Signs of Food Addiction

Social Worker Resource
September 4, 2012 — 1,822 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

New information is being learned about food addiction every day. Research suggests that the same parts of the brain that respond to drugs like heroin can be triggered by food. That's especially true about foods that are fatty, sugary or salty. There are physical, emotional and social signs of food addiction. They are highlighted below.

Physical Signs of Food Addiction                  

Some of the most common physical signs of food addiction include:

  • Continuing to eat despite being full.
  • Developing a tolerance to certain foods. Higher quantities must be consumed in order to achieve satisfaction.
  • Planning to eat only a certain amount and being unable to stop.
  • Eating until feeling physically ill.
  • Using diuretics, taking laxatives, vomiting or exercising excessively to avoid gaining weight due to overeating.

Social Signs of Food Addiction

Food addiction can isolate a person from others. A few physical signs of food addiction include:

  • Having difficulty functioning at work or school due to anxiety about eating.
  • Going out of the way to find certain foods, even if it means putting off important tasks or responsibilities.
  • Missing out on enjoyable activities in order to stay at home and eat.
  • Stealing food that belongs to other people. This is especially common in work environments, where there are shared break rooms, and in situations where multiple people live in the same house or apartment.
  • Stealing food from grocery stores and other places.
  • At social events, being more concerned about eating than about interacting with others and enjoying their company.

Emotional Signs of Food Addiction

A food addiction can have a very serious impact on a person's emotional well-being. A few of the most common emotional signs of food addiction include:

  • Worrying obsessively about cutting back on certain foods or about eliminating certain foods from one's diet entirely.
  • Feeling ashamed, depressed or hopeless about eating too much or about being obsessed with certain foods.
  • Eating to relieve feelings of sadness.
  • Eating to reward oneself for certain accomplishments or to celebrate certain achievements.
  • After trying and failing many diets and weight-loss programs, feeling like a failure and having very low self-esteem.

Most people who suffer from food addiction experience signs from all three categories. In most cases, these signs worsen or become more pronounced over time. By asking a person about these signs, it is possible to determine whether or not a food addiction exists.

Social Worker Resource