You've heard of people addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling. Now some researchers say there's more and more evidence that you can be addicted to food.
Thirty-three-year-old Hillary Buckholtz says she's never had a normal relationship with food. Her battle with overeating left her obese at just eleven-years-old and at her heaviest she was 300 pounds. She remembers,"I had stopped weighing myself because it was too depressing. I was in denial"
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 cause changes that literally leave you addicted to that food," says Dr. Pamela Peeke, the senior science adviser at Elements Behavioral Health.
She adds that treating patients with food addiction is a little trickier than treating patients with substance problems, because you can't simply stop eating.
However, she explains, "you can most certainly eliminate and avoid the foods that ignite your rewards center."
Dr. Peeke says she discovered that refined sugars were triggering Hillary's overeating. She cut them out of her diet and Hillary lost weight.
"I do see it as a chronic condition, something I have to manage for the rest of my life." Hillary says. She's in recovery now, getting support from other over-eaters in a program for food addicts.
Some research has shown a strong connection between food addiction and obesity. One study found as many as eleven -percent of normal weight participants could also be diagnosed as food addicts.