Fast food addiction isn’t something people may feel needs medical assistance, but overcoming it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not been listed as an addictive behavioral disorder in the fifth edition of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, this doesn’t mean that craving fast food isn’t a serious issue.
It can typically revolve around excessive consumption of processed foods from popular franchises. These bingeing behaviors can have a detrimental effect on the individual’s physical and mental well-being. That’s because they have little to no control over their eating habits. As a result, it can lower their self-confidence and self-esteem.
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Common Telltale Signs of Fast Food Addiction
It’s high time to break the cycle of consuming food rich in saturated fats, high salt and sugar. Here are a couple of common signs that you may be addicted to fast food:
Eating Despite Feeling Full
There is a fine line between feeling hungry and craving fast food. You can desire to eat burgers, fried chicken, etc., even on a full stomach. People addicted to highly palatable foods can’t ignore these cravings. As a result, they may develop a habit of bingeing before going to sleep. That’s because it releases dopamine, which makes them feel satisfied.
Eating More Than Planned
This is the most common telltale sign that you might be addicted. That’s because you planned on eating or drinking, controlling your urges and consuming fast food in moderation, but it always goes out of hand. Due to this, you feel guilty for gulping unhealthy amounts of processed items. Despite how you feel after bingeing, it’s likely to happen again.
Hiding your Eating Behaviors from People
Individuals with a habit of eating fast food are bound to repeat these patterns over and over again. Hence, they may feel embarrassed and hide their unhealthy food consumption on the down-low. Due to this, they might end up eating alone at night.
Why are people addicted to fast food?
The most common reason for developing a taste for fast food is it’s rich in carbs, sugars, and unsaturated fats. These compounds trigger the release of feel-good hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin.
It recreates the same pleasurable feeling as other addictive substances (drugs, alcohol, etc.). Hence, the body associates these emotions (joy and pleasure) with eating. So, they develop a reward system and keep consuming highly palatable foods.
Tactics used by the Fast Food Industry
Many fast-food franchises tend to open branches in poor neighborhoods with a majority working class. This gives these brands the perfect opportunity to exploit them. That’s because they don’t have time to cook healthy meals at home. Hence, they end up ordering fast food high in fats and salt. As a result, they may develop diabetes, CHD, or other eating disorders (overeating).
How to Break Fast Food Addiction?
Food becomes a vital part of someone’s existence who has developed a negative relationship with it. It might not be easy to accept that they are addicted to processed foods. But the first step is acknowledging the physical and emotional dependence. This can push you to try healthier alternatives over your typical go-to fast food.
However, it might not be easy for everyone; some might need professional assistance to overcome their fast food addiction. Hence, you don’t need to feel ashamed and seek help. Many treatment specialists are trained to help identify the reason for fast food addiction. As a result, they can suggest effective treatment methods to overcome it.
Additionally, breaking fast food addiction might not be easy without a strong support system. That’s because they will encourage you to make healthy lifestyle changes and hold you accountable as well. Also, it can help break the emotional dependence on processed foods loaded with excessive sugars and salts.
Withdrawal of Fast Food
Here are a couple of signs that you’re facing withdrawal from your fast food addiction:
- Frequent mood swings
- Migraines or headaches
The moment you see the occurrence of any signs, it’s best to go back to treatment. The medical professional can help you pinpoint what’s the reason and how you can tackle it in a healthy way.
Fast food addiction may seem emotionally and physically fulfilling but can have long-term effects. Hence, it’s best to seek help if you feel unhappy with this kind of dependence. All it requires is a lifestyle change that pushes you to try out healthier alternatives. However, it may feel challenging, but take a leap of faith and overcome your food addiction.