How Does Treatment Work
As with other addictions, there is no surefire cure for food addiction. Treatment requires hard work on behalf of the patient and doctor. Depending on your needs, Dr. Bober may recommend:
- Medication: Certain medications can suppress the feelings that cause cravings. As a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Bober can prescribe a safe and effective dosage tailored to your needs.
- Counseling: In some cases, therapy may be a part of your treatment plan. Certain therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you coping mechanisms so that you can better control your thoughts and feelings surrounding food and eating.
- Support Groups: By visiting a food addiction treatment center with other patients experiencing the same difficulties, you can also reduce your tendency to overeat, overcome side effects like obesity, and enjoy a healthier, more positive outlook on life.
How Intermittent Fasting Can Help With Food Addiction
Food addiction is hard to beat, especially for women, because they are more prone to food. Comprehend what is an addiction and what makes food addicting could help you get over it. Plus, intermittent fasting is a very good diet to deal with the food addiction struggle, here is why.
Certain foods are addictive, especially for women. Giving up your favourite foods can be a test for anyone looking to go on a diet.
Signs That You Need Help For Food Addiction
It can be very tricky to figure out if you have a problem with food addiction. This is because, for many people, eating is such a natural and normal part of life. However, there are some warning signs that you can look out for which might indicate that you need help with your relationship to food.
Some of the signs that you might be struggling with food addiction include:
- Eating more food than you intended to or feeling like you cant control how much you are eating
- Feeling guilty or ashamed after eating
- Frequently thinking about food or planning your next meal even when you are not hungry
- Eating to the point of discomfort or feeling sick
- Avoiding social situations or events because you are afraid of what or how you will eat
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back on certain foods
If you are struggling with any of these signs, it is important to seek help. Food addiction can be a very difficult thing to overcome on your own.
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How Does Food Addiction Work
There is a system in the brain called the reward system.
This system was designed to reward the brain when a person is doing things that encourage survival. This includes primal behaviors like eating .
The brain knows that when a person eats, theyre doing something right, and it releases feel-good chemicals in the reward system.
These chemicals include the neurotransmitter dopamine, which the brain interprets as pleasure. The brain is hardwired to seek out behaviors that release dopamine in the reward system.
The problem with modern junk food is that it can cause a reward that is way more powerful than any reward the brain can get from whole foods .
Whereas eating an apple or piece of steak might cause a moderate release of dopamine, eating a Ben & Jerrys ice cream is so rewarding that it releases a larger amount.
Eating junk food causes a release of dopamine in the brain. This reward encourages susceptible individuals to eat more unhealthy foods.
You Eat Until Youre About To Burst
Theres a name for eating until youre beyond stuffed its called binge-eating!
Most things can be enjoyed in moderation. But just like consuming alcohol or anything else, its entirely possible to be eating TOO MUCH food.
Those who are victims of food addiction dont just give in to cravings. Once they give in to a desire, they cant stop eating until the urge is satisfied, which often means eating until you feel bloated and lethargic.
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Cravings Can Sometimes Turn Into Binges
When acting on cravings, the brain gets a reward a feeling of pleasure associated with the release of dopamine. The reward is what cravings and food addiction are all about.
People with food addiction get their fix by eating a particular food until their brain has received all of the dopamine it was missing.
The more often this cycle of craving and rewarding is repeated, the stronger it becomes and the greater the quantity of food thats needed each time .
While four scoops of ice cream were enough 3 years ago, today it may take eight scoops to experience the same level of reward.
It can be almost impossible to eat in moderation when satisfying an addiction-driven craving.
Thats why its often impossible for people to just have a small slice of cake or a few M& Ms. Its like telling a smoker to only smoke one-fourth of a cigarette to cut back. It simply does not work.
Cravings and food addiction can lead to overeating, binging, and obesity.
The Psychology Of Food Addiction
Your psychological relationship with food is based on how you think about and behave around food. When you have a food addiction, you lose control over the types and amounts of food you eat. You become dependent on the feel-good effect that certain foods have on you, even though the good feelings dont last.
Heres what it doesnt mean to be a food addict: It doesnt mean you have an eating disorder. Food addiction has never been classified as a true eating disorder, like or . But while food addicts may not have a diagnosed eating disorder, they certainly show signs of having an unhealthy relationship with food.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Additionally, dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations in a pathological state in which an individual pursues reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. The terms food addiction and food addict were coined because the behavior of a food addict , or , all recognized addictions.
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Tip : Take Back Control Of Cravings
Sometimes it feels like the urge to binge hits without warning. But even when youre in the grip of a seemingly overpowering and uncontrollable urge, there are things you can do to help yourself stay in control.
Accept the urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as urge surfing. Think of the urge to binge as an ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out the urge, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, youll see that it passes more quickly than youd think.
Distract yourself. Anything that engages your attention will work: taking a walk, calling a friend, watching something funny online, etc. Once you get interested in something else, the urge to binge may go away.
Talk to someone. When you start to notice the urge to binge, turn to a friend or family member you trust. Sharing what youre going through can help you feel better and discharge the urge to binge.
Delay, delay, delay. Even if youre unsure if youll be able to fight the urge to binge, make an effort to delay it. Try to hold off for 1 minute. If you succeed. Try to stretch it out to 5 minutes. If you delay long enough, you may be able to avoid the binge.
Repeated Use Despite Negative Consequences
It has been noted that due to its increase in prevalence and associated comorbidities, obesity now appears to be a greater threat to the burden of disease than smoking . The physical and psychological effects of overweight and obesity are well documented and include, but are not limited to, depression, an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some cancers . With pervasive warnings regarding the consequences of overeating, from the media, government, and the medical profession, it seems fair to assume that most overweight and obese individuals are aware of the negative outcomes associated with their dietary behaviour . Critically, even those who have undergone weight loss treatment often fail to lose weight or gain weight following intervention . Continued overeating also occurs in those who have received bariatric surgery with patients showing continued snacking and poor food choices . There is, therefore, considerable evidence to support continued overeating despite negative consequences.
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Avoiding Triggers Is Essential
To beat food addiction, I believe the most effective treatment is to remove and avoid your trigger foods and behaviors. This is the hard truth. Food addicts cannot manage moderation. Just like someone with an addiction to alcohol risks relapse if they drink, a food addict can lose control with even just a single bite of a trigger food, such as just a sliver of dessert or a piece of bread or pizza.
However, the good news is that complete abstinence from your specific food triggers can reset the brain reward pathways and give you freedom from the cravings and obsessions around food. Although the initial days of abstinence can be extremely difficult, the payoff is that, over time, the intensity of the cravings eventually diminishes or disappears completely. How long does this typically take? Alas, it is not known it is individual. Some people start feeling fewer cravings within a few days of abstinence. Others feel the cravings off and on for years, especially under stress. But you can learn techniques and develop strategies to diffuse the desire.
Removing trigger foods from your home and work environments, not going to old familiar places where you will see the food and trigger the cravings, and not eating sweet tasting foods can all help stop retriggering the food addiction cycle.
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.
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Tip : Support Yourself With Healthy Lifestyle Habits
When youre physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, youre better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when youre already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without binge eating.
Make time for regular exercise. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and your energy levels, and its also a powerful stress reducer. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can help put a stop to emotional eating.
Get enough sleep every night. When you dont get the sleep you need, your body craves sugary foods that will give you a quick energy boost. Sleep deprivation may even trigger food addiction. Getting plenty of rest will help with appetite control and reduce food cravings, and support your mood.
Connect with others. Dont underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. Youre more likely to succumb to binge eating triggers if you lack a solid support network. Talking helps, even if its not with a professional.
Manage stress. One of the most important aspects of controlling binge eating is to find alternate ways to handle stress and other overwhelming feelings without using food. These may include meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.
What Is Happening In The Brain
The brain chemistry that drives the addict to seek pleasure beyond the point of satiety is similar, whether the user favors Jack Daniels or Jack-in-the-Box. On a functional MRI, which can show what is happening to brain chemicals, the results are fundamentally the same whether or not the substance is cocaine, sugar, alcohol, donuts, ice cream, or heroin.
It all happens deep within our brain in a set of linked structures called the limbic system. The limbic system contains the brains reward circuits, or reward pathway, and is involved in our behavioral and emotional responses, especially when it comes to behaviors we need for survival.
This linked set of structures, often called the ancient mammalian brain, controls and regulates our ability to feel pleasure. Feeling pleasure motivates us to learn and repeat behaviors.
Eating, and other activities that encourage our survival such as sex, social interaction, and exercise are all driven by the same pool of neurochemicals in our brains. Dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins travel specific neural pathways to influence our moods and give us feelings of pleasure, excitement, comfort, and joy.
While some drugs act on only one neurochemical research shows that sugar, refined carbohydrates, and combinations of fat, sugar, and salt, act on and release all three chemicals. No wonder food is addictive. It covers all angles of our pleasure and comfort!
And some of us are more vulnerable than others.
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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 use. 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
What Is Food Addiction
For men and women suffering from an addiction to food, highly palatable foods trigger chemical reactions in the brain that induce feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. This reaction has been explained as comparable to an addicts response to their substance of choice, as it activates the same brain reward center.
Food addicts become dependent upon the good feelings that are obtained from consuming certain foods, which often perpetuates a continued need to eat, even when not hungry. These behaviors generate a vicious cycle. As the food addict continues to gorge upon foods that induce pleasurable feelings, they often overindulge and eat beyond what is required for satiety and normal nutrition.
This can lead to several physical, emotional, and social consequences, such as digestive issues, heart disease, obesity, low-self esteem, depression, and isolation. A food addict will often re-engage in these destructive behaviors, even amidst undesired consequences, due to the need for induced feelings of pleasure.
Because of the ferocious cycle of food addiction and the detrimental consequences associated with this behavior, it is crucial that professional help is sought. If you or a loved one has been struggling with an addiction to food, consider the possibilities of a life free of this burden. You can find peace from an addiction to food by seeking the appropriate care and help you need.
Eating Disorders Are An Unfortunate Trait Of American Culture
Breaking food addiction and emotional eating habits can be as challenging as recovering from most drug addictions. However, unlike illicit drugs and alcohol, we need food to survive. And, food is everywhere in our society. Its in commercials between segments for cooking shows. Its on the signage along the streets we drive to get to work every day. Its even in the air emanating from the cafes and restaurants that line the sidewalks we have to travel. From the fatty fast foods cooked to order to the sugar glazed confections and candy bars in the checkout linewe are constantly immersed in and surrounded by food.
Making matters worse, these addictive foods all have a powerful impact on our physiology that exacerbates their addictive nature. Fatty meats, deep-fried foods and sugary snacks all affect the nervous system by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. These chemicals stimulate our brains with sensations of pleasure and a sense of reward, making us think that what we are doing is good for us when in actuality, it could be detrimental. Thats why breaking the cycle of compulsive eating can be so difficult and why so many people struggle with their relationships with food.
Thankfully, you are not alone, and research has shown that there is a way to break the cycle of compulsive eating. With an experienced and compassionate therapist, food addiction treatment can help you develop and maintain a healthy relationship with food.
Factors That Contribute To Food Addiction
As with other substance abuse, genetics plays a significant role in developing addiction. It has been established that substance dependency disorders have an estimated 50% – 70% heritability.
The environment contributes to the development of food addiction in a vulnerable person through repeated exposure to addictive food and its ready availability.
Gender matters. A study of gender and racial differences for food addiction found that females were more likely to get addicted than males. More women than men also reported that depression, stress and anxiety influenced them to resort to compulsive overeating.
A history of past addiction or a mental disorder increases the predisposition to food addiction.
A person who has been diagnosed with PTSD, ADHD, or had a childhood trauma is more prone to have this eating disorder. If the trauma happened at a young age, the likelihood of having food addiction in later life increases.
People with impulsive behavior have greater chances of getting the disorder.
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