With food being a daily requirement for health and well-being, it’s hard to equate this most basic of necessities with addiction. When it comes to assigning an official diagnosis or label to excessive food consumption, the scientific/medical jury is still out. In spite of this indecision, obesity rates continue to climb from year to year as American lifestyles become increasingly hectic and stress-filled.
All one has to do is compare the criteria for addiction in general to the behaviors of someone who struggles with limiting his or her food intake and the answer becomes clear. Food addiction signs pretty much mirror drug and alcohol addiction signs with the same types of detrimental effects arising from both lifestyles.
According to Columbia Health, the 10 food addiction signs bear a near identical resemblance to addiction signs for drugs, alcohol, gambling and sex. If you’re wondering whether you or someone you know may be addicted to food, here are the 10 food addiction signs to watch out for:
1. Improved Moods
Someone who goes from being irritable and tired to cheerful and energetic after eating a favorite pastry or snack may be exhibiting a food addiction sign. Not unlike drugs and alcohol, certain foods trigger the release of endorphin or “feel good” chemicals in the brain.
2. Food Favorites
Foods high in sugar, salt and fat have a particularly strong effect on brain chemical processes and blood-sugar levels. These physical effects actually trigger cravings for more of the same types of foods.
3. Isolative Behaviors
Passing up social and professional activities in order to hide an out-of-control appetite means spending less and less time engaged with others.
4. Unable to Reduce Food Intake
Someone who has tried repeatedly to cut back on certain foods and failed each time may be experiencing a classic food addiction sign. People addicted to drugs and alcohol often go through the same struggle.
5. Excess Amounts of Time Spent Eating and Getting More Food
When time spent eating or seeking out food cuts into work and family life, this food addiction sign points to the start of a new lifestyle that centers around food.
6. Impaired Ability to Function
After so many donuts and potato chips, the body starts to grow sluggish from working so hard to digest these foods with little to no nutritional benefits in return. Under these conditions, it becomes increasingly harder to function at work, at home or even out with friends.
7. Continuing to Eat Despite Negative Consequences
Someone suffering from food addiction will place relationships at risk, as well as his or her overall health in order to engage in ongoing eating behaviors.
8. Eating Increasing Amounts of Food Over Time
Over time, someone who eats as a way to feel better will need to eat increasingly larger amounts of food in order to experience the same “high” effect. This is another classic food addiction sign.
9. Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms take the form of agitation, anxiety or depression when a person tries to cut back on certain foods or exclude them from the diet.
10. Unable to Control Portion Sizes
Loss of control applies as a food addiction sign just as it applies for drugs and alcohol. Once a person starts eating, he or she can’t stop.