Dieting is not easy for anyone. It requires a commitment to healthy eating and a willingness to give up foods you like whenever you go out to eat or go to visit friends. If you have the willpower, you can make it through the cravings and have a successful outcome. However, what if you’ve tried and failed at every diet on the planet. Is it simply a lack of willpower or discipline? Is there any help for food addiction?
Food as an Addiction
Perhaps the reasons for diet failures isn’t as black and white as it was once thought to be. Researchers in both the medical and mental health fields are beginning to recognize food addiction as the root cause behind the reason for many diet failures. While some experts still have their doubts, research is starting to reveal that certain foods can be just as addictive as drugs or alcohol.
In studies, researchers have found that sugar, which is a key element in many of the foods that lead to obesity, can be just as additive as cocaine. It can cause the same pleasurable effect that triggers dopamine, a chemical that plays a key role in the reward system of the brain, as those addicted to drugs experience when they get high.
Food addiction can have devastating consequences, just as drug and alcohol addiction does. Too much sugar consumption has been found to lead to heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. On average, Americans consume approximately 130 pounds of the white stuff each year, which is about 1/3 pound every day.
Who is Affected?
For some people, in order to successfully lose weight, they need to get help for food addiction. It isn’t as easy as just abstaining from high-fat, high-sugar foods, but many people need extra help to break the cycle of addiction, just as drug addicts and alcoholics need help. In fact, according to another study, children of drug addicts and alcoholics may be more prone to food addiction.
Connections between obese people and family members who’ve had drug or alcohol addictions have been established by researchers and it is possible that those with alcoholism present in their family may be 30 to 40 times more likely to be obese. While this may indicate an addictive personality, there may also be an emotional component present in those with alcoholic family members that lead to them to use food as a coping mechanism.
However, foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, along with an existing predisposition to addiction, may trigger a tendency to over eat these types of foods. Getting help for food addiction may also be more complex because addiction to junk food can cause the brain’s make-up to change, making it even more difficult to set aside junk foods and eat healthier.
Help for Food Addiction: Treatments
Instead of stopping cold turkey, which can be difficult no matter what the addiction is, getting help for food addiction may require medical or psychological help. Treating the underlying causes for emotional eaters may be the key to curing food addiction for some people. Once they’ve dealt with whatever makes them angry, sad or depressed, these people may be able to put down their crutch, which is food.
Some individuals may need more extensive help and can seek out treatment centers they can check into in order to get help with their addictions. Just as those addicted to drugs and alcohol can check themselves into treatment centers to live until they overcome or can cope with their addiction, food addicts can do the same.
Treatments involve becoming educated about food, learning how to make and follow a food plan, abstaining from foods containing sugar and high concentrations of fat, group therapy and getting help with body image. Some centers offer both residential and non-residential treatments for food addicts.
One way to help yourself with food addiction is to identify your trigger foods. Which foods do you eat that you can’t seem to stop eating? For many people it may be sweet foods like cakes or cookies, for others it may be salty snacks like potato chips and other people may not be able to put down pizza. Finding out which food triggers you could eventually help you curb your food addiction.