According to a report recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, more than one-third of Americans are overweight. The new study looked at obesity and overweight rates in the United States.

An addiction to food can quickly lead to obesity, heart disease, strokes, type two diabetes, and certain types of cancer. People who don’t struggle with a food addiction often can’t understand why a person just can’t stop eating the unhealthy foods. It’s as much of a mental issue as it is physical.

According to WebMD, highly palatable foods (foods that are rich in fat, salt, and sugar) act like addictive drugs. Highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once someone experiences the pleasure associated with increased dopamine, they feel the need to eat again. The reward signals from highly palatable foods can override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. Because of this, people keep eating, even when they’re not hungry.

Symptoms of food addiction include:

  • You eat more than planned when you start eating certain foods.
  • You keep eating certain foods even when you’re no longer hungry.
  • You eat to the point of feeling ill.
  • You hide your consumption of unhealthy food from others.
  • You often feel guilty after eating particular foods, yet find yourself eating them again soon after.
  • You make excuses about why you should eat something that you are craving.
  • When certain foods aren’t available, you go out of your way to obtain them.

If any of these symptoms apply to you and you’re concerned that you might have an addiction to food, answer the questions on this form as honestly as you can in order to evaluate your relationship with food.

If you find that you do have an addiction to food, the next step is to find help. A food addict must learn to eat according to hunger and not as a response to boredom, stress, or emotions. Recovery is about learning to develop eating habits that are in tune with the body’s actual, natural cravings. Unlike a drug addict, a food addict cannot simply eliminate their drug of choice because food is a basic need. Instead, food addicts must develop a healthy relationship with food over time.

Here are a few treatment options:

Therapy. A majority of the time, a food addict uses food to numb feelings or avoid dealing with other issues. Therapy can help get to the root cause of overeating and help deal with emotions in a positive way.

See a nutritionist. Cravings can often be managed with a personalized nutrition plan. With the help of a nutritionist, an addict can learn how to replace cravings with healthy options.

Programs. Twelve-step programs like Food Addicts Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous can help food addicts manage their addictions.

If you’d like to set up a time to meet up with Reka, you can contact her by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at, or via Twitter or Facebook.

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