In the national discussion on binge eating, obesity, food, and impoverished communities dubbed “food deserts,” there’s an underlying current of doubt about the scientific truth on food addiction. Can one be “addicted to food” and how does compulsive eating exist on a spectrum of clinical care for those suffering from eating disorders. In the US, we’ve been fighting stigma about addiction for centuries—that it’s all the fault of the victim. Study after study illustrates how an addiction to certain high palatable food is a physical, observable brain disease, and it can affect anyone, regardless of personal strength or virtue.
As we see every day in our West Hollywood rehab, addiction can impact everyone from the rich and famous, to hard-working everyday people. Because of the constellation of behaviors, symptoms, and mental stressors that accompany food addiction, it’s not uncommon to see these same victims suffering from comorbid diseases, like bulimia or cardiovascular disease. To ultimately overcome food addiction, it takes overcoming the stigma of addiction, the behaviors, and the mindset that can make us susceptible in the first place.
The Stigma of Food Addiction
Addiction is a vicious biochemical interaction between our brains and addictive substances. As research has shown, highly caloric, unhealthy diets can develop a myriad of brain changes similar to that of addictive drugs. One study using the Yale Food Addiction Scale found that around 5% of participants suffered from food addiction, that women were more likely to be addicted than men, and this group showed symptoms reminiscent of other chemical addictions.
Food Addiction Behavior
Los Angeles breeds a certain type of lifestyle branded by our creativity, exuberant careers, and constant mingling in the luxury lifestyle. But all that hustling brings on a slew of side-effects. We spend hours each day in traffic that gets worse every year, and often rely on the ease and comfort of our ubiquitous fast food stops. While there’s no shame in grabbing a taco on a rushed afternoon, problems can arise when drive-thru windows act as our beacons for normality.
One of the reasons food is so addictive is because eating is such an undeniably pleasant experience. However, if you see yourself turning to the same low-nutrient meals over and over, that could be a sign of dependence on cheap, unhealthy food. Likewise, if you continue to eat the same or similar fattening, unhealthy meals, but you no longer enjoy it as much as you once did, your brain could be dependent on the familiarity and nostalgia that a certain meal once evoked. You could be eating the same thing over and over again because you’re addicted to it, rather than gaining any value or pleasure from the experience.
Treating Your Food Addiction
Treatment for food addiction is reminiscent of other addictions rehabs. While several treatment options could cater to a busy lifestyle, the golden standard is still in-house treatment. At our Los Angeles treatment and recovery centers, we provide an evidence-based solution for food addiction, with treatments that focus on nutrient management and medical care, trauma recovery, and spiritual development. Our beautiful campus also has a tremendous range of unique services for our guests, such as cooking classes, custom meal prep, and an on-campus organic farm.
Addiction is not your fault; it’s the result of thousands of years of complex brain development being susceptible to powerful chemical addictions. If you or someone you know has struggled with food addiction or other substances, we recommend you call us immediately at (800) 929-5904. The freedom from food addiction is a breathtaking experience, and we can see you there.