What is Food Addiction and What Causes It?

You like food. That’s normal. It’s good for you; it tastes good. Food is pleasant, and that’s how it should be. You’re supposed to enjoy food. It only starts to become an issue when your enjoyment of food evolves into something more uncontrollable—when it becomes a food obsession.

What do you do then? For some people, it isn’t a question of whether or not they enjoy food. Some people can’t control the compulsion of eating food or certain foods like junk food. They might try to convince themselves the entire time they are shopping that they won’t buy and eat a packet of donuts on their way home. But in the end, they do the very thing they tried to stop themselves from doing. In this scenario, they buy the donuts. It becomes a compulsion, driven by a complex association of psychological and physiological realities.

If you think that you have an addiction to food, the first step in making any kind of change is to understand why it’s happening. So first, let’s figure out what food addiction is, what causes food addiction, and how to treat food addiction.

What Is Food Addiction?

Food addiction is the result of developing a physiological dependence on the experience of eating. It’s more than eating even when you’re not feeling hungry. It’s also more than eating too much. Addiction goes deeper.

An addiction to food manifests as a compulsion to overeat. (WebMD) When other people are able to leave food on their plate, someone with a food addiction will continue to eat long past the satiation of their physical need for nourishment.

Since eating is so often a socially shared experience, it can be difficult at first to tell that you have an addiction to food. At first, it might simply feel like eating socially. However, when your relationship with food starts to overpower other relationships in your life, you might be experiencing a food addiction.

If you’re experiencing food addiction, you may wonder, “How did I get here?” Let’s explore the causes.

What Causes Food Addiction?

woman eating

The science of addiction is complicated and layered. Not only are there several kinds of addiction, but the reasons for developing an addiction tend to result from a complex interplay between psychological makeup, personal history, culture, and physiological realities. (Cleveland)

A food addiction arises from several related factors. Eating is a comforting way to indulge in self-care. It usually comes with positive memories, such as good social experiences or happy moments from childhood. Since food comes with so many positive associations, it can be instinctive to rely on food during emotionally troubling times.

Certain foods, in particular, tend to have more addictive properties. Foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugar, salt, and fat tend to be feel-good foods for most people. It’s easy for our bodies to develop a chemical dependence on feel-good foods like these, and for our minds to provide positive associations that encourage us to develop an addiction. (Virtua)

As you might have guessed, developing a food addiction can be deceptive. It might not feel like a food addiction at first. So, it’s important to create a healthy relationship with food to avoid going down this path. However, if you’re already experiencing a food addiction, there are things you can do to overcome the addiction.

How to Treat Food Addiction

cupcake - what is food addiction

When it comes to trying to get rid of food addictions, our first instinct is to avoid the kinds of food we’re addicted to, such as sugary foods or junk food. After all, that seems to make sense. If we’re addicted to eating too much of a particular food, then simply removing that food from our diet will fix the problem. Right?

 

The problem with this line of thinking is it doesn’t really work. If you simply remove a particular food from your diet, then it might help you avoid eating it for a while. The issue is that it turns that food into a forbidden fruit. This, in turn, makes you think about that food even more, which only bolsters your addiction. Then when you do end up eating that food, you are in danger of binge eating. Not to mention, you might immediately feel shame after consuming it, which can lead to emotional issues. All of this creates and perpetuates unhealthy relationships with food.

 

There are better ways to treat an addiction to food. The Ultimate Freedom Approach takes a different route.

 

First of all, you’ll never turn any food into a forbidden fruit. If you’re addicted to certain foods, it’s important to make sure that food doesn’t turn into an obsession for you. This way, the addiction won’t become heightened.

 

Secondly, you won’t have to use willpower. Willpower only lasts for so long and it sets you up for failure.

 

Thirdly, it doesn’t mean dieting. Dieting can mean deprivation and it isn’t healthy.

 

So, how do you treat food addiction? Through resetting your body and creating a healthy relationship with food. The thing is your body already knows what food it wants and needs, but many of us have stopped listening to it. It takes some retraining for our bodies to reset to the point that we can have an entire spread of desserts in front of us and not even worry about it. Wouldn’t that be an amazing feeling?

 

You may feel like you are trapped by food addiction. But it is possible to overcome it. The Ultimate Freedom Approach is all about aligning your relationship with food in order to improve your health and help you to lose weight without much effort. If you are worried you have a food obsession, don’t give up! Book a 1:1 chat with Leslie Chan today.

 

You can read more about overcoming food addiction in this blog.

 

You May Also Like:

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How To Stop Obsessing Over Food

Sugar Addiction Treatment: Stop Sugar from Controlling Your Life

I’m Addicted to Food. What Should I Do?

How to Overcome Food Addiction

Harmful Effects of Dieting

How to Stop Emotional Eating Forever

 

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