food addiction definitionA food addiction is a harmful pattern of compulsive overeating. Some people do it because of biological reasons and some people do it because of psychological reasons. A food addiction is considered an eating disorder and is often accompanied by an inability to manage one’s weight. This type of addiction is unique because it is a substance and a behavioral addiction, where as most addictions are one or the other. The foods ingested release endorphins and create pleasurable chemical reactions of their own, but unlike a drug addiction that is solely about the chemical high, simply the behavior of eating is part of the addiction. It does not always matter what type of food is involved; what matters is the eating itself.

This complex disorder burdens the addict and makes them euphoric at the same time. The process of eating creates the brain pleasure chemical dopamine, which comforts and brings feelings of happiness to the addict in the moment. The ramifications that are soon to follow are not so rewarding, however. The emotion of shame for needing to depend on food quickly overwhelms the addict, often accompanied by body image issues. Physically, being overweight due to a food addiction causes health problems in the form of fatigue, heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal issues and more. The cycle of overeating causes uncontrollable cravings, which lead to binge eating, which lead to shame and self-loathing, which lead to a period of punishing one’s self for binging by denying food, which relapses into uncontrollable cravings.

The power of a food addiction over a food addict is overwhelming. A person’s efforts to control a legitimate food addicton are often futile and leave the addict feeling hopeless. There is no reason to attempt recovery from a food addiction if you feel unable to do it alone. Many addiction counselors and mental health professionals specialize in eating disorders with an emphasis on food addiction. If you are ready to change, reach out for help today.