Yes, food addiction is a real thing. The same reward and pleasure centers in the brain that are affected by drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, are also affected by food in some people. Especially foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat.
Dr. Pamela Peeke has devoted years to researching food addiction, determining ways to readily identify it and possible solutions to the problem. According to Peeke, “being hooked on food can be every bit as devastating as a drug addiction”. Just like drug addicts or alcoholics, people with food addiction tend to hide food, especially highly processed, sweet and salty foods. For example, having toasted pastries for breakfast instead of oatmeal with fruit – and not being able to make the switch to oatmeal because you just have to have those pastries.
Just as with other addictions, food addictions can be tough to break. Especially since food is required for survival. However, the same methods that go into breaking other cycles of addiction work here, too. Once you determine why you’re grabbing for the food that calms you or makes you feel good, you can fix it. What is stressing you to the point you pick up food to deal with it? Deal with that stressor and you will help yourself in the long run.
Food addiction may be a habit for you. If you are used to hitting the drive through at a particular time of the day, every day, it’s a habit. Break the habit. You probably will crave the food you would have bought, but you can replace that action with something else. Use that time to go for a walk, read a book, meditate or get a job done.
If you find that you can’t get a grasp on your addiction, it may be time to ask for professional help. A nutritionist, psychologist or doctor who is educated about food addiction may be able to offer you help. It is possible to break the cycle and get better.