Food addiction has received more scientific support recently. In some people’s brains, the same pleasure centers that respond to addictive drugs are also activated by certain foods, especially those foods high in fat, salt or sugar. After this pleasurable response is elicited, the person will quickly want to eat these foods again. The reward might be experienced so intensely that other physical signals are diminished. Thus, a person might be unable to experience physical fullness and will continue to eat until he or she feels sick. People with a food addiction can also build a tolerance to these foods, requiring more of them over time in order to achieve the same pleasurable feeling.
Food addiction is best treated by a team of specialists including a therapist skilled in the treatment of eating disorders, a registered dietitian, and a physician. Many people with food addiction mistakenly try to address their issues with diets. Research has shown that dieting leads to feelings of deprivation resulting in binge eating or over-eating on the foods the patient is trying to avoid. In order to achieve sustainable change, one must address the psychological issues underlying the eating issues as well as dysfunctional eating patterns. Our staff at EDTC has the experience needed to help those with food addictions.