Finding the Root Cause: Why Am I Addicted to Food?

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.

Food addiction is a complex issue that affects thousands of people all around the world. And yet, despite its prevalence, it's not always clear what causes it or how to overcome it. If you're someone who has struggled with food addiction in the past, you might be wondering why you felt so compelled to eat. Was it simply a lack of willpower, or was there something deeper at play? When considering weight loss surgery, it’s important to be aware of any level of food addiction and learn how to cope with it, as the surgery itself will not fix any behavioral issues related to food addiction. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the roots of food addiction and explore some factors that could contribute to your relationship with food.

1) Emotional reasons

One of the most common reasons why people become addicted to food (or other substances like drugs or alcohol) is to deal with their emotions. People often use food as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness, and other negative emotions. This is because food releases dopamine, a feel-good hormone in our brains. Over time, this can become a habit, and people start turning to food for comfort instead of dealing with their emotions constructively.

2) Physiological reasons

Another possible reason for food addiction is related to physiology. Research has shown that certain foods, such as sugar and fat, can activate the same reward centers in our brains as addictive drugs like cocaine. Some people may be more susceptible to this effect due to genetics or other factors. Food addiction symptoms caused by a physiological response can lead to cravings and a cycle of unhealthy eating patterns.

3) Environmental factors

Our environment also plays a significant role in our food choices. For example, the availability and affordability of unhealthy food options can lead people towards a pattern of unhealthy eating. These patterns can be difficult to break. Social pressures to eat certain foods, such as at social gatherings or events, can also contribute to food addiction. But you have the ability to change your environment and strengthen the skills necessary to avoid the patterns of the past.

4) Lack of understanding

It's essential to understand that food addiction is a complex issue that extends beyond just a lack of willpower. Many people who struggle with food addiction may not realize that they are addicted and may not understand the root cause of the problem. Without proper education and support, individuals may not know how to break free from this addiction and may continue to suffer in silence.

5) Seeking help

The first step in overcoming food addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem and seeking help. To some, weight loss surgery is an effective treatment for food addiction, but it's essential to have a comprehensive approach involving therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes. Yes, the surgery can indeed take away cravings, but one should not count on this result. This approach of having a multidisciplinary team can help individuals tackle the root cause of their addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Treat Food Addiction

Food addiction is a complex issue that can affect anyone. Understanding the root cause of this addiction is crucial to breaking free from it. Emotional reasons, physiological reasons, environmental factors, and a lack of understanding can all contribute to food addiction. If you're struggling with this addiction, know that you're not alone, and help is available. Seeking help from a variety of providers like a therapist, support groups, and a dietitian can be beneficial to treat food addiction. Remember that change takes time, and you can gain control of your food addiction.

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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