There are over 200 million searches on google for the term “food addiction.”  Food addiction affects a large number of individuals, even though it’s not accepted as a true diagnosis (yet) by the medical profession.  Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, 5-10% of the general population test positive for food addiction.  Over half of individuals diagnosed with binge eating disorder also meet criteria for food addiction. When you struggle with food addiction, the basic principles of healthy eating can get buried beneath your beliefs, fears, and obsessions.

In this podcast, you will learn:
1. The signs that you may have food addiction.
2. Specific practices you can use to overcome food addiction.
3. How you can get rid of the negative self-talk that makes food addiction worse.  


HOMEWORK:  5 Things About Food Addiction and Practices that Will Help You Overcome Food Addiction

  1. Yo-yo dieting makes food addiction worse


I will not diet. My body is an exquisitely tuned organism that knows how to manage its weight. I don’t need to restrict my food intake to make my body work correctly.


  1. There’s a difference between asking yourself: “What’s wrong with me?” and recognize “What happened to you.”

I will become more aware of when I am emotionally hungry and find other ways of coping with my emotions without always using food.

  1. Your body has all the wisdom you need to overcome your food addiction.

I will interrupt any negative inner dialogue I have towards my body and replace it with a neutral thought.  


  1. Unconscious core beliefs can stand between you and your goal to put an end to your food addiction behaviors.

I will honor the part of me who did what she could to survive and instead of continuing with negative core beliefs, I will start journaling about guiding principles (gp) I can use for my new life.  (Ex.  instead of “I’m not worthy”, a gp could be “I value myself.”


  1. Recovery from food addiction may be different than you expect

I will be gentle with myself as I learn new ways of being the best I can be.  


Links mentioned in podcast:


Schedule a free consult to discuss your food and body image issues:

To learn more about The Anchor Program a 12-week non-diet program offering ONLINE group and individual sessions for the treatment of binge eating, emotional eating, food addiction and compulsive overeating.  Want to learn more about the Anchor Program?


Hi everyone. It’s Dr. Carolyn here with podcast number 80, The Five Things You Don’t Know About Food Addiction that could hurt you. So stay tuned. We’ll be talking about those five things as well as some practices that will help you overcome your food addiction.

So you know, when you go on Google, there’s over 200 million searches for the term food addiction. So a lot of people are wondering if they have food addiction and what to do about it and so on. Food addiction does affect a large number of people that even though it’s not really listed as a medical diagnosis as binge eating was more recently put into the medical diagnoses, the DSM-V. So food addiction is being studied however, and one of the tools that we use to study it is the Yale food Addiction Scale. So this Yale food addiction scale is based on similar characteristics from substance use disorders, from drug and alcohol addiction criteria. And what they found is that on that Yale food addiction scale about 5 to 10% of the general population in the United States meet criteria for a food addiction. And it’s, it’s interesting because the Yale food addiction scale also showed that food addiction is 15 to 25% higher in those who are living in larger bodies, even higher rates of food addiction are found in those who are seeking weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery, and in individuals with binge eating disorder where it can be up to 30 to 50%. So there is some overlap between binge eating disorder and food addiction. And I think that’s what the studies are going to help us to understand what is the difference. But 57% of people diagnosed with binge eating disorder actually do meet that criteria for food addiction.

In both binge eating and food addiction it’s common that there are some, there are some common symptoms, so people experience a lack of control over their eating, they continue to overeat despite the negative consequences and there’s an inability to change their behaviors. And actually the, the inability to change behaviors, despite consequences is the number one symptom of individuals with food addiction. So people with food addiction also tend to have, as opposed to binge eating those with food addiction also tend to have lower self-esteem tend to have more depression and more difficulty regulating their emotions. So if you have food addiction, you, you may have noticed that you also have trouble dealing with food cravings, and you may be more likely to engage in eating in response to emotional hunger and may have a more difficult time than someone who doesn’t have food addiction or other eating disorders, being able to maintain your weight after you diet, which as you know, I don’t really recommend that you diet.

So, but we’re going to talk today more focused on food addiction. So some of the behaviors that you may be experiencing is food obsessions, bingeing, body image issues and as I mentioned, depression and also anxiety. So I’m going to talk about five specific things that you may not know about food addiction. And then I’m going to give you a practice that may help you overcome food addiction for each of those five things. So. I will be listing the five things and the practice in the show notes. So don’t feel that you have to, have a wreck in traffic trying to write these down, because they will be in the show notes, let’s get started.

So, number one of the five things you don’t know about food addiction is that yo-yo dieting makes food addiction worse. So you may, I mean, it may seem logical that if you are dissatisfied with your body size, that you should go on a diet. I mean, that’s what people have been doing for decades, right? And it’s worked so well, that was sarcasm by the way. If you don’t trust yourself to eat what we are going to put in air quotes, healthy, what, what should say, intuitively, well, you may think it’s it makes sense to be strict and to keep yourself from eating things that you “shouldn’t eat”. But in fact, these strategies will never be effective because they just don’t address the deeper issues. So one of the reasons that diets don’t work is because they only focus on the most superficial things like appearance, for example. Even though people are now not talking about that they want to be thin because they want to look a certain way. They’re saying more, they want to be healthy. Healthism I’ve spoken about before is the new, new justification for dieting. So it’s really the same, but just using a different word. But I think the most important thing too, that I want you to hear right now is that you may think that if you just change your body, change your body size or shape that your life will change. Your stress will go away. You’ll find the perfect partner. Your business will be better. Your career will be better, and that you’ll be magically more comfortable around food when the diet ends, but just think about it. Think about all the diets you’ve been on in the past. And I know what you may hear in the back of your mind saying, well, yeah, but I, the diet work, but you know, I just couldn’t stay on it. I, I didn’t have enough willpower, but the point of it is that nobody has enough willpower to stay on a diet. So it’s not you that failed. It’s the diet that failed you. So, you know that your whole life isn’t going to change, just because you go on a diet or just because you change your body size or shape. And food addiction really isn’t about willpower and therefore, you know, dieting and blaming yourself for not being able to stay on a restrictive program. It’s not going to fix the food addiction as I said, it’s going to make it worse. But as you learn more about what makes you, what led you to be more obsessed with certain foods or preoccupied with your body size or shape, you’ll be in a better position to make the changes that you need to make to recover. So here’s the first practice. So remember they, Number one of the five things that you don’t know about food addiction was yo-yo dieting makes food addiction worse. So the practice is to say to yourself, “I will no longer diet. My body is an exquisitely tuned organism that knows how to manage its weight. I don’t need to restrict my food intake to make my body work correctly.” So I’m not suggesting that you tattoo this on your arm, but you know, putting it on a sticky above your computer or on the refrigerator or somewhere else where you will see it regularly throughout the day, journaling about it. About this practice will help you. And just reminding yourself my body isn’t exquisitely tuned organism that knows how to manage its size and shape and you don’t have to restrict your food intake to make your body work correctly. Okay.

Number two of the five things that you don’t know about food addiction is that there’s a difference between asking yourself what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop obsessing about food? Why can’t I stop giving into my cravings? So there’s a difference between saying what’s wrong with me and recognizing what happened to you. If you’re like many people with food addiction, you may feel like your emotions just overwhelm you or your emotional hunger overwhelms you, or you may be that kind of person who just shuts down completely in the face of any kind of stress or any kind of distress in your life. So, you know, in order to do that, you have to find a way to stop the emotions from moving through you because emotions are energetic and they’re always on the move. I like to say emotions will always have their say. So if you feel overwhelmed or feel the need that you have to numb your emotions. You’re going to have to use a substance and probably it will be food, but sometimes the reason that your emotions are overwhelming or uncomfortable for you too uncomfortable for you to stand is that there’s, there may be some past issue in your childhood or in your adulthood, some trauma or maltreatment that led you to being on red alert all the time. So by red alert, that’s an activation over-activation of your stress system and you, you may you know, be jumpy. You may, um, you know, just react to the slightest noise and you may feel overwhelmed when you’re under even small amounts of stress. And that comes from this childhood maltreatment or trauma. But being on red alert can lead to anxiety, depression. It makes you exhausted. And it can also cause feelings of guilt and shame. And so you feel something that’s uncomfortable to you. You eat to push down that discomfort. And then after you eat or overeat, you may feel guilt or shame, which eventually leads to the next binge or over eating session. And it’s this cycle that exacerbates food addiction behaviors. So what’s the practice for you know, shifting from what’s wrong with me to what happened to you. The practice is saying or journaling about, I will become more aware of when I am emotionally hungry and find other ways of coping with my emotions without always using food.

Okay. Number three of the five things you don’t know about food addiction is that your body has all the wisdom you need to overcome your food addiction. Okay, I’m going to just pause for a minute while I take a quick sip of my hot tea. All right. So your body has all the wisdom you need to overcome your food addiction. Well, you may not feel like your body is your friend. As a matter of fact, many of my patients in the anchor program who have body image issues feel that their body is their enemy. Like it’s a stubborn enemy that they have been trying to whip into shape and beat in the game up of changing their body size or shape. Or you may be someone who feels embarrassed by your body. Or feel like your body is so unpredictable, it’s always, they’re throwing you a curve ball with all those random food cravings and desires and strange body sensations that you don’t understand. The important thing is to change your relationship with your body. And you can’t go from body hatred or body dissatisfaction to immediately to body love as so many of the anchor participants think they should. Why? I know I should just love my body or I know I should just love myself. You can’t do either it’s there’s is a middle step. And that is just being neutral about your body and interrupting those negative, that negative self-talk that you have constantly going on in your body. First of all, just becoming aware of the negative self-talk about your body, how maybe every time you pass a mirror, you have something in your mind that you say about your body, another sip of tea. Hold on. I’ve been talking all day and so my voice is getting a little hoarse. So by reclaiming this connection with your body and learning how to listen to your body learning. Body’s language, you know, I think, I always think about those horror movies where, you know, the young girl walks down the dark alley and everybody in the audiences, like wanting to say, don’t go there, don’t go there. And at the time you, maybe you feel the hair on the back of your neck, stand up. That’s your body telling you? That the person in the movie is, is in danger. We have the same kinds of things that happen when our body is talking to us around food. It may tell us we’re full. It may tell us we need to eat something different than what we’re eating. And I do not mean that you should eat something “better” or not bad. I’m not talking about that. I’m just saying sometimes my body really wants to eat chicken, even though my mind is not necessarily like, hadn’t been thinking about chicken or wasn’t planning to prepare chicken, but my body says I want to have some chicken. So I shift and I make chicken or buy chicken. I’m just giving you an example. But the point is we have to connect with our body and learn how to listen for those clues that our bodies always giving us their, their wisdom and that those, that body wisdom is so much more important than anything that your mind tells you, you know, the mind is a constant constantly barraging you with judgments and thoughts and opinions. And that’s where the food addiction lives. The body though is where the healing happens. So for this one, your body wisdom has all, you need to overcome your food addiction. The practice is I will interrupt any negative inner dialogue I have towards my body and replace it with a neutral thought. So that’s number three.

Number four is unconscious core beliefs can stand between you and your goal to put it into food addiction behaviors. So what is a core belief? Maybe you’ve heard that term before and you’re like, what the heck does that mean? Well, a core belief is the lens through which we see ourselves, other people in the world. I often use the metaphor of a core belief being like, you know, dark glasses or, um, sunglasses that you wear that have colored lenses. So when you put the, that those sunglasses on everywhere, you look, the world looks darker than without those sunglasses on. And you could, you could go with a colored lens if you have, you know, a red lens or whatever your sunglasses have everywhere you look, the world will seem to be that color. So core belief is the lens through which we see ourselves, other people and the world. And for that reason, the core belief can be found in all areas of your life. Because wherever you go, if you’re wearing those dark glasses, whether it’s at work or home, being with your kids, your partner, et cetera, the world looks different with those dark glasses on. Usually core beliefs are formed when we’re younger, maybe during times of transition, trauma or even emotional upheaval and the core belief is kind of a solution to a problem you couldn’t solve, perhaps, uh, because you weren’t able, you didn’t have the skills because you were too young, for example, uh, here’s an example. Maybe you learn not to show emotions as a child, because if you did, you would get hurt or hit and then that could lead to an unconscious core belief of say showing others how I feel is dangerous. But having these negative core beliefs make food addiction symptoms worst, and if not addressed, they can make it hard for you to recover. Most people find that as adults acting from those core beliefs from childhood no longer supports them. And they think they may be sending out one message in their lives when in fact other people are pursued, perceiving a totally different message. So it’s important to question your old beliefs and you know, just ask yourself, do these old beliefs, like I’m not lovable. I’m not worthy. No one will love me unless I’m thin I don’t deserve things, et cetera. You want to question if those are still running your life, number one and question whether or not the things that you’re saying to yourself are absolute truths that are, are, are they really true or not? And also question negative thoughts and beliefs like, you know, unless I am thinner, I’ll never have fill in the blank. See if you can challenge this kind of thing. Instead of letting the old record that we have in our head, just continue to play over and over and over ruining the dreams that we have for the future. Right? So the practice for number four is I will honor that part of me who did what she could to survive and instead of continuing with negative core beliefs, I will start journaling about guiding principles that I can use for my new life. So for example, instead of a core belief of I’m not worthy, a guiding principle could be, I value myself.

Okay. And then finally, number five is, uh, of the things you didn’t know about food addiction is that recovery from food addiction, it could be a lot different than you expect. So as you know, recovery from substance use disorders is the hallmark of that is abstinence. Right? And that means abstaining from any alcohol or any drugs. Well, obviously we can’t abstain from food. That’s not going to work. We need to eat to live. Right? But for food addiction, recovery may include abstinence from behaviors, behaviors, such as, uh, eating impulsively or obsessing about food or restricting what we eat in response to overeating the day before or thinking that restriction will help us change our body size. So these, all of these behaviors are only just a distraction from the emotions that you’re experiencing. And remember that those emotions feel really strong and uncontrollable and overwhelming because they often come from childhood or later trauma. So saving piece that together you have these strong emotions, they come from your childhood trauma or your later adolescent trauma, those cause your emotions to feel overwhelming. And in order to keep those down or to numb them, you have to use your food addiction behaviors. So abstinence from those behaviors is what may define true food addiction recovery. Uh, you know, there are many people and I’m sure some of you listening probably have the belief that eating sugar for example, is, um, you know, is, is kind of like, well, like sugar is the worst thing you can eat or a fatty foods are the worst thing you can eat. And, you know, that may be true for some people, but I encouraging you to look beyond the food because it’s food addiction is not about food. It’s about how you use the food. So the practice for this recovery from food addiction is I will be gentle with myself as I learn new ways of being the best that I can be.

So in the anchor program, the motto is being anchored is about being true to yourself and accessing your inner strength. The being anchored is about being true to yourself and accessing your inner strength at some point. Most people come to realize that your size, your shape is no longer about it’s no longer important for you to consistently try to match the Western ideal of thinness or what you should look like. But rather it’s maybe more important to you, hopefully, as you are moving into recovery of who you are on the inside and your ability to be able to express your true and authentic self, no matter what your size or shape. Cause at the end of the day, what most people really want is to, you know, is to be fully self-expressive and not, not to fear judgment, even self-judgment. Cause honestly self judgment is often worse than what anyone else does to judge us. So that’s important to understand what it means to be true to yourself, to turn away from that little voice in your head. That’s the inner critic that’s always telling you my stomach’s too fat, my thighs jiggle, et cetera, et cetera. You know, turn away from that inner critic and instead listen to your inner wisdom. That’s the wise part of yourself that will guide you not with self judgment, not with trying to beat yourself up, but we’ll guide you with kindness and gentleness towards reaching whatever goal is right for you, not a goal that someone else told you, you need to have, but a goal that you have for yourself.

So I liked this quote, which is from an unknown person, but they say one day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome, what you’re going through now. And it will become part of someone else’s survival guide. So if you’ve struggled with food addiction or think you have food addiction again, you’re not alone. And if you’re ready to put down the diet playbook, and make peace with food and your body. You may want to learn more about the anchor program because it’s very successful in doing just that. Again, we’re a non-diet program, but here’s what one of the recent graduates from the anchor program had to say. She said, “I entered the anchor program, looking for relief from emotional eating. Not only did I find invaluable resources to do that, but I also walked away with an increased sense of self compassion and a deeper understanding of what I want and need I’m on a pathway towards learning how to create deeper fulfillment in my life, rather than compulsively eating to stuff down unpleasant emotions. I now have much more advanced ways to deal with the emotions and greater choice in what I eat.” And that’s from a Los Angeles participant. So again, if you’re interested, I put in the show notes, a link to schedule a free consult to discuss your personal food and body image issues. And on the next show which will be episode number 81. I will be talking to you about the difference between two of the most famous fat diets. That’s the intermittent fasting diet and the keto diet. So I hope you’ll come back and listen to be with me. Then please leave me a review. Please share this podcast with whoever you can think of so we can get the word out.

Thanks for listening.

Hope you enjoyed the show. I’ve put in the show notes, the link for you to make the free consult, to talk about your own food and body image issues. And I’ve also put in there the homework, which is just, uh, looking at the, the five things and the practices that I talked about on the show that will help you overcome food addiction. So I hope you’ll take it to heart and start trying some of those practices. Next week, I’ll be back with you with episode number 82, where I’ll be talking about the differences between the two biggest fat diets, the keto diet, and the intermittent fasting diet. Hope you’ll join me then. Thanks.