"Do you think that food addiction (on a chemical level, like refined sugar and salt and such) is a genuine addiction that would have withdrawal symptoms, or do you think it's purely psychological? You say to listen to your body's cravings, but I can't imagine Peeps or Twizzlers being something my body would need - rather chemicals I'm becoming dependent on (by the way, both are delicious and I do not plan on giving them up)."
I do not think food addiction is real. And also, the opposite is almost more true: it is incredibly real. Because, as humans, we are "addicted" to food, as we should be. We are wired to be addicted to food. The biggest issue is believing that needing and wanting food is a problem.
YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO WANT FOOD.
The issue that gets in the way of normal eating, just like almost every single post I write will come back to is: restriction. We are WIRED to be addicted to food the more it is restricted. This is a survival mechanism.
There are two definitions of addiction, one involves the word "harmful substance". And the other one is:
"an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something"
We have an unusually great interest in food. Because we need it to survive. And the more we restrict, the more we will be unusually or greatly interested in it.
So, ALLOW IT! Freely. Liberally. And guess what... once you do that, you will eat it... which is the whole point of allowing it! Eat it freely and liberally. People get so freaked out during that phase because they think: "Oh MAN. I have allowed it! But the whole point was so that I don't eat it! But I'm eating so much! So it is not working!". Stop and think... that mentality is not allowing it. You can't allow it for the purpose of not eating it. THAT IS NOT ALLOWING IT! RIGHT?!
The whole point of allowing something is to actually eat it. The point of allowing something is not NOT eating it. Do you follow? When you think like that, you are still having a tiny little freaked out food police controlling you. And so you still have something to rebel against.
REMOVE ANYTHING TO REBEL AGAINST.
As for withdrawal symptoms? For the most part, NO! But you will have negative physical and psychological reactions if you remove necessary amounts of macronutrients OR dramatically restrict your food intake in any unnecessary way. Because we need food and your body is trying to protect you.
As for craving silly or fake-ish foods: When we are talking about cravings for peeps or twizzlers, we are now talking about a mostly psychological addiction to food that is perceived as scarce or restricted. But that is what happens when food is considered out of bounds: your brain gets involved. Your brain is wired to your eating/nourishment/satiation. So, no, eating peeps isn't a huge body craving. It is a psychological craving. And you'd BETTER give into it! Because it is the only way to make friends with your hunger/desires, and prove to yourself that you are willing to listen to it.
You can't remove how interconnected your psychology is from your appetite. They are intertwined. So accept it, and give in to your cravings, I promise that it can change your life.