Eating Disorders and Food Addiction
Another type of disorder associated that is a behavioral addiction involves disordered eating. There are three types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Eating disorders affect an estimated 10 million women and 1 million men in America.
In essence, individuals who have an eating disorder may either eat too much, not eat enough, or eat in a manner that is extremely unhealthy (such as stuffing yourself and then vomiting or purging to get rid of the food).
Research suggests that there is a strong familial as well as biological component with eating disorders. Individuals with anorexia, for example, may come from families with a parent or sibling who also has an eating disorder, or where nurturing is lacking, replaced by over control. Studies also show that sexual abuse survivors are more prone to the disorder.
Taking Control of A Food Addiction
Treatment for eating disorders focuses on improving the individual’s health, restoring normal body weight, and counseling therapy to help the individual learn how to maintain normal eating habits and explore thinking that led to faulty or distorted body image and excessive need for control.
Eating disorders are treatable, but can result in death if left untreated. Hospitalization or inpatient care may be required in cases where the individual is reluctant to seek treatment.
Eating disorders are characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior. The practice of an eating disorder can be viewed as a survival mechanism. Just as an alcoholic uses alcohol to cope, a person with an eating disorder can use eating, purging or restricting to deal with their problems.
Some of the underlying issues that are associated with an eating disorder include low self-esteem, depression, feelings of loss of control, feelings of worthlessness, identity concerns, family communication problems and an inability to cope with emotions.
The practice of an eating disorder may be an expression of something that the eating disordered individual has found no other way of expressing. Eating disorders are usually divided into three categories: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Compulsive Overeating.
Food Addiction and Cravings
Food addiction is a contemporary term used to describe a pathological disorder; the compulsive, excessive craving for and consumption of food. This condition is not only manifested by the abnormal intake of food, but the intake and craving for foods that are, in themselves, harmful to the individual.
While society and the medical profession have readily understood alcoholism and drug abuse, it is only in recent years that there is an equal acceptance of the fact that persons may be addicted to food in the same way.
When any substance is taken into the body regardless of its potential for harm or in excess of need, that substance is said to be abused. Individuals who abuse substances in such a way are addicts; these persons become physiologically and mentally dependent upon certain substances, in this case food.
With professional support, lifelong recovery and freedom from an eating disorder can be achieved. The key to recovery is to understand the cause of the self-destructive behavior and to acquire the tools to facilitate the necessary changes.
Many people with eating disorders have unsuccessfully tried to manage alone for many years and feel very discouraged. Coming to counseling, admitting you need help, and facing the pain of the behavior that is out of control is a tremendous first step. In the process, we work towards understanding the emotional components of your eating as well as developing healthier eating habits.
Nutritional therapy is a critical component in the recovery from an eating disorder. As a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, our psychotherapy sessions will include discussions on current food intake and its adequacy to maintain health. Counseling also includes discussions of food restrictions, self-imposed food rules, and personal attributes ascribed to foods.
Nutrition work includes separating food intake and weight-related behaviors from feelings and emotional issues. Nutritional therapy in a collaborative, caring relationship provides clients with knowledge and skills which will feed the body for physical recovery. After that, the focus of therapy can move toward renewing a healthy self-esteem and self-worth.