Food addiction is an interesting subject because food is something we need to survive. So unlike drugs and alcohol, we actually still need to keep eating food even while getting a handle on our cravings.

For some people, it can be difficult to distinguish between cravings and hunger. What makes them different anyway? Well, cravings feel more like demands or requirements, which so happens to be the actual root of the word. The word is meant to denote an urgent desire or longing more intense than experiencing hunger. However, it’s natural for our bodies to crave foods as a way to seek nutrients our bodies need.

There’s actually a neurological difference between “liking” and “wanting” foods. To “like” food is a reflection of it’s pleasurable taste and aspect of eating which is connected to the opioid system. On the other hand, to “want” food is a more motivational desire which is dopamine-driven. The latter is what we know as cravings.

There also seems to be a cultural difference in terms of cravings. Not every language has a word for craving. And looking at North America in particular, women craving chocolate seems to be more prevalent. Women also seem to have more cravings than men, especially before their menstrual cycle. While women tend to crave more sweets, men lean more towards the savory. Women experience strong cravings especially during pregnancy.

However, when cravings lead to uncontrolled compulsive seeking and eating regardless of negative health or social consequences, it becomes an addiction. Even if food addictions seem harmless compared to drug and alcohol addictions, it’s still unhealthy behavior patterns. It could also be filling a void of a deeper issue that should be worked out.

If you or a loved one is struggling with food addiction and would like to find the root cause of it, please contact Crownview Medical Group to talk with a medical professional who will team up with a nutritionist to reach optimum health.