+ Why Do 95% of Diets Fail?
Have you ever asked yourself why you can’t seem to stick to a diet? Why you can’t just lose the weight? Or why you can't keep it off when you've lost a few pounds? There’s good reasons why diets fail.
Over the past 7 decades, our diets have drastically changed. Today 42% of Americans eat fast food a minimum of 12 times a month for a diet of mostly high-fat/high-caloric food in portions larger than we need. Is it any wonder that 70% of Americans are overweight?
When you've ‘completed’ the latest fad diet, most people simply go back to the unhealthy eating patterns that caused the weight gain in the first place. This is the beginning of ‘yo-yo dieting’.
For many who struggle with their weight, it’s not about will power, self-discipline or laziness – it’s about addiction. Consider the following definition: When we use food or overeating to numb or alter the way we feel and cannot stop this pattern even at the threat of potential health issues – that’s addiction! Diets and exercise do not treat addiction.
+ WHAT IS FOOD ADDICTION?
Food is essential to human survival and is an important aspect of our everyday lives and wellbeing. However, for many individuals, food can become as addictive as drugs are to a substance abuser.
For those suffering from food addiction, highly palatable foods trigger chemical reactions in the brain that create feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Eating foods like sugar, excess fat, flour, and/or salt causes the brains of food addicts to develop a physical craving for these foods. Over time, progressively eating these foods distorts their thinking and, despite negative consequences, they are unable to stop the behavior. This reaction has been proven to be comparable to a drug addict’s response to their substance of choice, as it activates the same brain reward center.
Food addiction is different than non-substance dependent obesity and eating disorders, and requires a different approach to treatment.
+ What are some symptoms of food addiction?
- Cravings for more and/or particular foods, such as those that contain sugar, flour/grain/starch, salt, and/or fat
- Preoccupation with planning, buying, or eating food—even after having just eaten
- Eating in secret or alone
- Continued overeating despite adverse physical, mental, emotional, and/or medical consequences
- Compulsive eating episodes that become more frequent and demand increased quantity to get the same effect
- Bingeing: Repeated episodes of eating large amounts of food.
- Binge-grazing: Eating throughout the day, even when not hungry.
Take the Food Addiction Quiz to discover if your struggle with food is caused by addiction.
+ How can I be addicted to food or eating?
Food addiction is two-part. An addiction to specific foods and/or an addiction to the process of eating.
Addiction to Food
For those struggling with food addiction, highly palatable foods trigger chemical reactions in the brain that create feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. After eating foods high in sugar, fat and/or salt, the brain can develop a physical craving for these foods. Over time, progressive consumption of high-sugar, high-fat, highly palatable foods, a food addict is unable to stop the behavior. This reaction has been proven to be comparable to a drug addict’s response to their substance of choice, as it activates the same reward center in the brain.
Addiction to the Process of Eating
You’ve heard the term “comfort food”, right? When you feel stressed, lonely, sad, anxious or bored and you eat, you feel better right? There are both biological reasons and emotional reasons for finding comfort in food.
First it is important to understand what happens in our brain when we turn to food for comfort. When we eat a food that brings us pleasure, like Grandma’s apple pie, our brain releases dopamine which increases the desire or amplifies the craving for more of what gave us that pleasure. Dopamine doesn’t create the pleasure from the apple pie but it enhances our anticipation of pleasure. That is why when you are eating Grandma’s apple pie you are already thinking about having a second slice! That is why even when there is no pie, just thinking about it and remembering how pleasurable it was leads you to want to go and get some.
While some dopamine is good and even essential for optimal brain functioning, when we over-eat, binge or eat compulsively we release more dopamine than is needed. This “feel-good” neurotransmitter is linked to the pleasure and reward system in the brain. It helps us numb out or de-stress. As we mentioned in the introduction, it is as if the brain has been hijacked so now when we feel stressed, lonely, sad, anxious or bored our brain says “Hey! I know what to do with that!” and we become fixated on food.
Dopamine creates “pleasure pathways” in the brain and this is the process that is found in all addictions, including drug or alcohol addiction! Although we produce this neurotransmitter ourselves, if we repeatedly turn to this pleasure and reward system to manage our emotions, we run the risk of becoming addicted.
MRI and SPECT scans show that the brain of a person bingeing and eating highly-palatable foods looks the same as the brain of a cocaine addict! So, you aren’t actually addicted to eating you are addicted to dopamine.
+ How is Lifestyle Transformation different?
For starters, Lifestyle Transformation is NOT a weight loss program. There’s no counting calories, no required weigh-ins, and no restrictions on when or what you eat. Our program is all about developing a long term, healthy relationship with food. Our founders/developers have extensive background and experience in treating process addictions, as well as overcoming their own weight and food addiction issues.
Lifestyle Transformation’s approach is a combination of proven addiction treatment models. Our unique three phase treatment approach helps participants to understand why they use food as a coping mechanism, deal with their underlying emotional issues, define sobriety, and develop a plan for a lifetime of freedom from food addiction.
All that said, when one recovers from food addiction, weight loss is often a by-product of those efforts.
+ How will therapy help me address my weight problem?
The key issue in treating food addiction is that all of us have to eat. The goal in the treatment of many addictions is typically abstinence - which is an impossible goal in food addiction.
Through psychoeducation, group therapy, and self-guided exercises, our program empowers individuals to be able to define their own sobriety through current research-based information and knowledge, tools and skills to manage food cravings and triggers, mindfulness techniques, addressing the underlying issues, and group support.
+ How is Lifestyle Transformation different from a twelve-step program for food addicts or over-eaters?
Twelve-Step Meetings were developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous to provide support for those overcoming alcoholism. The program gained success and other addiction-focused support groups designed themselves after the A.A. model including recovery group for food addiction. These valuable groups provide a setting for open sharing of the struggle and the success of overcoming food addiction.
Treatment, on the other hand, includes the principles of recovery and a therapy component to help you uncover the underlying issues from which you may be using food to escape or numb. At Lifestyle Transformation we encourage the use of a Twelve-Step Meetings as an additional measure of support and accountability.
+ What Happens After Phase One: ENGAGE?
All participants that complete Phase One will have the option to join a Phase Two Virtual Therapy Group. Phase Two focuses on deepening your recovery and setting you up for long term success on your journey to joy, confidence, and freedom from food addiction.
You will receive a Transition Packet upon completion of Phase One to assign you to a Phase Two group that best fits your individual needs. Phase Two groups meet once a week with a specially trained, licensed therapist. You will also receive all Phase Two materials via mail.
Phase Two & Three enrollment fees are $199 per month for 12 months. Paid-In-Full discounts are available.
+ Can I recover from food addiction?
Absolutely! Recovery from food addiction requires an approach similar to recovering from any addiction. Recovery from food addiction cannot be done alone and will require support as well as treatment. Long-lasting recovery is more than temporarily losing weight. Effective treatment addresses the underlying issues, provides tools and skills to manage food cravings and triggers, to create a permanent lifestyle transformation.
+ How long does recovery take?
The length of time for treatment varies from individual to individual. That is why Lifestyle Transformation is divided into phases that allow sufficient time for you to recover. You may choose to participate for as short or as long a period of time as you need. Recovery itself is a daily process. We will give you the tools you need to continue a life-time of recovery.