Let’s start with a fact: food is something we need to eat to stay alive. But when does it cross over from necessity into an unhealthy addiction?
Habits form early on
Over the course of our lives, we develop personal preferences, and certain foods will be more pleasurable than others due to our associations with food and emotions (for example, your parents treating you to an ice cream when you were upset as a child).
Our eating habits strengthen over time, making them hard to change as we get older.
Poor habits of consistently over-eating, combined with poor food choices, often lead to weight gain that can turn into obesity and other health problems.
The causes of over eating or uncontrollable eating can be associated with the habit of using food as a means to find pleasure. Energy-dense foods high in added fat and sugar are commonly associated with addictive properties. Cakes, biscuits, confectionery, soft drinks and pastries top the list for many.
Also read: Top 10 Cardio Myths Busted
Can certain foods give you a ‘high’?
Recent research has revealed that some foods share a common link between causing certain brain activity and behaviours comparable to that of drug dependence.
This research is a step closer to identifying specific foods that elicit biochemical responses that are associated with addictive eating behaviours in some people.
However, there isn’t enough research to confirm, just yet. Glycemic index is looking like a potential culprit to addictive eating behaviours: The higher the GI of a food, the stronger the link.
Also read: The Skinny on Low-Carb Diets
One thing we know is for certain: addictive behaviour is something that can be diagnosed. More recently, specificity for diagnosing addictive eating behaviour has been achieved using a validated diagnostic tool called the ‘Yale Food Addiction Scale’.
There are many shorthand web versions available that should be used with caution. To be properly diagnosed as someone with addictive eating habits, a qualified healthcare professional needs to be consulted. Interpretation of results and self diagnosis will not help you lose weight. It’s the management and re-conditioning of your behaviours that will.
A step-by-step guided program, like 12WBT, can help kick unhealthy habits for life by tackling the deeper issues driving addictive behaviours. Click here to find out more about our programs.