Monday, May 27, 2024

How To Help Someone With Food Addiction

Scientific Evidence For Food Addiction

Is Food Addiction Just a Willpower Issue? No.

Most of the evidence supporting the concept of food addiction is biological in nature, with some behavioural evidence also available.

Here are some of the key findings from studies that support the notion of food addiction:

  • Evidence shows that various processed foods and illicit drugs take advantage of the same neurobiological systems in the brain, namely the dopamine and opiate systems 2Nieto MM, Wilson J, Cupo A, et al. Chronic morphine treatment modulates the extracellular levels of endogenous enkephalins in rat brain structures involved in opiate dependence: a microdialysis study. Journal of Neuroscience. 2002 22:1034-1041.. Both systems are responsible for the perceived value of reward from both food and drugs.
  • Damage to the dopaminergic system has been shown to reduce the reward value of both sugary-rich foods and illicit drugs3Avena NM, Hoebel BG. A diet promoting sugar dependency causes behavioral cross-sensitization to a low dose of amphetamine. Neuroscience. 2003 122:17-20..
  • Positron emission tomographic imaging studies have also shown that both obese individuals and drug dependent individuals exhibit a decreased sensitivity of the dopamine-reward system4Wang G-J, Volkow ND, Logan J, et al. Brain dopamine and obesity. The Lancet. 2001 357:354-357..
  • Quizzes And Self Diagnosis

    Quizzes and self-diagnostic tools are a helpful means of initially determining whether one may have a problem and if assistance is warranted. There are many websites and organizations offering these for free along with additional information on the condition. When not conducted according to rigorous standards, however, the diagnosis may prove faulty. Accordingly, diagnosing should always be done by a professional. Should you decide to partake in a self-assessment yourself and the results indicate that a problem is likely, you are encouraged to take pause, seek a treatment provider, schedule an appointment, and get assessed for a formal diagnosis.

    Treatment For Food Addiction

    One of the obstacles to treating a food addiction, says Albers, is that it’s not recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5, the handbook health care professionals use to diagnose mental health disorders.

    ‘”This is partly because, unlike an addiction to alcohol or drugs where there’s a physiological response, here, individuals have a psychological relationship with food,” she explains. She notes that food addicts who avoid their triggers won’t necessarily go through withdrawal, but they struggle with the same feelings. She says when she works with clients and listens to their experiences, it’s very similar to the language and the behaviors to other kinds of addiction.

    However, the first step to overcoming a food addiction is becoming self-aware that you may have a problem, Kantor explains. If you realize that food may play a negative role in your life, or you find yourself binge-eating or eating food when you’re not hungry, you may have a food addiction. Additionally, those with this affliction often go out of their way to get the desired food or become fixated on how to get it, where they’ll get it and how they’ll pay for it.

    Once you recognize these behaviors, there are some simple steps you can take on your own.

    Also Check: What To Do When An Addict Refuses Help

    Proven Ways To Cure Food Addiction

    Looking for cures for food addiction is doubly challenging when noted scientists cant even agree on the proper nomenclature for this condition. Eating addiction, eating disorder – a rose by any other name…

    Whats clear though is, the disorder does exist and experts in the field are just beginning to study the phenomenon to learn more about it. It is of special concern given that in developed countries like the UK and US, obesity is prevalent among adults and food addiction may be a contributing factor to it.

    How Many People Have Food Addiction

    What is Food Addiction

    A recent systematic review examined the total prevalence of food addiction in people all over the world8Pursey K, Stanwell P, Gearhardt A, et al. The prevalence of food addiction as assessed by the Yale Food Addiction Scale: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2014 6:4552-4590.. Some interesting findings from this review emerged:

    • The global prevalence of food addiction is 19.9%.
    • Females had higher rates of food addiction than males .
    • Overweight/obese people had higher rates of food addiction than normal weight people .
    • People with an eating disorder had much higher rates of food addiction than people without an eating disorder .

    Some people think that food addiction is just another term for binge-eating disorder.

    The evidence does not support this, because more than 40% of people with binge-eating disorder do not receive a diagnosis of food addiction9Linardon J, Messer M. Assessment of food addiction using the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0 in individuals with binge-eating disorder symptomatology: Factor structure, psychometric properties, and clinical significance. Psychiatry Research. 2019..

    This suggests that the food addiction construct is not entirely overlapping binge-eating disorder.

    Also Check: What Does God Say About Addiction

    Unable To Quit Despite Physical Problems

    Which foods you choose to eat can significantly affect your health.

    In the short term, junk food can lead to weight gain, acne, bad breath, fatigue, poor dental health, and other common problems.

    A lifetime of junk food consumption can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers, dementia, and even some types of cancer.

    Someone who experiences any of these problems related to their intake of unhealthy foods but is unable to change their habits likely needs help.

    A treatment plan thats designed by qualified professionals is typically recommended for overcoming eating disorders.


    Repeated Failures At Setting Rules

    When people are struggling with self-control, they often try to set rules for themselves.

    Examples include only sleeping in on the weekends, always doing homework right after school, never drinking coffee after a certain time in the afternoon. For most people, these rules almost always fail, and rules around eating are no exception.

    Examples include having one cheat meal or cheat day per week and only eating junk food at parties, birthdays, or holidays.


    Also Check: How To Tell If You Are Addicted To Something

    Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy To Treat Food Addiction

    The CBT therapist explains to you that your binge eating is based on emotional reasoning and, although eating might make you feel temporarily comforted, would not help you feel better about yourself. In fact, overeating was having the opposite effect and was actually making you feel worse about yourself, which would then worsen your overeating.

    Together, you plan a different approach to handling disappointment. With practice, you are able to interpret peoples responses more realistically, so you are not constantly feeling inadequate. You also practice methods for improving your self-esteem. As your self-esteem improves, you became more able to refrain from snacking and bingeing and began to eat more nutritious food.

    If you believe that you are addicted to food and an overeating disorder, or you know someone who may need help, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

    How To Talk To Someone About Their Eating Disorder

    Instantly Overcome Food Addiction

    The decision to make a change is rarely an easy one for someone with an eating disorder. If the eating disorder has left them malnourished, it can distort the way they thinkabout their body, the world around them, even your motivations for trying to help. Bombarding them with dire warnings about the health consequences of their eating disorder or trying to bully them into eating normally probably wont work. Eating disorders often fill an important role in the persons lifea way to cope with unpleasant emotionsso the allure can be strong. Since you may be met with defensiveness or denial, youll need to tread carefully when broaching the subject.

    Pick a good time. Choose a time when you can speak to the person in private without distractions or constraints. You dont want to have to stop in the middle of the conversation because of other obligations! Its also important to have the conversation at a time of emotional calm. Dont try to have this conversation right after a blow up.

    Explain why youre concerned. Be careful to avoid lecturing or criticizing, as this will only make your loved one defensive. Instead, refer to specific situations and behaviors youve noticed, and why they worry you. Your goal at this point is not to offer solutions, but to express your concerns about the persons health, how you much you love them, and your desire to help.

    What not to do

    Recommended Reading: Why Do Addicts Relapse When Things Are Good

    I Cant Stop Thinking About Food

    Ever felt that way?

    Its normal to think about food a fair bit, and occasionally overeat.

    But what about when thoughts of food crowd out almost everything else? When you feel an anxiety thats only relieved by eating?

    Or when it seems like you dont have any control over what, when, and how much you eat?

    It might make you wonder

    Do I have an addiction?

    Many of us throw the word addiction around lightly when we talk about our relationship with food.

    But some peopleincluding, perhaps, some of your clientsare truly suffering.

    In this article, well explore:

    • What food addiction is.
    • How its different from overeating.
    • Why certain foods have more addictive qualities than others.
    • Whos most vulnerable.

    Lets get into it.

    Restricting Food Or Dieting

    • Making excuses to avoid meals or situations involving food
    • Eating only tiny portions or specific low-calorie foods, and often banning entire categories of food such as carbs and dietary fat
    • Obsessively counting calories, reading food labels, and weighing portions
    • Developing restrictive food rituals such as eating foods in certain orders, rearranging food on a plate, excessive cutting or chewing.
    • Taking diet pills, prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin, or even illegal drugs such as amphetamines

    You May Like: How Long Does It Take To Get Over Nicotine Addiction

    How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction: 10 Ways To Support Them

    June 02, 2020Addiction

    When someone that you love is struggling with addiction, it can also feel like a struggle to find ways to help. The truth of the matter is that recovery from drug addiction is usually a long and complicated journey. With the support of a loved one, it can become that much easier to begin the journey and see it through to the end.

    If you dont have much experience with drug or alcohol addiction, the whole situation can quickly feel overwhelming. Instead of ignoring the situation or backing away because of the overwhelm, take the time to encourage them to identify their problem and seek a solution.

    Are you trying to navigate the complexities of addiction by being a support system for a loved one? There are certain things you can do to provide the most help. Some things should be avoided for the best chance of recovery.

    Below, were sharing how to help a loved one with a substance use addiction and a few things to avoid while supporting someone through it.

    First Steps In Overcoming Food Addiction

    Food Addiction

    A few things can help prepare for giving up junk foods and make the transition easier:

    • Trigger foods. Write down a list of the foods that cause cravings and/or binges. These are the trigger foods to avoid completely.
    • Fast food places. Make a list of fast food places that serve healthy foods and note their healthy options. This may prevent a relapse when hungry and not in the mood to cook.
    • What to eat. Think about what foods to eat preferably healthy foods that are liked and already eaten regularly.
    • Pros and cons. Consider making several copies of the pro-and-con list. Keep a copy in the kitchen, glove compartment, and purse or wallet.

    Additionally, dont go on a diet. Put weight loss on hold for at least 13 months.

    Overcoming food addiction is difficult enough. Adding hunger and restrictions to the mix is likely to make things harder.

    After taking these preparatory steps, set a date in the near future like the coming weekend from which point onward the addictive trigger foods wont be touched again.


    To overcome food addiction, its important to plan. Make a list of trigger foods and know what is going to be eaten instead.

    Read Also: How To Support An Addict

    Consult An Expert On Dietary Planning And Nutritional Counselling

    Nutrition is an essential component in a comprehensive food addiction treatment program. Since binge eating involves frequent ingestion of sugary, fatty and salty foods that have little nutritive value, people with this disorder are usually obese with unhealthy diets.

    The food plan for eating disorders begins at the start of the treatment, from the acute phase to withdrawal to a long term goal of eating healthily. Diets are individualised to meet the unique needs of each person. Meals are scheduled and measured.

    Education on proper nutrition and dietary planning are part of the program. Nutrition therapy aims to:

    • Resolve nutritional deficiencies brought about by unhealthy eating patterns
    • Help diminish the cravings for junk food
    • Prepare a balanced meal plan at the recommended caloric intake
    • Establish a regular pattern and schedule of meals and snacks
    • Manage diet to consider co-morbid conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems
    • Develop healthy habits in cooking, preparing and buying foods

    Diet and nutrition counselling as an adjunct to primary food addiction programs helps in the long lasting maintenance of healthy eating habits.

    Precisely Articulate What Triggers Your Cravings

    Knowing what triggers your desires for certain foods helps you prepare for those moments before they happen. If you tend to eat when you are stressed, then instead of reaching for a chocolate bar when you walk away from your desk, bring your sneakers and go for a walk. When Im feeling sad and tempted to eat for no reason, I take a shower and wash my hair which really helps me feel much better.

    Read Also: How To Overcome Any Addiction

    What Defines Addiction

    The term food addiction is actually somewhat controversial. There is no single, agreed-upon definition of food addiction in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The term addiction is almost exclusively used to describe severe substance abuse. Consequently, it is challenging to craft a medically valid definition of addiction-including food addiction. Instead, several definitions have been put forward, most suggesting that addiction is a compulsive behavior that brings ill-effects to the person engaging in the behavior or addiction. Under this definition, many behaviors and tendencies qualify as addictions, and this is a positive thing. Refusing to acknowledge the intense, overwhelming, and seemingly impossible to overcome nature of addiction fights against healing and growth. Recognizing that addiction exists is an essential piece in mitigating its effects.T

    Where Do I Start

    How Your Brain Becomes Addicted to Food | Dr. Joan Ifland

    You’ve decided it’s time to seek help and we’re so glad you did. NEDA is here to support you on your journey. These resources can help you take the first step to getting the help you deserve.

    What are the warning signs and symptoms of an eating disorder?

    The chance for recovery increases the earlier an eating disorder is detected. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of an eating disorder.

    How do I know if its time to get help?

    Our online eating disorders screening assesses warning signs of an eating disorder and help you determine if it’s time to seek professional help. But please note, this screening is not a replacement for clinical evaluation.

    How do I open up about my issues?

    If you are able to recognize disordered eating attitudes and behaviors in yourself, you have already taken the first step toward a happy, healthy, balanced way of life. The second steptelling a trusted friend, family member, or professional counselor/nutritionistis equally as important.

    Whats the first step to treatment?

    Early detection, initial evaluation, and effective treatment are important steps that can help an eating disorder sufferer move into recovery more quickly, preventing the disorder from progressing to a more severe or chronic state.

    What can I expect from eating disorders treatment?

    Many people wonder what will happen at their first visit, and what to expect from the overall treatment process.

    How do I find treatment?

    Recommended Reading: Is My Child Addicted To Video Games

    Where Food Addicts In Recovery Can Get Food Addiction Help

    Several options are available in the treatment of food addiction. These include consulting a nutritionist, doctor, psychologist, counselor, or eating disorder specialist. In addition, 12-step groups, such Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, have meetings in many regions or online. Some tips for avoiding bouts of compulsive eating include:

    • Knowing which situations trigger your cravings and avoiding them if possible
    • Drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day
    • Exercising

    How To Beat It

    Theres no quick fix or magic pill to make you stop wanting sugar or foods that you crave. Ultimately, you crave what you regularly feed yourself. So the only way to reduce your cravings is to take a break. If you regularly have something sweet to eat after dinner, its very natural for you to always feel like eating something sweet after dinner. Youre in a bad habit, thats all. Research has shown that fasting particular foods doesnt increase the cravings like it does with true drug addiction, it actually reduces them.

    Changing your habits and behaviour is hard work. So you need to get prepared. Here are are few tips to help you beat the sugar high and get in control of your eating.

    Read Also: How To Get Certified In Addiction Counseling

    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:

  • How you eat. Because of the changes to your digestive system, you will need to shift the amount and timing of how you eat toward smaller and more frequent meals. If you have a food addiction, your body can no longer process their go-to pleasure foods or binge-eating habits. This can cause them to experience dumping syndrome. Dumping occurs because of changes to your intestinal tract and causes uncomfortable symptoms such as:
  • Sweating and weakness or fainting
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeats
  • - Advertisement -spot_img
    Popular Articles
    Related news