Help with Food Addiction

Categories: Food Addiction

Help with Food Addiction


Acknowledging and Overcoming Food Addiction

Help with Food AddictionThat desire to eat a bag of chocolate chip cookies or to order a pizza and devour it by yourself may be more than hunger, it could be food addiction.  Food addiction, which has only begun to be recognized by both medical and psychiatric professionals, may be why so many people have trouble losing weight and staying on healthier diets.


Addictive Behaviors


The inability to stick to a healthy diet has been long thought of as issues with self-control or a lack of willpower.  However, researchers are finding out that diets containing foods high in fat and sugar may have addictive qualities and they may have a physical affect on people who consistently eat such foods


Scientists used rats in studying the affects of high-fat, high-sugar foods.  One group of rats was given junk food only for one hour a day, while another group was able to eat junk food whenever they wanted.  Even in the group that only ate junk food one hour a day, addictive behaviors soon developed.


This group of rats quickly began binge eating on the high-fat, high-sugar foods when they became available to them and the group of rats consistently eating junk food gorged themselves and began obese.  The obese rats were thought to have continued gorging because their ability to feel pleasure when they ate the junk food was desensitized.


Dopamine receptors, which play a large role in the reward system for our brain, are thought to have been dulled and the rats had to eat larger amounts of junk food to feel the same pleasure as they did when they first started eating it.  This response is the same for drug addicts who crave larger amounts of a drug to be able to get their fix.


Getting Help


As the idea of food addiction is becoming more widely accepted, thanks to research, programs and treatments are emerging for those who need help with food addiction.   Often, dieting along cannot resolve the problem and therapeutic and/or medical treatments must be used in order to help a person overcome their addiction.


Treatment centers for those wanting help with food addiction are cropping up all over the country and the world, to help treat those with their addiction.  Much like the halfway houses and treatment centers that exist for alcohol and drug addicts, some of these centers for food addiction have retreats, halfway houses and transitional housing facilities that people with this problem can go to in order to get help.


Some of the treatments involve learning about food and becoming educated about food plans, abstaining from foods with sugar and white flour in them, attending lectures, daily group meetings and workshops on body image.  Many of these facilities recognize there are emotional reasons behind overeating and, until those reasons are recognized and begin to be resolved, getting help with food addiction could be futile.

Emotional binge eating, or stress eating, can be linked to the pleasure we feel eating high-fat, sugary foods when we are experiencing feelings of loneliness, sadness or even when we want to reward ourselves.  After all, brownies do taste much better than broccoli, but addressing eating as a way to compensate for emotional or stressful issues is an important part of recovery.


Psychiatric or psychological therapy can help with a food addict with the emotional or stressful reasons for their addiction and help them overcome the need to satiate those feelings with food.  Along with becoming better educated about food, therapy can go a long way to helping end someone’s food addiction, just as it can with any other addiction.


There are also 12-step programs, similar to Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous, for food addicts.  Information about Food Addicts Anonymous meetings can be found online, which will give dates and times for in-person meetings or, if someone isn’t comfortable enough to attend a meeting, they can also go to a virtual meeting on the Internet.


Taking the first steps to get help with food addiction is vital as food addictions can kill us just the same way drug and alcohol addictions can.  Heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are all deadly diseases that can be born out of an addiction to food.

Doriet von Fircks

About the author

Doriet von Fircks is a health practitioner and a nutrition expert.
She specializes in food related problems, such as food addiction.
After reading many articles about food addiction, especially lots of scientific journals, she realized that there was hardly any discussion about food addiction from a scientific perspective.
She updates the site frequently, ensuring that the latest scientific findings are always featured on If you have questions about this site or suggestions for improvement, please feel free to contact her.