Most of us lose the Lay’s potato chip wager of “bet you can’t eat just one.” Even if chips aren’t your weakness, you most likely crave another treat, like ice cream, chocolate-covered pretzels or a cheesy slice of pizza. But while most of us lose control on a bucket of popcorn every once in a while, more and more research has shown that there’s a big difference between enjoying your favorite food and having an actual food addiction.
In one recent Yale University study, researchers discovered that food-addicted women displayed the same dependent brain activity as drug addicts when shown images of a chocolate milkshake. Other studies have also suggested that those fatty, sugary foods we love sometimes get us seriously hooked. Some researchers think processed foods overstimulate our systems and lead to dependence, explaining why we crave cookies and not carrots.
Think you might have more than just a small problem with snacking? Check out these warning signs from the American Psychological Association, and take its quiz to see if you could have a food addiction. If the following behaviors sound familiar to you, you may be suffering from a food addiction.
You often eat so much that you feel sick.
Food addicts sometimes even report feeling sluggish and “hung-over” the day after overeating.
You experience strong cravings if you go without your favorite food and over-indulge when you have it again.
In one Princeton study, rats that were trained to binge on sugar were denied the treat. When they had it again, they consumed much more than they ever had.
You eat certain foods even when you’re not hungry.
Food addicts sometimes have trouble stopping eating once they’ve started, according to Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous.
Thinking about your eating makes you upset.
Connecting emotions with food is a common sign of food addiction, especially if you find that you don’t get the same pleasure from eating that you once did.
You keep consuming certain foods despite mental or physical problems.
Despite experiencing distress or significant weight gain due to overeating, you can’t seem to change your habits.