Dealing with food addiction can often seem impossible.
Your brain chemistry is working against you around the clock.
If you've been unable to overcome this problem on your own, you may want to seek help. Several programs and therapies may provide effective treatment.
This article lists the 4 most common food addiction treatment options.
One way to tackle food addiction is to find a good 12-step program.
These are almost identical to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) — except the substance of addiction is different.
In a 12-step program, you attend meetings with others who also struggle with food addiction. Eventually, you get a sponsor to help you develop a dietary regimen.
Social support can make a big impact when you're dealing with food addiction. You’ll likely find people who share your experiences and are willing to help.
What’s more, 12-step programs are free and usually available worldwide.
There are several different programs to choose from.
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is the largest and most popular option, with regular meetings across the world.
Greysheeters Anonymous (GSA) is similar to OA, except they provide a meal plan that involves weighing and measuring three meals per day. While they’re not as widespread as OA, they also offer phone and Skype meetings.
Although you may feel nervous about attending your first meeting, you’ll find these groups to be a welcoming, nonjudgmental space.
SUMMARY Twelve-step programs introduce you to peers and mentors who can help you overcome your food addiction. These programs are available worldwide.
A psychological approach called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown great promise in treating various eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder and bulimia ().
These conditions share many of the same symptoms as food addiction.
If you prefer seeing a psychologist, ask to be referred to someone who has experience with food addiction or related eating disorders.
SUMMARY Seeing a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders or food addiction may set you on the right path. Additionally, CBT has been proven effective in some cases.
The 12-step program is free, but several commercial treatment programs also offer effective solutions for food addicts.
Major ones include:
- ACORN: They offer several treatment options, mostly in the United States.
- Milestones in Recovery: Located in Florida, they offer long-term treatment for food addicts.
- COR Retreat: Located in Minnesota, they offer a five-day program.
- The Turning Point: Based in Florida, they have options for food addicts and people with eating disorders.
- Shades of Hope: Located in Texas, they offer both 6- and 42-day programs.
- PROMIS: Based in the UK, they offer treatment for various eating disorders.
- Bittens Addiction: They offer various options for food addicts in Sweden.
This webpage lists numerous individual health professionals across the globe who have experience treating food addiction.
SUMMARY Commercial treatment programs for food addiction are available throughout the world. If you’re struggling with food addiction, they are worth considering.
If everything else fails, you should also consider drug therapy. Some anti-obesity medications affect your brain and may help reduce symptoms of food addiction.
However, they’re not guaranteed to work and also tend to have side effects.
One combination drug contains both bupropion and naltrexone. It’s marketed under the brand name Contrave in the United States and Mysimba in Europe.
This drug directly targets some of the brain pathways involved in the addictive nature of food. Studies suggest that it may be effective — especially when combined with healthy lifestyle changes (, ).
If you’re severely depressed or anxious, taking antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication could help give you the strength you need to fight your problem ().
Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication does not cure food addiction but may be a useful tool to help you achieve abstinence from junk foods.
If you’re interested in this approach, talk to your doctor about your options.
SUMMARY If treatment programs don’t work for you, consider seeing a psychiatrist. Various drugs and mental health treatments may help you overcome your food addiction.
Food addiction is a real and very serious problem in which you become addicted to food — especially processed junk foods.
Numerous scientific studies confirm that food addiction involves the same brain areas as drug addiction (, , ).
Because food addiction does not resolve on its own, it’s best to pursue a treatment option in order to live healthfully.