Carolyn Coker Ross writes about the Eight Surprising Parallels Between Food and Drug Addictions in PsychToday. This one resonates for me:
#7 Continuing the Behavior in Spite of Negative Consequences
Drug addicts continue to use even if they’ve lost everything that matters to them. While food addiction may not bankrupt your family or send you to jail in the same way as drug addiction, compulsive eaters may experience serious health consequences such as heart disease and diabetes, relationship problems, and diminished quality of life, yet continue to struggle with poor eating habits.
I realize that many find the concept of food addiction troubling, but I too see parallels, especially with something like alcohol. Some have little trouble with it, others use it to wreck their lives.
As far as actually being addicted to food, there are interesting theories that it’s not just how addictive something is, but how frequently it’s used. So while food may be “weakly” addictive, reinforcing the response multiple times a day may be the reason it can be a problem.