Is Food Addictive?



Recently one of our blogs entitled Resolution or Addiction (Jan 27th, 2016, explored whether it was healthy for an addicted personality to make New Year’s resolutions. The most popular resolution which many make is weight loss, this sparked an interesting discussion among our social media followers as to whether or not food can become an addiction, because unlike drugs and alcohol one needs food to live and thus should not be classified as an addiction.  We beg to differ, in fact it is for this very reason that perhaps food may be one of the most dangerous addictions of them all.

In North America we have a huge love/ hate relationship with food, but this does not necessarily mean that whenever we overindulge ourselves we are at risk of becoming food addicts however, when someone’s relationship with food prohibts them from  living a normal and productive life than chances are they struggling with a food addiction. One in twenty Canadians suffer from food addictions and, one in four adult Canadians are obese.  Does this mean that everyone who is obese is a food addict?  This is a difficult question to answer, for some the cause of their obesity is the result of poor nutritional education and limited access to nutritional food because of high cost.  Just recently, if you had walked into a supermarket you would have noticed that cauliflower was selling from anywhere between $5.99 -$7.99 a head, compare this to a meal combo from a fast food chain coming in at around $9 the decision makes itself.   If however, your obesity is a result of using food to help cope with emotional and mental issues, than your problem is deeper than clean eating.  In past posts we have discussed the chemical reaction occurring in the brain of an addict, but it’s worth repeating to make our point.  When an addict uses alcohol, drugs and even food the chemical dopamine aka “the feel good drug”, is released into the body  and this connection between  using drugs, alcohol or eating food and happiness is so strong, they seek to replicate this feeling over and over again.  If this isn’t enough to convince you, studies have shown that when lab rats are fed a diet of fatty and sugary foods their brains actually change and this physiological change is similar those experienced by a drug addict.  Food addiction, as of 2010 was reported to cost our health care system 6 billion dollars per year.

How do you know you have a food addiction?

Do you eat in secret or are you sneaking food?

Do you suffer from constant mood swings?

Do you feel that your life is out of control?

Do you feel unsatisfied after you eat?

Has your weight increased?

Do you suffer from feelings of self-loathing after you eat?

Do you use food to cope with stress and anxiety?

Has this compulsive behaviour caused a financial strain on you and your family?

Has your constant need for food and eating resulted in the disruption of your life?

Do you enlist the aid of friends and family to bring you food?

Has this destructive behaviour caused you to lose your job, friends, boyfriend, girlfriend etc.?


If you answered yes to these questions than your problem is bigger than going on a diet, you need the right kind of help.  Many food addicts have succeeded in controlling their addiction with treatments such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, nutritional therapy and medication (if the root problem stems from mental illness).   Whichever treatment you and your health care provider choose, keep in mind the path to recovery is not teliotic, there is no end, and it’s a life’s work fraught with both successes and failures.  True success lies with how you adapt and deal with what life throws at you.


Be Well

Oasis Movement



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