When the editors at Psychology Today approached me a couple of years ago with an assignment to write a book called Breaking the Bonds of Food Addiction, my first (very conservative) thought was, “There’s no such thing as an addiction to food.” How could I possibly write 375 pages of material about a condition that doesn’t exist? I was wrong. While researching the book, I found out there’s plenty of evidence to support the theory of food addiction, and there’s a lot to say about it. Neuroscientists have found that food affects brain chemistry in ways that might lead to an addiction in some people. In fact, the brain chemistry and physiology of an obese person has been shown to be very similar to that of a drug addict.
It’s true that scientists have yet to figure out why or how someone can become addicted to food, or to prove that a true addiction to food even exists. But whenever I talk to someone with a compulsive overeating disorder, I inevitably hear about behavior that is secretive, self-destructive, and out of control. The obsession is the same as that of a gambler, a sex addict, or a compulsive gamer.