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Food addiction and drug addiction have some similarities. Though the drug of choice is different, the outcome is similar.

Loss of control and the need to bury emotions are common for those with food addiction and drug addiction. Shelly Mcguire, Spokesperson for the American Society for Nutrition, explains that food addicts develop a higher tolerance for more food, like drug addicts develop a tolerance for their drug of choice. Furthermore, a chemical is released when people overeat, much like the effect of taking drugs.

The mental process behind overeating is complex. People develop a dependency on eating large quantities of food. It become a mental, emotional and physical need. The withdrawal effects of eating large quantities of food or eating a specific type of addictive food is proof of the chemical dependency some people acquire.

Withdrawal Symptoms from Food Addiction

Weaning yourself off of high calorie foods, reducing your calorie intake or trying to gain control over binge eating can lead to uncomfortable or severe withdrawal symptoms.

  • Feeling tired
  • Anxiousness
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Shakiness
  • Over emotional

According to a PDF file published in the Elsevier Journal, Food addiction is “pleasure seeking followed by mindless behavioral reinforcement.” Food addicts have a compulsive need to overeat that, at times, seems irrational. Food addicts feel rewarded by the chemical release they experience after overeating. This feeling become addictive. The addiction is often fueled on by the need to suppress negative emotions.

Fight Food Addiction by Dealing with Emotions

Negative emotions are usually the root cause of food addiction. Food acts as a source of comfort and momentarily boosts your mood. The long-term effects of overeating are dangerous, however. Gaining control over food requires new guidelines for handing your emotions.

  • Realize that negative emotions don’t have to be masked. Sometimes its important and okay for us to feel bad.
  • Become aware of your negative emotions. Recognizing when you are feeling hurt, angry, stressed, etc is the first step in dealing with them.
  • Take actions steps to deal with negative emotions head-on.
  • Replace food with tangible rewards that also make you feel good.
  • Use a journal to track your food intake and your emotions. Doing so may help you connect the dots and see when and why you turn to food.

Gaining control over food addiction is a process, but you don’t have to do it alone. Seek support and get help from a mental professional if needed.