Food addiction is real.
Research now shows that certain foods – the hyperpalatables that are sugary/fatty/salty products – can, in vulnerable brains, cause the same kinds of organic changes in the brain’s reward center as drugs of abuse such as cocaine and opioids.
The good news is that addictive eating behavior is a problem that is treatable.
Groundbreaking research has demonstrated that refined sugar is as addictive as cocaine – if you’re vulnerable. People who are this vulnerable include individuals who are detoxing off drugs and alcohol because they can then transfer their addiction to the hyperpalatables, especially refined sugar. People who have a genetic history of addiction in the family are at increased risk of food addiction, as are people who have had a history of trauma and abuse.
Finally, men and women who binge tend to eat addictively. There is plenty of research that shows compulsive behavior such as bingeing has many of the same characteristics as, say, a drug addiction. Bingeing often demonstrates a loss of control that continues, despite all the negative consequences that arise from it. It’s best to face this kind of behavior for what it is: damaging to your quality of life.
Do you think you may have a problem with addictive eating? If so, ask yourself these two questions:
1. Do you feel loss of control when certain foods are placed in front of you?
2. Do you feel shame, blame and guilt when you lose control and overeat certain foods?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may have some level of food addiction.
Effective treatment programs help:
• Identify and eliminate the addictive products and switch to delicious, healthier foods with natural sweetness. Fresh, fruit-infused water easily supplants sugary sodas.
• Confront and manage the stress, anxiety and past traumas that have led to addictive eating. Food helps to soothe our nerves when anxiety and fear take hold. There are healthier, more productive ways to cope with daily stresses, like meditation, journaling, creating supportive social bonds and finding more meaning in personal and professional life.
This integrated, individualized approach to the treatment of food addiction is the blueprint for success. There’s no need to keep caving to every craving.