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Are You a Food Addict? Take This Test

Yale researchers provide a quick way to consider whether food is a problem for you.

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By Bryan Le

09/21/12

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Scientists still disagree over whether you can officially become addicted to eating, but several studies indicate that certain foods can consume you by messing with your brain's pleasure and self-control centers, similarly to drugs. Researchers at Princeton and the University of Florida watched sugar-addicted rats get the shakes and chattering teeth when they couldn't get a fix of the sweet stuff—and when they were allowed a hit two weeks later, they binged 23% more than before. And the Oregon Research Institute found that young ice cream-abusers need larger and larger doses over time in order to satisfy the reward centers of their brains. In case you're wondering whether you have a food problem too, you can take this quick quiz, published in the New York Times and produced by Yale researchers who have devised a Food Addiction Scale:

Do the following statements apply to you: Never; Once a month; Two to four times a month; Two or three times a week, or Four or more times a week?

  • I find myself consuming certain foods even though I am no longer hungry.
  • I feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating.
  • I have had physical withdrawal symptoms like agitation and anxiety when I cut down on certain foods (not including caffeinated drinks).
  • My behavior with respect to food and eating causes me significant distress. Issues related to food and eating decrease my ability to function effectively (interfering with work, school, family, recreation or health).

 

 Do these statements apply to you?

  • I keep consuming the same types or amounts of food despite significant emotional and/or physical problems related to my eating.
  • Eating the same amount of food does not reduce negative emotions or increase pleasurable feelings the way it used to.

 

If you've taken the quiz and didn't like your answers, ways to fight back include a regimen of meditation and exercise, and seeking healthier and more natural alternatives to bad food habits—try soothing your ice cream itch with fruit smoothies for example. “We don’t abuse lettuce, turnips and oranges,” says Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. “But when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn as far as I know, but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?”

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