Are you one of the estimated 2 of every 3 Americans that is overweight?

It is statistically known that 66-70% of all Americans have problems with overeating and of those that are overweight, 40% experience depression.

It is likely that you are part of the statistic that is comprised of compulsive overeaters and subsequently, may well be depressed. Being overweight contributes to many health risks; high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stress to bones and joints, Type II diabetes, increased onset of arthritis, distorted body image, low self-esteem, increased risk for alcoholism, anxiety and depression. It matters not if it was the chicken or the end that came first; as depression causes weight gain and being overweight often makes a person depressed and anxious. Either way, it is the fastest growing physical and mental health concern in the United States today and needs to be addressed with professional help.

It is important to understand that there are reasons for compulsive overeating that can be diagnosed, addressed, treated and managed. It may surprise you to know that compulsive overeating is an addiction that mirrors many of the other more commonly acknowledged addictions, such as, alcoholism or drug addiction and similar to those addictions, there are both physiological and psychological reasons for this phenomenon. The standard American Diet (SAD) is comprised of many foods that have high levels of sugar, salt and high glycemic content that is known to be addictive. These foods trigger a special region in the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which increases the dopamine and serotonin levels, these are the same pleasure centers that are present when one is on cocaine, alcohol or other addictive substances. As well, we are unwittingly training our bodies to crave those same types of food in order to satisfy the addiction. When your body and mind becomes accustomed to the high fat, high sugars, white flours it will continue to crave these foods. In addition, these types of foods are less expensive, often advertised in key slots on the television, readily available and are set up at nearly every check-out counter in the country, whether it is to buy food or any other goods; candy, chips and junk food is the last thing that you are offered while waiting to pay for almost any good or service in the country. There is an advertising technique in the making that will also add food scents to billboards while driving, tapping into the deepest part of our memory, our sense of smell. As it is, while driving through the country it is a challenge at any rest stop or gas station to find any healthy alternatives for eating. Therefore, most of us resort to eating what is quick, inexpensive and easily at our disposal while on the road. Eating in the car and on the road is also a way of unconscious eating that is feeding our food addiction and contributing to overeating. Once something is put in front of us to eat we rarely stop to consider if we need or want the entire amount in the bag or box, we just eat what is there and don’t give it anymore consideration. Remember those “starving kids in China” our parents warned us about when refusing to eat all that was on our plates, hungry or not.

In order to know if you have a food addiction you must honestly answer a few questions designed to help you understand if you have this problem.

One, do you consume food even when you’re not hungry? Two, do you feel sluggish from overeating? Three, do you continue to overeat despite the fact that you are experiencing negative both physical and psychological effects? Four, do have a mental pre-occupation with food, spending more time thinking about and eating then your other normal activities? Five, have you experienced withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, panic or irritability? Six, have you tried repeatedly to cut down or extreme dieting or cleanses followed by binge out of control eating? Seven, do you find yourself repeating ideas of negative self-worth, constantly degrading yourself for not having enough will power only to succumb to eating again to comfort those negative feelings? Eight, do you use food to combat negative feelings, such as; to feel better about conflict, out of boredom, stress, fatigue, tension, anger or loneliness? Nine, do you eat according to where are rather than being hungry, such as; the movies, in front of the TV., passing by a pizza parlor or on your way out of a store you did not go to for food? Ten, do you look forward to or are more comfortable eating alone? If you are answering yes to these questions there is reason to believe that you are addicted to food. The good news is that there is an answer to this addiction problem.

There are changes that can be made in your approach to foods and re-training techniques that your body can come to expect and crave, using behavior modification, nutritional education, identifying triggers and other psychological methods that together we can tailor a plan of action to rectify this overeating addiction for a life time. There is no magic pill, nutritional supplement, cleanse, crash diet or quick fix to this addiction issue. Unlike alcohol, cigarettes or drugs that may be completely removed from one’s life, we are required to have a relationship with food to survive. It is imperative if we are to live healthy, long and satisfying lives to have a healthy relationship with food. We must put together a plan that works for you as an individual. There are a multitude of underlying psychological issues that can create this addiction ranging from sexual abuse as a child, high stressors, habits acquired in childhood, a need for self-destruction, emotional swings and many more. It is important to pin point those underlying issues first and then design a plan for living that will bring your ongoing results of living a healthy, fulfilling and satisfying life with realistic planning, guidance, encouragement we can put food in its place: with you in control.