Many of us who have struggled with body, weight and eating issues have tried many ways to deal with our "issues."
Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis of food addiction is rampant in the world today.
As a result, many people are given the wrong treatment plan. The majority of mistreated people are being treated for obesity and/or eating disorders. The former is too imprecise. It can ignore completely the possibility of a chemical dependency on one or more foods. The recommended treatment for many eating disorders emphasizes psychological approaches and encourages a person to eat their trigger foods moderately, which for a person with food addiction simply does not work.
Moreover, obesity can be a symptom of food addiction; much like sclerosis of the liver can be a symptom of alcohol addiction. But a doctor would never treat a person’s sclerosis of the liver and expect that to clear up their alcohol addiction. Yet this is often what is expected and done in the medical world today when treating people struggling with food addiction. They are told to eat less and exercise more and all will be well.
Successful treatment of food addiction teaches people to abstain from eating their “problem foods” and to abstain from engaging in their negative eating behaviors. Avoiding this approach only prolongs the problem.
There is not a cure for food addiction or any other addiction. But there are ways to arrest and reverse the progression of this disease.
A successful treatment program should aim to teach people how to live their lives without resorting to consuming their “addictive foods” simply out of habit or in order to deal with daily stresses, pressures and disappointments. The treatment plan should consist of guidance from experts and the support of peers focusing on physical, mental and spiritual recovery.
The key to sustained recovery from food addiction is for people to be honest, open-minded and willing; treatment only becomes effective when the individual becomes willing to surrender to the reality of their current condition. It is important for the person struggling with food addiction to gain an understanding of what’s driving his or her compulsive eating and/or eating behaviours in the first place, whether the unmanageable cravings, poor eating habits or dysfunctional thought processes. usually associated with addiction.
Once it is determined that a person is suffering from food addiction, it is important to take into account that there are many different levels of care and treatment and it is important that people get the level that is appropriate to their particular stage of food addiction.
Regardless of what stage of addiction the food dependent person may be, abstinence is the first and most essential step in long term recovery.
Obviously, it is more difficult and complicated than abstaining from drugs and alcohol. A person can’t just stop eating, however we can stop eating the foods and engaging in the eating behaviors that our bodies have become dependent on.
Different people have different sensitivities, just as with allergies. However, foods that tend to be highly addictive for a great many people are foods that are high in sugar, flour, grains, salt, fat or a combination of these ingredients.
The most addictive eating behaviors are binging, purging and volume eating. The important piece is for people to identify the foods and eating behaviors they personally are addicted to and remove them from their plan of eating entirely as rapidly as they possibly can. Once such foods have been removed and any detox period has passed (usually 3-5 days) physical cravings and food obsessions will often be reduced or eliminated. However, the process of continued abstinence can be tough and we highly recommend you do this with peer support and that you also seek professional help, if needed. Click here for a list of Professional Support that follow the addictive model of treatment.
When problem foods and eating behaviors have been removed, the next step is to get support with the mental and spiritual aspects of the disease. The most successful recoveries seem to come from doing this with support from a group of like-minded people, (click here for more information on the different food peer support groups) and with the help of a professional who specializes in addictions.
The goal in food addiction recovery is for people who have been struggling, to be free from food cravings and to create a state of mind and body free from obsession with food.
This is not a process of deprivation. Creating a meaningful and purpose driven life and learning to use physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual practices to remain free from trigger and binge foods can lead to relief, renewal, and freedom. Daily positive actions can sustain and enhance recovery. Abstinence can be the foundation of a lifelong and transformative process of wellbeing and of learning to live successfully with food use disorder.