It’s easy to say we’re “addicted” to certain foods because we really enjoy them, but can you actually be addicted to food? Are food addictions real, or are they simply fabricated because it’s a convenient explanation for our tendency to overeat? Below, you’ll find the cold, hard truth about food addictions and how they relate to your mind, body, and overall wellbeing!
The Controversy of Food Addiction
Scientists, nutritionists, and researchers can’t agree on whether or not food addictions are real. They’re not in the DSM, even though alcohol and drug addictions are. The vast majority of medical professionals don’t recognize food addictions, yet some practitioners believe they are a very real thing. Programs similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) exist for the purpose of treating food addictions, despite the fact that they’re not universally recognized.
The Danger of Food Addictions
While alcohol and drug addictions are dangerous, food addictions can be even MORE dangerous, thanks to the fact that food is so vital for our existence. If we treated food addictions like we treated alcohol or drugs and simply cut food from our lives, we’d die. On the flip side, if food addictions go untreated, problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and many other health issues will result. So it’s a delicate balance to strike, one that many programs are struggling to find.
How to Recognize a Food Addiction
Because it’s not a recognized addiction, there’s no criteria for diagnosing food addictions. However, there are a few things to be on the lookout for. For example, people who eat in private out of embarrassment or shame at what others think are more likely to have food addictions. People who have tried many diets but can’t seem to stick to any may also be struggling with food addictions, as are those who rely heavily on food for their emotional wellbeing. Food addictions are similar to drug or alcohol addictions—they are focused on the foods that provide intense pleasure and trigger a dopamine increase.
The Problem with Modern Food
Unfortunately for those of us struggling with our eating habits, the modern diet has made eating healthy more difficult than ever! Foods are engineered to be absolutely delicious, many even bordering on addicting, and it’s so difficult to say no to foods that we’ve been enjoying and even relying on for years. The modern food industry makes it harder than ever to choose healthy foods because they lack the intense variety of flavor that our modern palate has come to crave.
It’s Up To You to Make the Change
If you suspect you’ve got an addiction or a reliance on food, it’s time to take steps to make a change. That doesn’t mean going on some new diet or trying a different eating plan; we’re talking about getting help for the underlying causes that are bringing on the addiction. Go to counseling or see a psychologist to talk about the stressors, anxieties, and fears that are causing you to rely heavily on foods. Consider attending a “Food Addicts Anonymous” meeting to find tips that can help you combat your reliance. While food addiction may not be recognized as a legitimate problem, the truth is that it can be a real problem for those who struggle to control their eating habits. It’s up to you to find help and start looking for ways to make a change in your life. Take back control of your diet and you’ll be so much happier in the long run!