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Mental Health Matters

Food Obsessions

Being obsessed with food can involve uncontrollable craving for foods containing refined carbohydrates, primarily sugar and flour substances. These foods are metabolized and turned into sugar in the bloodstream. Research shows that for some people, this affects the same pleasure and reward centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin. When people experience the increased dopamine transmission in the brain from eating these foods, they feel the need to eat again.

Signs & Symptoms

Distressing food obsessions can include:

  • Food cravings
  • A disturbed body image
  • Binge eating
  • Shame or fear about food

The pleasure rewards of eating highly palatable foods may override signals of fullness and satisfaction. Some keep eating, even though they are not hungry. Some people experience discomfort at no-food occasions. They avoid discussion when food, eating or weight comes up, sometimes changing the subject to another topic.

Tips & Recommendations

People with food obsessions may actually have neurochemical or hormonal imbalances that trigger sugar and carb cravings. Recovery is based on making appropriate food choices on a daily basis, with ongoing vigilance on making food selections that are free of substances that will trigger the cravings.

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTS) can help you manage your feelings and cope with your distress.

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