Therapies For Food Addiction
Therapy for food addiction or binge eating disorder helps a person reduce the frequency of binge behavior, lose weight, and address psychological issues related to the addiction. Therapies for food addiction may be offered on an inpatient or outpatient basis and include the following:3
- Cognitive behavioral therapy : CBT techniques teach people trying to overcome food addiction how thoughts and feelings can impact behavior. This therapeutic approach typically focuses on moderation rather than avoidance or abstinence from foods. It teaches coping skills and relapse prevention techniques, and identifying triggers for addictive behavior.
How Prevalent Is Food Addiction In The Uk
Unfortunately, food addiction is all too common in the UK. Recent statistics gathered by the National Centre for Eating Disorders reveal that one in two people who are trying to control or find help for losing weight have binged in the last month or consider themselves to be compulsive eaters. This equates to around twelve million people throughout the UK.
Data published by the Public Health Outcomes Framework for 2020/21 reveals that 63.5% of adults in England are classified as overweight or obese. This statistic also indicates the far-reaching impact of food-related disorders and addictions across the country.
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.
Don’t Miss: When To Leave An Addict
How Our Helpline Works
For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the PsychGuides.com helpline is a private and convenient solution.
We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you.
Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither PsychGuides.com nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.
For more information on AACs commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page.
Our Emerging Treatment Program
Were also creating new holistic approaches to manage addictive eating. We recently trialled an online intervention tailored to individuals personalities.
Delivered by dietitians and based on behaviour change research, participants in the trial received personalised feedback about their symptoms of addictive eating, diet, physical activity and sleep, and formulated goals, distraction lists, and plans for mindfulness, contributing to an overall action plan.
After three months, participants reported the program as acceptable and feasible. The next step in our research is to trial the treatment for effectiveness. Were conducting a research trial to determine the effectiveness of the treatment on decreasing symptoms of food addiction and improving mental health.
This is the first study of its kind and if found to be effective will be translated to clinical practice.
If you feel you experience addictive eating, talk to your GP or contact an accredited practising dietitian for assessment and support.
Don’t Miss: How To Conquer Food Addiction
Critics Of Food Addiction
Food addiction is not as widely endorsed as the literature suggests.
Some of the main criticisms of the food addiction concept are10Fletcher PC, Kenny PJ. Food addiction: a valid concept? Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018:1.:
- The addictive substances within foods are unclear: This a major problem because the food addiction model assumes that some foods directly affect the brain, hijacking its reward systems. Critics argue that it is difficult to accept claims that food can be addictive if we are yet to pinpoint what the addictive properties are.
- Food addiction = binge-eating disorder: There is a lot of overlap between food addiction and binge-eating disorder, both at the diagnostic level and the symptom level. Given the substantial overlap, critics are wondering whether food addiction is just another fancy term for binge-eating disorder.
- The neurobiological evidence is poor: Critics argue that there is no convincing human evidence showing that neurobiological changes do indeed underlie food addicted behaviours. Also, the same areas of the brain that light up in response to food and drugs may also light up to other pleasurable stimuli.
- Too much reliance on animal models: Although rats show evidence of compulsive eating and a range of other characteristics associated with addiction when given intermittent availability of high-sugar foods, whether these findings can be generalized to humans has been questioned.
Food And Its Potential For Addiction
Eating is a normal function necessary to maintain life in many life-forms, including our own. We require sustenance to maintain our energy levels and basic biological functions, such as growth and cell renewal. However, food doesn’t just affect the body consuming it also has physiological effects on our brains.
“When we eat, the feel-good hormone dopamine, which controls the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, is released,” says Dr. Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist. It turns out this is similar to what happens when drugs or alcohol are introduced into our system it feels awesome, and we like it.
For some people, however, the pleasure centers in the brain are more active than in others, which means they experience far more food-related pleasure when eating. This can lead to overeating and binge-eating, which can then result in physical distress and overwhelming guilt, which is paired with an inability to discontinue these habits and feel better .
Dr. Keith Kantor, a nutritionist with a Ph.D. in nutrition science and CEO of the Nutritional Addiction Mitigation Eating and Drinking program, explains that certain foods seem to be more addicting than others for example, those that contain potent amounts of sugar, sodium and processed fats.
Read Also: Can Someone Be Addicted To Cheating
Psychotherapy & Support Groups Options
More oftentimes than not, someone addicted to food has developed an unhealthy relationship with food to compensate for unmet emotional and/or psychological needs. Getting help with food addiction often means confronting unresolved issues and emotional conflicts through psychotherapy and support group work.
Through these treatment options, recovering food addicts develop new ways of coping with daily life challenges. Support groups in particular provide a person with needed support and guidance from like-minded people who share similar life experiences.
Symptoms Of Food Addiction
There are no blood tests or laboratory exams that can diagnose the existence of food addiction. Like other addiction disorders, the diagnosis of food addiction is based on the persons behaviors. Here are the symptoms of food addiction:
Can you relate to at least four signs above? You should start to worry about having a food addiction. But if you have six signs or above, go seek professional help because its most likely food addiction.
Don’t Miss: What Percentage Of Addicts Relapse
Food Addiction Manifests Differently Depending On The Person Learn The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Food Addiction
Food is not just a necessity for life, but it is also a means of social engagement and a source of pleasure. Humans use food beyond its nutrient value as a source of comfort, to celebrate special events, and to reward loved ones. For some, however, the desire and need to consume food can become uncontrollable and compulsive.
Food addiction has been a somewhat controversial topic in scientific circles, but the disorder has gained legitimacy thanks to several studies. It has now been shown that both sugar and fat produce opiates in the body. While a physician still will not give a food addiction diagnosis, the overeating and resulting harm associated with these activities are very real.
Fortunately, now there are also food addiction recovery services available for those who suffer from this type of eating disorder. Here are just five things you should know about food addiction, including a pathway to recovery.
What To Do If You Have An Addiction
Complete recovery from alcohol, meth, cocaine or opioid addiction and prescription drug abuse requires a total restoration of the body and mind. Recognizing that there is a substance use problem and deciding to receive guidance and therapy for addiction, mental health disorders or behavioral health issues is a bold yet necessary step. You should consult professionals for treatment if you have developed a dependency or addiction to substances and experience mild or severe side effects.
Seeking professional help is crucial because it can be challenging for some people to acknowledge or understand their addiction, get past it, learn how to recover and overcome such struggles and live a life of sobriety. Getting support from a skilled, trustworthy clinician or therapist every step of the way can encourage and empower a person to overcome their addiction.
Treatment centers are safe environments, free of judgment and equipped with teams of compassionate psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and other specialists who have expert knowledge of addiction, substance abuse and psychological disorders. Professionals at a treatment center can support and guide your journey to recovery and utilize practical, comprehensive treatment plans for substance abuse and addiction. Furthermore, these experts know how crucial good nutrition is to wellness and can implement nutrition therapy that reverses the harmful effects of addiction in various ways, such as:
Don’t Miss: Do Heroin Addicts Ever Recover
Bananas And Other Sources Of Potassium
Bananas are another food that can help the body heal following drug and alcohol abuse or addiction. Not only can bananas be a convenient snack, but they are a source of tryptophanan amino acid that is vital to serotonin production for healthy sleepsomething thats often highly dysregulated in the early months of recovery.
While bananas are well-known for being rich in potassium, they are also good sources of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. The high amounts of potassium a banana contains can be conducive to recovery, considering how common it is for individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol to have low potassium and magnesium levels. These minerals are electrolytes that play roles in regulating blood pressure, heartbeat, nerves and muscles.
Potassium and magnesium deficiencies can contribute to confusion, weakness, muscle cramps and fatigue. Individuals in recovery can gain a double dose of these essential electrolytes from bananas, as well as from kiwis, cantaloupes, papaya, oranges, tomatoes, spinach and avocados.
Tips For Overcoming Food Addiction
Food addiction recovery will take a lot of willpower and sacrifice to overcome. It may take weeks or months, but you have to believe in yourself to overcome it. Everybody has different food cravings, and breaking a food addiction is going to be different for everyone. But here are some tips you can start with:
Read Also: How To Parent An Addict
What Happens After Surgery
All surgeries come with post-operative concerns, and bariatric surgery is no different.
For patients with food addiction, the psychological risk of addiction transfer is a concern. Potential issues include:
What Causes Food Addiction
Consuming highly palatable foods, or foods that are high in carbohydrates, fat, salt, sugar, or artificial sweeteners, triggers the pleasure centers of the brain and releases feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. These foods affect the same area of the brain as drugs, alcohol, and behaviors such as shopping or gambling.
Highly palatable foods often contain unnatural substances or higher-than-normal levels of natural substances that your body and brain can’t process. This results in your body being flooded with feel-good chemicals.
To help you hang on to or recreate those good feelings, your body and brain will begin to crave highly palatable foods. And, because your brain will adjust its receptors to compensate for the rush of chemicals, you’ll eventually need to consume increasing quantities of highly palatable foods to get the same feel-good reaction.
You May Like: What Does It Mean To Be Addicted To Alcohol
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.
Food Addiction Treatment Options
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you may consider looking into food addiction treatment options.
“When it comes to food addictions, you need to define where the trigger of the addiction is coming from,” says Sharon Zarabi, Director Bariatric Program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “People who consider themselves food addicts are eating to fill a void in their life, which could be loneliness, boredom, lack of purpose…and they cope with food.”
Fortunately, like other addictions, there are treatment options for people who want to take control of their eating habits.
Also Check: How To Stop Phone Addiction
Emotional Symptoms Of Food Addiction
- feeling ashamed of your weight
- feeling depressed or sad about your weight or self-image
- feeling hopeless when it comes to losing weight
- eating when upset or depressed
- eating as a reward for a job well done
- eating when you are not hungry
- becoming anxious or irritable when eating certain foods or when not eating or if there doesnt seem to be enough food
Food addiction can have an adverse effect on our emotions that lead to mood swings and other mental health problems. Some food addicts will suffer from great depression or anxiety as a result of their inability to control their eating habits despite a desire to eat less and to improve their self-image. Others are emotional eaters who eat just because they are happy or just because they are sad but when these emotions take over their eating slips out of control.
Do You Have A Food Addiction
All addictions share similar behavioural symptoms. It is not a lack of willpower that keeps people using their drug of choice no one wants to be an alcoholic or drug addict, nor does anyone want to be obese and addicted to food.
The following questions can help you determine if you have a problematic relationship with food:
If you answer a resounding yes to more than half of these questions you probably struggle with an addiction to food.
Not surprisingly, those in addiction recovery are more susceptible to becoming addicted to food. Replacing one addiction with another is not uncommon, and those formerly suffering from drug addiction may find they begin to use foods addictively.
Don’t Miss: How To Stop Being Addicted To Love
How Common Is It
Many factors contribute to overeating. The abundance of fast food, junk food advertising, and the highly palatable ingredients of many processed foods can prompt us to eat whether we are hungry or not.
However, some people report a lack of control over their eating, beyond liking and wanting, and are seeking help for this.
Around one in six people report addictive patterns of eating or addictive behaviours around food.
While food addiction is higher among people with obesity and mental health conditions, it only affects a subset of these groups.