Blog reviewed by Claire Rimmer (BA (Hons), Dip.Psychology, FDAD (NCAC)), Lead Addiction Therapist at Priory Hospital Altrincham
What is Food Addiction?
Food addiction is characterised by an individual experiencing a loss of control over their eating habits, causing them to compulsively overeat certain foods even when they are not hungry or in need of nourishment.
Over-eating is one of the biggest risks to health today and can often be an emotional response to negative thoughts.
What happens if Food Addiction is ignored?
If expert food addiction help is not sought, it can result in a range of serious long-term physical and psychological problems which may include:
- Obesity, leading to further related problems including diabetes, heart attack, cancer, bone and joint problems etc.
- The development of other disorders relating to food and eating, such as bulimia nervosa
- Long term depression and anxiety
- Breakdown of relationships with family, friends and romantic partners
- Intense feelings of isolation and shame
- Developing another form of addiction alongside your food addiction, such as alcohol addiction or drug addiction
An eating disorder specialist from Priory Hospital Roehampton gives tips on how to manage and control over eating.
- Have a plan
- Have balanced meals
- Don’t restrict
- Avoid distractions when eating
- Change environment
- Plan how to manage the feeling
- Seek support
Read more about the tips for dealing with food addiction here.
Food Addiction Symptoms
Everyone has a different relationship with food, and whilst cravings and indulgence is normal, there are some signs that you could be addicted to food.
Common food addiction symptoms include:
- Unable to stop eating certain foods even when you are not hungry
- Eating to the point of feeling physically unwell/nauseous
- Finding that you will go to extreme lengths to obtain ‘junk food’ when this is not available
- Eating so excessively that this causes you to neglect work, friends, family, and hobbies
- Experiencing problems at work because of food and eating
- Finding that you need to eat increasing amounts of food, and more frequently, in order to feel satisfied
- Finding that you need to eat to reduce negative emotions e.g. to relieve anxiety and stress
- Eating more quickly than other people
- Being secretive or dishonest about your eating behaviours
- Experiencing guilt after overeating
- Feeling as though food controls your life
- Feeling as though you are unable to stop overeating despite the negative consequences that this causes
Food Addiction Help
Our addictions specialists understand that seeking help for your food addiction can be overwhelming. That’s why our addiction experts offer a free initial addiction assessment, enabling you to discuss your food addiction in a safe, supportive and highly compassionate environment. The therapy that you will receive during food addiction treatment at Priory, will typically consist of a bespoke combination of therapy types in order to address your unique addiction and facilitate recovery. Food addiction therapy may include:
- 1:1 therapy
- Group therapy
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Our Approach to Food Addiction Treatment
Charlotte Parkin, Therapist based at Priory Wellbeing Centre Fenchurch Street, discusses our approach to food addiction treatment.
Our team look at overeating beyond just the medical symptoms, and address the psyche of those who overeat, in a bid to focus on the root cause. I have done in-depth research into this area and the key factors that we, as healthcare professionals, should focus on in the treatment of overeating include:
- Exploring developmental factors and subsequent emotion regulation strategies during treatment, to help facilitate sustained weight loss
- Formulating treatment around attachment functioning and interpersonal relationships
- Multiple factors that contribute to emotional overeating, suggesting that associated interventions may need to be individually designed
- Developing new coping strategies – if overeating is necessary for emotional functioning, it will not be given up until it is replaced with other strategies
- Public awareness of the relationship between obesity and mental health, which tends to focus on the rhetoric of the simple formula of poor will power. Wider re-education is needed to help shift public perception and knowledge
- Acknowledging the connection between overeating and addiction, and addressing it through reparative relational therapy – if this is not done, the overeater is kept in a cycle of poor inter-relations, where they soothe with food
- Looking out for parallels between overeating and addiction, particularly a low tolerance to extreme emotions such as loneliness, anger, happiness, and alexithymia (the inability to process and articulate emotions).
12-Step philosophy for food addiction
Food addiction treatment and therapy at Priory is underpinned by the renowned 12-Step philosophy, which is a well-known abstinence-based addiction treatment model, founded by the organisation Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The 12-Step model combines an individual’s food addiction with their spirituality and motivation to change, as a means of facilitating recovery.
You don’t have to struggle with food addiction; expert, established treatment is available. To find out how Priory can help you to overcome your addiction and return to a positive way of life, call our dedicated team today on 0800 188 4193 or make an enquiry.
Get in Touch Today
For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding food addiction treatment and rehabilitation, please call 0330 056 6023 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here
Call our Enquiry Line
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