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What is Food Addiction?

Just as people can become addicted to drugs and alcohol, they can also become addicted to food. Food addiction is a very real behavioral disorder characterized by the overconsumption of and chemical dependency on highly palatable foods, or those high in fat, sugar and sodium. Unfortunately, people who are addicted to food are viewed as lacking self-discipline or control, but this notion could not be more false. People become addicted to food through no fault of their own. The addiction to eating highly palatable foods is attributed to the way these foods activate the pleasure and reward system in the brain, very similar to the effects of highly addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

The nature of this behavioral addiction causes victims to compulsively overindulge and experience a total loss of control over eating only to be followed by depression, shame, and self-loathing. Our culture, sadly, does not make it any easier for food addict victims. Food addicts are commonly perceived as overindulgent, lazy, and lacking willpower. The shame and stigma associated with overeating can make seeking food addiction treatment painfully difficult and embarrassing for victims, which is truly saddening and unfair. No one deserves to live this way. Treatment for food addiction is available.

Rosewood Centers welcomes all adolescents, men and women living with an eating disorder to get comprehensive care at our eating disorder treatment facility. We understand the complexity of this behavioral addiction and have designed treatment plans that aim to heal the root of food addiction – not just treat the symptoms. Our food addiction treatment model is innovative, effective and proven to treat the whole individual: body, mind, and spirit. We encourage everyone living with this disorder to seek professional diagnosis and treatment from an experienced and knowledgeable treatment facility. At Rosewood, overcoming food addiction can become a reality.

Defining Food Addiction

Food Addiction Versus Binge Eating

Food addiction and binge eating disorder are terms that are loosely used interchangeably, but refer to very different disorders. Food addiction refers to the biochemical dependency on foods specifically high in fat, sugar, and sodium, as these have highly addictive properties. The disorder is similar to binge eating, where people engage in frequent episodes of uncontrollable food consumption. The difference between food addiction and binge eating lies in a food addicts’ chemical dependency on specific foods. When food addicts cannot acquire highly palatable foods, they experience withdrawal symptoms such as intense physical craving, distortion of needs, and sometimes display manic tendencies. In some cases, the withdrawal effects could even cause food addict victims to lie or steal to satisfy craving.

The Chemical Dependency

Eating trigger foods causes a release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain that produces intense sensations of pleasure, just like that of a drug. This release in the brain’s reward system occurs immediately after consuming food, which, in turn, associates the act of eating to emotional well-being. Eventually, food addicts directly relate food to pleasure, comfort, and stability, despite any adverse consequences that may result. The pleasure signals activated by these foods can be so intense that they prevail over signals of satisfaction or fullness. People who become addicted to food will engage in frequent episodes of overeating and will find themselves spending time obsessing over food and anticipating the pleasure associated with eating.

Food Addiction & Obesity

Food addictions can contribute to obesity because of the increased calories an individual consumes. In many cases, this is true. However, eating disorders are not a sole contributor to obesity. There are other factors such as level of physical activity and genetics that determine one’s physical weight. In fact, there are several people with healthy weights who live with food addictions, but may increase their physical exercise to compensate for the extra calories or just have higher functioning metabolisms.

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Signs Of A Food Addiction

Let’s be honest. We all have our guilty pleasure foods that we love and crave. But at what point do these cravings manifest into problematic behaviors, and chemical dependencies? Here are some food addiction signs and symptoms to make it a bit more clear:

  • Obsessively thinking about food every day
  • Highly anticipating the rewards from overeating
  • Eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, sometimes ranging between 5,000 and 15,000 calories
  • Overeating past fullness
  • Overindulging in food despite the physical weight gain or other health issues
  • Being unable to adhere to diets or food restrictions
  • Practicing different eating habits in public versus when alone
  • Feeling loss of control after eating certain trigger foods
  • Experiencing panic attacks, anxiety, and irritability when food is not available
  • Experiencing relief, comfort, and extreme pleasure while eating
  • Undergoing intense feelings of depression and self-hatred following periods of overeating
  • Contemplating thoughts of suicide or self-harm

If you suspect that you or someone you love could be living with a food addiction, it’s important to seek professional help from a knowledgeable food addiction treatment facility proficient in eating disorder diagnosis. There is food addiction help and you should not have to face these issues alone.

Food Addiction Treatment

Rosewood Food Addiction Treatment Centers welcomes all men, women and adolescents suffering with a food addiction to seek professional medical treatment for this behavioral addiction at our treatment facility. At Rosewood, we understand the truly suffocating effect that food addiction has on the lives of victims. We provide comprehensive and innovative treatment for food addiction in a safe and supportive environment, free of judgment. Our approach to food addiction treatment provides full diagnosis of any dual disorders and customizes treatment to meet the unique needs of every patient. Integrating holistic and traditional techniques, our treatment for food is designed to heal the origin of the addiction and plant seeds for a successful, long-term food addiction recovery. Overcoming food addiction can challenging and Rosewood is there every step of the way.

Rosewood’s staff of psychiatrists, physicians, therapists, addiction specialists, and nurses is highly knowledgeable about food addiction and will be with you every step of the way during your recovery process. Not only is the Rosewood team top in their fields of expertise, they are passionate about providing the best patient care and service. These professionals are compassionately invested in each patient’s recovery process and will be trusted confidants during this life-changing journey.

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Rosewood’s Treatment Process

Intake Assessment: Rosewood’s intake evaluation is in-depth and confidential. Every patient has his or her unique story and reason for seeking food addiction help and treatment. The evaluation will consist of stabilization, a medical history review, a comprehensive interview, and a physical exam focused on tailoring a plan to facilitate food addiction recovery. This process will help our multidisciplinary team assess the severity of the food addiction, identify the presence of other co-occurring disorders, and generate a roadmap with our food addiction recovery programs.

Choosing A Program: The intake assessment will help our doctors recommend a type program that will best serve each patient. We offer the following levels of care:

Customized Treatment Plans: This is the stage where the true recovery begins. Rosewood Centers’ food addiction treatment plans are personalized to meet the distinct goals of every patient who walks through the doors of our treatment centers. Our treatment incorporates a variety of innovative and traditional approaches to food addiction healing, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, nutritional therapy, holistic techniques, and other effective treatment processes.

If you think that you or someone you love may be living with a food addiction, don’t wait another day. Recovery is possible and effective treatment is available. Please call one of our rehab for food addiction treatment specialists at (888) 228-1253 for more information on food addiction or our approach to food addiction treatment. We are standing be by 24/7 to address your questions and concerns.

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