MIAMI (CBSMiami) — You’ve heard of people addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling but more and more evidence shows people can be addicted to food.
Hillary Buckholtz, 33, has been struggling with food addiction her entire life.
She said she’s never had a normal relationship with food. Her life-long battle with overeating left her obese at just 11-years-old and she weighed about 300 pounds at her heaviest.
“I had stopped weighing myself because it was too depressing, I was in denial,” said Buckholtz.
A recent study in Canada found as many as 1 in 20 people could be addicted to food.
“Sugary, fatty, salty food combinations that actually hack into the reward center in your brain. They cause changes that literally leave you addicted to that food,” said Dr. Pamela Peeke, a Senior Science Advisor at Elements Behavioral Health.
Dr. Peeke said treating patients with food addiction is a little trickier than treating patients with substance problems, because you can’t simply stop eating.
“You can most certainly eliminate and avoid the foods that ignite your rewards center,” said Peeke.
Dr. Peeke discovered that refined sugars were triggering Buckholtz’s overeating. She cut them out of her diet and lost weight.
When asked if she thought she could ever get over her food addiction, Buckholtz answered, “I don’t. I do see it as a chronic condition, something I have to manage for the rest of my life.”