect to food and eating causes significant distress.
  9. I experience significant problems in my ability to function effectively (daily routine, job/school, social activities, family activities, health difficulties) because of food and eating.

If any of these points sound familiar to you, you may be suffering from a food addiction. For more information or help please visit this site or contact your physician for further guidance.

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This entry was posted on July 24, 2011 by in Healthy Belle and tagged .
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