ACA Blog

Kristy Carlisle
Feb 07, 2011

They Cannot Stop Eating

Food addiction is a controversial issue because not everyone believes it exists. The DSM-IV describes eating disorders as severe disturbances in eating behavior and includes Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa as such disorders. Interestingly, Appendix B of the manual contains criteria and axes for further study of a condition called Binge-Eating Disorder (BED), characterized by recurrent excessive eating without control despite resulting physical and emotional discomfort. While suggesting that overeating may be an addictive behavior, not all excessive food consumption fits the classification. Furthermore, obesity and food addiction should not be considered one in the same. However, BED provides a particularly interesting manifestation of symptoms that merits further investigation into the addictive qualities of sugary and fatty foods.

At first, comparing food to drugs seemed outrageous to me, and that is precisely why I’m enjoying this research so much. One of my first thoughts was to wonder how BED, with its uncontrollable excessive eating, is different from Bulimia Nervosa. After all, the binging criterion of BN has been termed an addictive process. The difference, as I understand it thus far in my research, is that BED is not followed by purging, fasting, or exercising to compensate for the binging. As clinical studies advance, I will be very interested in learning about the potentially different triggers for the binge eating in the two disorders.

I’ve been reading page after page of research that compares the potential symptoms of food addiction to drug addiction in terms of patients losing control, experiencing tolerance, suffering from withdrawal, having cravings, relapsing during recovery, not to mention the neurobiological similarities that clinicians are suggesting. I find this research fascinating and believable, but I am still experiencing a tremendous dilemma. People with addictions can stop drinking and drugging, they can even stop gambling, and with proper treatment, stay alive. They cannot, however, stop eating and achieve the same end.

Kristy L. Carlisle is a school counselor and a mental health counselor in training at Rider University. Her interests include protecting children from cyber-bullying and from food addiction.

Contact Name

Contact Title

Contact Email

Contact Phone

Related Info


  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
    Toolbar's wrapper 
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.
Join Now

  • Learn more about your specialty—join a division
  • Maximize your Professional Development
  • Stay ahead of the educational learning curve
  • Advocate for the counseling care of tomorrow
  • Expand your networking connections
  • More Member Benefits