Are You Addicted to Food? 9 Symptoms of Food Addiction

Are You Addicted to Food? 9 Symptoms of Food Addiction

Food is essential to human survival and is an important aspect of our wellness, in addition to being a source of pleasure and enjoyment. But for some people, the need to consume food becomes compulsive and uncontrollable. In these people, food turns into a source of addiction, like drugs or alcohol.

For people suffering from food addiction, highly palatable foods (which are often rich in fat, salt, starch, and sugar) trigger feel-good brain chemicals, such as dopamine, that induce feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Once these people experience pleasure associated with eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again, and they keep eating, even when they’re not hungry. Obsessive and uncontrollable overeating can lead to several physical, emotional, and social consequences, such as digestive issues, heart disease, obesity, low self-esteem, depression, and isolation.

There is no blood test available to identify food addiction. Just like with other addictions, diagnosis is based on behavioral symptoms. The following are possible signs and symptoms of food addiction:

Craving food despite feeling full

You can consume a healthy, nutritious meal that leaves you feeling physically full, and yet find yourself craving some ice cream for dessert. That’s because having a craving and being truly hungry are different things. Cravings are urges sent by the brain and not by the need for nourishment. This is pretty common, and most people get cravings for sweets and fats. But if this happens often and you have real problems controlling yourself, then it may be a sign of food addiction.

Eating much more than intended

Many food addicts eat more than they had planned, and cannot stop eating once they’ve started. One bite turns into 20, and one slice of cake turns into half a cake. There is no such thing as “moderation.” This is an “all or nothing” mentality that is common with addicts of all sorts.

Moreover, most food addicts have a trigger food that they have a very strong “all or nothing” response to. What starts as an innocent bite of a trigger food, be it a cookie or a piece of pizza turns into an all-out eating spree where they have no control.

Eating until physically uncomfortable

Many food addicts continue to eat even after they are full. They go on to eat more and more until they feel so completely stuffed they’re uncomfortable or even in pain. This is because the cravings they feel have nothing to do with hunger. The cravings are urges sent by the brain and not by the need for nourishment.

Feeling guilty after eating a lot

Like drug addicts, food addicts often feel ashamed of their behavior. They experience feelings of guilt, remorse, or self-loathing as a result of their failure to stop overeating, particularly if they’re attempting to lose weight or trying to eat healthier. They feel undisciplined and depressed. Yet, they end up repeating the same mistake over and over again.

Keeping eating habits, a secret

A very common symptom of food addiction is hiding food and consuming it in secret. When food addicts feel ashamed of their unhealthy relationship with food, they hide their behavior, even from their family and friends. They may prefer to eat alone, in the bedroom, in the car or late at night after everyone else has gone to bed.

Avoiding going to social functions

Food addiction can seriously damage the sufferer’s social life. Shame, regret, and embarrassment prevent a food addict from eating in front of other people. They avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because they don’t want to be around others due to a lack of ability to control their eating.

Repeated unsuccessful attempts to control eating

Addiction is also recognized by unsuccessful efforts to cut down on overeating. It is hopeless making rules about eating, especially for those who have problems with cravings. A food addict will have had a long series of weight loss or diet attempts, which don’t last long and often end in binge eating episodes.

Neglecting work, family or recreation in order to eat

Another symptom of addiction is that the addict will spend more and more time obtaining and consuming certain foods, to the point of spending less time in usual activities including work, family, and recreation. Their life gradually becomes more and more consumed by the addiction.

Continuing despite negative consequences

We all know that what we eat has a direct impact on our health. Over the years, junk food consumption can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive disorders, poor skin and dental health. However, those addicted to food will continue to overeat unhealthy foods, even though they know their actions can lead to serious health problems.

If you have been experiencing any of these above symptoms as a result of food addiction, get help by consulting your doctor. Food addiction is an issue that will rarely resolve on its own. Unless you deal with it, the chances are that it will just get worse over time.

Disclaimer: All material on is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.