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Food Addiction, Cravings, Chemical Culprits Linked to Overeating

Updated on February 21, 2014

It has always been accepted that being overweight or obese is due to genetics, overeating, poor willpower or lack of exercise but another possibility is now believed to be food addiction. Food found in supermarkets today comes in endless varieties loaded with chemicals and addictive fat, salt and sugar, manufactured by money driven food companies, whose goal isn’t to make you trim and healthy, but to get you hooked on their product. Advertisements for these unhealthy, addictive, habit forming foods are designed to appeal to the emotional eater.

When health issues and obesity appear, many people become deperate and begin a vicious cycle of crash diets and food binges. The cycle never stops because dieting leads the emotional eater to more overeating. Will power, which seems to be more than sufficient to overcome in other areas of life, is ineffective when it comes to food. Slowly self esteem begins to erode, as the victim spirals downward into the pit of addiction from which there seems to be no escape. Any attempt to improve one’s diet is met with even stronger cravings for health destroying foods. Trying to avoid food only increases the obsession.

Other possible causes of overeating are food allergies, hormonal and neurochemical imbalances. Research has found that people who are allergic to a particular food may feel more hungry after eating it. If they resist eating the food, they experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Certain foods and beverages may be responsible for imbalances in the body causing food cravings and should be avoided.

Emotional Eating

When life is met with disappointment, loneliness, anger, frustration,stress and boredom, food can be an escape or a distraction. Pleasure eating shifts the attention. The victim has a way to take control of their undesirable mood and circumstances and influence their mood positively by eliminate negative, uncomfortable feelings. Life has improved for the moment, but behind the scenes addiction is growing and food becomes a controlling force in life.

Warnings of the dangers of overeating, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and unattractive, overweight bodies cause great concern, but are not enough to prevent the overeating of unhealthy foods. Instead, diet pills, shakes, exercise, stimulants, hypnosis, electric muscle stimulation, vibration machines, plastic wraps, liposuction and weight loss drugs are used but only temporarily remedy the problem.

Food Allergies, Hormone and Neurochemical imbalances

Over time, eating the same foods too often can cause sensitivity to the food leading to allergic reaction from the food. The body releases histamine and other chemicals which cause a number of side effects including mood swings, headaches, migraines, asthma, skin rashes and heart palpitations. The symptoms usually occur only moments after eating the food. Continually eating foods that cause allergies deplete the body’s immune system and nutrients rendering it incapable of fighting bugs and viruses when they attack. The result being frequent flues, colds and other infections.

Food allergies can cause hormonal imbalance which may cause a deficiency in serotonin levels. This can trigger cravings for unhealthy foods to compensate for the deficiency. Instead, take the healthy approach: Identify the allergy food and elliminate it. Prime suspects are milk and rye, oat and wheat glutens. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarette, anphetamines, get plenty of rest and exercise. Nutrients that may be beneficial are ginkgo biloba, Vitamin B6 and St. John's wort.

How to Combat Food Cravings

Drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day. Many times feeling hungry is really a sign that we need water, avoid situations that will trigger cravings. When you have a craving for an unhealthy food like ice cream, replace it with frozen yogurt. Replace wheat with spelt or kamut. When cravings come, try to discern what your body needs. For example, if you crave salty snacks, substitute them with food sprinkled with a healthy form of salt, such as sea salt. Distract yourself with healthy activities such as exercise. Rid yourself of obvious sources of temptation. The next time you are at the supermarket decide not to put those doughnuts in your shopping cart. Gargle with an unsweetened mouthwash. A big part of food addiction is in the taste and food won’t taste so good afterwards something bitter. Avoid foods with artificial preservatives and colors.

Emotional eating, food allergies or hormonal imbalances may lead to food addiction. Food addiction may be impossible to overcome without taking the appropriate steps to overcome it. Isolating the source of addiction is half the battle. Making minor changes in diet and implementing strategies to deal with cravings will lead to freedom from food addiction and all the heath issues that go with it.


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    • profile image

      ladyliza 6 years ago

      Where do I begin? Most obese people I know have insulin resistence. This condition leads to high leptin which causes the body to scream for food all the time. If you are having trouble with your weight, ask your doctor to test for insulin resistence. It is a 2 hour test where they check your blood sugar after drinking a sweet drink.

      Also ask him to check your leptin levels. High is bad..low is good.

    • DimitriLive profile image

      DimitriLive 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good tips and advice.

    • Troy Centazzo profile image

      Troy Centazzo 9 years ago from Los Angeles, CA


      Here's another aspect of the food addiction issue you nicely cover: that evolution forces us to eat and gain weight when we're stressed out:

    • profile image

      ckelly 9 years ago

      Some very good points-however, research has also shown that starvation and being overfed in a parent, grand parent and great grand parent generations or during a pregnancy affects the likelihood of diabetes and obesity in future generations. What does this look like? Food addiction, slow metabolism, high levels of anxiety and depression due to generational trauma while being starved or malnourished.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 9 years ago from India

      What a practical, sensible hub - thanks for all that info!

      And one mustn't forget the growth hormones in foods that get into our systems and wreck havoc!

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 9 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for the great comments everyone!

    • OrangeCast profile image

      OrangeCast 9 years ago from Dallas, TX

      This is an excellent hub, and truly something that gets overlooked when we discuss weight issues in America. In my research for the article we posted recently on weight loss surgery, it became clear that even surgeries are only minimally effective, if at all, if the underlying reasons for WHY people overeat are not addressed. All of the reasons that you mention in this hub are why there has been such a shift towards aftercare with respect to weight loss surgery.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      nice hub with good information. very helpful too.

    • profile image

      Fahima 9 years ago

      Hmmm interesting

    • MD FREE profile image

      MD FREE 9 years ago from OC, California where extra is paid for good weather!

      It has always seemed strange that having never really liked meats at home, Taco Bell meat occassionally calls me to this day. I find when it is close to that time of the month or life is extra difficult I have to fight off the craving for extreme junk and will shop at Trader Joes for alternative snack foods, which are better for you but still bad.

      I have learned recently that parasites love sugar and parasites sort of control us to eat more sugar to be weak. I didn't get too detailed in my research yet, but organic sugar is only a step up from sugar which seems to be a couple steps up from high fructose and chemicals I cannot spell.

      Great Article.

    • Troy Centazzo profile image

      Troy Centazzo 9 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great article.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 9 years ago from South Africa

      Steve another great informative hub.

      Keep 'em coming.

    • usguide profile image

      usguide 9 years ago from California

      Very useful

    • mcarolyn profile image

      mcarolyn 9 years ago from Philippines

      I think food addiction is better rather than drug addiction or being alcoholic and chain smoker :D

    • profile image

      Eddie Perkins 9 years ago

      Very well written hub and helpful. Thanks ~ eddie

    • ajcor profile image

      ajcor 9 years ago from NSW. Australia

      Thanks for editing your article - this is brilliant information although I do wish I had known how to a tackle my "hormonal inbalance" many years ago when it was identified and a real issue. I thought I could just take a pill or something.

      When I asked the person/s who looking after me in a medical sense (who had from memory(?) identified this problem via a blood test) how to correct the inbalance I never received an answer. and this must be why - it was an allergy food issue. May be they didn't know then - it was in the 70's - but as I still have the problem I will tackle it.

      Thanks for taking the time. cheers

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 9 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comments everyone!

      Ajcor, thanks for your comment. I have edited the article to include this information.

    • ajcor profile image

      ajcor 9 years ago from NSW. Australia

      Hi thanks for your hub - re the hormonal inbalances as being a part of weight cycle problem - how is tha so and what can you do about hormonal inbalances? cheers

    • qlcoach profile image

      Gary Eby 9 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

      I am glad you wrote this excellent Hub. Ihave believed that chronic overeating is a food addiction for a long time. As a matter of fact, I think what works to treat alcoholics and drug addicts can be utilized to help those who struggle with food. Please see how I try to help people in new ways. Sincerely: Gary Eby, author and therapist.

    • Jean's Corner profile image

      Jean's Corner 9 years ago from Harrisburg North Carolina

      As always you have another excellent, informative hub. Keep up the good work. We certainly appreciate you.

    • childcen profile image

      childcen 9 years ago from New Zealand

      Very useful points! thanks.

    • starrkissed profile image

      starrkissed 9 years ago from Arizona

      This is great, thanks!!