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Food Addiction

by Andy McDonald

It is amazing how many types of addiction and addictive factors you can come across. Mainly described for drugs and tobacco, addiction has been described for internet, gambling and some factors that contain no addictive substances. Defined as an unhealthy behaviors due to psychological disorder, addiction has now covered more fields.

The most shocking is that addiction can be described for some behaviors we perform everyday which are commonly healthy indeed essential for life. But they can take a shift to become compulsive. As for obsessional compulsive disorder, cleaning hand with water is recommended but when it exceeds the norms it becomes a symptom. In the same way, when you eat you ensure your life but when you eat abnormally a lot, you probably suffer from food addiction.

Food addiction vs eating disorder :

  • Eating disorder has been categorized as psychological disorder. Indeed, the subject has no limit when it it come to eat. He constantly after food. The most shocking thing is that he is aware of that but he can’t stop himself. In order to prevent himself from gaining weight, the subject usually uses several ways to vomit. The truth is that the person (usually a girl) is on a sever diet that leads to an intensive lack of nutrients ; the compensation is a huge tendency to a huge food uptake.
  • Now, food addiction shares the fact of being a psychological disorder. The reason behind the disorder are not clear but the symptoms are the same as any other type of addiction : the brain reacts to certain type of food the same way it would react to proper addictive factor. The food ingredient triggers some neurotransmitters inducing the ecstasy or the satisfactory sensations. The individual has hard time to stop himself from eating since he is after the well being sensation. However he tends to try stopping himself; he is aware that he is behaving the wrong way.

Food addiction symptoms:

Food addiction is a real struggle for the person. In fact, the food addicted person has:

  • serious problems to control his intake when he is in front of sugar loaded foods. As result, people with food addiction are generally obese; no diet is enough to lose weight because the intake is always superior.
  • Constant feeling of shame and depression about the unhealthy habit of eating. The unpleasant weakness versus food lowers the self esteem of the person and induces him in more eating irregularly as compensation of the depressive state.
  • Tendencies to isolate himself from the environment, in order not to be blamed and prevent him from arguing about his food addiction; the point is not to strengthen his depressive feeling.

There are some others symptoms but the listed above are the most common. Food addiction has a physiological side; the brain is induced into euphoria production and is similarly induced as in drug or gambling addiction.

Relieving food addiction:

It is possible to relieve food addiction and change the habits. Certainly, learning new routine is the best way to fight the urgent need for food. Cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT) appears to be the best fitting remedy. In fact, the subject learn how to regain self esteem and how to respect himself the way he is. That technique reposes on re-educating the dietary habits in order to counter the excessive appeal to food. Moreover, CBT helps the patient learning new habits that are more efficient to attain goals.


Food addiction is certainly an eating disorder. It is therefore essential to target the causes in order to prevent addictive behaviors from appearing again. In this context, CBT is the best practice. But it reposes on the subject will; and indeed it will be easy to convince someone who eats a lot but who aims an ideal weight that the therapy is a easy shortcut.