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Food Addiction - Is it a thing?

FOOD ADDICTION - Can you really be addicted to food?

There’s always a lot of chat amongst people about how they’re ‘addicted’ to a certain food, therefore.. they must cut it out! Media and research speculation has not helped this idea of food addiction, especially with the region in the brain linked with the reward system is also involved in the process of substance abuse. However there’s lots of reasons, aside from addiction that can explain why we receive the rewards response from eating.

🍑 Human Survival - the brain reward system is necessary to ensure survival. This involves the brain chemical dopamine which triggers a pleasurable response and motivation behaviour. Other behaviours such as hugging, intimacy, terms of endearment also trigger this same rewarding feeling. We need the response to ensure we continue to eat to survive!

🥑 Hunger Enhances Reward Value - if you’re hungry, your reward value of food is heightened. For example you may feel more excited for cooking, or interested in food shopping. Dieting or food deprivation is a form of chronic hunger so will have this effect.

🍰 Pavlovs Conditioning - similar to the study with Pavlovs dogs, the anticipatory salivation occurs when you’re conditioned to receive a treat/food. This isn’t classified as addiction.

🍫 Dopamine Deprivation - lots of activities have a dopamine response (hanging out with friends, playing a game.. etc) having an unbalanced life can deprive you of dopamine, so when needs aren’t met this way, the dopamine response from food is often more exciting.

🥕 Music Lights Up Dopamine - the same response in the brain happens when listening to music, yet we don’t think of it as ‘music addiction’

🍩 No Forbidden Foods - a few studies have found that when binge eaters eat their ‘forbidden foods’ as part of their treatment, binging significantly decreases. If food addiction was a real issue, we would not expect these results.. in fact we’d expect the opposite to happen. Thus decreasing the list of forbidden foods can help to reduce the feeling of being out of control around foods.

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