Can You Become Addicted to Food?

Question: Can you become addicted to food?

Answer:

There's mounting science on the issue of food and addiction and it's extremely interesting. It's remarkable to me that it's taken our field so long to get around to studying this, because for many years our patients have used the language of addiction to describe the way they interact with food.

Not everybody does, but many people will talk about cravings, will talk about withdrawal if they go on diets, will talk about needing more of the food over time, something that starts to look like tolerance in the words of classic addiction research.

And so it's an issue of great importance that needs to be studied, and the work so far suggests the possibility that food might have the power to trigger an addictive process, at least in some people.

Now, that doesn't mean that everybody who has trouble with food is a food addict; it doesn't mean that they're overwhelmed by some chemical concoction that comprises most modern foods; but it does mean that there might be a real phenomenon here that as science marches ahead we'll understand more about in upcoming years.

So I'm not ready to dismiss out of hand people that say that they might have an addictive relationship with food.

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