Do you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry? Do you sometimes feel sluggish or fatigued after overeating? Do giving in to cravings and eating your favorite foods help you reduce negative emotions and increase pleasurable thoughts? As time goes on, does this not work as well as it used to? If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you might be food addicted.
Recent studies and research have shown that different people have addictions to different foods. The biggest culprits are found in a category of food called hyperpalatables – foods which are sugary, starchy, fatty and salty. A growing group of scientists now thinks that there is a relationship between food and addiction. It seems that food products can hijack your reward system much the same way as do drugs, alcohol, and the Internet. The problem is that in all addiction aside from food, a person can do without the addictive item. However, we need food in order to sustain our life, so we can’t just say “do without food”, as we might with drugs or alcohol. Let us first take a look at the principles of addiction and then we can come back to how to deal with it.
We become addicted to a substance or activity for the same reason that we initially try it: because we like the way it makes us feel. And although some people may try a drug, take a drink or eat a donut and never become hooked, almost all of us have the capability to become addicted. Users cross a threshold and undergo a transition to addiction.
As we mentioned above, there is a category of food which seems to be more addictive than others called hyperpalatables. Is sugar as addictive as heroin or cocaine? Animal studies say yes. And how do we withdraw from these foods? The key is something called Epigenetics.
Stay tuned for the next blog post to learn about Epigentics and its role in helping us break our food addictions.