Friday 4/1/16 – Food Addiction ~ Is It Real?

Is food addiction a real thing?  It’s a topic that really holds a great deal of interest for ME based on my own personal experience, and has become even MORE intriguing to me the more I read about the controversy over it.  At the convention I’m going to in August one of the sections will be dealing with this issue and I’ve been trying to do a little research to educate myself on the varying opinions that are out there on the subject.

The base definition of addiction is as follows:  “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing or activity.”  To further break THAT down lets define addictED ~ and that is “ physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects”.  Well I have to tell you that based on those two definitions, my vote remains on the HELL YES FOOD IS AN ADDICTION side of the argument.

When chocolate cake makes you swoon, when the Twinkie LITERALLY makes you feel better once you have it in your HANDS, when tasting the cookie LITERALLY puts you in a better mood ~ are you NOT addicted?  Now of COURSE the immediate ramifications of what “food addiction” vs. say “heroin or alcohol” addiction might do to one’s body, and one’s life are not comparable in my book.  The likelihood of that ONE MORE TWINKIE ending my life at THAT moment is slim to none, Vs. a heroin overdose or alcohol poisoning – yes intellectually I understand and acknowledge that those things do not “measure up” as equal on the scale of potential crisis.  That being said however, the craving, the need, the dependence and the “high” that one obtains from these various substances CAN be compared in my opinion.

How many people do you know that when they take their first bite of cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory don’t immediately show a response that denotes pleasure.  Honestly whether you are addicted to food or NOT, you are likely to make a face and possibly some audio noises that indicate the pleasure explosion that is going on in your mouth and brain.  Now imagine if you WERE addicted, how hard would it be to STOP.  Much as when the “classic” addict takes that next drink, or that next hit to get that “high” ~ when that food addict gets that cheesecake you cannot tell me that they are not getting a dose of some if not all of the “pleasure chemicals”, endorphin, oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine.  I KNOW I DO, always have; and always will.  It may not hit with the same intensity or speed that someone shooting heroin gets them, but I can ASSURE you – good cheesecake (insert your favorite food here) gets them running in ME!

One of the articles I read talked about Dr. Nora Volkow who in 2012 was the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and she argued in the face of the controversy that food addiction is real.  She said that (and this struck me)  “Many experts dismiss food as an addictive substance because it doesn’t lead to most people behaving like addicts — compulsively seeking food despite negative consequences. So, the reasoning goes, food can’t be as addictive as a drug like crack cocaine.” Click here to read the full article.

I disagree that it “doesn’t” lead to people behaving like addicts myself.  How many people eat in secret or lie about their eating?  Granted a “foodie” might not be knocking over a bank to purchase some chips and cookies, but is that simply because the “cost” of food lends itself to not requiring the addict to reach that level of the addiction.  Is it in fact “not” addiction because of that, or is it simply addiction on a different level in a different form.    I think it’s an amazing debate with a lot of valid points on both sides, my personal leaning is towards the belief that food addiction is as real as any other and should be given the same respect and research as any other addiction.  Again, I qualify that statement by saying that I completely 100% understand the difference between the “immediate and irreversible” consequences of say a drug overdose vs. a pig out session.  Having lived with and love many “classic addicts” I understand and respect the differences with all of my heart, but I do think there is room on the addiction continuum to acknowledge “food addiction” as real.  As a side note, within the article I was reading there was a link to another interesting article called Heroin Vs. Haagen-Das if you are so inclined to read a little further.  As always thanks for stopping by.

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4 thoughts on “Friday 4/1/16 – Food Addiction ~ Is It Real?

  1. I agree with you, food is an addiction! At least, it is for me. I love food, I crave food, I have my ‘favorite’ foods. I have had thoughts, regarding food, just as an addict would regarding drugs or alcohol. I have eaten in private, before a party or function because I felt that I wouldn’t have enough to eat when I got there or didn’t want to make a ‘pig’ of myself. I have actually gotten angry that the last piece(s) of something were gone when I got home. I would then have to find something else to complain about, so that it wasn’t obvious that my anger was because that food item was no longer there. Because, lets face it, that sounds really bad, right? Pissed because someone ate the last cookies in the bag, when I clearly didn’t ‘need’ them in the first place and others are going without any food at all! When I get a ‘snack attack’, I have hidden food, under other food, on a plate, in a bowl or wrapped it in a paper towel. Why? Because I feel guilty for eating so much, but I can’t help it!!!!! I want it, I bought, it’s mine and I don’t care! But, I do care, otherwise I wouldn’t be trying to hide it. I have tried to push my husband into going to bed early because there is something in that refrigerator or pantry that I really want to eat, tonight!, but I don’t want him to see me eating it or, even worse, I don’t want to share it! And, if he won’t take the hint, I will get pissed!! Again, I have to blame my mood on something else, not my precious food. I have purposely ‘out lasted’ him, just so that I can satisfy my craving, even though I have to get up in a few hours to go to work!! And, hide food? Yes, I have!! These are just a few of the reasons why I believe that I am a ‘food addict’ and that it is a real thing.

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    1. Funny reading this I’m thinking about the comment in the article I was reading about how “food addiction” doesn’t lead you to engage in “addict behaviors”. Granted I’m not stealing hundreds of dollars to purchase some cookies, BUT I think there ARE ‘addict behaviors’ and you give some great descriptions of them. Especially to me it seems the “deflection” of pretending it’s something else, and getting defensive. Classic addict behavior right, we ALL do it…I think it’s hard for those without “foodie issues” to comprehend, and even more difficult for the medical professionals to explain/justify. I really appreciate your comment, because it helps me think of more “angles”, and other perspectives. I also respect your insight into your own nuances- thank you for sharing – I really appreciated your take on it. ❤ Thanks for reading too!

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  2. I totally agree with you – food is definitely an addiction and when the addiction is to getting rid of food through anorexia or bulimia it can be just as dangerous as heroin. When I was using cocaine and drinking 22 hours a day and making myself sick 3 times a day I was warned by the doctors that every time I made myself sick on that quantity of cocaine I could have a fatal heart attack. The cocaine on its own would have been risky but with the bulimia it was lethal. I was warned I would be dead in 3 months. I am now almost 7 years abstinent from bulimia and 11 years clean off cocaine and alcohol. But just last weekend I had a massive bulimic binge because I had broken my food plan the night before. I just uncontrollably hoovered up chocolate, crisps and other high fat food at this party and had to leave or I would have made myself sick. I thought my eating disorder was so in recovery that it was cured. It is not cured it still exists I am still a food addict and bulimic…

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    1. Wow that is a LOT of time in “recovery” on both counts – much love and respect to you!! As for your recent moment, it’s a moment and does not define you nor does it negate all that you’ve accomplished/done – take a moment to be in awe of yourself because wow! Much love to you for sharing – stories like yours are the ones that keep me on the side of believing that food is in fact…an addiction!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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