The Science Behind Food Addiction: Separating Fact from Fiction

The Science Behind Food Addiction: Separating Fact from Fiction

Do you find yourself reaching for that bag of chips or craving a chocolate bar even when you’re not hungry? You’re not alone. The concept of food addiction has been widely debated, but today we are here to separate fact from fiction. So sit back, grab your favorite snack, and prepare to unravel the mysteries behind our irresistible cravings.

What is Food Addiction?

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about food addiction. Despite what bloggers and diet pushers will tell you, there is no such thing as an addiction to food! Food is necessary for your survival so how could it be something that is addictive.

So if food is not addictive, why do you feel so obsessed with food, especially your favorite salty or sweet snack? Food addiction is a real and serious condition that is characterized by an obsession with food and an uncontrollable urge to eat. 

People with food addiction often feel like they cannot control their eating habits. They may keep eating even when they’re not hungry and continue eating even when they’re full. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame that truly ARE bad for your health.

What people call Food Addiction is really this: AN AVOIDANCE OF EMOTIONS. That’s it. You are eating because you are avoiding feeling.

If you think you might be struggling with food addiction, it’s important to seek professional help, so you can face your emotions and have a great relationship with food.. all foods.

Difference between Physical and Psychological Addiction

There is a big difference between physical and psychological addiction. Physical addiction is when your body becomes dependent on a substance, like alcohol or drugs. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when you try to quit. Psychological addiction is when you feel like you need a substance to cope with life or relieve stress. You may not experience withdrawal symptoms, but you may feel intense cravings and have trouble stopping yourself from using the substance.

Neurochemistry Behind Food Addiction

No matter what you hear in the diet-sphere… be a critical thinker. We can not be physically addicted to food, a necessity to our survival, no matter what you are eating. Any studies showing a positive response to food (an area of the brain lights up when enjoying food) is the same area of the brain that lights up while enjoying music! Food isn’t addictive any more than music!

Is it Possible to be Addicted to Certain Foods?

Food addiction as stated by dieting-obsessed people is just a fear mongering tactic to get you to, well, diet! Fear is a controller of people and the diet industry uses it in spades. Don’t believe anything they tell you!

The only reason you feel obsessively drawn to some foods over others is due to two factors:

  1. You avoid eating it. Avoidance of food is the number one cause of craving it. In other words, the more you diet, the more out of control you feel with food. The reason: food is necessary for survival! It’s a great thing that your body craves what you refuse to eat. Diet mentality is a very serious “disease,” not food addiction.
  2. You are avoiding your emotions. Once you start eating all foods (no moralizing food as good or bad), you will quickly stop obsessing about food! It really is that easy (when you are able to do so.) I am not saying it is easy to let go of a serious eating disorder! It isn’t. However, when you eat what you want.. food obsession decreases substantially. Any left over binge eating is emotional eating. When you face your emotions, your obsessions for foods will diminish further.

We at Body Expressions have seen this over and over again with our clients. Food Addiction could be changed to: You are not addicted to food; you are addicted to food restriction and emotional avoidance. This, certainly, is driven by our societal obsession with appearance, diet, and weight loss and the numerous lies you have been told.. including that food addiction is a thing. Again, to be clear, It. Is. Not. 

Treating Food Addiction

  • Eat what you want, when you want it.
    • At first, this will feel like you are eating a lot of the foods you have avoided (restricted) for years. That’s okay. Hang with it for just a little bit. You will see change (if you go for it) in under a week. Really.
  • Face your emotions
    • This can be the hardest part so get help from friends, family, professionals who will listen to you and be validating! Go to those you trust. Tell them how to support you: listen, don’t try to fix, validate my emotions. Reach out to us if you want additional help with this. It’s our job.
  • If you want a book on these steps and more, consider purchasing Anne Cuthbert’s (the owner of BE) book: If Your Hunger Could Talk on Amazon. 

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