Food Addiction: Legit or a Load of BS?
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Food Addiction: Legit or a Load of BS?


This post was originally published on June 30, 2014.

You’ve probably heard about the much-hyped Katie Couric and Laurie David documentary Fed Up. It covers the hidden causes of the obesity epidemic, and the fact that approximately 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2020.

Drugs with Sprinkles

Of course, most of us have gotten the memo about Americans’ escalating obesity rates. The problem is that no one seems able to agree on the cause—is it fat content, sugar content, high calories, what? Every health practitioner seems to have a different theory which, frustratingly, no one can fully agree on. One issue that’s been gaining traction, though, is the notion of food being addictive.

As Nicole Avena, PhD., writes in this blog post for HuffPo, “The idea of food addiction has gained more credibility over the past few years with the emergence of scientific studies, including our own, showing that certain foods and beverages, or even images of certain foods, can elicit changes in the brain that resemble those seen in drug addicts.”

High on the White Stuff

One of the primary suspects for food addiction is (no surprise) sugar. The white stuff has been blamed for an ever-growing litany of health woes, from depression to alcoholism to cancer to acne. It’s enough to make you want to swear off the sweets forever. Uh…unless you’re me.

As I’ve written about before, I’m an unrepentant sugar addict, and I’ve been that way since I was an infant and my dad fed me Kool-Aid out of a baby bottle (yes, it’s legit family lore). Like I said, I’m well aware that I have an addictive nature, but I’m also well aware that sugar does things for me. Things that nothing else can do. It gives me a momentary lift—a very tangible, palpable, amazing one. It gives me an insta-sense of serenity, and pleasure, and (of course) sweetness. To be honest, these are all things I just can’t seem to find anywhere else, especially as a chronically single woman in her late 30s. It’s my primary addiction and my deepest, longest love affair. Does that sound ridiculous, or even pathetic? Probably. Do I give a damn? I do not.

Chronic Relapser

Of course I’ve tried to cut back—or cut sweets out completely—many times over. Health experts have told me, time and again, that my passion for sugar is probably negatively affecting my health and exacerbating my chronic issues (depression, skin woes, et al). So every once in a while I’ll decide to make yet another valiant attempt to give up the refined stuff, only to go running back into its tender arms after a few weeks or, if it’s a good stint, a few months.

Do I believe in food addiction? Of course, because I’m living proof. Does said addiction bother me enough to want to forfeit literally one of my only sources of pure, unadulterated pleasure? No way. And I refuse to feel guilty about that, no matter what professionals like Katie Couric (?!) and Laurie David have to say.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.