Common Types Of Therapies
As with other addictive disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy is often recommended.10 CBT entails an exploration and adaptation of maladaptive beliefs and thoughts that ultimately lead toward ones behavior. For instance, someone with food addiction may have the maladaptive belief that one is unlovable. The corresponding thought, then, may be, Whether I eat to excess or not, I will still be unlovable. So, I might as well enjoy myself and continue eating. From there the behavior is to continue eating. As these beliefs and thoughts are uncovered, processed, and adapted the next step is to engage in behavioral modification. This may include no longer eating at restaurants with triggering foods, only keeping healthy foods in the house, scheduling times to eat, and so on.
Regardless of the type of therapy used to address mental health, it is important to engage in a comprehensive level of care.8 This may include consistent check-ups with a physician to check on vitals, appointments with a nutritionist to learn about healthy eating and monitor consumption, training with a physical trainer to get into a healthy workout regimen, and attending support groups with others who are struggling with food addiction.
Ways To Help If You Think You Have A Food Addiction
When thinking about addictive substances, most people will put illicit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes at the top of the list, without even giving a second thought to the food they consume on a daily basis. That makes sense, given that food addiction is not currently included in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , the standard classification used by mental health professionals in the United States to diagnose addiction. However, perhaps it should be, as there are more than 100 million adults considered obese in the U.S. compared with the countrys 17.6 million alcoholics and one million chronic heroin users. Is using food Americas drug of choice?
The jury is still out, so to speak, when it comes to classifying food as an addiction. On the pro side, scientific research shows us that certain palatable foods can create a reaction similar to the impact drugs have on our brain. For example, when a person repeatedly eats sugar, which is hidden in so many of the foods that we consume, it causes dopamine to be released in reward-related areas of the brain. These same areas of the brain are activated when you drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. The reward from eating sugar can lead to further eating, ultimately making it hard to cut back on intake.
If you or someone you know is struggling with food addiction, here are five topics to consider as an intervention:
What Is Food Addiction
Simply, food addiction is being addicted to junk foods in the same way that people are addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Think about it: Why can some people buy a pint of ice cream and have it last the month, while others set out to have one bowl, but end up eating the whole container? This mirrors the classic struggle of an alcoholic: having just one is practically impossible.
Mark Hyman, MD, offers another good example in his writing about food addiction: Imagine a massive bowl of broccoli or apple slices. Can you think of anyone who binges on broccoli? That is to say they start eating it and cant stop until it is all gone?
Now picture that same massive bowl full of potato chips, or a huge plate of cookies, or litre of coke. It is easy to imagine those foods disappearing in one sitting while the consumer feels helplessly satisfied and ill at the same time.
This is true because broccoli and apples are not addictive, but processed foods such as ice cream, cookies, and soda can become addictive substances.
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Behavioral Symptoms Of Binge Eating And Compulsive Overeating
- Inability to stop eating or control what youre eating.
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food.
- Eating even when youre full.
- Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret.
- Eating normally around others, but gorging when youre alone.
- Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes.
Are You Like Me
Full of FaithSweet Surrender“Dad refers to me as “happy go lucky.” The truth is I am not happy. Most assuredly my weight is affecting my life. I should not feel so distraught. I have a nice home, a husband who loves and supports the family and two wonderful children whom I adore.Carl and I have had our difficulties, but we are okay. I know it is God’s will for me to be a responsible, loving parent and a caring wife. I am successful most of the time however, I could be kind and loving one minute, when I am in control of my food and having a “good” day on my diet, and then on a “bad” day, I am like another person–some eccentric lunatic. My poor husband and my children are ignored or worse, I get angry. I start banging cabinet doors and complaining about everything and everybody. just for today
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Support Groups And 12
Support groups and 12-step programs help people work on overcoming food addiction. Many of the 12-step programs available use the same 12-step approach developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, where participants work through the steps with the help of a sponsor.
Some of the common 12-step programs for food addiction include:
- Food Addicts Anonymous:Food Addicts Anonymous believes that food addiction cannot be cured by willpower or therapy alone and is a biochemical disorder rather than a moral or character issue. They approach food addiction recovery by abstaining from addictive foods, following a nutrition plan, and working through the traditional steps.
- Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous: Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is an international fellowship for those who have experienced problems with food and eating. Their path to recovery follows the traditional steps among the mutual support of others recovering from food addiction.
- Overeaters Anonymous: Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of people who are in recovery from compulsive eating. Their goal is to abstain from compulsive eating and food behaviors through mutual support, shared experience, strength, and hope.
- Compulsive Eaters Anonymous: Compulsive Eaters Anonymous is designed for anyone seeking recovery from compulsive eating. The meetings use a structured, disciplined approach to recovery by accepting and carrying out each of the steps among the support of peers.
Stage Two Begrudging Attempts
You join a weight loss group or purchase a book and decide, however grudgingly, youll give it a try. I dont want to do this, but Ill pick one no-coffee day. I dont want to weigh myself twice a day. I dont want to write down everything I eat. I dont want to eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I dont want to eat breakfast, but I will because I want to weigh ________ pounds.
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How To Help Someone With Binge Eating Disorder
Since binge eaters often try to hide their symptoms and eat in secret, it can make it tough for family and friends to spot the warning signs. And you cant always identify a binge eater by appearance, either. While some are overweight or obese, others manage to maintain a normal weight.
The warning signs that you can spot include finding piles of empty food packages and wrappers, cupboards and refrigerators that have been cleaned out, or hidden stashes of high-calorie or junk food. If you suspect that your loved one has binge eating disorder, bring up your concerns. It may seem daunting to start such a delicate conversation, and the person may deny bingeing or become angry and defensive. But theres a chance that he or she will welcome the opportunity to share the struggle.
If the person shuts you out at first, dont give up it may take some time before your loved one is willing to admit to having a problem. And remember: as difficult as it is to know that someone you love may be have an eating disorder, you cant force someone to change. The decision to seek recovery has to come from them. You can help by offering your compassion, encouragement, and support throughout the treatment process.
Tip : Find Better Ways To Feed Your Feelings
One of the most common reasons for binge eating is an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. When you have a bad day, it can seem like food is your only friend. Binge eating can temporarily make feelings such as stress, sadness, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. But the relief is very fleeting.
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More Self Help For Food Addiction
Once you have your food diary in your hand and have kept careful track of the foods that you eat, when you eat, how much you eat and why you eat you can begin to formulate a plan to stop these bad eating habits and to later take on healthy eating habits that will work for you. Follow these steps to ridding yourself of food addiction and getting back on track with some healthy eating habits.
You are not alone. Food addiction treatment professionals and support groups can help you overcome.
Binge Eating Recovery Tip : Develop A Healthier Relationship With Food
Recovery from any addiction is challenging, but it can be especially difficult to overcome binge eating and food addiction. Unlike other addictions, your drug is necessary for survival, so you dont have the option of avoiding or replacing it. Instead, you need to develop a healthier relationship with fooda relationship thats based on meeting your nutritional needs, not your emotional ones. To do this, you have to break the binge eating cycle by:
Avoiding temptation. Youre much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. Remove the temptation by clearing your fridge and cupboards of your favorite binge foods.
Listening to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and dont have a rumbling stomach, youre probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.
Eating regularly. Dont wait until youre starving. This only leads to overeating! Stick to scheduled mealtimes, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day.
Not avoiding fat. Contrary to what you might think, dietary fat can actually help keep you from overeating and gaining weight. Try to incorporate healthy fat at each meal to keep you feeling satisfied and full.
Fighting boredom. Instead of snacking when youre bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.
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Quitting And Handling Withdrawal
Case Study: Mary 35 Years Old
Mary is overweight and considered clinically obese.
At an early age, Mary turned to food tobury her sorrows and to blank these insults out of her mind.
As a result, she put on more weight. This made Mary feel even worse.
Shes now dangerously overweight, and still binge eating to make her feel better.
She eats all the wrong foods to make her feel better.
Foods such as pizza, fries, ice-cream, fried chicken and milkshakes.
When Mary finishes work, she stops off at a fast food drive-through.
And when Mary returns home, she eats all the food in his fridge until she vomits.
Following episodes of binge eating, Mary feels very depressed and a strong sense of self-disgust.
What is going on?
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Summing Howhow To Overcome Food Addiction
Learning how to overcome food addiction isnt necessarily easy, but its certainly possible. If you want to overcome food addiction, it will probably rely on a combination of creating healthy coping mechanisms, gaining a greater understanding of food and your relationship with it, and possibly getting help from a therapist or joining a support group.
Causes Of Food Addiction
Food addiction is likely the culmination of several factors that interplay in the overall cause of this disorder. A man or woman may develop an addiction as a result of biological, psychological, or social reasons. Biological causes that may influence the progression of this eating disorder might include hormonal imbalances, abnormalities in various brain structures, side effects from the use of certain medications, or having family members with this type of addiction issues.
It also might also be the result of psychological factors. Factors included in this category might include emotional or sexual abuse, being a victim or survivor of a traumatic event, having an inability to healthily cope with negative situations, chronic low-self esteem, or experiencing grief or loss.
Psychological factors such as these can influence an individual to use food as a coping mechanism to relieve the painful emotions that may have resulted. Lastly, there are social implications that may be involved with food addiction, including factors such as disturbances in family function, pressure from peers or society, social isolation, child abuse, lack of social support, and stressful life events.
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Psychiatrists And Drug Therapy
While the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any drugs for the treatment of food addiction, medication is another option to consider.
That said, medications are not guaranteed to work for feeding and eating disorders and tend to have side effects.
One drug to consider is approved by the FDA to aid weight loss and contains bupropion and naltrexone. Its marketed under the brand name Contrave in the United States and Mysimba in Europe.
This drug directly targets some of the brain pathways involved in the addictive nature of food. Studies suggest that it may be effective, especially when combined with healthy lifestyle changes .
In many cases, depression and anxiety may contribute to feeding and eating disorders. Taking antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication could help relieve some of those symptoms .
Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications do not cure food addiction, but they may be a useful tool to help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. This can allow a person to focus on recovering from a feeding or eating disorder.
A psychiatrist can explain the different options available and make a recommendation based on an individuals circumstance or specific treatment plan.
SUMMARY Consider seeing a psychiatrist to discuss other treatment options, including medications. Various drugs and mental health treatments may help with overcoming food addiction.
Numerous scientific studies confirm that food addiction involves the same brain areas as drug addiction (
Social Factors: Whats Around You
In animal research, addictive eating behaviors only happen when theyre given highly-processed foods.5
This isnt to say that processed foods cause addictive eating. Its just that their presence, combined with other biological and psychological vulnerabilities, makes food addiction more likely.
And due to social factors, some people are exposed to highly-processed foods more often than others.
Imagine you live in a food desertan area that has poor access to affordable, fresh, and minimally-processed food. If all you can get at your local grocery store is packaged snack foods, white bread, and maybe some canned fruit, your nutrition and appetite will be harder to manage.
Similarly, not having enough money to buy healthy foods on a regular basis can make an impact. Naturally, you might do like our ancestors and stock up when calories are available. Some research supports this: Higher rates of food insecurity are associated with disordered eating behaviors like binge eating.31
You can also pick up on social cues around food.
If youve grown up with friends and family that regularly overeat, or use food to soothe, comfort, or entertain, they might encourage you to do the same.
Even when you want to change, swimming against the current can be hard.
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Identify Your Trigger Foods
Most people who struggle with food addiction have specific foods that they crave the most and tend to binge on. Its a good idea to write a list of these foods, and work on avoiding them altogether. Often, as is the case with substance abuse, if you have just a bit of a trigger food, it can cause you to binge. Avoiding triggers altogether is an important step in learning how to overcome food addiction.