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.
Although a new concept, there is overwhelming scientific evidence for the disease of food addiction. FAI offers basic practical suggestions regarding how you can help potentially food addicted patients at each of the progressive stages of this disease.
The following is a list of suggestions you can make to your client or patient:
- Suggest experimenting by eliminating foods that produce intense cravings or the inability to refrain from indulging in, e.g. products containing sugar, or flour/grains/starches, or excessive fats.
- Ask your client to notice the response to the elimination. Is it tremendous relief, a headache, or a feeling of unbearable deprivation?
- Suggest additional support from a 12-Step food program, or another eating-related support group as mentioned under the “Resources” pull down menu.
- Suggest help from other professionals and programs, e.g. dieticians, psychologists, physicians, food addiction counselors, food addiction intensives, or food treatment programs- again, see the “Resources” pull down menu.
- Encourage reading material for education on food addiction, especially 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.