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Are you a Food Addict?

By February 2, 2009 No Comments

Food addiction affects over 18 million Americans. Anorexia and bulimia are the most commonly known food addictions, but food addiction also includes compulsive overeating and binge dieting. Food can closely resemble a drug in many ways. Some brain imaging studies have even found that food affects the brain’s dopamine system in the same ways that drugs and alcohol does. People may also experience physical or emotional withdrawal from breaking food addictions in much of the same way as drug addiction. Sugar and caffeine can also offer a similar “pick-me up” as stimulants. Food addicts will often use drugs to soothe social situations or to “unwind”. This is probably where the term “comfort food” comes from. Some questions to ask yourself if you are concerned you mat have food addiction include:

  • Have you ever wanted to stop eating and found you just couldn’t?
  • Do you think about your food or weight constantly?
  • Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting success?
  • Do you binge and then “get rid of the binge” through vomiting, exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging?
  • Do you eat differently in private than you do in front of other people?
  • Has a doctor or family member ever approached you with concern about your eating habits or weight?
  • Do you eat large quantities of food at one time?
  • Is your weight problem due to your “nibbling” all day long?
  • Do you eat to escape your feelings?
  • Do you eat when your not hungry?
  • Have you ever discarded food, only to retrieve it and eat it later?
  • Do you eat in secret?
  • Do you fast or severely restrict your food intake?
  • Have you ever stolen other people’s food?
  • Have you ever hidden food to make sure you have “enough”?
  • Do you feel driven to exercise excessively to control you weight?
  • Do you obsessively calculate the calories you’ve burned against the calories you’ve eaten?
  • Do you frequently feel guilty or ashamed about what you’ve eaten?
  • Are you waiting for your life to begin “when you lose the weight”?
  • Do you feel hopeless about your relationship with food?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may have, or are in danger of developing, a food addiction or eating disorder. In the most severe cases you may need to seek help in the form of a mental health professional or addiction treatment center.

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