What is food addiction?

Food addiction or eating addiction is an often overwhelming obsession with food, the desire to binge or overeat, especially “highly palatable foods” or comfort foods. Individuals struggling with food addiction often feel uncontrollable urges to eat when they are not hungry. Food addiction affects the part of the brain that is also impacted by substance use disorders – the dopamine reward system. Calling this problem an addiction is not merely metaphorical. Recent research has shown that substance use disorder and food addiction both involve the same biochemical processes in the brain.

Food addiction is what’s called a behavioral addiction. This means that you’re addicted not so much to the food itself as to the feelings you get from eating it. Other behavioral addictions include compulsive gambling and sex.

How does food addiction affect you?

Obsession with food can take over your life and create distance between you and those you love. You may find yourself so obsessed with food that it interferes with work or school. Food addiction is often association with body dissatisfaction and a focus on trying to change your body size or shape. Individuals with food addiction may also experience depression and anxiety.

But food addiction is not about food!

Eating can serve many purposes that have nothing to do with the food itself. Often, we eat to manage stress. Many people use food to turn up the volume on pleasant emotions (like pleasure or happiness) or to dampen uncomfortable feelings (like anxiety, anger, or sadness). Someone who’s experienced trauma in the past may eat comforting foods as a way to cope with feelings of fear or to relax even though the world doesn’t seem like a safe place.



I wanted to say I am so very glad I decided to join The Anchor Program.  I’m doing so much better already and you, your team and the participants definitely promote positivity and success.  It definitely is a ‘one day at a time’ situation, but I already have chewed up and digested circumstances of my past which have lead to my binge eating disorder.  It really helps to recognize, recall and acknowledge what happened in the past which becomes part of our fabric.  I am very grateful for the opportunity to be in The Anchor Program and thankful for your expertise and guidance.

Connecticut Participant

The Anchor Program did for me, in ten weeks, what commercial and alternative diets haven’t been able to in the 30 years I have been trying to resolve my issues with binge eating, compulsive overeating, and body image.

New York Participant

The anchor program has changed my life in a huge way. I have had a mindset change when it comes to food, instead of having it on my mind all the time I am feeling more and more like I have control of my eating. I am feeling satisfied at meals and have had more energy to put into the more important things in life. I’d highly recommend it to anyone struggling with eating issues! 

New York Participant

The Anchor Program is the answer I have been seeking for my challenges with eating and weight management.  I have tried nearly every diet and spent thousands of dollars over more than 2 decades without any sustainable results, growing more and more discouraged at my inability to manage my weight.  If you are looking for a quick fix (that will not last), this isn’t the program for you.  However, if you are willing to dive deep and experience true freedom and healing, this program may be the answer to all you have been seeking.  It absolutely has been for me – I wish I had found it sooner!  I could have saved many, many years of suffering and wasted time, money, and energy on efforts that fought against my body’s wisdom, had I found The Anchor Program earlier. 

Missouri Participant

If you are ready to try something new that isn’t just another “diet” in disguise, The Anchor Program may help you lay the foundation to break the agonizing cycle of yo-yo dieting by harnessing your own body’s wisdom to take care of itself.  Personally, I found that in order to fully commit to this process I had to surrender idealistic expectations of what I want to look like in favor of what I want to feel like.  Once that happened, things really started to fall into place!

New Jersey Participant

I signed up for the Anchor Program because I was looking for help in better understanding why I was a compulsive overeater. I saw this insight as a doorway to a life where food did not have a starring role and I was not always looking for the next diet to save me. The Anchor Program showed me that I am not a skinny person living inside a fat body, it is simply my body which is perfectly fine. I found out I don’t need to soothe myself with food, that there are many ways to care for myself, and most importantly, I discovered new ways to deal with the emotional trauma I experienced in the past and the everyday upsets that occur throughout our lives. The Anchor Program really did change my life for the better.

What can you do to heal from food addiction?

Your struggles with food and eating are not a matter of willpower or personal weakness. Thinking of food addiction as a disease of the brain, just like substance addiction, can help you look at your own experience with less judgment. That alone can make you feel much better.

Rationally, you know that the hollowness of grief or the pain of a divorce or the brutal trauma of child maltreatment, abuse or neglect cannot be filled with chocolate cake. A big plate of macaroni and cheese won’t truly make you feel safe or loved. But when you’ve spent years eating for the “wrong” reasons, it can be easy to lose track of the proper purpose of food.

The process of recovery from food addiction involves changing your relationship with food. Below, I’ve listed the Food Addiction Recovery Manifesto to help you identify what a healthy relationship with food might entail:

  1. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States.
  2. It affects 3.5% of women and 2% of men.
  3. This condition affects people of all races, levels of education, and income levels.
  4. Symptoms can be found in children, adults, and teens.
  5. Approximately 70% of people with binge eating disorder are overweight.
  6. Binge eating disorder is not about weight.
  7. Binge eating disorder may run in families and may be triggered by dieting.

If you’re struggling with food addiction and are ready to begin your recovery journey, schedule a free consult to discuss your individual food and body image issues. Click Here

The Anchor Program is a 12-week ONLINE, non-diet program for people with binge eating disorder, food addiction and emotional eating. Learn More Here

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Books by Dr. Ross

The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook


The Emotional Eating Workbook


The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook


Healing Body, Mind and Spirit


Miracles Beyond Medicine


Audio CD

The Joy of Eating Well


Contact Dr. Ross Today

Carolyn Coker Ross, MD, MPH
Email: crossmd@mac.com

About Dr. Carolyn Ross

Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, MD, MPH is a suboxone doctor and addiction therapist with offices in Denver and San Diego, who helps people with opioid addiction treatment, binge eating disorder treatment, eating disorder treatment, and more.

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