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Food Addiction
18 Nov. 2015

food addictionFood addiction is a form of behavioral addiction that involves a compulsive over-consumption of highly palatable foods, i.e. foods rich in sugar, salt or fat. The pleasure and reward centers in the brain, which are triggered by addictive drugs, are also activated by food.  High-fat, salty or sugary foods trigger the feel-good chemicals in the brain as dopamine. Once people feel pleasure in eating certain foods due to increased dopamine transmission in the reward pathway in the brain, they soon want to eat again.

Reward signals of dopamine neurons from foods may often override other brain signals of satiety and fullness. As a result of this, people keep eating even when they are not hungry, feeling that their sense of control has been lost.  With time people develop tolerance to food, starting eating more and more and satisfying food less and less. This effect is usually followed by feelings of depression and guilt, and a number of physical health problems, such as obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

The signs and symptoms of food addiction include consuming food too quickly, eating alone, decreased mobility, rapid weight gain as well as a sense of loss of control, mood swings, low self-esteem and depression. When a person is trying to cut down on some foods, he may also feel agitation, anxiety, anger and several physical symptoms.

Food addiction can also have a negative impact on personal relations. People often withdraw from their customary activities due to weight gain or because they become more involved with food than with the surrounding people. Food addiction becomes their most meaningful, important and safest relationship, resulting in a deep sense of isolation from others.

Living with any addiction is hard and food addiction is no exception. The bad after-effects can greatly affect a person’s health, family relations, career and future, not to mention the amount of money wasted on unhealthy food. psychological therapy for  people with food addictionTo make it worse, an addiction rarely resolves on its own, therefore it requires intervention and professional treatment.

Treatment usually involves nutritional assistance, medications and psychotherapy. Recovery from addiction demands a total lifestyle change. Talk therapy, weight loss drugs and sometimes antidepressants may help to break the cycle of compulsive eating, manage sugar cravings and lose weight. With all that it is necessary to remember that it takes time for the brain chemistry to get rebalanced through healthy nutrition and self-care.

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