How does food addiction progress?
Similar to alcoholism and drug abuse, addictive eating tends to get worse.
Over time, the brain needs more and more addictive foods to keep getting short-term relief from stressful emotions, pain, anxiety or depression. Pleasure receptors become less sensitive and a phenomenon known as ‘tolerance’ occurs. As tolerance increases, that familiar sense of well-being requires higher doses of the offending foods.
To add to this cycle, as the body begins to depend on refined carbohydrates and processed foods, major blood-sugar fluctuations occur: refined carbohydrates quickly raise blood-sugar levels, producing short-term bursts of energy and when blood sugar invariably falls, fatigue, lethargy, headaches and irritability follow. We feel better only until the next blood-sugar drop. This roller-coaster ride of high and low blood sugar helps to drive the cycle of addictive eating.
Even when we experience adverse health consequences like obesity, diabetes, depression and heart disease from addictive eating, we are often unable to stop eating addictively because it is so difficult to get through the discomfort of withdrawal.