Food Addiction Counseling
It could be said that all living beings are addicted to food on some level; after all, it is an essential element of our survival. However, most of us are content to consume little more than the amount of food required to sate our hunger and keep us healthy. We see food more as a means to an end or a pleasant pastime than an addiction. The real difference between regular eaters and addicts is that the latter feel compelled by the substance. They are emotionally and psychologically bound to their need of food whereas most people simply eat as a way to fulfill their physical needs (or perhaps adhere to social conventions). So when considering whether or not therapy can help those who suffer from food addiction, the truth is that they cannot possibly hope to overcome their disorder without some type of counseling.
Now, this is no guarantee that counseling will solve the problem. When you look at people addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, and other vices you’ll note that even with strict and repeated rehabilitation and counseling services many patients relapse. And these are people that could easily avoid the substances that they are addicted to simply because they don’t physically need them to survive. Those who are addicted to food, on the other hand, still have to eat in order to live, which makes their recovery process far more dubious. This is why counseling is necessary to help them explore their relationship to food in order to get a handle on their eating habits.
In truth, there could be a biological component involved. A 2001-’02 study done by Dr. Richard A. Grucza of the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis) surveyed thousands of adults to compare body mass index (BMI) to the occurrence of a family history of alcoholism. It was discovered that a history of addiction coincided with 30-40% greater chances of adult obesity, proving that there could be a link between a predisposition for addictive behavior and foods that contain some of the same properties as alcohol (sugar, for example). Of course, this is a tenuous link at best, as many other factors could account for this trend. But it’s interesting to see that genetics could play a role in food addiction.
In any case, heredity doesn’t really help food addicts to come to terms with their eating disorder. They need help addressing the issue in a way that is conducive to making a life change. Anyone with a counseling degree knows that in order to change you must first admit there is a problem, and many food addicts are well into obesity before they realize that there is a flaw in their behavioral patterns when it comes to eating. And while some turn to diet and exercise programs as a way to address weight issues, this simply won’t be enough for true addicts. Only when they begin to delve into the triggers that cause them to overeat, or reach for foods high in fat and sugar, or consume food based on emotional needs, can they pinpoint the cause of their addiction and take steps to change their behavior. Dealing with any addiction is a difficult prospect, but with proper counseling and a desire to change, food addicts have a good shot at recovery through the development of healthy eating habits.