Rhona takes a whole person approach to helping those who struggle with eating disorders. She recognizes that people who have attempted weight control programs and therapy sessions only find themselves in an unending battle with food and weight, may want to give up because they think they’ll never break free. Rhona shows her clients that there is a way to win the battle that takes into account physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person’s life.
What is Food Addiction? There is substantial evidence that some people lose control over food consumption, cannot reduce their intake, cannot quit eating certain types of food and cannot reduce the amount they eat even when faced with negative consequences. The latest food abuse research suggests that chemical reactions take over the brain, as in substance abuse, making it difficult for people to refrain from overeating. Most of us agree that alcoholics and drug addicts are better off refraining completely from addictive substances. Rhona believes a food addict will experience the same positive results if that person completely eliminates addictive foods.
Characteristics that accompany most addictions:
Loss of control
Use of food to cope with stress
A variety of negative consequences
The addictions model for treating binge eating and bulimia uses an abstinence model where individuals refrain from eating trigger foods – usually sugar, refined carbohydrates and volume. An individualized food plan is developed that is not considered a diet but a livable plan that a person can remain on indefinitely. Cravings and temptations for binge foods usually diminish when they are taken out of the diet completely, because the brain is no longer triggering desire for addictive foods when they are absent from the body.
Everyone knows that food (especially sweet and fatty foods) can be used to soothe our aching hearts, escape those annoying troubles, celebrate accomplishments, or calm one’s nerves. For normal people, a little escape or celebration with food is no problem–except maybe a little weight gain. For those of us who are prone to bingeing, using food in connection with feelings can lead to out-of-control eating and devastation. We need to learn other ways of coping, other ways of celebrating, and other ways of getting our needs met that do not involve food. We need to learn to express our feelings in healthy ways, set boundaries when necessary and keep our conscience clean so we aren’t escaping into food to shut down or numb out unwanted emotions.
Wherever we are in relation to God, whether we are strong in faith or have no faith at all, a spiritual path to changing our relationship with food has been found quite important to finding the way out of addictive eating. For those of us who already have strong faith in God, taking the overeating problem to God may be something to consider more seriously. When we use food as a drug, we are pushing God out, finding comfort in our sweet desserts instead of in the God of all comfort. When we turn to food to escape our troubles, we are missing out on the healing that comes from the greatest refuge of all. God cares about us, and with Him, it is possible to quit binge eating and have the abundant life He meant for us to have.
The spiritual path of recovery includes transforming the mind, finding grace and living in peace. It requires “cleaning house”, healing wounds and forgiving others and ourselves. It takes us to a place of experiencing true satisfaction inside, based on a relationship with God rather than those temporary fixes we once got from ice cream and cookies.
For those who do not have faith in God, there are benefits in trying out some of the spiritual principles suggested. Any willingness to be open to a spiritual solution is a start. Many skeptics have found that as they applied spiritual principles to their eating problems, there were surprising positive results.
Latest research on Food Addiction
- A drive to keep eating, particularly sugar and other refined carbohydrates, once an individual ingests even a small amount of those foods.
- Serotonin deficits, fewer dopamine receptors, and an imbalance in the release of endorphins and enkephalins have been documented in individuals with binge-eating disorders.
- A desire to eat in obese people is very similar to drug cravings in addicts.
- Dopamine deficiencies in obese individuals may perpetuate pathological eating, as dopamine is involved in the modulation of the rewarding properties of food.
- Food cravings can be reinforced by endogenous opiate release, which is similar to the effects of morphine, and ingestion of sweet or other palatable foods can also produce analgesic effects.
- Carbohydrates can be used as a form of self-medication for depressive symptoms similar to other addictive substances.
- Withdrawal symptoms have been found when people quit eating refined carbohydrates and sugar.
- Dopamine (the feel good chemical) is released in anticipation of sweet foods.
- There is a similarity in behavior patterns and brain chemistry between substance abusers and food addicts.
- Intense sugar has been found to be more addictive than cocaine.
- People who overeat on a regular basis can develop hormonal changes that cause them not to experience normal signals of feeling full.