In 2011, I produced an 8-part docudrama for OWN called Addicted to Food. The show follows 8 addicts from all aspects of the eating disorder spectrum and their journey to recovery in residential treatment. But how does a person become addicted to food? And what is food addiction exactly? Let’s talk about it.
The ‘Western Diet,’ characterized by processed food that is cheap, portable, long-lasting (think of a Twinkie that has a shelf life of 8 years or more) and designed to taste delicious, has become our nations go to food plan. Upon ingestion, this type of food activates the reward center in your brain, which is the site where dopamine, a neurotransmitter, conveys pleasure. After chronic exposure, the receptors for dopamine build up a tolerance, much like with illicit drugs and alcohol. This hypo-reward condition causes one to eat more to get the same effect formerly achieved by less food. Eventually, this leads to bingeing. The whole shebang is known as the biochemical drive. And no one can exert willpower over a biochemical drive that goes on 24/7, 365.
So why do some people develop this condition and others don’t? Dr. Robert Lustig, Pediatric Endocrinologist and Professor of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, believes the answer lies in the prenatal stage of a person’s life. If mom is obese or ingesting copious amounts of processed food and added sugar, the fetus develops a need for this type of food while in the mother’s womb. Add to that a genetic predisposition to compulsive behavior, and a food addict is born.
Scientific research has begun to reveal the causes and conditions of this pervasive addiction and healing the brain is now within reach. If you or someone you know may be suffering from food addiction, take this quiz to see if you qualify. And if the answer is yes, call our food addiction rehab today to start your journey to recovery. Get help now. There is hope.