Do you ever have food cravings even when not hungry? Unfortunately, many people suffer from health problems due to food addiction without even realizing it. Read on to find out how to overcome food addiction and the symptoms you need to know.
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Eat More Healthfully – Learn How to Stop Food Addiction
What Is Food Addiction?
Food addiction refers to the psychological and physiological addiction characterized by the uncontrollable consumption of food in excessive amounts. People with food addiction consume many calories despite exceeding their regular caloric needs. They may feel guilty or depressed after stopping. Food addiction mainly causes people to crave highly palatable foods rich in sugar, fat, or salt.
At the onset of food addiction, people may be aware of their increased need for food and can refrain from craving. However, when the condition worsens to the point where abstinence is no longer possible, people may lose awareness of their increased hunger and uncontrollably consume more and more food. Food addiction in this form may lead to obesity and various adverse health consequences.
What Causes Food Addiction?
Typically, people feel satisfied when consuming palatable foods as it triggers the chemical reactions inside the brain that cause feelings of pleasure. However, individuals with food addiction become dependent on the satisfying feelings acquired by eating to fulfill the reward system. This self-indulgence often perpetuates a continuous eating cycle even in the absence of hunger.
But, how do some people develop indulgent behaviors at first? Scientists believe that food addiction may result from either or both psychological and physiological reasons.
Psychological factors may include being emotionally abused, experiencing a traumatic event or disturbances in the family, being unable to deal with adverse situations like social pressure or isolation, or having low self-esteem without support.
Physiological causes may include changes in hormones, brain structure abnormalities, side effects of certain medications, or having a family history of addiction issues.
Signs of Food Addiction
Food addiction can manifest various signs and symptoms, including:
- Eating food quickly
- Losing control when eating
- Keeping eating despite satiety
- Gaining weight rapidly
- Feeling sick in the stomach
- Having trouble sleeping
- Feeling guilty and depressed
- Having mood swings
Untreated food addiction may lead to concurrent physical and mental consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, digestive problems, obesity, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Because food addiction is a severe health issue that can lead to severe complications if left unmanaged, it is advised that you consult with a nutritionist or psychologist to overcome the condition entirely.
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How to Stop Food Addiction
Highly palatable foods containing high amounts of sugar, fat, or salt are closely associated with food addiction. On this account, you can take the first step to stop your persistent urge for food by eliminating these foods from your diet. Some possible trigger foods include:
- White bread
- Ice cream
Breaking an eating pattern that has developed for a long time may not be straightforward. However, the goal is not to immediately replace dysfunctional eating habits with a healthy diet. Instead, start by raising awareness of the detrimental effects caused by unhealthy foods and gradually removing them one at a time.
In addition, check the medications you are taking to determine if they are causing the side effects of your eating habit. Meanwhile, some medications called appetite suppressants like Diethylpropion can help you curb your food craving. You can also consult with a nutritionist to develop a logical approach to food choices and dietary planning.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an example of psychotherapy that aims to identify and correct negative behaviors, allowing food addicts to develop the capacity to deal with addiction triggers.
Research shows that CBT is the leading evidence-based strategy for all eating disorders. CBT consists of 4 stages, including jointly creating the formulation, establishing real-time self-monitoring, providing education, and establishing regular eating. CBT may last up to 40 weeks to allow you to have sufficient time to adapt, reach a healthy weight, and practice maintaining healthy habits.
Other psychological strategies include resolving the mental and social issues that lead to food addiction. This strategy is called solution-focused therapy. Suppose you suffer from a distressing event in your family or social pressure. The therapist will assist you in overcoming the negative consequences of such adversities to curb food cravings.
Food addiction can cause various health complications, but the most distinctive characteristic of food addiction is the patient’s unawareness of their condition. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical support when early symptoms arise.
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