Dr. Joan Ifland Says Time Is Now For Medical Providers to Take a Stand Against Processed Food Addiction

There are still medical professionals who refuse to acknowledge addiction to processed food as a real condition. Dr. Joan Ifland, PhD, MBA, FACN, has spent years of her life combing through more than 6,000 studies, and she has come to a different conclusion.

Dr. Joan Ifland delivers presentation at LowCarbUSA Boca Conference in January 2020.

Dr. Ifland last month delivered a powerful presentation entitled Processed Food Addiction: Hidden Impact on Mental Health at the LowCarbUSA Boca Conference . The lecture hall was jam-packed with medical professionals, scientists, coaches, and trainers, as well as individuals interested in learning more about restoring and maintaining their health. The response to her presentation was intense, with a long line of attendees and fellow presenters stretching down the center aisle during the Q&A session. 

“We now have the scientific basis for the disease,” said Dr. Ifland. “Nobody can say processed food addiction doesn’t exist. It’s a classic, substance-based addiction, not a behavioral addiction. Processed food addiction is very much like smoking or cocaine addiction.”

 Dr. Ifland has written 240,000 words on the subject, supported by more than 2,000 citations, and she’s currently working to educate and train licensed healthcare providers to help those whose lives are being destroyed by the processed food addiction (PFA) epidemic. Her book, entitled Processed Food Addiction: Foundations, Assessment and Recovery is an evidence-based resource designed to give practitioners and health coaches the confidence to put the controversy about food addiction to rest.

Dr. Ifland says her primary goal has long been to help those addicted to processed foods. “I wanted to see if I could translate the findings in the textbook into an online treatment program that would work for addicts.” After years of work, it appears her vision is turning into reality.

She has developed Food Addiction Core Training (FACT), a program designed to empower licensed healthcare practitioners and health coaches to use the food addiction recovery model to help those struggling with food addiction restore their health.

Learn More About the Food Addiction Core Training (FACT) program.

“We have all these nutritionists and dietitians who are taking these long, expensive courses in nutrition and dietetics, and they’re coming out and they are not able to fulfill their purpose. Your purpose is not to render services, it is to bring people back to vibrant health.”

Dr. Ifland laments a healthcare system intent on treating symptoms, rather than addressing the causes of poor health. “Doctors spend half their days writing prescriptions for diet-related diseases that are getting worse,” she said. “And the prescriptions are not healing the patient. They are not bringing them back to health.”

According to Dr. Ifland, a patient struggling with processed food addiction should be able to walk into the office of any health professional and be diagnosed, using the Substance Use Disorder criteria, adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). There are 11 biopsychosocial symptoms grouped into four categories. The presence of six or more symptoms indicates an addiction.

The FACT program starts with the addiction business model Dr. Ifland says was introduced to the food industry by big tobacco. “This is what happened when they got a hold of the processed food industry. The same industry that made disgusting cigarettes sexy is now making disgusting chemicals taste delicious. It’s the same deception. They’re addiction merchants.”

With metabolic disease and obesity rates reaching epidemic proportions, Dr. Ifland says medical professionals must face a stark reality. “Here’s the bottom line. Either you’re going to get your arms around this, or you’re going to have a miserable career. Not addressing this could ruin your life as a practitioner. I don’t believe I’m overstating it.”

Licensed healthcare professionals who complete Dr. Ifland’s FACT program are eligible to have the LowCarbUSA badge displayed on their profile in our provider list. Join one of our Professional Communities and complete the Approved Training to get Certified. Once certified, you will be required to submit a certificate for CME credits from one of our conferences every 2 years to show you are keeping up to date with the science.

Learn More About the Food Addiction Core Training (FACT) program.

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