If you have a patient or client who…

has tried many diets and also tried therapy to deal with their overeating– all unsuccessfully.

 is obese and cannot lose weight through diet and exercise alone.

attempted weight loss medications or psychotropic medications and neither have helped them to maintain a healthy weight over time.

is considering bariatric surgery but cannot meet the requirements for the operation.

has lost weight with bariatric surgery and gained most of it back.

is a patient who has lost weight and then become addicted to alcohol or drugs.

… then it is possible that your patient or client has become addicted to certain foods.

The Food Addiction Institute encourages the  treatment of food addiction as a serious disease, like drug and alcohol addiction. Health care providers can easily increase awareness of food addiction by asking their patients about loss of control when it comes to eating sweets and other foods. If food addiction is a possibility then proper screening and treatment is mandatory as this requires different treatment than other food related disorders. Untreated and poorly treated food addiction can be catastrophic to patients and their families.

Office Resources

Although this concept may be new to you, there is overwhelming scientific case for food addiction and we offer basic practical suggestions regarding how you can help potentially food addicted patients at each of the progressive stages of this disease.

  1. Download and print out the following office resources and make them  in waiting rooms with other literature: BrochureInsert, and Poster.
  2. During healthcare/allied health visits use the Brochure Office Protocol to help cue your clients/patients to get a better understanding of food addiction.

Make These Suggestions

The following are a list of effective suggestions you can make to your client/patient:

1.  Experiment by eliminating foods from your diet that you just can’t stop eating, e.g. products containing sugar, or flour/grains/starches, or excessive fats.

2. Notice if this makes you feel better or worse at first. You may feel tremendous relief, or you may get a headache, or have flu like symptoms, or feel too deprived, or just won’t be able to follow this.

3. If that is the case, consider getting support from a 12-Step Food Program, or another eating related support group (refer to those mentioned under ‘Searching’ on the back of the Resource Sheet).

4. Enlist help from other professionals and programs, e.g. dieticians, psychologists, physicians, food addiction counselors, food addiction intensives, or food treatment programs.

5. Read material that will help you to understand and clarify the problem you might be having with food: The Food Addiction Institute Website, Food Junkies by Vera Tarman, MD & Philip Werdell, The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes, and Cravings by Judy Collins


There are a variety of assessments you can administer to a patient or  client. Results may open up the door for the discussion of food as an addiction. Utilize the screening protocol for food addition along with  the Yale Food Scale  and UNCOPE assessments.