Addicted to Food: Not So Different from Drug and Alcohol Issues

Who says you can be addicted to food?

Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, for one. She’s made it clear that it’s still a controversial notion, however.

Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., an addiction researcher, notes the following on Psychology Today:

When you think about it, the notion isn’t far-fetched: Drug addicts continue to take drugs, in increasing amounts, even though they’d often like to stop (at some point) and in the face of negative consequences and the common loss of other important life functions (like family, work, etc.). Obese individuals are quite the same, eating more and more food regardless of their desire to adopt a healthier diet and in-spite of ridicule, low self-esteem, and decreased functioning that often accompanies extreme weight gain.

Well-known nutritional specialist Dr. Joel Fuhrman also believes that food shares with drugs the ability to get us hooked. Whether it’s “chocoholism” or sugar addiction or carb addiction or the umbrella term encompassing all of the above, food addiction, Fuhrman explains in “‘Just One Bite” of Junk Food Fuels Food Addiction and Obesity” how our brains can succumb:

The science on food addiction has now established that highly palatable foods (low-nutrient, high-calorie, intensely sweet, salty, and/or fatty foods – those that make up the majority of the Standard American Diet) produces the exact biochemical effects in the brain that are characteristic of substance abuse.

Junk food is ubiquitously available, legal, cheap, and socially accepted; therefore, it becomes the drug of choice for many of us.

Psychologist and nutritional expert Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., outlines six possible signs to look for when considering whether or not you are addicted to food and then eight steps toward overcoming the addiction. Click, if you dare, on her Psychology Today article to assess your own eating tendencies.

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