Food Addiction is a prominent issue in society with over 10% of the general population deeply addicted to food or overeating. The problem is real and millions are suffering. Sandra Elia used to be one of them.
At her worst, Sandra Elia reached over 260 pounds and felt defeated from failed diets and empty promises from dieticians. She'd had enough. She set out to conquer her addiction to food and won - losing over one hundred pounds and keeping it off for over 13 years. This fueled Elia's passion to help others break free and to create The Food Addiction Recovery Program in partnership with medical doctors specializing in the treatment of obesity. This program was Ontario's first government-funded [OHIP: Ontario Health Insurance Plan] 12-week outpatient program for Food Addiction Recovery.
Being a problem that Elia deeply understands, she wanted to develop a clear and effective program for successful healing from Food Addiction. She now has a proven method to get everyone to a place of Food Serenity.
"Food Serenity, as I call it, is about remembering who you really are, and what you really need to feel nourished, loved, and accepted," Elia explains.
Addictive eating is mindless eating, she adds. The antidote is mindfulness, leading to regaining the power of choice. This involves developing interventions, techniques, and a daily spiritual practice.
Elia guides clients in mastering their thinking to end the mind chatter that comes with compulsive overeating so they can experience food freedom. They finally come to a place where they can deal with intense feelings without using food. Understanding the role dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins play in compulsive overeating are key. To guide others on how to overcome these triggers, Elia developed a cognitive behavioral therapy technique to remain calm and confident while facing cravings and urges. Over time, creating new neural pathways ends the addiction loop.
One of Elia's most effective programs is her 5-day Intensive Program. As one of the world's first Certified Food Addiction Counselors, Elia is a true pioneer in this field and developed her own system for taking clients out of their environment and placing them into a therapeutic and natural setting. This gives them a chance to detox from ultra-processed foods, extinguish cravings for sugar, and eat to stabilize hormones. Clients achieve appetite correction and come to a place of neutrality with food.
Each day of the 5-Day Intensive Program features a talk from a world-renowned expert in Food Addiction and Obesity Management. A daily visit from a chef ensures all clients leave with a solid understanding of meal preparation.
Along with personally helping others struggling with food addiction, Elia is working with a professional team to hopefully develop a formal diagnosis of Food Addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM is the handbook used by healthcare professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders with descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria.
Sandra and her team are striving to educate healthcare providers and offer appropriate assistance to those who suffer with addictive eating. She has worked diligently with a professional team comprised of medical doctors, addiction doctors, researchers, physiologists and physiatrists to develop these programs that have yielded tremendous success. Through these programs, clients have achieved personal success including losing weight, reducing certain medicines, and most importantly, breaking free from Food Addiction.