Food addiction is an unhealthy relationship with food; it can involve people being underweight or overweight and in rare cases, people of healthy bodyweight have a food addiction. Overeating is characterised by a compulsion to eat, cravings for food and a desire to eat even when you are not hungry; food addiction is similar to other addictions, including alcohol and drug addictions, in that addicts continue to abuse food even though they know it is not good for them.
Food addicts are often very overweight and they continue to eat, often unhealthy foods, despite the fact that obesity contributes to an array of health problems and they feel unattractive and suffer from low confidence as a result of the way they look. Some even choose to have weight loss surgery as a last resort.
Food addiction stems from a loss of control and experts believe the addiction is both psychological and physiological; for some people, eating is a comfort and a form of coping mechanism, which helps them to feel better momentarily, even though they may be very frustrated afterwards that they have eaten a lot; this is common among people who over-eat, as they eat to block out the pain caused by being overweight, which contributes to further weight gain.
What can be done?
Food addiction is a complex illness, which requires people to identify the cause of their unhealthy relationship with food before they can move on. Often, psychological therapies can help to identify and address causes and issues and getting help with building a more positive relationship with food can also be very effective. Like all addictions, treatment for food addiction can take a long time but there are people who can help; if you are struggling with a food addiction, arrange to see your GP so that they can help you.
If you are overweight and you have already attempted to lose weight by eating a healthy diet and exercising without any success, you may consider weight loss surgery; this is usually a last resort but it can be very effective. Types of weight loss surgery include gastric band and gastric bypass surgery.