The assumption that the term ‘addiction’ refers only to those who abuse mood-altering chemicals such as alcohol or drugs is one that is commonly believed by many across the world. However, these chemical substances are not the only things that individuals can become addicted to. In fact, there are many behavioural addictions including gambling addiction, shopping addiction, and sex addiction. In recent years, the idea that people can become addicted to food has also been gaining traction among professionals and addiction experts. The reality is that any pattern of behaviour capable of causing a negative impact on a person’s life is classed as an addiction, and food addiction is certainly possible. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or food addiction, you may believe that you are on your own, but this is not the case. Read on to find out more about this illness and where to go for food addiction help or treatment.
A food addiction is, in simple terms, ‘an unhealthy attitude towards food’. Those who suffer from a food addiction will have little or no control over their consumption of food in general or of specific food types. Most people with a food addiction will tend to gorge on unhealthy foods, also known as junk food.
These foods tend to be high in sugar and fat and are considered to be highly palatable. The ingredients in these foods can trigger the reward centre of the brain in much the same way that drugs and alcohol can. Over time, the body will adapt to the presence of these foods and will adjust its production of feel-good chemicals in response. The fact that fewer dopamine chemicals are released means that the person may want to eat more and more of this junk food to achieve the feelings that he or she desires.
As with other addictions, those who suffer from a food addiction are often discriminated against or even blamed for their own condition. All too often, those with no experience of addiction can be heard saying that it is a self-inflicted illness and that those who are affected have no one to blame but themselves.
This is not the case. Those affected by food addiction are no more to blame for their condition than someone with cancer is to blame for theirs. Nobody chooses to have an addiction. They are affected because of changes that have occurred to the structure of their brain. In some people, certain foods hijack the reward centre of the brain, making it almost impossible for them to stop eating, even when they are full.
The highly palatable foods they consume cause intense surges of pleasure, which results in them wanting increasingly more. Before long, the individual will become dependent on these pleasurable foods to the point that he or she will often overeat and is unable to stop, even when no longer hungry. Many of those with a food addiction will eat until they feel sick.
It is important to remember that anyone can be affected by a food addiction. Despite what most believe, a food addiction does not discriminate and it is not reserved for individuals who come from a certain background or those from deprived areas. No matter what a person’s age, religion, race, or background, they can develop a food addiction.
It is impossible to pinpoint one single cause of food addiction, just as it is with any other type of addiction. It is thought that several factors can combine to cause people to become affected; these can include social, biological, and psychological reasons. For some, it is a hormonal imbalance that can lead to the disorder, but for others, a food addiction can stem from emotional trauma such as being the victim of bullying, abuse, or the death of a loved one.
Food addiction is a complex mental health disorder and as such it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact reason a person became addicted. Nevertheless, there are a range of factors that make it more likely for one person to be affected than another.
If you are wondering whether you could have a food addiction or if you simply like eating certain foods, there are several signs and symptoms that could help you decide one way or the other. These can include (but are not limited to):
The above are psychological symptoms of a food addiction, but there are also a few physical signs that, when coupled with the above, could indicate a problem. These include:
If you have noticed a combination of the above physical and psychological signs, you may have a food addiction and it would be wise to seek out help. If you need assistance with where to go for food addiction help or treatment, read on.
Any type of addiction is a serious problem because it can have many negative consequences for the affected person. On top of this, many people do not believe a food addiction to be a real illness; it is often taken lightly or used in jest to describe individuals who simply like to eat too much.
The reality is that a food addiction can have terrible consequences for the affected person and can lead to many health problems. Those who gorge on certain foods will inevitably end up with both mental and physical health problems.
It is not uncommon for those with a food addiction to suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Others will go on to develop depression, anxiety disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to the many illnesses that could be awaiting those with a food addiction, it is important to consider the impact that this problem has on daily life. Those eating more than they should usually end up putting on weight, which can then make them feel desperately unhappy and suffer low self-esteem issues.
It is, therefore, important that those who suffer with a food addiction get help – and get it as soon as possible. But can a food addiction be treated, and who can you talk to about where to go for food addiction help?
The good news is that a food addiction can be overcome with the right programme of treatment. Here at UKAT, we specialise in treating all types of addiction and that includes food addiction. It is our goal to ensure that everyone who comes to us for help can access the right treatment programme for their needs.
Before signing up for a programme of treatment however, it is important to be aware that you are going to have to make some lifestyle changes. Unlike an alcohol or drug addiction where you stop taking your drug of choice, you cannot abstain from food; but you can abstain from the types of food that trigger your addiction.
Our professional counsellors and therapists will work closely with you during a programme of rehabilitation that has been designed around your needs and circumstances. We aim to identify the cause of your addictive behaviour and the foods that tend to trigger this behaviour.
You will learn how to avoid a return to addictive behaviour going forward and can expect to be treated with various techniques such as individual counselling, group therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy. Through these sessions, you will learn to develop a healthy relationship with food and will be taught to love yourself again.
It can be tough to overcome a food addiction, but with the right programme it is entirely possible. When you have learned how to live without allowing food to control you, you can look forward to enjoying life once more.
Everything will improve when you are no longer a slave to your food addiction. You can look forward to improvements in your health and wellbeing and you can start to rebuild relationships with family and friends.
If you are looking for information on where to go for food addiction help or treatment, look no further than UKAT. For more information on how to overcome food addiction, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We have several clinics across the UK where you can access first-class care and support for all types of addiction.
If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment program, we guarantee you'll stay clean and sober, or you can return for a complimentary 30 days of treatment.