Being addicted to certain foods seems like an unheard of, unbelievable probability. After all, eating is a survival skill.

Yet, just like many other stimuli, certain foods, including high calorie and sugary treats can trigger the reward system in the brain, making it a highly addictive stimulus.

Down to cognitive neurotransmitters, happy chemicals such as dopamine are produced when eating junk food, causing a positive association.

Moving forward, like any other addiction, that association will continue and will heighten, making food addiction a potential diagnosis.

In fact, the feelings of consuming trigger foods are recognised to resemble the effects of drug abuse, showcasing the controlling and gripping characteristics of some junk foods.

Down to the fact that food addiction diagnoses are lower than alternative dependencies, being fixated on junk food comes across as a controversial, harmless habit.

Yet, ongoing consumption of highly processed, additive-ridden foods can be dangerous on the body and even on the brain when considering its addictive ranking, placing emphasis on the need for healthier dietary choices.

Commonly, those who experience a food addiction [1] will continue to eat, no matter how extreme the consequences may be on their health, wellbeing and weight, showcasing the power of fulfilling the reward system and the influence of pre-existing causations of consumption.

Just like any other addiction, independent withdrawal from trigger foods, alone will not work, where for some, psychological support will be required.

This is down to the fact that different causations will motivate overeating, that emotional responses are commonly associated, and that control must be present through relapse management.

Here’s the reality of an under-recognised yet damaging addiction, along with how to overcome food addiction through self-help tips and professional support in conjunction with our team at Addiction Advocates.

Turning to food for emotional support is a trait of ours, as humans. Yet, prioritising this, over our wellbeing and health isn’t reasonable, enabling the development of food addiction. Disconnect on physical and psychological levels by avoiding trigger foods.

 

The reality of living with a Food Addiction

Acknowledging food addiction may seem strange. It’s an unfamiliar and under-experienced illness to encounter.

Ultimately, we rely on food for sources of energy and to survive, categorising it worlds apart from the likes of drugs or alcohol.

Yet, throughout the food industry, there are many foods in which we do not rely upon for health benefits, classed as highly calorific and sugary junk foods.

However, for some, those foods in fact keep them going, making it difficult to live without, falling as a symptom of food addiction. [2]

For some, food addiction will materialise down to genetic weaknesses which have intensified the organic association between cognitive responses and trigger foods.

For others, food may have acted as an emotional crutch through stress or mental health issues, which has now stuck, causing withdrawal challenges.

In some situations, the reality of food addiction may have developed down to feeding into the reward system, soon becoming the norm, which in time has organically become a lifestyle choice.

Ultimately, the realism of food addiction can be difficult to live through, resembling the struggles of an eating disorder, or compulsive overeating and substance abuse.

While some individuals may experience enjoyment out of junk food, consumed as a rare reward, for those with a food addiction, the rewarding effects have disappeared, leaving the immovable impacts of addiction.

Without intervention, the reality of overeating junk food can result in obesity, pressures on our vital organs, type 2 diabetes and mental health issues, linked to depression [3], low self-esteem and body dysmorphia.

These consequences, alone, place emphasis on the need to understand how to overcome food addiction.

 

Trigger foods and the brain

When dieting, many believe that willpower will assist with the avoidance of junk food. This is commonly the case, along with routine and healthy lifestyle choices.

Yet, for someone who relies on junk food, willpower has little impacts on consumption levels, as the brain itself in fact activates cravings.

Each individual, experiencing a food addiction will have a range of personal trigger foods. Those foods will likely be high in salt, sugar, fat, fillers, additives and calories, resembling fast-food, sweet treats and processed goods.

Once trigger foods have been consumed and an association is made in the brain, down to biochemistry effects [4], it’s easy to see why ongoing cravings are likely.

For the average person, the brain will respond positively to the presence of trigger foods. Dopamine and serotonin will likely be produced throughout consumption. Now envision how heightened these feelings are for someone who relies on trigger foods, making it very difficult to break away.

Many individuals who do attempt to withdraw from trigger foods can experience mental health issues, such as depression, down to the unfamiliar and low presence of happy chemicals.

This is how complex a food addiction can become, as not only the body but also the brain adjusts to welcome junk food.

Self-help tips to combat a junk food Addiction

Learning how to overcome food addiction on a personal level is very important. There are some self-help tips you can follow if you’re struggling, helping to alleviate the symptoms of food addiction [5].

The most proactive starting point will be to identify which trigger foods influence your ongoing cravings. This may be a certain food group or a singular ingredient. By understanding your vulnerabilities, you’ll then have the opportunity to control your exposure levels, by adapting your eating habits.

Taking control of your eating habits may feel impossible, which if this is the case, professional guidance will also be recommended.

Yet, by considering the consequences and downfalls of ongoing food addiction, highlighting causations, identifying trigger foods, and avoiding junk food when considering your diet, you can slowly regain control over your eating habits.

 

How to overcome Food Addiction

Like many individuals suffering from food addiction, they will experience a degree of psychological associations, sourcing support when looking to overcome an addiction is recommended.

Through food addiction therapy, you can learn how to overcome food addiction by understanding the motivator of your consumption.

Working through a range of 12-step programmes, such as Food addicts anonymous [6], and by embracing talking therapies, changing your outlook on junk food is possible. Prioritising your wellbeing by also accepting nutritional guidance and lifestyle coaching will be encouraged.

Each food addiction diagnosis will differ, highlighting the necessity of professional, tailor-made addiction support, which we can direct you to here at Addiction Advocates.

This will help to reduce food addiction relapse risks, while also curbing your artificial cravings, caused by desirable yet damaging sources of junk food.

Like any addiction, eating disorder or mental health issue, a rapid, serious outlook should be maintained when considering your food addiction.

While an unfamiliar condition, commonly wrongly linked to a lack of willpower, enablement of this condition can become life-threatening.

Overcome food addiction by prioritising your health and wellbeing today, with the aim to develop a better relationship with food.

 

Sources

https://www.psychguides.com/eating-disorder/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-overcome-food-addiction#seriousness

https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects-on-body

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder/mental-health-food-addiction#2