The feeling of pleasure comes from certain neurotransmitters that become stronger than the transmitters signaling satiation
You could be wondering, at this very moment, how can food addiction exist when each one of us can’t live without food? Then, are we also addicted to water or air? Actually, it’s not the same.
So what is food addiction exactly? First of all, we are structured to enjoy food. Our brains evolved in such a way that we feel pleasure from consuming nutrients that are good for us. For example, the sugar in fruits makes for valuable energy, salt ensures chemical balance in our body, and healthy fats store energy. The feeling of pleasure comes from certain neurotransmitters which are being released while we eat, motivating us to ingest the same high quality nutrients the next time we eat. However, what happens if you get to the point where these signals are stronger than the transmitters signaling satiation that tell you to stop eating? You keep on eating, even though you are not actually hungry. You eat just because of the satisfaction you receive.
Canadian researchers, like many others, confirmed the similarity between food and drug addiction by symptomatology and behavioral profile. You usually experience symptoms of addiction (e.g. craving) and the same withdrawal symptoms just like someone addicted to a certain substance. These researchers compared fructose (a type of sugar) with alcohol, which are biochemically similar. Fructose, unlike glucose, affects hormones that can increase the desire to eat more, even if your energy supplies are full. A similar thing has been observed with high-fat food and rats. They also concluded that food addiction is connected with anxiety, bad mood and proneness to stress.
So, food addicts probably snack on sweet food more often, and find “comfort” in food when not feeling well.
Funny video you can watch to understand what is food addiction actually
Food addiction, BMI and other related problems
Why is food addiction a problem when eating is a behavior that is of interest to everyone, and most of us derive great pleasure from it? Food addiction is related to obesity, which is a chronic condition characterized by an excess of body fat. It’s most often defined by body mass index, which is highly correlated with body fat. BMI is weight in kilograms, divided by height in meters squared. The fat content in the total body weight of healthy men and women is 15-25%. This means that a normal body contains up to a quarter of fat. An increase in body fat and weight may cause a large number of clinical complications. They can affect our quality and longevity of life, and our ability to work. Nevertheless, not only does food addiction cause weight problems, but it can also lead to psychological issues such as: social marginalisation, low self-esteem and an impaired quality of life. Depression and anxiety commonly appear as well. You might keep eating excessive amounts of food, despite having felt the consequences of addiction, whether it’s your health or relationships that suffer.
Of course, there are ways to break free from food addiction. Firstly - realize that you are definitely not alone in this. There are many people struggling with this problem, and there are numerous programs aimed at solving such problems. They all rely on the same venue of action - education, community, and abstinence. But, if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it in front of others, then we’re offering, to our clients at Cognitus, a useful tool that helps people with their struggle with food addiction. It is a mobile app called deVicer which provides all three of those parts.
Just never give up because there is no problem that cannot be solved!