A food addiction can develop for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons are biological, such as taking prescription steroids or experiencing a hormone shift. Most reasons are psychological. Food can become a way of coping with stress and depression for many people. Because consuming food is pleasurable and is a necessary daily practice, it is a very easy addiction to fall into. Many food addicts grew up with dysfunctional eating habits and life circumstances, and the combination of not knowing how to cope and naturally having bad decision making skills over food and diet makes for a treacherous combination.
Psychological dependence on food begins for many at an early age. The contributing factors are environmental, psychological, emotional, behavioral, biological and chemical. Using food to escape negativity, such as fighting parents, sexual abuse, addicted parents or bullying, is very common. Frequently, food addicts also have a troubled history with food itself. They may have been overfed or underfed as children. People with healthy eating habits take for granted that, like every other basic life function, our eating habits depend heavily on how we were raised to function. As adults, much of what we do instinctively is a direct result of what we were taught to do as children. Therefore, a relationship with food can be just as dysfunctional as a relationship with alcohol, sex, drugs and gambling.
Biological food addictions are less common. They are largely related to some kind of chemical imbalance that is spurring cravings the individual would otherwise not have. Steroids largely affect a person’s metabolism by triggering overeating and make the individual retain the weight they gain. Changes in hormones, such as pre-menopausal phases, can trigger compulsive eating as well. Sometimes overeating can be purely habitual and not connected to any past trauma, but most cases like this see the addict eventually controlling their behavior because it is not used as a psychological crutch.