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WRGT-TV FOX 45 News :: News - Good Morning - Do You Have Food Addiction?

Do You Have Food Addiction?

Dr. Stephen Liptak, from Upper Valley Outpatient Behavioral Health, discussed with us how does someone know they are addicted to food, and the withdrawal from food addiction.

Signs of Food Addiction:
First of all, how are we defining addiction?  There are two types, physical and psychological addiction.
The research on physical food addiction is in its infancy.  However, the psychological effects of food addiction are well documented. 
Psychological, or “emotional” dependence on food is similar to that found in other psychological addictions; such as drugs that produce a “high”, gambling, videogames, and pornography, to name a few.  The common denominator is that all of these things can produce strong sensations of pleasure.
What might be signs or characteristics of food addiction:
1)    Intense cravings or preoccupation with a certain food or type of food.  You can’t stop thinking about it, and it causes anxiety and distraction.  Urges, if strong enough, will almost always lead to action.  So by refiring the urge by thinking about the food, you increase the urge until ultimately you “give in”
2)    This next sign is closely related.  Having built yourself up to the point of action, you go to unusual lengths to get the food you are craving.  Think of the stereotype of the crazed, pregnant woman who makes her husband make a midnight run for ice cream.  Now your behavior is changing to satisfy the urge.  You make spontaneous trips to fast food restaurants or carry-outs . You buy large quantities of food and stash them in a special place, or even steal food from family members or coworkers.  You keep this behavior a secret, because you also feel ashamed.
3)    You continue to pursue pleasurable food despite painful consequences.  You hate the weight you are gaining, or the gassy, bloated feeling you have after indulging in a high sugar or high fat food.  But despite the consequences, you continue the behavior.  You know the health risks, but you do it anyway. 
4)    You eat way more than you need to.  The pleasure you are receiving from the food overrides the “shut off” mechanism in your brain that tells you that you’ve had enough.  You have become mechanical and automatic in your eating behavior, almost as if in a “trance”.
5)    You routinely eat to manage your stress or boredom.  You cope with anxiety, frustration and other unpleasant emotions by indulging in something guaranteed to make you feel better, if only temporarily.
6)    And finally, you feel terrible about yourself.  You feel you are weak and have no self-control or will power. You get depressed when you think about your inability to stop.  Or, you justify your behavior because you have a tough job, are in a bad relationship, have a sick parent to care for, or any number of reasons.  You vow to do better tomorrow, or at least when the stress lifts, or “after the holidays” (see # 5)

WEBSITEDo You Have Food Addiction?

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