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The Surprising Science Behind Food Addiction


The public has believed the onset of addiction stems from a chemical imbalance. Numerous studies have been done to determine what causes addiction.

Not just drug addiction, but any addiction, whether it be food addiction, technology addiction, or even sugar addiction. These tests have shown addiction to be a social imbalance and not an imbalance in the brain. Let’s look at some facts.

Addiction is Not About Chemical Hooks

Over the years, scientists have studied the onset of addiction. You hear about addiction as a genetically induced or a chemical imbalance. MentalHelp.net explains, “operant conditioning is one theory of how addiction works.

This type of learning occurs due to the cause-and-effect relationship between a behavior and its consequences. Operant conditioning has a common sense element. When we reward a behavior, it increases.

When we punish a behavior, it decreases.” Addiction gives a person a sense of euphoria. Food addiction is said to be the same as drug, cigarette, or alcohol addiction. It’s not what you are addicted to, it’s why you are addicted.

This is not a chemical imbalance in the brain. It isn’t a cold or the flu. There is no magic pill to eradicate addiction. It is the obsession with food and being unable to control your eating.

Addiction is Behavioral, Rather Than Chemical

There is the argument that food addiction is chemical, by the discovery of a genetic marker that was identical to those found in confirmed drugs and alcohol addicts.

Even though food addiction doesn’t usually end in overdose and death, that doesn’t make it any easier to overcome the addition. According to The Recovery Village, “the way the brain reacts to food can have surprising similarities to how it reacts to drugs and other substances, triggering the same reward centers and causing the organ to release an abundance of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin.

Unlike illicit drugs and alcohol, food is essential to our survival and health. This only serves to complicate your relationship with food when you start using it as a means to get high or curb your stress.”

What This Means for Food Addiction

The first step in recovering from food addiction is admitting to yourself it is a problem. Take a look at the patterns of your food obsession. Are you unhappy at work? Did you lose a loved one? Any emotional stress can be a catalyst.

According to Food Addiction Institute, “what once started as emotional eating soon becomes food obsession and finally food addiction. Admitting to loneliness or sadness is the first step to recovery.”

Look at the positive points in your life. Learn how to use other tools to redirect your focus away from food. Practicing meditation can give you a good look inside yourself. Delve into your inner consciousness and think positive. Don’t laugh. You’ll be surprised what a little quiet reflecting can do for your soul.

We may never conclusively know what causes addiction. One theory is chemical imbalances; another is that genetic markers are indicators of possible addiction. Another, less familiar rationale, is the thought that our environment and sense of self-worth is the underlying source of food addiction.

Whatever the reason, we should be supportive and teach food addicts how to redirect their focus from food to their well-being. Teach them it is possible to enjoy food in moderation and redirect their attention to an enjoyable activity that occupies your thoughts.