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Oct 11

The Truth About Food Addiction

The Truth About Food Addiction Kat Rentas-2

The concept of food addiction is one that sparks up a lot of debate. 

As a coach, it’s not uncommon for me to hear a woman immediately proclaim that she’s addicted to unhealthy foods.

“I’m just addicted to sugar!”

“I’m just addicted to overeating!”

“I’m just addicted to carbs!”

These are all phrases I hear often.

And while there has been evidence of certain food items activating brain chemicals associated with addiction, the reality behind food addiction isn’t so cut and dry.

The truth is, many people stuck in unhealthy eating patterns love to resort to food addiction.

Since most don’t want to be responsible for their unhealthy eating patterns.

Which is totally natural.

It can be incredibly painful admitting that you have the ability to change, but haven’t yet done so.

However, real food addiction is rarely the case.

What you’re actually experiencing is far less severe. 

The truth is, eating in itself can simply be a rewarding experience for our brains. 

Rather than resorting to “food addiction”, let’s discuss the more common reasons why you likely eat the way you do.

The Reward System of Eating

There are numerous reasons why food is inherently rewarding to our brains.

It’s important we understand what these are, so we can better understand why we eat the way we do.

Rather than constantly resorting to food addiction as the answer.

The main, huge reason why food is so rewarding to our brains? 

Survival.

Our brains are designed to be a reward system.

Meaning to ensure our survival, our brains are designed to increase dopamine levels when we do things to keep us alive – including eating.

When dopamine levels increase, we experience pleasure and motivation.

To add to this, the feeling of hunger actually stimulates higher dopamine levels as well.

Thereby further contributing towards the reward system.

Pretty sweet, right? 

So, now that we know why our brains find reward in eating, where does it go wrong?

Because there’s nothing wrong with our reward system of eating.

It’s that we use the system improperly.

We screw up the system when we lead an unbalanced life.

This is when we rely on food to increase our pleasure in life.

In other words, we depend on eating for our increase in dopamine levels.

And the truth is, there are tons of activities that can increase dopamine levels.

This could be dancing, socializing, exercising, etc.

Chances are, if you’re relying on food for pleasure, you’re skimping on the other aspects of life that could bring you pleasure.

Why Food Addiction Isn’t the Answer

Now that we know how the reward system of eating works, we can now realize that food addiction has little to do with the way we eat.

The truth is, studies on food research are limited.

There’s not much conclusive evidence that yet proves we can so easily be addicted to unhealthy foods.

I mean, I get it.

The concept of foods being addicting sounds more exciting.

There’s more drama associated with this.

However, the reality is, it really comes down to simple brain chemistry.

And how we’re messing up our brain’s natural ability to eat properly.

This might sound complicated, but it’s very simple.

Doing this for yourself requires you to slow down and listen to what your body is telling you.

What food is she telling you makes her feel nourished?

What foods could she do without?

What foods make her happy?

These are all valid questions that will allow you to cultivate a fine-tuned relationship with your brain and body over time.

So, don’t feel the need to stamp a “food addiction” label onto your unhealthy eating habits.

Start listening to your body and take it from there.

- Kat Rentas

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Kat Rentas, Eating Psych. Coach

Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right placeYou can read my full story here.