• Are you preoccupied with food and weight most of the time?
  • Do you recognise there are certain foods that you find very difficult to moderate?
  • Do you still feel hungry after you have eaten a reasonable sized meal?
  • Have you ever secretly binged and felt ashamed and guilty afterwards?
  • Do you sometimes crave certain foods?
  • Have you ever dieted only to put on more weight?

Positive answers to these questions will determine someone who has difficulty in controlling what they eat and in doing so has probably spent most of their life struggling to eat sensibly and healthily. They may be suffering from Food Addiction or Compulsive Overeating. They may be overweight or obese.

Food becomes similar to a drug in that the individual makes repeated failed attempts to control what they eat and has probably spent most of their life struggling to eat sensibly and healthily.

Food is easily acquired and does not cause the immediate and sometimes catastrophic consequences created by chemical abuse or alcohol. This in turn makes it a difficult addiction to take seriously because the individual genuinely thinks they can control it, however, this addiction is killing more people everyday with obesity related illnesses than any other drug. It causes the individual distress and produces a feeling of worthlessness and shame after being used. These feelings are shared by any other substance user and that is where the connection is made between all addictive substances or behaviours.

Most compulsive overeaters experience addiction to white flour or sugar substances. They display the same obsession of the mind and craving of the body as any other drug user. Once an overeater picks up their "drug" they are unable to stop at one, the first compulsive bite triggers the craving to eat more and more.

Overeating and food addiction by its very nature can be a very subtle obsessive compulsion. Time and again the same behaviours are repeated and time and again the individual experiences the same disappointing result. Yo-yo dieting for example - the individual tends to put on more weight each time they stop dieting, thus the cycle is perpetuated by feelings of shame once again and a feeling of failure. This feeds the addiction and pulls the individual into a downward spiral of low self-esteem. This low-self esteem often results in a great deal of self-criticism, in this negative place the individual is once again reaching for the food to change how they feel or use it as a coping tool or as an escape mechanism. These are temporary strategies and do not last.

Recovery is about breaking free from this endless cycle, breaking free from the obsession and maintaining a healthy body weight and sensible and comfortable attitude towards food. Recovery will free the user from relying on food as a coping mechanism.

"My name is Alan and I am recovering from food addiction.

I came to seek help from Rochelle in Feb 2006 a broken man and I had eaten myself to 63 stone and was virtually housebound. My body was shutting down and I had badly ulcerated legs that constantly wept and needed to be dressed all the time...I also had the emotional pain which got worse and worse the more I ate.

The relationship that I have had with Rochelle and the trust that goes with that has played a huge part in saving my life... Things started to change when I began to be really honest...

I have so much respect for Rochelle and for her own journey and recovery from this killer illness. Through her own experience and knowledge she's passed on to me, it's given me hope and a way of coping and living...

Today I'm just over 44 stone lighter... my quality of life has completely changed.

I would say to anyone who's living with this illness, it is possible to stop doing what you're doing and please don't give up hope".