Why is food addiction so difficult to overcome? Is it harder to overcome than a cocaine or heroin addiction? MAYBE. Click the link to find out as Dr. Cali Estes is interviewed on her expertise in food and other addictions
Food addiction: Why addictions to certain foods can be so difficult to overcome
Addiction therapist breaks down cause, effect of food addictions
We need food to survive, but certain foods — especially those rich in sugar, fat and salt — can trigger chemicals in the brain that make us feel good, such as dopamine. When you feel that, it can make you want to eat those foods again.
The health portion of my life was more about having a stack of Oreo cookies with a glass of milk at 10 o’clock at night while I’m watching TV in bed,” said Don Prince, who struggled with food addiction. “I’d justify the cookies and say, ‘Well, I do like Oreos.’ Or I’d eat oatmeal cookies because they had raisins in them because, ‘That’s got to be healthier than the Oreos or the chocolate chips.’”
Dr. Cali Estes, PhD, an addiction therapist, said there is research-based evidence that suggests foods high in sugar, fat and salt can trigger the pleasure sensors in the brain, creating feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
“At 10 o’clock at night, when you’re bored, you stick your hand in the bag of Oreos, and that’s when food addiction occurs,” Estes said.
Like drugs and alcohol, food can be used to suppress emotions, Estes said.
“It’s a numbing out effect,” Estes said. “It’s a short window while you’re eating it or thinking about it, but it’s enough serotonin, dopamine to make you happy for a short period.”
When that high is going, Estes said people can go through stages of withdrawal, starting with irritability and fatigue and eventually lead to insomnia, headaches and restless legs.
“All the same symptoms of heroin on a lesser level,” Estes said.
Ready to help others overcome their addiction to food? Register for our upcoming Food Addictions Coach training FEB 6-7!