Dealing with food addiction can often seem impossible.
Your brain chemistry is working against you around the clock.
If you've repeatedly failed at overcoming this problem on your own, then perhaps it is time to seek help.
This is what I did, after trying many times to control things on my own... which always failed in the long run.
If you've tried this a hundred times yourself, then the chances of you succeeding during the 101st (or the 1000th) time are extremely low.
Fortunately, if food addiction is a problem in your life, then there are several places where you can seek help and find effective treatment.
This article lists the most common options.
The first and best option is finding a good 12 step program.
These are almost identical to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), except the substance of abuse is different.
The way this works is... you regularly attend meetings with groups of people who are also recovering food addicts. Then eventually you will get a "sponsor" who helps you decide what you should and should not eat, and why.
The importance of having social support when you're dealing with food addiction can not be overstated. Usually the people in there are willing to help you and have many years of experience dealing with food addiction themselves.
The best part is, 12 step programs are 100% free and usually available all over the world.
There are several different programs to choose from: Overeaters Anonymous (OA): This is the largest and most popular option, with regular meetings all over the world. Their website is OA.org and you can find meetings here.
Greysheeters Anonymous (GSA): Similar to OA, except they provide a meal plan that involves weighing and measuring 3 meals per day. This is the one I'm in, it has quite literally saved my life.
They are not as big as OA and it may be harder to find a meeting in your area, but they also have many phone and skype meetings. Luckily this group is very active in my own country (Iceland), so it is very easy for me to find meetings.
I know it can often seem like a huge step to go to your first meeting, but it really doesn't have to be a big deal. Just go there, sit down and listen while the others talk... it's easy.
I personally don't know a single person who has had a negative experience going to one of these meetings.
The meetings are usually quite fun and it is also pretty amazing to find a whole bunch of people who are also food addicts. It can be a relief to realize that you are far from being the only one with this problem.
A psychological approach called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has shown great promise against various eating disorders (1).
This includes Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia, which share many of the same symptoms as food addiction.
You can try finding a psychologist... but keep in mind that NOT all of them have experience in dealing with food addiction.
Ask that you be referred to someone who has experience with food addiction or related eating disorders like Binge Eating Disorder.
There are some anti-obesity medications that work on the brain and may help to reduce symptoms of food addiction.
As far as I can tell, none of them are particularly effective. They also tend to have side effects.
There is one called Contrave that is currently awaiting FDA approval, which directly targets some of the brain pathways involved in the addictive nature of food.
However, this is currently not available at the time... but may be some time in the near future.
If you are depressed (very common among food addicts), then perhaps taking anti-depressants temporarily could help give you the strength you need to fight your problem.
Anti-depressants do NOT cure food addiction, but they may be a useful tool to help you achieve abstinence (such as via 12-step meetings).
If this is something you think may apply to you, then try talking to your doctor about your options. Unfortunately, very few health professionals even know that food addiction exists, let alone how to treat it.
There are several treatment programs that offer effective solutions for food addicts.
Here are the main ones:
- ACORN - offers several treatment options, mostly in the United States.
- Milestones in Recovery - Located in Florida, they offer longer term treatment for food addicts.
- COR Retreat - Located in Minnesota, offers a 5-day program.
- The Turning Point - In Tampa, Florida. They have options for food addicts and people with eating disorders.
- Shades of Hope - Located in Texas, they offer both a 6-day and a 42-day program.
- The MFM Center - Located in Iceland, they offer several effective programs.
- PROMIS - In the UK, they offer treatment for various eating disorders.
- Bittens Addiction - Offers various options for food addicts in Sweden.
You can find more info on this page. It also lists numerous individual health professionals all over the world with experience in treating food addiction.
If you're looking for something in your area, try looking for "food addiction [name of your city]" on Google.
Thanks to Phil Werdell and Esther H. Gudmundsdottir for helping me with the research for this article. Although it can be hard to understand for some people, food addiction is a very real and very serious problem.
It involves being addicted to food (especially processed junk foods) in the exact same way as drug addicts are addicted to drugs.
The symptoms are identical, it's just a different substance of abuse (I know this, because I am a recovering drug addict and a recovering food addict).
Keep in mind that food addiction is a problem that will rarely (if ever) resolve on its own. With time, it only gets worse.
Not only will it cause you health problems down the line... food addiction is also ruining your life today, making you feel worse every day of your life.
It ruins your self-esteem, makes you feel horrible about yourself, causes disease and can literally end with early death.
If you are reading this, chances are that you are currently feeling motivated to do something about your problem.
Unfortunately, motivation doesn't last... so look over the options above, pick something you like and take action now, before it is too late.