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What Is Food Addiction?

Enjoying good food is one of the pleasures of life, but people who live with a food addiction are not able to appreciate this in the same fashion that a non-addict can. Instead of savoring the sight, smell, and taste of what they are eating, they have periods where they binge on food.

Signs of Food Addiction

Here are some signs that you may have a problem with food addiction:

  • You eat at times when you are not hungry, especially when you feel low or depressed.

  • You eat differently in front of people than when you are on your own.

  • You consume large quantities of food and then make yourself throw up (binge and purge).

  • Do you feel guilty after you eat, either about the amount you have consumed or what you ate?

Food addicts come in all shapes and sizes. They may be a normal weight, underweight, or overweight. The one thing they all share is an obsession with food. The addiction is a psychological one, as well as a physiological one. Both men and women can become addicted to food.

Causes of Food Addiction

Food addiction is similar to drug or alcohol addiction in that the person starts using food as a means to feel better. Eating is a pleasurable activity, and we appreciate the value of "comfort foods" that make us feel better when we are feeling down. Food addicts take the idea of getting comfort from consuming food to a different level, and use it as a type of sedative to help crowd out uncomfortable feelings.

Low self-esteem and childhood emotional trauma has been linked to food addictions. For example, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse may use food as a way to mask the feelings of low self-worth that remain long after the abuse has stopped. Obsessing about food means they don't deal with the cause of the food addiction directly.

Featured in Health