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Food Addiction

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Although there is no one single cause for developing an eating disorder, in a society that promotes thinness as the way to health, wealth and happiness is it any wonder that people (men, women and children) perhaps without a strong sense of who they are, living with the standards and expectations of others, turn for comfort and some measure of control to the closest thing at hand. And that is food.

 

Food Addiction and Compulsive Overeating

Eating disorders are complicated life threatening conditions where food becomes the focal point of existence. In unhealthy overeating, also referred to as compulsive overeating, food addiction, binging, and comfort eating, there is a preoccupation with food and an expectation of gratification from eating. An extreme amount of time and thought are spent on food consumption, even to the point of fantasizing about eating alone. Eating disorders are all about using food to escape problems. Since the behaviors around eating disorders center on food and eating, many people mistakenly believe the problem to be about food. This is not so. Eating disorders are an outward sign of emotional distress and possibly the only means some people have of communicating that distress. Therefore the treatment of an eating disorder must address both physical and psychological considerations.

 

Compulsive Overeating and Binge Eating Disorders

Compulsive Overeating or binge eating disorders occur when eating is used as a coping tool to feel safe and somewhat in control in an unmanageable world; to provide a sense of purpose in life. Binging is eating larger amounts of food than most people would in a similar situation. There will be repeated episodes of binge eating without purging (ridding the body) and inevitably leads to weight gain and obesity. This type of eating behavior generally results in a cycle of self loathing, dieting, binging and guilt. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge eating is equally as common among men as women. Untreated it will only worsen. Abnormalities in eating habits should always be taken seriously and medical help needs to be sought as soon as any signs or symptoms are recognized. There are many treatment facilities, health programs and on-line web sites that offer avenues of support and success. Eating disorders can be successfully treated. Remember that eating disorders do not start out as a conscious choice.

 

What are the Characteristics of Food Addiction

The psychological reasons for overeating may be because of stress, depression, tiredness, trauma, an upset, unhappiness, or nervousness. The results will be behaviors such as eating too quickly, hiding how much you eat, only eating when alone, embarrassment and guilt over eating, eating when you are not hungry, not being able to stop eating even when you are full, and grazing or eating non stop all the time. More extremely, retrieving and eating food you have already thrown out, or eating either half frozen or uncooked food. Throwing up after you eat. These are all characteristics of food addiction.

 

Compulsive Overeating Research

Compulsive Overeating is a fairly new science combining the fields of obesity and addiction. Researchers into these fields have learned that the brain may react to some foods in the same way it reacts to narcotics. Conversely food may also trigger a biological process that makes it hard to stop eating. Studies done at Princeton University found that animals undergoing withdrawal from high sugar diets used the same brain pathways that are activated in withdrawal from some narcotics. The scientists also found that the test animals needed more and more sugar over time because they built up a tolerance. In addition, there are literally dozens of chemicals used as food additives that little or nothing is known about, that may also affect the brain.

 

Health Problems associated with Food Addiction and Overeating

Overeating becomes problematic when it becomes chronic and leads to one or more of three different types of eating disorders. They are compulsive overeating (binging), anorexia and bulimia. Some of the health problems associated with eating disorders are obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint and bone problems, digestive tract and organ damage, not to mention a ship- wreck for self esteem.