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Symptoms of Food Addiction

It’s not so uncommon for food addicts to hide food or eat in private

Overeating is not a strange behavior in today’s world and culture. It is often connected with entertainment, pleasure or emotional comfort. Since food consumption plays a big and important role in our everyday life, it could be crucial to know how to distinguish between healthy eating and overeating. Eating in a healthy way includes the intake of energy which your body needs to maintain a normal weight, usually with nutritious ingredients. If you consume more energy than your body needs for daily activities, then you are overeating. In the 5th version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM 5), an episode of binge eating is defined by: ''eating an amount of food larger than most people would eat in that period of time; and the feeling of lack of control over eating during that episode''

How can you recognize that you have a problem? Here are some signs and symptoms that indicate you are dealing with food addiction:

  •         having issues at work or home due to overeating
  •         enjoying food instead of working, spending time with others or doing a hobby
  •         engaging in frequent binge eating or eating larger amounts of food (more than usual) fast
  •         repeatedly eating until feeling discomfort or even pain
  •        the feeling of guilt and self-loathing while compulsively overeating and as a result of failure to stop overeating
  •         eating in order to soothe feelings of anger or sadness
  •         spending a lot of time getting food, eating it and recovering from overeating
  •         attempting to end this behavior, but unsuccessfully
  •         having the urge for more and more food over time in order to achieve the same emotional effect
  •         experiencing withdrawal symptoms during abstinence from overeating

Along with symptoms of food addiction, other conditions may appear, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s not so uncommon for food addicts to hide food or eat in private. Furthermore, if you are wondering how withdrawal symptoms look like in food addiction, here is some insight. Withdrawal is defined as the development of physiological or psychological symptoms in response to abstinence or decreased consumption of a substance. It's a unique marker of an addictive process that may provide insight into craving and relapse. Physical withdrawal symptoms were once considered a central part of identifying an addictive disorder. They include shivering, sweating, vomiting and anhedonia. However, they are no longer taken as such. Today, psychological withdrawal symptoms are thought as common across all addictions, and more reliable predictors of a possible relapse.

What have studies shown us?

Studies have shown that rats raised on a binge model of sucrose consumption (or simply put table sugar), show opioid-like withdrawal symptoms when sucrose access is removed. Rats experience anxiety, teeth chattering and exhibit more aggressive behavior. But no previous studies have examined withdrawal symptoms in humans for highly processed foods. However, if you stop consuming foods high in sugar, you may find that you have lower levels of blood sugar. This, in turn, may cause cravings when exposed to food-related cues. A person suffering from an addictive disorder might go through the same process once exposed to certain cues. The end result is the same; the person experiences strong cravings for food.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms are very real and quite normal to have in the beginning. All these symptoms are something to consider if you feel that you could have a problem with eating or your relationship with food in general. So don’t be afraid to seek help if you notice some of these signs.