10 Most Common Food Addiction Symptoms
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How can you be sure that you are addicted to food? In most cases, individuals who suffer from this problem are specifically fixated on those foods which are high in salt and sugar or considered junk or snack foods. It is unlikely that a person with this addiction eats healthily in either variety or amount, but there is more to the addiction than merely unhealthy eating habits. If you are unsure as to extent of your problem, here are 10 of the most common food addiction symptoms.
Do you binge on foods constantly, especially sugary foods? This is likely because you are struggling with a food addiction. According to an NCBI study on sugar addiction, “The first [diagnostic criteria for addiction], bingeing, is defined as the escalation of intake with a high proportion of intake at one time, usually after a period of voluntary abstinence or forced deprivation.”
These issues are often seen in those who struggle with illnesses like bulimia and compulsive eating disorder. If you constantly binge on sweets or other foods you know are bad for you, you could be addicted to them.
People often throw the word craving around lightly when they are discussing food, but in many cases, a person can develop a craving to eat a certain fatty or unhealthy food. This can be problematic because the individual will not be satisfied unless they are able to eat that food and might start to feel anxious when it is unavailable.
This issue occurs often with sugary foods, but a person can also feel legitimate cravings for salty and fatty foods or even certain fast foods. Cravings that do not go away and cause a person to become irritable, hostile, or otherwise difficult to be around are a common symptom of food addiction.
Just like with illegal drugs, a tolerance can build up in your system for fatty foods as well as for sugary ones. You may feel that you need to eat more and more of a certain kind of food to feel the effects you desire.
According to the NCBI, “Cross-sensitization can also be manifest in consummatory behavior,” which means there is a possibility that similar foods to the one for which you have built up a tolerance will also cause you to exhibit the same tolerance. Over time, it will be hard for you to enjoy any sweet foods at a minimal level, and you will be constantly eating more of them than you want to be.
Depression and Shame
Many addicted individuals feel ashamed or depressed after eating. Some people even eat alone because they are so embarrassed of the amount they eat. When you start to feel this way every time you eat more than you think you should (or if you eat food that you think you shouldn’t), you are displaying a common symptom of food addiction.
This problem can also be a result of withdrawal symptoms that occur once you are no longer eating the food. If you notice that you dip from a high mood to a low one once the food you’ve been eating is gone, you might be experiencing withdrawal from the food you just consumed.
No Control Over Your Eating
If you find that, you are “not able to control [your] overeating” and are “unable to stop eating or control the amount of food” that you eat, you are most likely dealing with addiction (NLM). One of the defining principles of substance addiction is that the individual is unable to control their intake of the drug and unable to stop abusing it at high levels, even though they know it’s hurting them.
You might also notice that you eat your food incredibly fast or that you will keep eating even when you are full (called gorging). These are strong symptoms of compulsive eating disorder as well as food addiction.
Eat to Feel Good
If you are someone who eats when you feel
or otherwise as an excuse to cover up a negative emotion, it is likely that you are or soon will become addicted to food. Eating to feel better mirrors the way compulsive gamblers will continue to gamble in order to ignore the anxieties, stresses, or problems in their lives. When food becomes about coping, it is extremely easy to become addicted.
According to the NLM, “About two thirds of persons who have binge eating disorder are obese.” Because many individuals with this disorder are also food addicts, it shows how the problem can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and a host of medical conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Joint pain
- High blood pressure
- Menstrual problems
Experiencing a large number of these conditions is common among food addicts. If you are struggling with any of these health issues, it may point to food addiction, especially if you are unwilling to stop eating the amount and types of foods you are eating.
Worrying about Eating
Most individuals with food addictions realize that something is wrong; they worry about their food intake constantly. If you are always worrying about how much you are eating, whether or not it is good for you, and what you should do about it, you might have a problem. This is especially clear if, despite spending extended amounts of time worrying about it, you do nothing to change your behavior.
Fighting Weight Gain in Unhealthy Ways
Some individuals who experience bulimia are also food addicts; they will often try to induce vomiting or take laxatives in order to ensure that they do not gain weight when they binge on food. Many food addicts participate in this behavior because they want to hide their addiction from others or they worry constantly about gaining weight.
Affecting Your Daily Life
You may be starting to feel like your food intake is affecting your day-to-day life. For an addict, problems like this will occur everywhere: at work, in school, with friends, etc. For example, someone who misses work in order to eat or is unable to do a job they once did because of their weight increase is likely addicted to food. Also friends or family members may beg these individuals to give up salty, fatty, or sugary foods, and the individual will refuse or sometimes even hide the food, leading to relationship problems down the road.