It’s True: You Could Be Addicted to Junk Food

If you always go big on #tacotuesday, or if a night of Netflix with the girls just isn’t the same without a giant bowl of chips (and a bag of licorice, and maybe a pint of ice cream…) you could actually be facing more of a problem than lack of will power.

The Diagnostics and Statistics Manual IV (DSM-V) is the documentation by which a substance is deemed addictive, by applying seven criteria to the material under scrutiny. In this case, we’re talking junk food.

The criterion include the following:

  • Withdrawal
  • Tolerance
  • Continued use despite harm
  • Loss of control
  • Attempts to cut down
  • Salience, or time spent thinking about food
  • Reduced involvement in your life

For many people, junk food fits the bill on all of these points. Trying to cut down, or cut out, sugar can lead to feeling unwell. You may find yourself getting a larger order of wings, or a second burrito, in order to get the same sense of satisfaction you used to get from a smaller order. You might joke that you don’t even know where that chocolate cake went. And if you’d rather eat than socialize, you’re being held captive by your diet.

Now here’s the scary part: If just three of these criteria apply to you, when you think about your penchant for junk, you may be addicted. But at least recognizing it means you’re aware, and awareness is the first step toward changing your habits. And you don’t have to do it alone, either. Draft a few friends to change how you socialize, so you can see each other in a scenario that doesn’t involve food. Also, try keeping your hands busy during the times you’d usually reach for the cookies—think knitting or embroidery—so you aren’t tempted to snack. (Hello, Etsy shop. Just think, you can kick the addiction and bring in a little extra cash!)