How cognitive behavioral therapy can help treat food addiction

If you have trouble with overeating, you may want to know whether cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you stop problem behaviors and food addiction. This example makes you a fictitious person whose characteristics and circumstances are common in people who come to receive treatment for food addiction. This can show you what happens to CBT and how it can help people stop overeating.

Binge eating behavior

You are a bulimia sufferer and overeating candies, biscuits and chocolates several times a day. Your binge eating began in childhood, when you would secretly eat sweets at night. You describe binge eating as emotional eating because you eat when you feel upset.

You will do everything you can to prevent weight gain, including eating irregular meals, exercising for several hours, using laxatives to “clean up”, and occasionally vomiting yourself. Your family doctor is beginning to worry that you will have urinary incontinence due to overuse of laxatives. They refer you to CBT to help you stop overeating.

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Overeating due to emotional reasoning

Your cognitive behavioral therapist will guide you to record the thoughts and feelings you experienced before, during, and after binge eating. By analyzing your thoughts and feelings about food, you and your therapist begin to understand that you are eating emotionally and may even overeating in response to negative emotions caused by wrong thinking (cognitive distortion).

As you gain weight, your self-esteem gets worse and worse. Many times a day, you will interpret low-probability events as a reason for feeling bad about yourself. Once you start tracking your thought process, you will realize how often this happens.

For example, if someone queues in front of you, you will feel that this must mean that you are a worthless person, and you will immediately buy a piece of chocolate to eat to make yourself feel better. One day, when you say “good morning”, a colleague didn’t respond. You think it’s because your colleague doesn’t like you.

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Whenever you get the chance, you find an excuse to sneak out and buy a pack of biscuits, and then you eat up the whole pack. Your performance evaluation at work is rated as “good”, and you think anything below “excellent” means your job is bad, so you eat cake and ice cream all night.

Every time this little disappointment occurs, almost every day, you will go to your secret chocolate storeroom or go to the grocery store to binge. Despite this proven behavioral pattern, even if you want to stop overeating, you just don’t know another way to deal with your uncomfortable feeling of worthlessness.

Use cognitive behavioral therapy

The CBT therapist explains to you that your binge eating is based on emotional reasoning. Although eating may provide you with temporary comfort, it will not help you feel good about yourself. In fact, overeating can have the opposite effect, actually making you feel worse about yourself, which in turn makes you overeating.

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Together with your therapist, you will learn ways to challenge wrong thinking and learn alternative coping strategies for dealing with negative emotions. Together you planned a different way to deal with disappointment. With practice, you can explain people’s reactions more truthfully, so you won’t feel inadequate often. You can also practice ways to improve your self-esteem. As your self-esteem improves, you become more able to refrain from snacking and overeating, and begin to eat more nutritious foods.

Very good sentence

If this sounds like you, there is help. In addition to seeking help from trusted friends and relatives, it is also important to seek professional help with eating disorders from people who specialize in CBT.