Eating Disorders-Addiction

The idea that a person can be addicted to food has often been the laughing stock of science. Experiments in animals and humans show that, for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food, especially highly palatable foods. Highly palatable foods are foods rich in:

  • Sugar
  • Fat
  • Salt
Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once you have experienced pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain's reward pathway from eating certain foods, you crave that “feel-good” again and you get ready to eat again.The reward signals from highly palatable foods may override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. As a result, people keep eating, even when they're not hungry.

Just as in other forms of addiction such as drug and alcohol addiction people who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less.

It is now scientifically believed that food addiction may play an important role in obesity. But normal-weight people may also struggle with food addiction. People who are addicted to food will continue to eat despite negative consequences, such as weight gain or damaged relationships.

Signs of Food Addiction

Here's a sample of questions gleaned from a Yale university questionairre, that can help determine if you have a food addiction. Do these actions apply to you? Do you:

  • End up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods
  • Keep eating certain foods even if you're no longer hungry
  • Eat to the point of feeling ill
  • Worry about not eating certain types of foods or worry about cutting down on certain types of foods
  • When certain foods aren't available, go out of your way to obtain them
The questionnaire also asks about the impact of your relationship with food on your personal life.Do these situations apply to you:
  • You eat certain foods so often or in such large amounts that you start eating food instead of working, spending time with the family, or doing recreational activities.
  • You avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating.
  • You have problems functioning effectively at your job or school because of food and eating.
The questionnaire asks about withdrawal symptoms. For example, when you cut down on certain foods, do you have symptoms such as:
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Other physical symptoms
The questionnaire also tries to gauge the impact of food decisions on your emotions. Do these situations apply to you?
  • Eating food causes problems such as depression, anxiety, self-loathing, or guilt.
  • You need to eat more and more food to reduce negative emotions or increase pleasure.
  • Eating the same amount of food doesn't reduce negative emotions or increase pleasure the way it used to.

Modern medicine is still working to understand and find treatments for food addiction. Some specialists argue that recovery from food addiction may be more complicated than recovery from other kinds of addictions. The principal hitch in food addiction being that the addict cannot abstain from eating food. A nutritionist, psychologist, or doctor who is educated about food addiction may be able to help you break the cycle of compulsive eating.

The qmedicine editorial team conducted a background search on physicians capable of handling food addiction in Delhi/NCR and came up with almost no results. Perhaps in the context of our city the best specialists to approach, in case you are a food addict, are top dieticians or top psychologists.

List of Top Psychologists by Region

Central Delhi

South Delhi

North Delhi

East Delhi

West Delhi




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