Why You're Fat: You’re Addicted to Food

If you literally can’t stop eating, help is in sight.

| September 7th, 2011
Eat Pretty Barrier: You’re Addicted to Food

Can’t put down that Snickers bar even though you swore you’d only have one bite? Do you find yourself scrounging around for more snacks after inhaling a bag of potato chips?

Hey, we’ve all been there, but if this happens on a regular basis, and you find that you’re constantly stressing about your increased food intake and those negative feelings get in the way of your work or quality time with loved ones, you might have a real-deal food addiction.

What’s the Deal?

You’ve probably heard the following phrase: “I’m addicted to [fill in your favorite salty/sugary/fatty food],” but the idea that food might be an actual addiction is a controversial topic. Food addiction is not currently recognized in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), a guide published by the American Psychiatric Association and the gold standard for classifying and identifying mental disorders.

MORE: The Science of Comfort Food

Some experts believe that a person can’t be addicted to something the body naturally needs for survival. But others, like Mark Gold, M.D., chair of psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine and a leading addiction expert, are working to prove that food addiction is real, and most likely due to the prevalence of highly processed or refined foods in our diets. (Have you ever heard someone say they’re addicted to steamed broccoli? Probably not.)

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