Eating is a normal part of life. But some people struggle with controlling themselves around food. It is estimated that 28.8 million Americans battle with an eating disorder in their lifetime. These people may face mental and physical disabilities in their lives due to overdependence or addiction to food.
Individuals with this condition usually crave palatable foods high in fats and sugar. But a closer examination of food addiction has found that the condition is behavioral and not due to any substance in food.
Recently, food addiction has gained much support and awareness as a serious condition. Despite this, its distinct definition or diagnostic criteria are not available in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Mental health practitioners rely on the DSM-5 for the identification and treatment of mental illnesses. The lack of inclusion of food addiction as a disorder makes it difficult to identify and treat it.
Thankfully, through skills and experience, mental healthcare providers have devised treatment options for those addicted to food.
This article will look at these treatment options as well as help you identify unhealthy eating habits and connect you with resources for food addiction therapy.
Do You Need Food Addiction Therapy?
You might find yourself often craving certain foods. But not every craving is worrisome. You don't have to be alarmed every time you long for some chocolate or french fries. But if you feel that your cravings are too frequent and affecting your eating pattern, then you might need to reconsider your eating behavior.
There are signs to identify whether the desire for a certain tasty treat is natural or you are becoming addicted to food. People afflicted with this condition experience behavioral, physical, social, and emotional symptoms. Some common food addiction symptoms are listed below:
- Persistent food cravings
- Compulsive eating
- Going out of your way to obtain craved food
- Eating more than intended
- Continuously attempting to stop overeating and relapsing
- Eating to the point of feeling ill
- Eating even when full or not hungry
- Excessive exercise
- Self-induced vomiting
People with food addiction face the following problems:
- Prefer spending time locating and eating craved food over spending time with friends and family
- Face problems performing in work or studies due to thoughts of food or eating
- Tend to avoid social gatherings where their trigger foods are available to prevent overeating
Overindulgence in food also has a negative influence on a person's emotional state as it can lead to the development of:
- Low self-esteem
You might be surprised by how deeply food addiction impacts an individual's well-being. If you think that the above symptoms describe your behavior or the behavior of your loved one, it is best to seek help from professionals for treatment.
What Is Online Therapy for Food Addiction?
Online therapy is rapidly gaining popularity as the preferred medium for therapy seekers. Findings suggest that online counseling is just as effective, if not more, than traditional in-person settings.
Firstly, online therapy fights the stigma of mental help. It offers a comfortable and confidential connection with a therapist. Some online therapy providers allow individuals to remain anonymous during their therapy. If concealing your identity makes you more comfortable, you can choose to use a nickname in place of your name.
Online therapy has other benefits, too – convenience and affordability. It is much easier to schedule and attend an online meeting than travel to a meeting location. You can connect with a credible therapist through messages, live texts, or audio and video calls. It is also much less costly than in-person sessions, making it accessible to the average person.
Find Out How Online Therapy Can Help YouGet Started
What Does Food Addiction Therapy Look Like?
Firstly, online therapy is just like in-person counseling. Therapists will use the same techniques and exercises.
However, you should remember that every therapy is tailored to the disorder and individual. Your therapy course might look very different from another person with food addiction, and therapy duration will also vary.
So, what does food addiction therapy actually look like? Professionals often utilize the strategies mentioned below.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT involves identifying core problematic beliefs and negative thoughts and modifying them into more positive thought patterns. Sometimes people resort to compulsive eating to seek comfort from negative thoughts and emotions. These are addressed during CBT.
Traumatic incidents may be the reason behind compulsive eating behavior. In trauma therapy, a professional guides the individual through the trauma and helps them develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
DBT works on improving mindfulness, stress coping strategies, emotional regulation, and relationships. By regulating their emotions and coping with stress, individuals will not look to food for comfort.
Solution-focused therapy doesn’t try to analyze what might be causing food cravings but instead focuses on how to find the best solution to overcome them. A therapist will work with you to create specific actions plans to reduce stress in your life, issues that cause food addiction, or how to cope with triggers.
Other Treatment Options
Other options for food addiction treatment worth exploring are:
- 12-step program. 12-step programs are support groups where people suffering from addiction follow an action plan to overcome their addiction – much like Alcohol Anonymous.
- Nutritional guidance. It is best to pair psychological therapy with nutrition counseling to replace poor eating habits with healthier ones.
- Medication. There is no FDA-approved medication for food addiction. But individuals can take medicine for depression or anxiety that is causing compulsive eating. Medication should always be taken after consulting with a professional.
How to Stop Food Addiction?
The answer to this question is simple: therapy and lifestyle changes. More on therapy is discussed below.
You can overcome food addiction by adopting healthy habits such as:
- Identifying trigger foods – What food items make you lose self-control? These foods must be avoided completely.
- Healthy alternatives – Make a list of healthy foods you enjoy and incorporate them into your diet.
- Avoiding caffeine – Drinking caffeinated beverages leads to sugar cravings and poor eating behavior. It’s best to avoid or reduce your coffee intake and replace it with water.
- Exercising regularly – Exercise releases feel-good emotions in your brain. You might not need to seek happiness through food if you're already at ease after exercising.
- Sleeping well – Getting enough sleep is essential for your well-being and stress management.
- Balanced diet – Try to have a balanced meal three times a day.
- Preparing your own meals – Don’t rely on processed or fast food; cook your own meals using healthy and fresh ingredients.
Overcome Food Addiction With Online Therapy
Food addiction is a serious condition that affects the well-being of millions. This article outlines the possible indicators of food addiction and information on therapy options for treating this condition. You will also find helpful self-help tips on how to overcome food addiction.
If you or your loved ones are battling this addictive behavior, we suggest you re-evaluate your lifestyle choice, seek help through therapy, and adopt healthy eating habits.
You will find online therapy for food addiction to be a more accessible and affordable choice than in-person therapy. If you are ready to seek professional help, you can always contact us at DoMental to turn your life around.