Food Addictions

Food Addictions And Your Mind

Addictions change the way your brain and body work. They change the balance of chemicals that help your brain to think, feel, create and make decisions..


Food addiction can be recognizable by numerous signs and symptoms. The following are possible symptoms of food addiction:

Food is essential to human survival and is an important aspect of our wellness, in addition to a means of pleasure and enjoyment. Food not only provides needed sustenance, it also adds a gratification factor through various tastes, smells, textures, etc. However, for many individuals, food can become as addictive as drugs are to a substance abuser.

Treatment medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone (including a new long-acting formulation), are available for individuals addicted to opioids, while nicotine preparations (patches, gum, lozenges, and nasal spray) and the medications varenicline and bupropion are available for individuals addicted to tobacco. Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are medications available for treating alcohol dependence,1 which commonly co-occurs with other drug addictions, including addiction to prescription medications.

For men and women suffering from a food addiction, highly palatable foods (which are often rich in fat, sugar, and/or salt) trigger chemical reactions in the brain that induce feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. This reaction has been explained as comparable to an addict’s response to their substance of choice, as it activates the same brain reward center.

Food addicts become dependent upon the “good” feelings that are obtained from consuming certain foods, which often perpetuates a continued need to eat, even when not hungry. These behaviors generate a vicious cycle. As the food addict continues to gorge upon foods that induce pleasurable feelings, they often overindulge and eat beyond what is required for satiety and normal nutrition.

This can lead to several physicals, emotional, and social consequences, such as digestive issues, heart disease, obesity, low-self esteem, depression, and isolation. A food addict will often re-engage in these destructive behaviors, even amidst undesired consequences, due to the need for induced feelings of pleasure.

Because of the ferocious cycle of food addiction and the detrimental consequences associated with this behavior, it is crucial that professional help is sought. If you or a loved one has been struggling with an addiction to food, consider the possibilities of a life free of this burden. You can find peace from a food addiction by seeking the appropriate care and help you need.

Signs and Symptoms:-

Gorging in more food than one can physically tolerate

Eating to the point of feeling ill

Going out of your way to obtain certain foods

Continuing to eat certain foods even if no longer hungry

Eating in secret, isolation

Avoiding social interactions, relationships, or functions to spend time eating certain foods.

Difficulty function in a career or job due to decreased efficiency

Spending significant amount of money on buying certain foods for bingeing purposes

Decreased energy, chronic fatigue

Difficulty concentrating

Sleep disorders, such as insomnia or oversleeping




Digestive disorders

Suicidal ideations If you or your loved one has been experiencing any of these above symptoms as a result of food addiction, seek out professional help immediately to work through these pertinent issues.

You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you've felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below.

It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you're depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.


If you or your loved one had been struggling with a food addiction, you may understand the implications this may have on the various aspects of your life. If a food addiction is left ignored or untreated, it can rapidly begin consuming your life, creating damaging and chronic symptoms. Understanding how food addiction may affect the different aspects of your life may encourage you to get the help you need and deserve. The following are some of the effects of food addiction:

Physical Effects – A food addiction can result in many negative physical consequences on the body as an excess of food is consumed. These are some physical effects that may be experienced:

Heart disease


Digestive Problems



Chronic fatigue

Chronic pain

Sleep disorders

Reduced sex drive





Kidney/Liver Disease


Psychological Effects – Food addiction can be debilitating to mental health, especially if there is a lack of support or inadequate help. Some of the psychological effects that may be experienced include:

Low self-esteem


Panic attacks

Increased feelings of anxiety

Feeling sad, hopeless, or in despair

Increased irritability, especially if access to desired food is restricted

Emotional detachment or numbness

Suicidal ideation

Finally, food addiction can have an impact on your social life and relationships. Social effects of food addiction include:

Decreased performance at work or school

Isolation from loved ones

Division within family units

Lack of enjoyment in hobbies or activities once enjoyed

Avoidance of social events or functions

Risk of jeopardizing finances or career

Food Addiction Treatment

you or a loved one has found yourself stuck in the vicious cycle of a food addiction, you have likely experienced a roller coaster of emotions, including despair, frustration, and hopelessness. Living with a food addiction may be preventing you from enjoying a life you once lived, though the possibility for healing always exists.

By seeking the appropriate help and care you need, you can find the resources to address your food addiction in an effective manner. Thankfully, there are specialized food addiction treatment centers that can help you approach this disorder in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Food addiction treatment centers offer multi-specialty treatment that will focus on and address medical issues and nutritional concerns while integrating psychotherapy.

There are also a myriad of support groups that you can become involved with, such as Food Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. These groups are 12 step based programs that effectively address food addiction on the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects, offering much needed support to individuals seeking to heal from their addiction to food.

Attempting to deal with your food addiction alone can possibly further draw you into fear or isolation. Having guidance, help and support from an eating disorder center that treats food addiction, specialist, or support group can provide you or your loved one with the tools and resources you need to recover and heal from a food addiction.


Food addiction is likely the culmination of several factors that interplay in the overall cause of this disorder. A man or woman may develop an addiction as a result of biological, psychological, or social reasons. Biological causes that may influence the progression of a food addiction might include hormonal imbalances, abnormalities in various brain structures, side effects from the use of certain medications, or having family members with this type of addiction issues.

A food addiction might also be the result of psychological factors. Factors included in this category might include emotional or sexual abuse, being a victim or survivor of a traumatic event, having an inability to healthily cope with negative situations, chronic low-self esteem, or experiencing grief or loss.

Psychological factors such as these can influence an individual to use food as a coping mechanism to relieve the painful emotions that may have resulted. Lastly, there are social implications that may be involved with food addiction, including factors such as disturbances in family function, pressure from peers or society, social isolation, child abuse, lack of social support, and stressful life events.

Food addiction can also be associated with other co-occurring disorders, such as eating disorders or substance abuse. Because food addiction is a complex mental health issue that can have serious complications if left untreated, it is highly recommended that professional help be sought to effectively heal from this disorder.


There are three main types of drugs – depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens. They all cause your mind and body to react in different ways..

Depressants slow your body down; your breathing and heart rate can slow down, you can experience nausea and vomiting, and your ability to think and react to what is happening around you can be affected. Alcohol, heroin, cannabis, sedatives and inhalants are all depressants. These can give you a short-term sense of pleasure and make you feel good for a period of time, but many people experience feelings of depression after using depressants.They can make you disinhibited which increases the chance you might act impulsively or take unsafe risks. Regular depressant use can affect your mood in the longer term, making it even harder to cope, and can increase the risk of suicide in someone experiencing depression.

Cannabis can cause depression, acute panic attacks or ongoing anxiety and paranoia, even in people who have never previously shown signs of having a mental health condition. There is no known ‘safe’ level of cannabis use.

Stimulants speed your body up. They increase your heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. People using stimulants can feel an increase in confidence, motivation and energy, and a decrease in the need for sleep. While some may say that they enjoy this ‘buzz’, stimulants can cause you to feel agitated, anxious, paranoid, aggressive and violent. You can also experience a range of physical side effects, such as severe stomach cramps, headaches and dizziness. Methamphetamines – such as speed and ice – cocaine and ecstasy are some of the commonly known stimulants.

Hallucinogens affect your sense of time and your emotional state, and can cause you to experience auditory or visual hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there). Many people experience unpleasant or scary changes to their reality as a result of using hallucinogens. These negative effects can also be relived if the person experiences ‘flashbacks’ sometime later. Hallucinogens include LSD, ketamine and magic mushrooms. Cannabis can also have hallucinogenic effects.

How people react to drugs and alcohol depends on the person’s size, the type and amount of drugs and alcohol being taken, and how often they are being used. For more information about particular drugs and their effects contact us.


Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health. Quitting is also likely to improve your mental wellbeing. If you’ve had depression in the past, your chances of quitting for good are about the same as someone who hasn’t had depression. If you’re experiencing depression now, it can make quitting more challenging, but with the right support, you also have a good chance of quitting smoking successfully..

Getting Support:-

Having a strong support network around you is really important if you have decided to take action to change your drug and alcohol habits. Support from friends and family is essential; they will provide reassurance and encouragement when you need it most..

Advice for family and friends

Supporting someone who is using drugs and alcohol can be really hard. Often you see things that the other person cannot; the changes in their thinking, their mood and the way they act with you and other friends or workmates. You might want to tell them to stop using, and you might have tried this, but you can’t force them to change – they need to make that choice for themselves.

Be supportive and respectful. This does not mean that you have to support their drug or alcohol use; it means that you are supporting them emotionally. You can listen, talk about what is going on and let them know that they are not alone.

Help them stay connected with friends that they share positive relationships with.

Encourage them to continue doing things that help to improve their mood naturally – drug and alcohol free. Activities might include sport, music, learning a new skill, volunteering or getting outdoors.

Ask them what you can do to help them. Often providing practical support, such as helping with cooking or household chores, can take the pressure off.

Encourage them to talk with you or someone they trust about what is worrying them. These worries might be what triggers their drug and alcohol use.

Help them find information and advice about drug and alcohol use online, over the phone or in person. If they are not interested you might suggest it again sometime, but be careful not to hassle them about it. You could also encourage them to contact the beyondblue Support Service for support.

Encourage them to use safely to minimise the risks of them hurting themselves. If you are not sure what precautions they should take you can learn more together online.

Remember that change takes time. Be patient and acknowledge their achievements, no matter how small, even if you do not understand what they are doing and why.

Supporting someone who is using drugs and alcohol can be exhausting. It’s important to take care of your own health and wellbeing during this time. Look after your physical health, take time out to do things you enjoy, and have your own supportive friends to call on when you need it. You might also find that at times you need a break, and that’s OK too. Just make sure your friend or family member knows how much time you need so they do not feel rejected or alone.


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