If You Notice These Signs It May Mean You Have a Food Addiction

In addition to being a source of happiness, food is essential for giving us nutrients. But what happens when food becomes an addiction? Consuming too much food can be dangerous — even deadly. Afraid this may apply to you or someone you know? If you notice the following signs, you may have identified a food addiction. One startling giveaway means you should seek help ASAP (page 10).

1. Going above and beyond for certain foods

person with doughnuts and chips

Foods high in sugar, salt, or fat tend to contribute to addiction. | Ferkhova/iStock/Getty Images

A person with a food addiction is similar to someone who has a drug addiction, as Eating Disorder Hope explains. An addict will go to great lengths to get their fix, because their drug of choice activates the pleasure centers in their brain. In the case of food addiction, an addict will go to unnecessary lengths to eat a certain food — usually something high in sugar, salt, or fat.

Next: Do you do this every time you sit down for a meal?

2. Eating past the point of feeling full

Food

The food craving isn’t about your body’s needs anymore. | Rawpixel/iStock/Getty Images

A constant craving for food means you will keep on eating — even if it means eating past the point of being full. “This craving is not about your need for energy or nutrients,” Healthline explains. “It is your brain calling for something that releases dopamine in the reward system of the brain.” Once the brain finally decides it’s satisfied, you’ve eaten way more than you intended to.

Next: Food or friends; which is more important?

3. Avoiding social interactions in favor of food

man eating out of refrigerator

Food might control you. | LuckyBusiness/iStock/Getty Images

A surefire sign of an addiction is avoiding interactions with family and friends to get a fix. For a food addict, that means avoiding social interactions in order to overeat. “People with a history of rule setting and repeated failures often start hiding their consumption of junk food from others,” Healthline says. This may include hiding food packaging so nobody else knows about your food binge.

Next: Take a look at your bank account.

4. Spending too much money on food

banking and people concept

You’ll spend more than you’d like. | Dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

Yes, many people drop a lot of money on food because it’s fancy or higher quality. But as Eating Disorder Hope tells us, a food addict will spend too much money on specific, usually unhealthy food for the sole purpose of bingeing. Look at your bank statement, and then ask yourself, does every other charge involve your food of choice?

Next: Bingeing doesn’t just mean eating past being full, but also …

5. Eating to the point of illness

woman with a stomach ache after eating cake

You might become physically ill. | JackF/iStock/Getty Images

Having an eating addiction doesn’t just mean eating past the point of being full. It can mean eating to the point of being physically ill. This can manifest into a habit of bingeing and purging, eventually developing into bulimia.

Next: One thing setting food addicts apart is …

6. Gorging on a regular basis

woman with doughnut

This isn’t healthy. | Artfoliophoto/iStock/Getty Images

Many people have the occasional day where they overeat. (Most Americans go over the top on holidays, especially Thanksgiving.) For someone with a food addiction, gorging isn’t a sporadic thing; it actually happens regularly. Healthline explains this is because food addicts have an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to eating. Eating “in moderation” just isn’t possible.

Next: Life when a drug addiction escalates, food addiction can lead to a …

7. A growing need to eat more food

Piece of chocolate cake

You might not be satisfied with a normal portion. | iStock/Getty Images

A drug addict’s need for a certain narcotic can grow over time because more is required to feel the same high. The same goes for a food addiction. While a few pieces of chocolate cake may have satisfied your cravings before, your addiction could grow to the point that you need a whole cake to feel an equal high.

Next: You may not realize that food addiction can make you …

8. More prone to anxiety

nervous stressed young woman

There might be a connection between food addiction and anxiety. | iStock.com/SIphotography

Studies have found that there is a connection between food addiction and symptoms of anxiety, even saying that individuals suffering from binge eater disorder are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety. There are many theories as to why the two are connected, some stemming from the idea that overeating makes a person feel guilty, which can manifest into feelings of depression or anxiety.

Next: If you’re addicted to food, you could start having …

9. Difficulty at work

stressed businesswoman

You won’t be as focused on daily life. | iStock/Getty Images

If your mind is constantly focused on food and how much you are eating, then you won’t be focused on other things in your daily life. A surefire sign that your connection to food has turned into a problem is when your work starts to suffer because you’re so distracted by the food you’ve become addicted to eating.

Next: Here’s something that links food addiction to other addictions out there.

10. Staying in a state of denial

stressed couple

You might not want to admit you have a problem. | Tomwang112/iStock/Getty Images

Like with drug or alcohol abuse, someone who is addicted to food may not want to admit that they have a problem. And when a craving hits, that person may make up reasons in their head as to why giving in to that craving is okay. “You may come up with some excuse about why it would be a good idea to give in to the craving and have that piece of food,” Healthline says. This, of course, only feeds into the food addiction cycle.

Next: From your brain, to your gut …

11. Developing digestive issues

Woman Stomach Ache

Overeating can cause chronic digestive problems. | champja/iStock/Getty Images

Not surprisingly, problems with gorging on food can wreak long-term habit on your digestion. Eating past the point of feeling full can cause long-term digestive problems — especially since the most highly-addictive foods aren’t the best for your digestive tract anyways. Plus, anxiety plays a role in affecting digestion. And if food addiction has made you anxious, then your digestion is in even bigger trouble.

Next: And from your gut, to your sleep cycle ..

12. Developing sleep disorders

woman sleeping in bed beside the window

A food addiction can upset your sleep cycle. | Marjot/iStock/Getty Images

An addiction to food doesn’t just mess with your body — it messes with your sleep cycle. Treatment4Addiction.com calls this night eating syndrome, when the addict wakes up and can’t go back to sleep unless they eat. “The night eating behavior seems totally beyond the effected individual’s control almost as if they were sleep walking,” the site says.

Next: The most terrifying sign on our list?

13. Contemplating suicide

man sitting on stairs

You might be under emotional distress. | iStock.com/OcusFocus

Eating Disorder Hope lists suicidal ideation as a sign that your connection with food has gotten out of control. As PsychGuides.com summarizes, the connection between bingeing and purging and suicidal ideation is particularly high because of the emotional distress that is placed on the body and the brain.

Next: When addiction has a life-threatening grip, you may …

14. Developing serious diseases

nurse checks blood pressure

Overeating can lead to high blood pressure and other diseases. | Zinkevych/iStock/Getty Images

In addition to digestive distress and psychological decline, a food addiction can contribute to deadly diseases. Overeating — especially the foods that tend to be the most addictive — contribute to obesity, which is linked to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other serious issues.

Next: If you experience any of these signs, know that you can make a change.

15. How to get help

Female Doctor Meeting With Patient In Exam Room

Reach out to loved ones, as well as treatment centers. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

There is a plethora of resources out there to help individuals who suffer from food addiction. There are in-person treatment centers, as well as online forums and Food Addicts Anonymous. There are also tips and tricks to help the family and friends of food addicts be supportive.

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