Last updated: 02/20/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
With food being an important part of day-to-day life, a food addiction can be easy to overlook. Family get-togethers, holidays, work functions and nights out on the town all incorporate food as an expected part of the festivities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 35.7 percent of the U. S. population struggled with obesity disorders in 2008. Obesity disorders come with any number of health consequences that further diminish a person’s quality of life.
Food addiction treatment works in much the same way as any other form of addiction treatment in terms of helping addicts get to the root of the addiction problem. Through food addiction treatment help, a person comes to understand the role food has played in his or her life. With ongoing work, addicts can develop the types of coping skills that make a healthy eating lifestyle possible.
The Basis for Food Addictions
The basis for food addiction lies in how certain types of foods stimulate the brain in the same way alcohol and drugs do. For some people, foods with high sugar, salt and fat content can become addictive, as certain brain chemical processes grow dependent on food’s effects.
More specifically, these types of foods interact with the brain’s pleasure centers in such a way as to create a self-reinforcing mechanism that drives a person to crave foods with high sugar, salt and/or fat content. Food addiction treatment programs address the basis of addiction by tackling both the physical and psychological aspects of the problem.
Food Addiction Treatment Goals
Anyone struggling with an addiction to food can easily feel trapped between a rock and a hard place considering the necessity of food in everyday life. Since a “loss of control” becomes the essence of any addiction problem, trying to control a food addiction from day-to-day on one’s own may seem overwhelming and undoable.
At the outset, food addiction treatment programs help addicts break free from the body’s physical dependence on food. As addiction entails a psychological component that works alongside the body’s physical dependency, food addiction treatment programs place a heavy emphasis on helping a person work through his or her psychological dependency on food’s effects.
What Actually Happens in Food Addiction Treatment?
Food addiction treatment programs provide nutritional counseling as a means for educating participants on the effects of food on the brain. Nutritional counseling provides a person with the tools needed to –
- Develop health eating patterns
- Avoid the types of foods that trigger compulsive eating habits
- Work towards a healthy body weight
As part of food addiction treatment, participants learn to create diet plans and develop daily fitness goals as part of an ongoing healthy lifestyle plan.
Within the food addiction treatment process, talk therapies enable a person to work through the destructive emotional ties he or she has with food. In effect, addiction alters a person’s belief systems, attitudes and self-image. Through individual and group therapy sessions, participants work through the destructive thought patterns that support compulsive eating behaviors. In the process, a person develops needed coping skills for better managing his or her emotions and developing healthy lifestyle behaviors.