A food addiction is when an individual may struggle to control their eating behaviour. Often people may find themselves waiting for emotional effects of compulsive eating. The person may spend excessive amounts of time involved with food and overeating.
It has been said that people who may have a food addiction can develop a tolerance to food. Meaning they might increase their intake of food because the food satisfies them less and less.
As with other addictions, when an individual eats certain food their brain triggers the release of dopamine. This creates a sense of pleasure for the individual. When the person feels this pleasure, they may want to continue to eat the food as it satisfies them.
Over time the brain will want to keep feeling pleasure from eating certain foods and the person may have to increase the amount of food they consume to feel the pleasure they once did before.
The amount of pleasure that an individual might experience from eating some foods may override the signals of fullness and satisfaction. This may result in the person continuing to eat even when they are not hungry.
Biological factors that may cause food addiction could include hormonal imbalances, abnormalities in various brain structures, side effects from the use of certain medications, or have family members who are suffering with the same addiction.
There could also be psychological factors. This could be emotional or sexual abuse, being a victim or survivor of a traumatic event, having an inability to healthily cope with negative situations, chronic low-self-esteem, or experiencing grief or loss.
As well as these, there are potential psychological factors for example, using food as a coping mechanism to relieve the painful emotions that may have resulted.
Finally, there could be social factors that may be involved with food addiction, including disturbances in family, pressure from peers or society, stressful life events, social isolation, lack of social support, and child abuse.