Weight Loss

Food Noise Meaning, Symptoms & Treatments

Key Takeaways
  • ‘Food Noise’ isn’t a recognized medical term (yet), but it means the amount of thoughts each day that our brain focuses on food, as well as the intensity of these thoughts.
  • Food noise is totally normal, but it presents differently for each person, with unique frequency and intensity. For some people, it can be constant and/or overwhelming.
  • Food noise isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s meant to tell us when we need to eat, so that our bodies have the fuel they need to go about our days. However, when it starts to become excessive or impact a person’s quality of life, food noise can become a problem.
  • The best treatments for overwhelming food noise are psychotherapy or behavioural therapy to help teach you skills and tools to manage food noise. Many patients who are taking weight loss medications also find that their food noise is reduced, alongside their appetites.

One of the most recent discussions within the weight management community has been in regards to a new concept called ‘Food Noise’.

But what is food noise? How can it impact your daily life? Is it the same for everyone?

The Felix team put together this page to help you make sense of the basics of food noise, so that you can better understand this universal part of our lives. In turn, if you have excessive food noise, this information will help guide you towards treatments that may be able to help.

What Does Food Noise Mean?

Although this isn’t a ‘real term’ per say, the meaning of food noise is the thoughts that our brain gives us throughout the day regarding food.

This can present in a number of different ways, such as:

  • Thoughts about food
  • Cravings or thoughts about cravings
  • Thoughts about if you should eat certain foods
  • Thoughts about food choices you’ve made already
  • Thoughts about the feelings we have regarding food and food choices/cravings

Each person has a different amount of food noise, as well as a different intensity. Some people have thoughts about food all day long, and they’re very intense and difficult to ignore. This can have a huge impact on your daily life.

If you’re having difficulty with your weight management, and you’re experiencing a substantial amount of food noise, talk to a healthcare practitioner at Felix. They may be able to suggest weight management medications (depending on your health and medical history), which could help reduce the amount/intensity of food noise you experience.

Is Food Noise Normal?

Yes, food noise is absolutely normal. Every person experiences some form of food noise. Normal levels of food noise can be explained by natural bodily functions.

Our bodies burn fuel (calories) throughout the day as part of normal metabolic function. When we do more physically active things, this burns more calories. In turn, this helps trigger hunger faster.

You can think of normal food noise like your body’s natural alarm system, which notifies you when you should think about having something to eat.

How much, the types of thoughts we experience, and their intensity are the factors that differentiate normal food noise from disruptive or problematic food noise.

What are the Symptoms of Food Noise?

There aren’t really symptoms of food noise, because ‘food noise disorder’ isn’t currently a recognized medical condition.

However, excessive, overwhelming, or distracting levels of food noise, as well as food noise that continues endlessly throughout the day, could be considered ‘symptoms’ of food noise issues, which may need to be addressed.

If you have a BMI of 30 or higher, and you’re experiencing excessive or intense food noise that’s impacting your weight management journey, talk to a healthcare practitioner at Felix. They may be able to suggest weight loss medications that could help reduce your food noise levels.

When is Food Noise Good?

Life is busy! We all get wrapped up in the hectic rush of daily life, whether it’s work, home life, parenting, or just a full schedule, we may need a reminder once in a while to stop and refuel our bodies.

Food noise is like the gas light in your car. Normally, it should tell you when you’ve still got plenty of fuel in the tank, so that you can take the time to fill up.

However, you wouldn’t want your car to notify you every time it used 1% of your tank of gas, would you? It would be annoying and distracting. This is where food noise can have a major impact on some people’s daily quality of life.

When is Food Noise Negative?

For people that have certain types of biology or genetics, having a lot of food noise can be  unhelpful; especially if they already have difficulty with weight management.

This is worsened by North America’s current obesogenic food environment, which bombards us all day every day with delicious foods and beverages that aren’t necessarily good dietary choices.

Not to mention that food noise ends up taking up substantial space in the minds of certain people. Too much distraction from food noise can impact their ability to focus at work, or relax at home - unless they’re eating.

All of these elements can lead to poor food choices, excessive snacking, and daily increases in overall caloric intake, which may make weight management even more challenging.

What Triggers Thoughts About Food?

The parts of our brain that triggers hunger are the hypothalamus and the brain stem, since they regulate feeding and homeostasis.

As a primitive function of the brain, food noise is there to make sure that we survived famines.

Hormones and cytokines secreted by peripheral organs exert long-term effects on energy balance by controlling feeding and energy expenditure. Neurons involved in the homeostatic regulation of feeding are located mainly in the hypothalamus and brainstem.

In addition, neuronal circuits in the limbic system mediate the motivational and reward aspects of feeding. It's our brain’s way of maintaining energy balance.” - Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2008,Dec; 37(4): 811–823.Brain regulation of appetite and satiety,Rexford S. Ahima, MD, PhD and Daniel A. Antwi, PhD

Food noise can happen on its own, or it can be triggered by various stimuli, such as:

  • Talking about food
  • Smelling food
  • Seeing food
  • Seeing something that looks like food, but isn’t
  • Remembering something you ate earlier

Can You Stop Food Noise?

No, there is no way to stop food noise completely. But you wouldn’t want to. Your body should always still be able to tell you when you’re in need of food.

You can learn to manage food noise with certain skills and tools, which you can gain through things like psychotherapy or behavioural therapy.

Also, many patients find that they experience a decrease in the intensity of their food noise for a certain amount of time, when they use weight loss medications. If you’re interested in exploring whether WL treatments available through Felix  could be right for you, complete an assessment with one of our helpful practitioners.

What Can be Done to Treat Food Noise?

Currently, there are only two ways to potentially treat food noise.

The first is through seeking psychotherapy or behavioural therapy, in which a professional can help teach you some skills and tools to use when you have excessive or intense food noise. These life skills can make managing food noise easier for patients in the long-term.

Alternatively, many patients find that they experience a decrease in food noise for a certain amount of time as a byproduct of  using some weight loss medications.

When Should I Talk to a Practitioner About Food Noise?

Are you struggling to find the right weight management treatment? Do you experience a substantial amount of food noise each day, or do you have bouts of intense food noise that feels impossible to ignore? Then it’s time to talk to a healthcare practitioner from Felix.

For patients with a BMI of 30 or higher (or those between 27-30 with weight-related medical conditions), you may be eligible for weight loss treatments, depending on your current health and medical history.

Complete an assessment with a practitioner from Felix, and if they assess weight loss treatments  could be right for you, they’ll be able to provide you with a plan.

With Felix in your corner, you can regain control of your weight management, turn down your food noise, and get back to living life on your terms - the way it should be.

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