Overview of Food Addiction
Food addiction is a very real problem that can lead to excessive weight gain and marked unhappiness in anyone who is unable to overcome it. Certain classes of foods, in fact, contain molecules that are able to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain. When men and women become used to eating foods that are high in fat, sodium, or sugar, they are effectively changing the biochemical pathways of the brain itself. In this way, many experts consider food addiction to be on par with an addiction to hard drugs.
The signs and symptoms themselves will be eminently obvious to friends and family of the affected individuals. The most glaring sign is an unwillingness to stop eating when full. Some addicts might also continue to eat certain foods until they are sick. Doughnuts, cookies, brownies, cakes, and other sweet treats are especially addictive, and many overeaters will become agitated, anxious, or depressed when these foods are not available.
Though still being studied, it is believed by many medical professionals that an addiction to food can be especially prevalent in individuals who are battling an episode of severe clinical depression. Overt feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can lead sufferers to consume large amounts of fatty foods, which is reminiscent of the evolutionary survival mechanisms of old. When stressed out, people naturally turn to comfort foods to make them feel better. The brains of depressed individuals can become so enamored with these fatty foods that the addiction becomes engrained. It is afterwards hard to break.
Compulsive overeating can occur in one of two ways. Some individuals will graze throughout the better part of the day. Boredom is a definite contributing factor. Alternatively, people might instead resort to binge eating, which involves the consumption of many hundreds of calories in only one sitting. Regardless of the exact mechanism of action, addicts will be at risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and hypertension. The predominant warning sign will be large amounts of abdominal fat, which can press in on the internal organs and make it hard for the heart to pump blood with any sort of natural efficiency.
Treating the condition will usually require intensive talk therapy, which is generally undertaken by a licensed counselor who is skilled in the field. Counselors will help their patients discover the link between emotional trauma and overeating. Once patients have resolved their outstanding emotional issues, they can then attempt to break their addiction to unhealthy foods. Nutritional experts will nearly always be involved in the process. They can, in fact, set up daily meal plans for people who are struggling badly.
In some cases, patients might even complete the twelve-step program offered by Food Addicts Anonymous. People can learn to overcome the pitfalls of overeating while receiving the support of others with similar problems. Psychologists, counselors, nutritionists, and motivational speakers can all offer assistance to patients. When addicts rigorously dedicate themselves to a healthier diet, the offending junk food can at last be done away with.