Making a full recovery from a food addiction is challenging, but possible. Compulsive overeating is a learned behavior, one that most addicts develop in their early years, which requires cognitive behavioral reevaluation in order to defeat. There is more than one way to eradicate a food addiction, depending on its level of severity.
For a minor food addiction, self-help literature may solve the problem. This is an easily accessible solution for those who are good at teaching themselves and enjoy reading. This type of literature will give the reader ideas for ways of practicing cognitive behavioral exercises that will help them curb their overeating habit.
For a moderate eating addiction, one popular method of treatment is a support group. Support groups join together to share similar stories of struggles with food addiction, and to share tips on what has worked for them. Having a group of people to be accountable to, lean on for support and empathize with your food addiction struggles is invaluable to many food addicts.
If it is professional counseling you require, but you do not feel that you need inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation or addiction counseling may be the best remedy for you. This will give you access to an expert mental health opinion who can help you discover the underlying causes of your eating addiction and form new, healthier behavior and thought patterns.
And for those with a severe food addiction that is putting them at risk, inpatient addiction treatment is the best option. Inpatient rehab covers all the major areas that your mental and physical health has been jeopardized, restoring them to their original health. Living in the treatment facility keeps you away from unhealthy trigger foods. Your treatment will consist of an in-depth look at why you overeat, individual and group counseling, as well as healthy therapeutic activities such as outdoor recreation and gym time.
A food addiction can develop for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons are biological, such as taking prescription steroids or experiencing a hormone shift. Most reasons are psychological. Food can become a way of coping with stress and depression for many people. Because consuming food is pleasurable and is a necessary daily practice, it is a very easy addiction to fall into. Many food addicts grew up with dysfunctional eating habits and life circumstances, and the combination of not knowing how to cope and naturally having bad decision making skills over food and diet makes for a treacherous combination.
Psychological dependence on food begins for many at an early age. The contributing factors are environmental, psychological, emotional, behavioral, biological and chemical. Using food to escape negativity, such as fighting parents, sexual abuse, addicted parents or bullying, is very common. Frequently, food addicts also have a troubled history with food itself. They may have been overfed or underfed as children. People with healthy eating habits take for granted that, like every other basic life function, our eating habits depend heavily on how we were raised to function. As adults, much of what we do instinctively is a direct result of what we were taught to do as children. Therefore, a relationship with food can be just as dysfunctional as a relationship with alcohol, sex, drugs and gambling.
Biological food addictions are less common. They are largely related to some kind of chemical imbalance that is spurring cravings the individual would otherwise not have. Steroids largely affect a person’s metabolism by triggering overeating and make the individual retain the weight they gain. Changes in hormones, such as pre-menopausal phases, can trigger compulsive eating as well. Sometimes overeating can be purely habitual and not connected to any past trauma, but most cases like this see the addict eventually controlling their behavior because it is not used as a psychological crutch.
A food addiction is a harmful pattern of compulsive overeating. Some people do it because of biological reasons and some people do it because of psychological reasons. A food addiction is considered an eating disorder and is often accompanied by an inability to manage one’s weight. This type of addiction is unique because it is a substance and a behavioral addiction, where as most addictions are one or the other. The foods ingested release endorphins and create pleasurable chemical reactions of their own, but unlike a drug addiction that is solely about the chemical high, simply the behavior of eating is part of the addiction. It does not always matter what type of food is involved; what matters is the eating itself.
This complex disorder burdens the addict and makes them euphoric at the same time. The process of eating creates the brain pleasure chemical dopamine, which comforts and brings feelings of happiness to the addict in the moment. The ramifications that are soon to follow are not so rewarding, however. The emotion of shame for needing to depend on food quickly overwhelms the addict, often accompanied by body image issues. Physically, being overweight due to a food addiction causes health problems in the form of fatigue, heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal issues and more. The cycle of overeating causes uncontrollable cravings, which lead to binge eating, which lead to shame and self-loathing, which lead to a period of punishing one’s self for binging by denying food, which relapses into uncontrollable cravings.
The power of a food addiction over a food addict is overwhelming. A person’s efforts to control a legitimate food addicton are often futile and leave the addict feeling hopeless. There is no reason to attempt recovery from a food addiction if you feel unable to do it alone. Many addiction counselors and mental health professionals specialize in eating disorders with an emphasis on food addiction. If you are ready to change, reach out for help today.