“Food addiction” isn’t a real thing.
Yup, I said it, and I’m standing by it. And believe me, I’m not the only one saying so! In fact, there’s a ton of RDs, nutritionists, and researchers out there debunking the “food addiction” science all day, every day… and really, they do it much better than me. But here are some of the basics that even someone allergic to science (like me) can swallow:
Food addiction posits that food lights up the pleasure centers of the brain, which means that food elicits a pleasure response, similar to that of drugs.
Sugar, in particular, has been a target of this specific claim, and researchers suggest that because sugar creates a similar pleasure response in the brain, it could have the same addictive qualities as drugs.
But you know what the food addiction research doesn’t make sure to point out?? Food might light of the pleasure centers of our brain (like heroin or cocaine), but so does laughing, holding your baby, and so many other regular human things. Has anyone accused you of being addicted to laughing? No, because laughing, unlike fat bodies, isn’t stigmatized.
Also, there’s a reason food is rewarding in our brains! Food is supposed to be pleasurable!!!! It keeps us alive!
Also, consider this: food addiction research illustrates that highly palatable foods (think sugar, salt, fat) seem to light up our pleasure centers more aggressively.
But we also know that deprivation makes the pleasure response more intense… which means that any dieter (AKA all people on planet earth who live in diet culture world, like us!) is going to have an intense pleasure response to something like sugar. And there is no food addiction research out there right now that controls for deprivation!
So in short, you’re not addicted to food, but dieting makes you think you are. So stop dieting, and start living!
If you’re interested in learning more about “food addiction” and the nitty gritty behind the research, be sure to read this article.
Here is a highlight:
“Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior.”
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Written by Ashley Seruya, B.A.
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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