FOOD ADDICTION TREATMENT
IT’S NOT WHAT’S EATING YOU, BUT IT’S WHAT YOU’RE EATING!
There is a debate going on between experts and scientists in the field of eating disorders. Some scientists and experts believe there is a separate category that is referred to as FOOD ADDICTION, and that it does not fit into any other disordered eating category. These experts are doing scientific studies to prove that what you’re eating is affecting your brain, and for food addicts, the food itself IS the problem. Some people are more sensitive or susceptible than others.
Experiments in animals and humans have shown that the same reward and pleasure centers are triggered when certain foods are introduced, much the same way as when drugs enter the system. This results in uncontrollable cravings for the sugar, flour, salt or carbohydrate rich food. Once the food addict gets their fix, or experiences the “high,” they quickly feel the need to eat more to regain that feeling. This leads to the desire to eat more, even when already full. Soon tolerance begins to build, just as it does with the alcoholic or drug addict.
Food addicts are frequently in denial, and the stages of food addiction become more severe over time. Toddlers, preschoolers and young children may already be experiencing the early stages of food addiction, as they cry, scream, throw tantrums and hide or sneak their favorite sugary, junk and processed foods. They will also say they are hungry just a few minutes after eating an appropriately portioned meal. They may already be obsessed or preoccupied with food.
There are more sugar and caffeine addicted children than ever, and this is reflected in the increase of obesity and Type II diabetes in children. The documentary, “Fed Up” reports that sugar is currently added to 80 percent of processed food on US grocery store shelves. Even when children are offered healthier choices, they chose sugar and soda over salad, fruit and milk. Well, guess what? A recent science experiment found that lab rats who were addicted to cocaine, also chose sugar over cocaine when given a choice.
GOING BACK IN HISTORY
There was a time in history when the following disorders were not recognized by the medical and psychiatric community, including:
- PMS/ PMDD
- AUTISM/ ASPERGERS
- BIPOLAR DISORDER
- ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS
- BINGE EATING DISORDER
- OPPOSITIONAL CHILD DISORDER
Just because food addiction is not YET recognized by the medical and mental health communities, does not mean it does not exist. Why does it matter if it’s recognized or not? Because the major insurance companies won’t cover treatment without a DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) diagnosis. The DSM diagnosis leads to increased recognition by doctors and other health professionals. This does not mean that you cannot seek help for food addiction treatment, but it most likely will not be covered by your insurance. Many practitioners will diagnose food addiction as Binge Eating Disorder, unless or until food addiction is recognized as a separate disorder.
WHAT IS FOOD ADDICTION?
According to some experts, food addicts become addicted to certain foods, especially those foods containing sugar, salt, flour, wheat or caffeine. These substances trigger chemical reactions in the brain similar to the reaction of addicts using their drug of choice. The brain is hardwired to seek out behaviors that release dopamine, which is one of the “feel good” chemicals in the reward system. Dopamine receptors become depleted, and then you need your fix.
Leptin is another very important piece of the puzzle. Leptin is a hormone that is produced by the fat cells in the body, and helps to regulate how many calories we eat, and how many calories we burn. When the leptin signal isn’t working, it is called leptin resistance, and is believed to be a big contributor to human obesity. Insulin blocks leptin in the brain. Insulin resistance often leads to obesity. It is believed that if you have a great deal of body fat, especially in the belly, you are most likely leptin resistant and you might be insulin resistant too.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FOOD ADDICTION:
- Extreme cravings for particular foods high in sugar, caffeine, fat, salt, flour
- Thinking you cannot do without your favorite food(s) Example- (you cannot imagine not having your morning coffee and bagel, pastry, cereal, doughnut)
- Preoccupation with planning, buying or eating food, even after eating
- Continued overeating despite negative medical, physical, emotional or spiritual consequences
- Progressive increase in the frequency and amount of food consumed
- Needing, wanting, and craving the food
- Much more severe pattern than problem eaters
- Usually a very long history of abusing the problematic foods
- Chemically dependent on the problem foods
- Have withdrawal symptoms when the substance(s) are removed
- Detox symptoms include headaches, sleepiness, insomnia, anxiety, panic and may last for days or weeks
- Become powerless over the physical cravings
CAUSES OF FOOD ADDICTION:
- Genetic predisposition of addiction in the family (smoking, alcohol, drugs, gambling, food)
- Repeated and frequent exposure to sugar, caffeine, flour, wheat, salt, and fat that usually begins in early childhood, or some say in the womb
COMMON FOODS ASSOCIATED WITH FOOD ADDICTION:
- Ice Cream
- Soda and diet soda
- Cake and pastries
- Chips of all kinds
- Caffeinated coffee
- Energy drinks
- French Fries
- Granola and granola bars
- Sweetened coffee drinks
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM A FOOD ADDICT?
There are self -assessments you can take to determine if you are a “normal” eater, an “emotional” eater or a food addict. You can also look at stages of food addiction to determine where you are in the progression of this disease.
See Yale Food Addiction Scale
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE A FOOD ADDICTION?
What you should do really depends on how serious the problem is and how much it is affecting your daily life, your physical and emotional health, and whether it is interfering in the quality of your life. If you are suffering serious consequences, such as depression, anxiety or panic attacks, morbid obesity, Type II Diabetes, and/or other medical and emotional problems, it is best to seek help from a trained professional.
MAYBE I CAN TREAT THIS BY MYSELF
Again, just like with Binge Eating Disorder, you may be able to treat this by yourself. The odds are if you are still reading this, you probably have been struggling with this issue for a very long time, perhaps a lifetime of sugar and flour addiction. This is a difficult problem to treat, since food is always around us, everywhere we turn. We tell alcoholics not to drink and not to go to bars; we tell drug addicts to abstain from all drugs at all times, but we can’t tell food addicts not to eat food. However, we can learn how to abstain from our trigger foods.
There are a variety of treatments, food plans, and solutions available, and I will be happy to discuss the research, the coping methods, resources online and off, and how to deal with the saboteurs in your life. We can also discuss how individual or group counseling may provide guidance, knowledge and support.
How to Contact Me for Food Addiction Treatment:
There is so much conflicting information out there it can make your head spin. It seems like every day there is a new theory, a new expert, new study, new piece of research, a new plan, a new book…..
So, what do you do? If you have a problem or you think you have a problem, seek professional help. Look for someone who is knowledgeable, supportive, and willing to help you find the solutions that are right for you!
CALL ME FOR A FREE 15 MINUTE PHONE CONSULTATION TO SEE IF I AM THE RIGHT PERSON TO HELP YOU. There is no obligation and if I cannot help you, I will do my best to point you in the right direction.
Please call me to to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation or to schedule an appointment in my Irvine office.
Phone: (949) 261-8299
Shellee Moore, LMFT
20 Corporate Park, Suite 215
Irvine, CA 92606
You will never change, until the pain of staying the same, is greater than the pain of change. Author unknown