Food Addiction: Signs, Food List, And Hidden Dangers (Resolved By A Dietitian)

Last Update on January 11, 2024 : Published on January 14, 2024

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A lot of people asked me, “Can food cause addiction?” Well, the answer is quite simple, “It depends on the food you’re consuming on a daily basis.” For example, if you’re mostly binging on junk or highly processed foods regularly, yes, you might develop food addiction which requires a proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you’re bringing over good quality food products, fresh foods, or good proteins or fats, chances might be less of developing a food addiction. Of course, food is a basic need of life, so is consuming good quality food. 

When we start being highly dependent on processed foods or junk foods for enjoyment or pleasure, instead of focusing on our needs, we indirectly welcome a lot of illnesses (not only physical but mental health issues too)!

Do you know that food addiction can become a serious issue similar to drug or substance abuse? In this blog, let us read everything we need to know about food addiction. So, let’s get started! 

List of Contents

What is Food Addiction?

Food addiction is the addiction to highly palatable foods (foods that are rich in salt, sugar, or fat). Food addiction generally causes triggers in the brain to develop feelings of satisfaction or pleasure. In psychology, food addiction is considered to be as similar to substance dependence as it activates the reward system in the brain. 

An individual experiencing food addiction might solely depend on the “good feelings” obtained after consuming addictive foods. This triggers the need to eat the addictive food continuously even when not feeling hungry.

Such addictive behaviors lead to a vicious cycle. In extreme situations, people addicted to food might indulge in binge eating, overeating, or eating disorders which might result in malnutrition, obesity, and other physical health conditions. 

Not only this, but it can also lead to chronic conditions such as isolation, depression, low self-esteem, diabetes, digestive issues, and heart disease. Food addiction also causes destructive behaviors even after knowing or acknowledging the consequences of the situation.

This results in re-engaging in the consumption of foods which induces feelings of pleasure in the brain. If you think you or your loved one might be struggling with food addiction, you can overcome food addiction effectively by seeking the help of a professional. 

List of Most Addictive Foods

Generally, foods that are highly processed and highly palatable are responsible for causing food addiction. These foods are generally rich in fats, salts, or sugars. Refer to the below list to learn about food addictive: 

  1. Chocolate 
  2. Chips 
  3. Cookies 
  4. French fries 
  5. Cheeseburgers 
  6. Pizza 
  7. Ice cream
  8. Soda 
  9. Cheese 
  10. Cake
  11. Fried chicken 
  12. Buttered popcorn 
  13. Breakfast cereal 
  14. Bacon 
  15. Rolls 
  16. Sugar gummies or candies
  17. Muffins 
  18. steaks

Symptoms of Food Addiction 

Below listed are some of the signs and symptoms of food addiction: 

  • Avoiding social situations, functioning, or relationships to engage in overeating 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Difficulty maintaining productivity levels at work 
  • Digestive disorders 
  • Engagement in destructive behaviors 
  • Excessive eating causes illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhea, and others
  • Overconsumption of addictive foods even after crossing the physical tolerance levels 
  • Ready to associate with bad or negative behaviors to obtain addictive foods 
  • Isolated eating or secret eating 
  • Reduced quality of life 
  • Lack of personal hygiene due to reduced efficiency 
  • Excessive engagement for bingeing purposes 
  • Lack of concentration 
  • Sleep issues or negative sleeping patterns  
  • Restlessness 
  • Headache 
  • Irritability
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideations 

Causes of Food Addiction 

Research shows that food addiction is caused by several factors which play interconnected roles. Below listed are some of the important factors leading to food addiction: 

  • Biological Factors: Biological factors such as abnormalities in brain structures, hormonal imbalances, side effects, or heredity may cause addiction issues. 
  • Psychological Factors: Psychological factors such as abuse (sexual or emotional), series of traumatic events, chronic self-esteem, grief or loss, or other negative reactions or situations may cause addiction issues. 
  • Social Factors: Social factors such as lack of social support, stressful life events, social isolation, peer pressure or societal pressure may cause addiction issues. 
  • Other Factors: Factors such as the presence of other mental health conditions such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and other co-occurring disorders might have serious complications on addictive issues. 

Physical and Mental Health Impacts of Food Addiction 

Food addiction may have various impacts on the overall quality of life. Since food addiction can have chronic and damaging symptoms, it’s important to take a look at the impacts also so that you may yourself or your loved one to overcome or treat food addiction: 

Mental Health Impacts of Food Addiction 

Physical Health Impacts of Food Addiction 

  • Arthritis 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Heart disease 
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease 
  • Malnutrition 
  • Obesity 
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reduced sex quality
  •   Sleep disorders  
  • Stroke

Other Risk Factors Associated with Food Addiction 

  • Reduced performance at school or work 
  • Social isolation 
  • Isolation from family units 
  • Lack of enjoyment in other activities 
  • Social avoidance 
  • Reduced overall quality of life 

Differences Between Food Addiction and Other Eating Disorders 

  • Food addictions are quite different from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating, or bulimia nervosa. 
  • Eating disorders can have physiological, behavioral, and psychological symptoms. 
  • Most eating disorders are caused by obsessions related to body shape and weight, restrictive eating patterns, and others. However, food addictions are caused by overeating highly palatable foods. 
  • In some studies, or articles, you might find food addiction and binge eating listed similarly. However, they both vary. Food addiction is more related to reward and pleasure meanwhile binge eating is related to unhealthy eating patterns or obsessive eating. 

Treatment of Food Addiction 

The treatment of food addiction is important because it can impact physical and mental health negatively. It might cause hopelessness, frustration, despair, negative emotions, and more. Therefore, it’s important to connect with a physical health provider to approach the treatment in a comprehensive manner. 

Additionally, for mental health issues or co-occurring mental health conditions, you may connect with a mental health professional. 


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For diet plans and nutritional counseling, you can connect with a Certified Dietitian in your area. 

Quick Self-Help Tips to Overcome Food Addiction

  1. Learn about your triggers and avoid foods that might cause overeating, binging, or cravings. 
  2. Avoid visiting restaurants or cafes that serve junk food. 
  3. Replace your cravings with healthy food options 
  4. Eat fresh and raw, and avoid processed or highly palatable foods. 
  5. Connect with a clinical nutritionist to learn about healthy eating
  6. Promote mindful eating and healthy eating habits to improve overall well-being. 
  7. Track your mental health symptoms and connect with a mental health professional. 
  8. Communicate your issues with your loved ones and encourage healthy eating together. 
  9. Control your cravings eat what’s important for your health and meet daily nutritious requirements. 

List of Less Addictive Foods To Overcome Food Addictions 

  1. Apples 
  2. Bananas
  3. Beans 
  4. Broccoli 
  5. Brown rice 
  6. Carrots 
  7. Cucumbers 
  8. Corn 
  9. Salmon 
  10. Strawberries
  11. Water 
  12. Granola bar
  13. Crackers 
  14. Chicken breast 
  15. Pretzels 
  16. Nuts 
  17. Eggs

Quick Takeaway: Online Sources for Overcoming Food Addiction 

Along with therapy and medications, you can take the help of below online sources to overcome food addiction: 

  1. Overeaters Anonymous
  2. Food Addicts 
  3. Grey sheet Anonymous 
  4. Recovery by Acorn 
  5. The Turning Point 
  6. Shades of Hope 
  7. Bittens Addiction 
  8. Food Addicts Anonymous 
  9. Life Process Program 

I hope this blog helps you understand what food addiction is, the list of food additives, hidden dangers, and how to overcome food addiction. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms. 

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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