Food Addiction: Yes, It’s Real!

The 7 Facts You Need To Know


When we say addiction, we often think of substance or drug abuse, alcoholism, smoking, and the like. Unbelievably, there’s such a thing as getting addicted to food. And you, a loved one, a friend, or someone you know might be suffering from it.

For those who overindulge, food typically brings up early memories of comfort and is used to fill up an inner sense of emptiness. — Wendy Salazar, MFT



What Is Food Addiction?

Unlike drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, we need food for survival. But like the first three, there are foods – usually the fatty, salty, and sugary ones – that can bring our brains to release an onslaught of feel-good hormones like dopamine. When this reward system is triggered, we experience a high as other addicts do. This serves as our prompts to seek our comfort foods the next time we feel high levels of stress or are emotionally strung.


How Can I Know It’s Addiction?

People with food addiction consume large amounts of their comfort foods regardless of feeling full. The need to do this is often an aftereffect of stress (whether that is emotional or physical) or a circumstance wherein they want to sense that rush of pleasure the foods bring. However, after feeling good because of excessive eating, the food addict feels ashamed, guilty, and most of all, physically ill. Like any other addiction, this good-to-awful-feeling cycle goes on a repeat.


The Other Food Addictive behaviors I Need To Watch Out For

  • You have obsessive food cravings and feel you can go to whatever specific lengths so that you can satisfy these desires.
  • You continually binge eat or overeat on a whim even if you’re already ill or has gotten sick because of it.
  • There were many instances when you’ve wanted to stop overeating but always fell on a relapse.
  • You lose control over how much you eat, how often you overeat and where you do it. The cravings just hit you everywhere,and you indulge it no matter how ashamed or embarrassed you feel.
  • You feel you need to eat more to be able to feel good more.
  • You eat alone to avoid other people noticing your eating problems.
  • Your eating problems have impacted your life – finances, personal relationships, work, and even your social goings – negatively.


The Stats On Food Addiction

A study done on adults of varying weights revealed that

  • 10% of those who fell in the underweight category suffer from food addiction.
  • 3% of those who have healthy weight showed symptoms of food addiction.
  • 14% of those in the overweight category were food addicts.
  • 1/3 of the obese group fell under the diagnostic criteria for food addiction.

The study concluded that weight is not an indication of this kind addiction. It further stated that observing behaviors should be given the priority when diagnosing food addiction.


Food Addiction: Addiction To Food Or Addiction To The Act Of Eating?

According to some experts, food addiction is a behavioral addiction, that is, the sufferer is addicted to the act of eating and not so much on the food he eats. However, other health professionals argue that certain foods are addictive as they tap into the brain’s reward system. The Yale Food Addiction Scale, the questionnaire doctors use to diagnose food addiction, even named the top food items that are closely associated with the problem. These are:

  • Ice cream
  • Chips
  • Pasta
  • Chocolate
  • White bread
  • Cookies
  • Candies
  • Fries



 There are EXTREMELY powerful economic-persuasion systems that are set up to get us to binge and overeat. These systems are so successful that almost 70% of the population in the United States are overweight and almost 40% are OBESE! — Glenn Livingston Ph.D.

Food Addiction’s Relation To Eating Disorders

Overeating compulsively followed by a feeling of self-loathing happens in some eating disorders. In some of these conditions, the want to purge the body out of the excessive food consumed also occurs.


Binge Eating Disorder is the most common food addiction characterized by eating compulsively and excessively in episodes to the point of physical discomfort and pain. These incidents, called binges, are often triggered by negative emotions and stress. Statistically, about 2% of the American male population and 3.5% of the female population suffer from it. Binge eating – compulsive eating is its other term – has been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).


Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder similar to binge eating. However, after each episode, the sufferer feels the need to purge himself of the excessive food he downed. Purging can take form in self-induced vomiting, using laxatives, excessive exercising, or following a stringent diet. While bulimics are less likely to be overweight and obese, the purges they do to their bodies are also dangerous to their health. For one, forced vomiting could bring about myriads of health complications such as malnutrition, dehydration, and even brain damage.

 So far it’s looking like whereas obese brains resemble those of people battling addiction, the brains of individuals with anorexia resemble those of people who – regardless of any simultaneous obsession with thinness and food avoidance – are highly sensitive to food reward. — Susan Carnell Ph.D.



Night Eating Syndrome is a kind of food addiction characterized by binge eating late at night. Sufferers consume large amounts of food at night but go through their daytimes eating little or no food at all.


Is Food Addiction Curable?

Yes, it is! Health professionals urged food addiction sufferers to seek help from their condition. Food addiction rarely occurs on its own, meaning; there might be a mental problem lying underneath it. By going to a professional for help, not only is the food addiction addressed, whatever psychological malady causing it will be taken care of, too.