If you answered YES to 0-1 questions, chances are your risk of food addiction is low.
If you answered YES to 2-3 questions, this could indicate a possibility that you are struggling with food addiction. It is worth exploring this further.
Here are some suggestions:
- Take a longer assessment such as the Yale Food Addiction Scale.
- Pursue the trial and error approach. That is, you could to do the things you would do if you knew for sure that you had a food addiction (things recommended by most successful support groups and healthcare providers) and see if that helps. If you begin to feel better, if you find yourself beginning to think more clearly, and if you find yourself making better decisions when it comes to your eating habits, you should consider this strong evidence that you may in fact be struggling with food addiction. Chief among the things to try would be to identify your trigger foods and do your best to eliminate those food from your diet.
- Visit and possibly join a peer support group. With the help of the group or extensive one-on-one work with an individual who has been successful, you might be able to get a more in depth assessment even as you learn more about the sorts of things you should be trying to do from a trial and error perspective.
- Visit a healthcare or allied health professional who has had successful experience dealing with food addiction and request an in depth assessment from that individual.
- Visit a nutritionist or dietician with successful food addiction treatment experience and ask for help with identifying your trigger foods and with eliminating them from your diet or request help with designing and experimenting with a comprehensive food plan that is tailored to meet your individual needs.
If you answered YES to 4 or more questions, the possibility of food addiction is quite strong.
- At the least, you should strongly consider searching for, visiting, and ultimately joining a food addiction oriented peer support group that feels comfortable and helpful to you.
- You may want to seek a definitive assessment and diagnosis followed by treatment from a healthcare professional with successful food addiction treatment experience.
- Many people struggling with food addiction find that the combination of these two things, a peer support group and professional treatment of some kind, is most successful.
Spelling these suggestions out in more detail
The task of figuring out what foods you are personally addicted to and how to go about abstaining from them can be a tough one. Many people have found that doing it with help of some kind, rather than trying to do it on their own, can be very helpful. There are two large categories of support that you can choose from:
Sometimes we may need to enlist the support of a combination of these.
And again, what has been helpful to a great many food addicts has been enlisting the support of a combination of these.
Searching for help with food addiction
If you are looking for a support group (such as a food-related 12 step group) to help you follow through on your intention to remove foods from your diet that you find it hard to stop eating, here are some things to look for:
• Is the group committed to an abstinence-based approach to recovery from Food Addiction? (removing foods that a person has difficulty not binging on)
• Are there several people in the group who have been in recovery (been abstinent) for several years?
• Are there some of these people who are willing to act as a coach (“sponsor”) to someone new to the group?
When it comes to seeking professional care and support, it is important to know that only in recent years has Food Addiction, as a distinct condition, begun to be recognized and wholeheartedly accepted by many healthcare professionals. Sadly, the truth is, it is still difficult to find caregivers who know how to properly diagnose and appropriately treat food addiction.
Therefore, you need to know how to shop around for a healthcare provider who actually understands what food addiction is, how to diagnose it and how to treat it. Though this can be difficult, here are a few things to look for:
• Has the provider been able to successfully help others struggling with food addiction?
• Does the provider take an abstinence-based approach? Does he or she understand the importance of helping people identify the foods that they are addicted to and how to work to avoid them.
• Does the provider check in with patients struggling with food addiction on a regular basis, over time.
Providers and support groups will vary in the approach they strongly recommend or even require. If you are able to do what they recommend, see what happens. Is it really hard? Can you do this? Does it appear that you are detoxing (that you are experiencing symptoms common to withdrawal from an addictive substance, such as headaches, foggy brain, fatigue, irritability}? If you are able to successfully continue abstaining from these foods for a week or more, you may begin to find that your cravings and food obsessions slowly start to diminish. Again, if this happens you are probably getting a strong message that there is a very good chance you are food addicted.
Going It Alone
If you want to try and figure out on your own if you are addicted to one or more foods or to volume eating, and which foods are particularly addictive for you, you can start by writing a list of all the foods you have recently binged on or started eating and couldn’t stop. Also think about the foods you think you couldn’t live without. The most common ingredients in such foods are sugar, flour, grains, high fat and salty foods.
Take an honest inventory of your eating history. Once you have identified your list of personally addictive foods, the next step is to try to eliminate such foods from your diet. Some people try to do this one at a time or one group of similar foods at a time. Others try to eliminate such personally dangerous foods all at once. This is much harder to do, but for some people it is an approach that works.
You will still be left with the question, “Can I continue to go it alone or should I seek out some peer or professional support, or a combination of the two, because this is likely to be so very difficult and it is very likely to require a prolonged effort?”
Be forewarned that some people find when they begin to abstain from one or more of their trigger foods that their mind begins to play tricks on them. For example, their mind may begin to suggest reasons why it is ok to eat a food they have been abstaining from. Or that it is ok to eat a trigger food this one time. If this begins to happen, it is likely that you do need some help in the form of support and / or professional care.