How is food addiction treated?

Treatment options for food addiction are similar to many other types of substance abuse treatment. Twelve-step programs, such as Overeaters Anonymous, and other support groups have formed across the country to help food addicts. Counselors and psychologists can help you get to the root cause of food addiction and can help you develop ways to deal with the eating compulsion when it arises. Working with a nutritionist to create food plans and identifying trigger foods that cause cravings can also help.

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

In the addicted brain,the prefrontal cortex is diminished and the drive circuits take control. An underactive prefrontal cortex creates an imbalance in the reward system, causing a loss of control over behavior. Researchers have been studying addicted drive circuits in the brains of substance abusers for many years. Thanks to brain imaging, scientists are now seeing similar brain patterns in people who have problems with gambling, sex and overeating.

In order to treat food addiction a muli-level approach must be taken.

  1. Keep Blood Sugar Balanced.
  2. Decrease the Use of Artificial Sweeteners.
  3. Manage Stress.
  4. Outsmart Sneaky Triggers.
  5. Find Out About Hidden Food Allergies.
  6. Practice Willpower to Retrain Your Brain.
  7. Get Moving with exercise.
  8. Get Adequate Sleep.
  9. Take Natural Supplements for Cravings Control.
The best way to get help for food addiction is to work with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers with expertise in these issues, ideally with a licensed mental health practitioner who has expertise in food and addictions as well as with a registered dietitian. In addition, some people may find it useful to seek out group therapy or meetings with other people who are struggling with similar issues. This can build a sense of empathy and help people feel like they are less alone. Reading about the issue and becoming informed is also useful, but food addiction can often have very deep emotional roots -- working with a professional with experience in these issues might be necessary.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.