Food Addiction. For people who have suffered for years with being overweight or obese, there may be an additional explanation as to why they find themselves on the constant diet treadmill. It’s possible that they do not suffer from a ‘lack of willpower’ or are ‘lazy’. Rather, they are potentially suffering from ‘Food Addiction’.
Food Addiction Help
Many experts agree that food dependency, or food addiction, could be a major factor for those suffering from obesity. Some of those of normal weight may not be exempt either; they could also be affected in the same way. However, scientists think that those who are addicted but not overweight may be genetically programmed to handle better the extra calories they consume.
In a similar way to cocaine, heroin and other addictive substances, foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars trigger the release of positive feel-good chemicals in the brain, similar to dopamine. Just like those using drugs, after a person has experienced the highly pleasurable feeling of consuming energy-dense foods, the brain starts to crave more. As a result, the person can rapidly become addicted. Food Addiction.
Many people experience similar cravings to those of a drug addict when consuming ‘junk food’. It appears that it is well adapted to triggering identical reward pathways in the brain, leading to a full-blown addiction developing. Take a look at our Start Today Page.
It is now believed that in the same way as a drug user, over a period of time, develops a resistance to their drug of choice, needing more and more to achieve the high. The overweight person may be experiencing a similar sensation. This may develop into full-blown Insulin resistance followed by diabetes. It is a fact that Sugar, Fat and Salt combined are rated as addictive as pure cocaine.
Have you noticed the ever-growing variety of Salted Caramel Chocolate on the market? Apparently, it contains the perfect mix and quantity of chemicals, Sugar, Fat and Salt to guarantee ongoing repeated sales. One food researcher stated that no one in the profession can work out just why it took them so long to latch on to the blend as a perfect confectionery item.
All addictions are believed to develop from a reduced level of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine, of course, is associated with heightened feelings of pleasure. It is well known that when you consume a sugar-loaded food, you will trigger a desired spike in dopamine production, resulting in a reduction of day-to-day stress.
Also, the addiction will ‘deepen’ and become more entrenched over time. So, the food addict will gradually need more and more of their chosen foods to achieve the same level of ‘pleasure’ sensation as when they first started. Food Addiction.
Are all foods addictive? Well, there is no clear answer. We do know, however, that ‘sugar-heavy’ foods are hyper-addictive. As an example, the natural brain chemical ‘enkephalin’ is heightened when chocolate is consumed. Enkephalin triggers opioid receptors similar to those triggered by heroin and morphine use. Therefore, after chocolate is consumed, it leads the brain to desire more, resulting in addiction. This, of course, may explain why people find it hard to eat only one square of chocolate from Wikipedia.
While experts agree that some foods are more readily addictive, it is also likely that the opposite is true of a range of other foods. Cucumber and Broccoli are just two examples of a number of non-addictive foods. Realistically, have you ever seen anyone “binge” on a head of broccoli, for instance…?
Hunger is not a sensation that we experience after receiving signals from the stomach. Rather, it is triggered in the brain by hormones such as ghrelin and leptin. Most people eat because they are sad, lonely, tired, depressed, or for some other psychological/emotional reason. Often, individuals don’t actually know exactly why they are eating. Food Addiction.
So, imagine a person has just had a massive two-course meal and had to undo the belt around their stomach. Then someone asks: “Would you like a Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream for Desert?” and they reply: “Of Course! In fact I’ll have two”. In reality, it is the ‘piqued’ dopamine levels in the brain that are responsible for answering the question. The stomach is full, almost to bursting, but they will take the desert.
So, the possibly good news for those who are overweight is that it is not just down to them being lazy or having zero willpower; they have an ‘addictive gene’ that is controlling their behaviour around food. The other good news is that with a little effort, their level of ‘addictiveness’ can be harnessed, and they can take back control.
A ‘food addiction’ is described as an elevated craving for certain foods, even after eating a large meal. Occasionally, when the craving is not satisfied, an addict will start to develop feelings of depression or other stress-associated sensations. Food addicts, just like drug addicts, find themselves permanently thinking about their foods of choice.
Many failed dieters have reported calling in the garage on the way home from work to stock up on chocolate bars. Then, they park up and consume their purchases before going home, and afterwards, to hide their embarrassment, they dispose of the wrappers.
The similarities between food addicts and alcoholics are unquestionable. In the same way that alcoholics hide bottles of booze around the house, dieters do the same thing with chocolate and the wrappers. Sometimes, they will even convince themselves that if no one knows, it will not have an effect on their weight.
According to The Food Addiction Institute, it is possible to overcome, even reverse food addiction. Like other addictions, the condition may not be “cured” with a single course of treatment. But treatment can help to bring the condition into remission and can help you to repair any psychological, social, and economic damage.
If you have a food addiction, it’s important to know the right way to go about reversing or getting over that addiction. First, you need to identify the triggers for your addictive behaviour and make sure you avoid them. Be aware that these can appear to be as innocent and simple as driving home a certain way from work that you know will take you past your favourite chocolate stop. Maybe you make sure that you have some time alone at home when you can indulge your habit.
Secondly, you should aim to convert over as much as possible to a more healthy diet by eating plenty of fresh, fibre-rich vegetables and lean protein. Not only are these foods non-addictive, but also they will help you feel fuller and limit the amount of junk food and highly processed food that you can eat. Food Addiction.
People who are addicted to food may feel as though they are unable to stop eating and often feel as though their addiction is out of control. It’s possible to overcome an addiction to food, but it takes some time and effort. Many people are at risk of developing an addiction to food. A food addiction makes it difficult to stop eating even when the body doesn’t need more calories, and this can lead to obesity and other health problems. You may be interested in our new page, Diet Tips That Don’t Work.
Answer: Food addiction is a condition in which individuals develop an elevated craving for certain foods, even after consuming a substantial meal. It can be a significant factor in obesity, as it leads to overeating and can make weight management challenging.
Answer: Foods high in carbohydrates and sugars trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain, similar to dopamine, similar to how drugs like cocaine and heroin do. The brain begins to crave more of these foods, leading to addiction. Like substance addiction, food addiction involves heightened dopamine levels and cravings.
Answer: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with heightened feelings of pleasure. When sugar-loaded foods are consumed, they trigger a release of dopamine, reducing daily stress. Over time, the addiction deepens as individuals require more of the same foods to achieve the same pleasure. Food Addiction.
Answer: No, not all foods are equally addictive. Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates tend to be more addictive. For example, the natural brain chemical ‘enkephalin’ is heightened when consuming chocolate, leading to a desire for more, akin to the triggers caused by heroin and morphine use.
Answer: Overcoming food addiction requires identifying triggers and avoiding them. It’s essential to steer toward a healthier diet rich in fresh, fibre-rich vegetables and lean protein, which are non-addictive and can help curb cravings for junk and highly processed foods.
Answer: Yes, food addicts exhibit similarities to alcoholics and substance addicts. They may hide their consumption, engage in secret eating, and rationalise their behaviour, much like how alcoholics hide bottles of alcohol.
Answer: Signs of food addiction include a perpetual focus on certain foods, even after meals, and feelings of depression or stress when cravings go unsatisfied. Food addicts may spend significant time thinking about their favoured foods.
Answer: Food addiction can be overcome, and recovery involves a process. Identifying triggers, making healthier dietary choices, and seeking professional help can be part of the recovery journey. While it may not be “cured” in the traditional sense, it can be brought into remission, allowing individuals to regain control over their eating habits and overall well-being.
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Marion Shirran, as a director of Oxford Therapeutics Limited, is proud to be a registered Stakeholder in NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Additionally, she is involved in the government’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity.
We were proud to be nominated for the ‘Most Innovative Obesity Psychological Therapy Service’ in the UK Mental Health Awards 2022.
We also appeared on the This Morning TV show with Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.
In 2010, we travelled to New York to be interviewed on the Good Morning America TV Show.
We are also co-authors of two bestselling books on the topic of non-surgical weight loss, published by Hay House.
You can read a full breakdown of all the components included in the treatment package on the Course Details page. There is also an explanation of the treatment on the Does This Work? page. We look forward to working with you. Additionally, you can read reviews from medical and other professionals on the Medical Endorsement page.
Watch the short animated ‘Want and Need Video’ below…
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