Top Treatment Options for Food Addiction

Addiction to food is as common as other types of addiction. To overcome it, one will require similar support and treatments as other kinds of addiction. It is important to note that food addiction is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The good news, however, is that several therapies and programs may help with treatment. This article highlights the most common treatment for food addiction.

 treatment for food addiction
Photo Credit: ourhealthycity.com

THE 12-STEP PROGRAMS

One important way to tackle food addiction is to subscribe to a working 12-step program.

12-step programs for food addiction are almost similar to Alcoholics Anonymous – the only difference is the substance of addiction.

When you enrol in the 12-step program for food addiction, you will meet with other people also struggling with food addiction. Eventually, you and your group will get a sponsor to help you plan a dietary regimen.

Social support is a very important form of treatment for food addiction. Relating with people who are addicted to the same substance and are willing to share experiences or help can go a long way to helping you recover.

As a plus, you don’t have to pay for 12-step programs. They are free and are available globally.

You can make your choice from several programs.

Overeaters Anonymous (OA): This is the most popular, and of course, the largest option. Regular meetings are held globally.

Greysheeters Anonymous (GSA): It is almost the same as overeater anonymous. The only difference may be that they offer a meal plan that involves measuring and weighing three meals daily. While they may not be as widespread as overeaters anonymous, they offer Skype and phone meetings.

Others include Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) & Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA).

These groups are nonjudgmental and very welcoming.

COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY

Do you know that cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for food addiction? Well, this psychological approach has shown great potential in treating several eating disorders, like bulimia and binge eating disorder (1).

Binge eating disorder and bulimia share similar symptoms as food addiction.

When hiring a psychologist, request to be referred to one who is experienced in food addiction or other eating disorders.

PUBLIC TREATMENT PROGRAMS

12-step programs are free. However, some commercial treatment programs equally offer effective treatment for food addiction.

Major commercial treatment programs include:

  • ACORN: Services are offered mostly in the United States of America.
  • Milestones in Recovery: They are based in Florida. They provide long-term treatment for food addiction.
  • COR Retreat: COR Retreat is based in Minnesota. Treatment for food addiction is done within 5 days.
  • The Turning Point: Like Milestones in Recovery, they are based in Florida. They treat several feeding & eating disorders.
  • Shades of Hope: They are based in Texas. They offer 6-day programs as well as 42-day programs.
  • PROMIS: This one is based in the United Kingdom. They offer different treatment for food addiction.
  • Bittens Addiction: Treatment is offered to those in Sweden.

This page has detailed information about health professionals all over the world who are experienced in treatment for food addiction.

DRUG THERAPY/PSYCHIATRISTS

It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any drugs for the treatment of food addiction. But then, medication would be an option to consider.

However, they are not guaranteed to work for food addiction and may also have side effects.

A drug worth considering is Contrave and Mysimba (brand names in the US and Europe respectively). They are approved by the FDA for weight loss, and they contain naltrexone and bupropion.

This drug targets pathways in the brain involved in food addiction. Clinical studies suggest that they may be effective when combined with healthy lifestyle changes (23).

Most cases of eating and feeding disorders may be due to anxiety and depression. Taking an anti-anxiety or antidepressant may relieve some of these symptoms (4).

Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications do not offer any cure for food addiction, instead, they ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. With this, the affected individual can then focus on recovering from an eating or feeding disorder.

Your psychiatrist can explain the available options and offer recommendations based on your condition.

CONCLUSION

Food addiction is a condition that affects a person’s mental health. The affected individual becomes addicted to food, mostly junk or heavily processed foods.

Several scientific studies have shown that the areas of the brain involved in drug addiction are also the same that are involved in food addiction (567). Food addiction doesn’t resolve on its own. The best decision you can make is to adopt a treatment option that will restore your health.