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Hello, my name is Jennette and I’m a food addict

They say addiction starts with a broken promise. You promise not to have a third drink and then you wake up the next morning with no memory of falling asleep in your own barf. You promise not to have a cigarette and then you’re bumming just one more from a friend. You promise not to overeat on Thanksgiving and then you go back for four pieces of cake and a piece of pie.

The fact that you have to make the promise shows that you have a problem. I’ve never had to promise not to take another drink because I don’t care much for alcohol. It makes my headache worse and I’ve never thought the buzz was worth all the calories. There’s a bottle of vodka that has been in my freezer since July and it will probably still be there next year. That’s how I know I’m not an alcoholic. However, I have often promised myself that I will only eat half the meal at a restaurant and then eaten the whole plate. I’ve promised I won’t drive to the grocery store for ice cream, and then ridden home with a half-pint of Ben & Jerry’s. I’ve promised I wouldn’t eaten a lot of things and then I’ve eaten them anyway.

Which is why I have to say, “Hello, my name is Jennette and I’m a food addict.”

Last year I reviewed a book about food addiction and mentioned that I did not consider myself a food addict. One or two people commented, “Really? Are you sure?” I used to weigh almost 400 pounds. It’s not out of the question to wonder if I had a deeper problem than licking the beaters too many times. But things had been going pretty well and I had been eating really well and exercising and I didn’t think I had much of a problem with food.

In the past year however, my life has spiraled out of control in interesting ways, which has made me want to eat. Food is my drug, Kroger is my dealer and I’ve definitely been using. I’m still not sure if “addict” is quite the right word. The term “compulsive eater” might be a better description. I’ve definitely felt compelled to eat. I’ve wanted to eat chocolate in a way that is more powerful than just a desire for something yummy. I’ve wanted to eat when I’m not hungry. I’ve wanted to eat when I know it will make me gain weight or cause me health problems, and I’ve done it anyway. I’ve wanted to eat in some primal way that goes beyond just the need for survival.

When I’ve resisted the urge, it’s been hard. Very hard. I’ve sat on my hands in restaurants. I’ve gone to take a nap because I know I won’t eat in my sleep. I’ve manically gnawed on celery in an attempt to fill me up so I won’t eat an entire batch of muffins. Many times the only reason I haven’t eaten seconds is because I know other people will notice. I’ve looked at the half-eaten meals on friends plates at dinners and realized they don’t have the same need to keep eating that I do. I’ve realized I’m a bit different.

I’ve been reading All In My Head, a book by Paula Kamen about her fight with chronic daily headache. When speaking about the disease of headache she quotes Susan Sontag who says, “Theories that diseases are caused by mental states and can be cured by will power are always an index of how much is not understood about the physical terrain of a disease.” That can certainly be said of obesity. I think it’s true of addiction too. I don’t know why I am the way I am. Perhaps someday in the future they’ll be able to reprogram people’s brains so they don’t feel these destructive compulsions. All I know is that I have a screwed up relationship with food and I probably always will.

I know someone out there will now suggest I should go to Overeaters Anonymous. Thanks for your concern and for the suggestion. I’m glad there are programs out there for food addicts that have helped many people, but OA does not seem like a good fit for me at this time. As long as I avoid certain trigger foods or keep those foods in my trunk (like the bagels and honey that are freezing in the parking lot as I type), I seem to do ok. I only hit serious trouble when my life goes out of balance in other ways and in my sadness I reach for the Ho-Hos. But I can still recover from that by going to the gym and eating well for several days afterwards.

For now, it’s just enough for me that I can say, “Hello, my name is Jennette and I’m a compulsive eater.”

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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114 Comments

gknee • December 16, 2008 at 9:48 am

I’m with you sister. I’ve known I had an unusual relationship with food for about 30 years. My actual weight is no indicator of my addiction status either. Many compulsive eaters (over or under) have lost tons of weight in their lifetime. Its about the behavior– and,as always, you described it so well.

You are onto some key aspects to controlling the demon- have a food plan, identify your personal binge foods and avoid them like your life depends on it.

take care

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Meghan • December 16, 2008 at 9:50 am

I just read Allen Zadoff’s book Hungry and I swear that it’s the first thing EVER to make me understand and believe that I have food issues. I’ve been to OA and it felt all wrong. But Zadoff’s version (which grows out of OA) makes it seem so simple.

Yes, I’m a food junkie too.

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christen • December 16, 2008 at 9:53 am

I’m so sorry, jennette, because I’m a food addict too. I did decide to go to OA, and I have to tell you, any work I do there is so much easier than practicing my addiction.

Your story mirrors mine very closely– I’ve lost nearly half my weight and became a runner as well. Ah, the feeling of being able to run!

I really do feel free of the compulsion to eat now– this from a person who had to eat compulsively several times just to get through the day.

I fully support your looking at options, and understand that just because oa worked for me, it might not be right for you.

I just hear the pain in your voice and remember when that was me. I’m sorry.

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Lori • December 16, 2008 at 9:55 am

I’m with you. Most people don’t get it, but food is really an addiction. It’s not about willpower, it’s not about discipline – it really is an addiction.

The problem is that you still have to eat. You can go your whole life without another drink, or a cigarette, but you must put food into your mouth daily.

It’s like telling an alcoholic, okay – you can have only a certain type of drink, and only so much of it, and you must space it out through the day.

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Jen • December 16, 2008 at 9:58 am

Jennette,

I struggle with this too, and I really admire you for talking about it here. I looked at OA too; didn’t really look like the best thing for me right now (too much giving up of control, I think), but I’m also glad it’s out there.

On bad days, I think, well, most people have demons of some kind. At least I know that mine live in Safeway!

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Jules • December 16, 2008 at 10:01 am

I’m not a food addict, but I’m nearly always watching my intake and often i really crave eating with complete carelessness, for pleasure, or out of boredom, or just because I wanted to. I miss that more than the twinky itself.

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Judi • December 16, 2008 at 10:03 am

Thank you for this blog entry. It speaks to me and I’m sure I’m not alone, and neither are you. I read just yesterday that sugar is as addictive as heroin. It’s just going to be a daily battle. It helps to be able to be able to do things like read your blog, so that is why I’m grateful to you. Thanks for blogging, Pastaqueen.

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Ken • December 16, 2008 at 10:10 am

I love this post and I relate 100% to your thoughts. I consider myself an “addict” or compulsive over eater and I know that I have to deal with this at some point. I lost over 100 pounds now and I am in control but also I know that I am one cooking episode or en entire large pizza from going back to my old ways..

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Will Coleda • December 16, 2008 at 10:15 am

“Hi, Jennette.”

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Narya • December 16, 2008 at 10:20 am

Lori is exactly right that you can do without alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs in ways that you cannot do without food.

I’d add that in many ways it’s most similar to cigarettes, in that it is definitely an addiction, but it doesn’t change your consciousness in the way that, say, heroin does. It’s why quitting smoking can be much more difficult than other addictions.

Based on work with people with various addictions, I’d say that recognizing how thoughts of using one’s drug pervade all of one’s waking life is the most difficult aspect of the whole thing. It’s amplified with food, because, as noted, you gotta eat.

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Roxie • December 16, 2008 at 10:22 am

You are not alone. Right now I am struggling mightily. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or other external factors, but this spiral sucks.

Just do the next right thing and keep posting. You are doing amazing, wonderful and inspiring work here.

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suzanne • December 16, 2008 at 10:22 am

Yes i would have to say i’m a compulsive eater, i would also say i’m a binge eater. The only way i have found that works for me is to not have those things that start it around me. I say whatever works best for you!!

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Sherre • December 16, 2008 at 10:23 am

Excellent post. I feel like you wrote it just for me.

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moonduster • December 16, 2008 at 10:25 am

Yep! Welcome to the club!

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Tanya • December 16, 2008 at 10:26 am

I hear you. I also have a screwed up relationship with food. When I was a teenager, I was anorexic, and now I’m obese. I’m working on it, though.

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Lilbet • December 16, 2008 at 10:40 am

Very well put. Thanks.

I often wonder: what if we get to the end of our lives, and in our death are enlightened that it never was the food. That some people can just eat more than others. And, unfortunately, we just happen to be the people that only need 900 calories a day to subsist.

I don’t think addict fits either. Food is legal, it’s everywhere, and it’s required to survive. Doesn’t fit the addict’s need in that respect. I’m not even sure compulsive eater fits either. There needs to be a new term.

Doesn’t really matter, though. What matters is the self awareness and you’ve got that!

Take care. Still sending positive thoughts re. your headaches. I (literally) feel your pain, as you know.

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Quix • December 16, 2008 at 10:50 am

@Jules – I feel the same way sometimes. I’ve been counting calories for over a year now and while I’ve had a lot of success at it and wouldn’t trade that for anything, I miss just eating for eating. When x food equals x calories automatically in my brain, and I know I will have to own up to it on my daily tracker, it’s hard to indulge. Splurges are carefully measured.

I don’t miss what it did to me, but I sure do miss scanning a menu in a restaurant, and picking out the item which sounded the best at the time, and eating as much or as little of it as I felt like. I guess we can either do everything we want (food, booze, smokes, etc) or be everything we want (fitter, happier, productive).

What’s with everyone’s blogs making me go into deep thought this week? :)

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Joan • December 16, 2008 at 11:04 am

@Jules -

Me too! Oh, the pleasure of reading a good book and dipping my hand into a bag of something good… salty or sweet, and continuing until… oops, there isn’t any more! Huh. Carrot sticks and celery just don’t do it for me. Thanks, Jennette, for this thoughtful post. Maintaining weight loss (permanent change) is so much more difficult than just losing the weight.

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Amanda Daybyday • December 16, 2008 at 11:10 am

Hello, my name is Amanda and I’m a compulsive eater too.

sigh

And I’m not giving up.

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Jennifer • December 16, 2008 at 11:17 am

Yup, me too. I really identify with the inability to leave food on the plate. Or the plate of brownies or cookies when you CLEARLY are not hungry. Why does that happen???

I get very depressed about it though, if the mighty Oprah with all of her money and trainers and cooks and shrinks can’t overcome it…..what does that say about my chances?

My main thing is to flat out avoid sugar. There aren’t so much trigger foods for me (anything with sugar is), as finding things that aren’t. Ack.

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Rebecca Hoover • December 16, 2008 at 11:24 am

I’m so glad you wrote this. I commented once about a former fat chick’s (I’m never PC) ability to bake and eat brownies. I told her that there was no more baking in my house, cookies are not to be brought in, no chips, no “real” ice cream; all because I have ZERO self control. She thought that I was kind of pathetic and that there were not any “bad” foods. Like hell there isn’t. And I’m not saying I never have these things, but I will ALWAYS have to be careful. Unless you’re right and someone invents a wonder drug, I will always have issues with food. Forever. I accept it. My boyfriend doesn’t understand, he can’t, he’s never known me heavy and he just can’t relate (he leaves tons of food on his plate all the time too). I’m just grateful everyday that he’s a somewhat of a health freak and doesn’t even like fast food and Ho Ho’s (he really is a freak of nature). So here’s to you PQ, and fighting the good fight. Oh, and I’m Rebecca, a food addict.

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Ashley • December 16, 2008 at 11:26 am

I’ve always known I was a food addict, but I’ve never seen it so thoughtfully layed out before. I’d also never thought of it in terms of broken promises, that’s so true though! I think that will help me though, if I can catch myself making a promise…I think the key to this sort of thing is self awareness. Thanks for the great post!:)

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Jen • December 16, 2008 at 11:52 am

Thank you for writing this post and to all the commentors. It could not have come at a better time. It’s so difficult, isn’t it? Like smoking, sometimes I wish I could give up eating forever.

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Emi • December 16, 2008 at 11:59 am

I *so* appreciate this post. I am struggling beyond belief lately and am having a really hard time getting back on track with the healthy lifestyle I managed to establish for myself earlier this year. In a sense, this post is depressing because I still harbor the wish that if I could only be more like you, I would eventually be able to leave all this dysfunction behind me. It’s also encouraging in a way, though, because as great as that wish seems, I don’t actually believe it’s possible– you represent someone who is flawed, but has continued to soldier on. You remind us we’re not alone.

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Bob • December 16, 2008 at 11:59 am

Let me add to the flurry of comments by saying that I learned alot about my emotional eating habits via a website “Shrink Yourself”. You do a 12 week course where you answer questionnaires identifying your behaviour, etc. The website is run by Dr. Roger Gould, who also wrote a book by the same name that is on Amazon.

Going through the on-line program didn’t stop me from ever doing emotional eating, but it made me think about alot of things and recognize patterns.

As most of us know, for alot of us, food is simply our drug of choice. Get hit by stress? Eat something- maybe eat alot and put yourself in what Gould calls a ‘food haze’ where you end up so drugged from what you ate that your mind takes a little vacation (a little escape) from your worries. But of course, that ends, and you still have whatever was bothering you before to deal with. I’ve never been to OA but I’m sure they talk about the same thing- you can’t eat your way out of your problems, depression, etc. That wise sage Axl Rose once talked about his periods of drug addiction by saying “There’s nothing wrong with taking drugs- but at some point you have to ask, what is it that’s causing me to take the drugs?” Which is another reason that at some point, you need to explore what triggers over-eating and why food is a coping mechanism for you.

I read somewhere- and I think it might be from Gould- if stress, sadness, whatever causes you to pick up food when you’re not really hungry- how would you cope if somehow food DIDN’T exist? If we were animals that never ate? Would you get mad? Would you start throwing plates at a wall? Punch a pillow? Would you start crying- and are you secretly afraid that somehow you’d never stop crying? So many of us try to avoid extreme emotions and the way we do that is with our food of choice. It’s been said many places that for alot of emotional eaters, overeating is a way of stuffing down emotions.

Anyway- these are all things to ponder. Check out Gould’s site- you only have to pay if you sign up for the 12 week program.

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Bob • December 16, 2008 at 12:03 pm

@Lilbet -

I agree with alot of what you said, but I think that ‘addiction’ is an accurate term. Food addiction, shopping addiction (retail therapy anyone?) is the same mind set- there’s an almost obsessive quality and a use of these things to satisfy a need, to cope with problems (or, more accurately, to temporarily escape from problems).

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Debbi • December 16, 2008 at 12:05 pm

I can’t add anything more to what anyone has said except “count me in.” An eloquent post. I tried writing about the same subject this morning, but you said so much more than I’m able to.

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Andrew is getting fit • December 16, 2008 at 12:06 pm

My name is Andrew and I am a food addict.

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Bob • December 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm

@Jennifer -

Brownies are DEFINITELY a weakness for me. I once had cut out most extraneous sugar (candy, pastry, etc.)- and then, about 4 months after I’d done that, I was at a work summer event, and they had TRAYS of brownies. Figured I’d just have one- how could that hurt? I think by the end fo the event, I ended up having 4, and it was the beginning of finding more ‘special’ occasions where i ate more and more of that stuff, and pretty soon I was back to eating the same amounts of sugar crap as I had been before.

SO- I definitely learned by that- I’ve got pretty much NO control if there are brownies around!

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Skye • December 16, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I’m a compulsive eater, as well. My girlfriend, on the other hand, has absolutely no feelings about food. Some of it’s good, some of it sucks, it’s fuel and that’s that. During my struggle to lose weight, we would keep her stockpiles of snack foods out of the house so I wouldn’t binge.

This changed a year ago when she had a cancer relapse. Since then, she’s been in chemo and she has periods of time when she craves certain foods and for obvious reasons needs them readily available. Sometimes it’s apples, but lately it’s been Cocoa Pebbles.

So at 11 the other night when I found myself face first in a trough of the aforementioned cereal I felt horrible. I felt even worse when she woke me at 3 that morning hungry and wondering where her Cocoa Pebbles were.

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Bob • December 16, 2008 at 12:24 pm

P.S. re “Shrink Yourself”: though I am loathe to spend money, I will say that I think there is value in doing the 12 week “Shrink Yourself’ on-line program if it interests you vs. just reading the book. There’s something about having to do the exercise work, etc. over the course of time that helps it sink in more vs. just jamming through the book in a weekend and saying “Yep- that’s me” and then moving on.

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Laura • December 16, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Your post actually made me cry, but in a good way. I finally, finally realized I am not alone in my constant struggle.

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Maggie • December 16, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Hello, my name is Maggie and i’m a compulsive eater too.

How can people so easily just leave half of their meal? It’s like they don’t even think about it. Sigh.

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Estellia • December 16, 2008 at 12:54 pm

When you do something you can’t control your “inner caveman” is taking over…http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11361694

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victoria • December 16, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Hey, what you’re doing is working for now, so why change? And, maybe your blog sort of serves the same function that OPA serves: it gives you a lot of support from people who know what you’re going through.

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Melissa • December 16, 2008 at 1:19 pm

I’ve yet to meet a woman — tall, short, thin, chunky, round, curvaceous, skinny, bony … who doens’t have a messed-up relatioship with food.

That’s the sad truth. The book Heather recommended to me in Chicago (Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters) zeroed in on so many things I’ve been feeling over the years.

I tend to turn to food in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I’m not overweight anymore, but the food factor is still there. And the only marriage I need in my life is the one with my husband. Yet Food sustains us and we can’t kick it out entirely.

That said, I think many of us are compulsive eaters. Not even “over-eaters” — just “eaters.” I’m not sure it’s any better, though.

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Inny • December 16, 2008 at 1:37 pm

@Lori – It’s true, you still have to eat but for most people only some foods are addictive. Mine are anything with lots of cheese, potato chips and anything with sugar. So I just have to keep those out of my house and never eat them (easier said than done!) I have never lost control and overeaten on a bag of lettuce. So I don’t think alcoholics have it much easier, it’s the same situation for them. They have to stay away from the vodka and drink orange juice. I have to stay away from the chocolate and only eat foods I have control over. The only difference is that food is present at more events than alcohol, it’s cheaper and it’s more easily acessible. I’ve been thinking for years they should make sugar a controlled substance.

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Kimberly • December 16, 2008 at 1:42 pm

You are not alone. Food has been my one true constant in my life. It has been there through good times for celebration and bad times for comfort. It has kept me busy when I’m bored. I love to eat. And that chocolate compulsion is strong with me. I can resist nearly anything without feeling a physical need for it, but wave some chocolate treat in front of me and I know I yearn for it as badly as any crack addict yearns for their next hit. Thank you for sharing this with us. You’ve always been such an inspiration for me and the reason I am now finally doing it for myself. I always believed it was possible because you did it. Now I know that the food issues are always going to be there and I can prepare for that now before I am at my goal.

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Pamela • December 16, 2008 at 1:51 pm

It’s funny because for me, too, it took losing a lot of weight (70 lbs) to figure out that I was really a compulsive overeater. Doing Weight Watchers during a period of little life stress, I somehow thought it was just that I didn’t KNOW what to eat, or how much to eat. I thought, “if I ever gain anything back, I’ll just go on WW again.” When things started getting stressful, and I started eating like crazy, I figured out that I had a real problem, and it was much bigger than a lack of education or a bad attitude about exercise. Still haven’t figured it out, but I’m not giving up, either.

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Sarah • December 16, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Great blog! I am a compulsive and emotional eater myself and I have certain trigger foods too that I know I have to keep out of the house or else I will be “tempted” (especially if I’m having a bad day). I have also learned that if I do have a moment (or two, or three) not to beat myself up and to get things back in balance with diet & exercise ASAP.

It’s a daily struggle but I manage. I liked how you said you don’t make the promise — that is a great notion. Have you ever noticed how as soon as you’ve made that “promise” you want to break it even more? Hmm…

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s • December 16, 2008 at 2:12 pm

thanks for posting this, pq. i too am a food addict. or i mean i guess i am. at least when it comes to sugary foods. it’s kind of crazy. i also don’t drink a lot, so your comment about the vodka cracked me up. i have beers in my house from this summer :)

i feel really weird about this sometimes. like i wonder if the grocery store guy knows why i’m buying just a pint of ice cream and some pretzels. (which i don’t do that often because it’s embarrassing, which i guess is a step in the right direction) …

also there are some days where i just KNOW i will eat whatever is put in front of me. i think eventually i just gave up and decided that i wouldn’t try to overexert willpower. during those days, i just try to put less stuff in front of me. it doesn’t work all of the time, but it works a lot of the time.

even as a dieter i sometimes find that i would only eat foods that i thought would make me feel happy. like the ones that i specifically wanted to eat. now that i am aware of that i try to mix it up by occasionally getting things i didn’t really want, in an effort to mess up the whole conditioning response of really-wanting-a-chocolate-muffin and then totally-getting-a-chocolate-muffin.

okay, this was rambly. and i hope you didn’t take any of this as advice to you. it just triggered a core dump of the contents of my brain that are related to dieting.

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Bob • December 16, 2008 at 2:22 pm

@Kimberly -

I sure know how that is. You medicate yourself with food if things are bad and then you celebrate when things are good with food and if you’re bored- yep- food it is.

Some sources I’ve read have said that one way to at least try to separate that cycle is to think of other ways to cope. Want to celebrate? Go to a spa. Need to grieve? Take a nap, or surf the net, or (best of all) call a friend and say “My life sucks right now! Here’s why!” (Actually, one of the best things I remember doing at one point in my life when I was depressed about some things was find a place where I could volunteer (the place I found made bag lunches for homeless people). If you’re going to be sad, better to spend the time doing something that helps someone else out rather than just sitting looking at the ceiling (and opening the refrigerator)

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maggieapril • December 16, 2008 at 2:29 pm

My friends kind of roll their eyes when I say I’m addicted to food. I refer to it as being fat on the inside. Some people seem to think all it takes is “willpower.” They’ve obviously never been in our shoes.

Good luck to all those who struggle with managing their addiction every single day.

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Ali • December 16, 2008 at 2:54 pm

I too am addicted to food.

It’s crazy how it works. One day you have everything under control and the next day you feel this unstoppable need to have exactly that what you crave. Be it sugar or fat or salt or a combination of all of that. And when that happens I feel like somebody switched off a part of me. The “reason” part is switched off. I guess you would best describe it as “I just don’t care” but the feeling is so much stronger than even just not caring.

A blog I read calls it “sabotaging yourself”. And that’s really what it is. Because why would you willingly want to put stuff in you that you know in the long run doesn’t make you feel good?

And that feeling, that helplessness, that feeling of having absolutely no control over the reason switch in your head – that’s what makes the difference between somebody just craving a burger and somebody having serious issues with food.

Finding the solution to that would change many peoples lives, definitely mine.

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deanna • December 16, 2008 at 3:00 pm

I hear ya loud and clear, I am right there with you …however, isn’t this the dangerous cycle of an addict:

“I only hit serious trouble when my life goes out of balance in other ways and in my sadness I reach for the Ho-Hos. But I can still recover from that by going to the gym and eating well for several days afterwards.”

Going to the gym to reverse the damage, stop drinking or smoking, or doing drugs, for a few days, weeks or months, or even years… why do you think you need to fill the sadness spot with food?

When you figure it out – because you probably will, especially before me let us know – it will provide a lot of insight into all us other food addicts or complusive eaters !

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Sue B • December 16, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Hi Jennette.

Being a food addict sucks. I was reading Oprah’s article this morning about her recent 40 pound weight gain. She believed when she reached her goal a few years ago and had maintained her weight that her weight issues were behind her but that was her fatal flaw — it’s never over. This food stuff is like laundry — it’s never done. Even when the last load of wash is going, there are still the clothes you have on that will be in the dirty clothes basket soon. It’s a constant battle and it’s easy when things are going well but when they’re not then I always reach for my reliable friend — food.

Recently, though, I thought about the adage that’s it’s easier to give up smoking or alcohol because you don’t need those — you have to have food. But I don’t have to have sugar or white flour. So I decided to give up those the day after Thanksgiving. Sugar’s my drug and the white flour products made me sluggish. Doing good on the sugar so far – hit and miss on the flour. Cheese is next – love it but too much fat!

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Laura N • December 16, 2008 at 3:04 pm

I’m a food addict, too, in the same ways you describe. And I can keep it under control when my life is in control. When life gets out of balance, I turn to my drug, just like you do. And I fix it just like you do–exercise, eat well for a few days, try to divert my attention with sleep, work, chores. But the desire & the need don’t ever truly go away.

I’m very proud of you for writing this post. I’m guessing it wasn’t easy to come to this realization. Or maybe it was a relief for you to finally name this relationship with food. Either way, I’m glad you wrote this post and am sure you will get lots more support & agreement.

My two cents on OA–I think the blog world is our OA. Sure, we aren’t sitting in a church basement in a circle in metal folding chairs, but we have the support & accountability just the same. As long as we keep coming to our online meetings, it’s all gonna be okay.

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Anonymous • December 16, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Hi, Jeanette.

I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I don’t think I’ve commented before; in fact, I think the last time I was tempted was when back when you were talking a lot about how you didn’t view your relationship to food as emotional or psychological.

So I just wanted to try to express some support here, because I understand that what you’ve written in this entry is not a small deal.

Congratulations. Self-knowledge is the hardest work.

:)

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Juice • December 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Count me in. And I’m totally struggling this week. Ugh!

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Karen • December 16, 2008 at 3:22 pm

There may be another possibility….

Hello, my name is Karen and I am recovering from Binge Eating Disorder.

I thought I was a compulsive overeater or a food addict, but the above diagnosis was a spot-on match.

Check out http://www.webmd.com and look up B.E.D. *shrug* Might as well turn over every stone, right?

And best of luck to you. It’s a tough fight, but you’re already a spectacular warrior.

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Helen • December 16, 2008 at 3:25 pm

The difference between “them” and “us” is that “they” see food as fuel to get on to their next task. For us, food is everything.

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rachael • December 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for posting this, Jeanette, and thanks to all of those that responded that they struggle with this issue as well. It really eases the feeling of “there is something seriously wrong with me” that I so often have over my eating.

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The Baroness • December 16, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I’m starting to think that I am a compulsive eater. In fact, I know that I am. I don’t have any trigger foods, I will just eat anything (Except meat – I’m a vegetarian). I exercise for an hour and a half 6 days a week to counteract this, but I’m starting to think that I should see someone…

Anyhow, it’s good that you admitted this to yourself.

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Brueso • December 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm

@s -

Ha! I’m the same as you guys. I had a friend visit about 2 years ago and he bought beers and they’re still in my fridge. It’s not that I never drink- but it happens maybe 3 times a year, and when it does happen, it’s not at home.

But a box of ice cream sandwiches wouldn’t have a chance of lasting through a weekend!

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Bob • December 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

@Ali -

My only hesitation when I hear someone talk about sabotaging themselves is it separates behaviour/a person into “good” or “bad”, and it is a round about way of saying “Why aren’t you perfect?” and shaming yourself. Which is the kind of thing that is likely to propel someone to the refrigerator. Give yourself a break and acknowledge that sometimes things are going to happen that may make you behave (or eat) in a way that you know isn’t healthy for you. Try to get back on track when you can, and help lessen the damage by continuing to exercise, or making the NEXT meal a better one. Rinse and repeat.

One of the things that I found helpful from reading Jennette’s posts back from when she dug in on the weight loss was that by seeing how her weight fluctuated now and then, but was overall in a direction downward, she ridded her self of some of the torture people put themselves through (Why aren’t the numbers on the scale always going DOWN?! I’m working so hard, I’m living on a bowl of steam a day, etc., etc.) The ‘sabotage’ thing seems to suggest perfection is attainable and if you’re not there, you’re badly flawed. Having flaws is a pretty common thing for human beings.

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Laurie • December 16, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Don’t know how long you’ve been dealing with chronic pain. I DO know that I gained weight several years ago (and since lost most of it) when I was diagnosed with a condition that leaves me with constant muscle pain and fatigue. I never connected my weight gain with my condition until AFTER I lost the weight, and noticed that when I had a flare up I wanted to stuff anything in my mouth–saltine crackers and butter would do! Interestingly, satiety levels are tied to release of endorphins (or some such hormone) that give a feeling of well-being. Pain = I’ll try anything to feel better. I know it sounds simplistic, but it makes sense. Food WAS my drug!

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JEM • December 16, 2008 at 3:57 pm

I would never have suggested OA…my parents tried to get me to go as a senior in High School but honestly it never helped at all.

Food addiction is so complex for me. I try and find patterns or triggers and I can’t seem to find one. I am ether good or very bad. I can’t find middle ground. Why do I love food so much? If I had some sort of other addicition would I still overeat?

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samiam0002 • December 16, 2008 at 4:02 pm

@The Baroness -

what you describe sounds like what I’ve heard refered to as exercise bulimia.

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Leslie • December 16, 2008 at 4:04 pm

I hear ya! I think a lot more people struggle with problems like this than we realize, cause it seems like people don’t talk about it very much. I know exactly what you mean about realizing that friends can stop after eating half a plate and not have problems with it!

I found your blog awhile back and have been reading regularly, and decided I should finally leave a comment… You rock!

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Ginny • December 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Thank you for this.

Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I ever did. Even though it’s been six years, I know if I had “just one” I would be back to smoking before I finished it.

Unfortunately, I can’t just stop eating. So it’s a day to day struggle that I’ll keep working on. As I learned in Finding Nemo: “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Hang in there PQ!

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samiam---2 • December 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I’m not sure anymore if I’m a food addict or a compulsive overeater or if the label even really matters… I have a hard time handling emotion strong emotion and I tend to numb out with food. Having come from a family where alcholism is common I didn’t really have a hard time with the concept of food as an addiction. I do attend OA and think it has been of help, but I realize it may not be fore everyone. I think in many ways people who blog and take part in an online community are receiving the same benefit as membres of a group such as OA.

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jenna • December 16, 2008 at 4:32 pm

I really can’t even tell you how much i can relate to this. As you said you just need one thing to trigger it. Like you i have had some crazy stress recently and my only way to deal is to eat…everything in site. i have eaten whatever i want with no regard to how unhealthy it will be. I stood at my refrigerator the other day and ate a whole bag of french fries just standing there…i wasn’t even hungry. The worst is when you are full but still feel the need to eat something and its all you can think about. My drug of choice is pasta… like a whole box by myself.

The thing that scares me is that this addiction is so part of who i am. The same way its in my nature to worry to much its in my nature to turn to food for comfort. So how do you change something that is so much a part of you? Its really scary to me

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Kelly • December 16, 2008 at 4:48 pm

So many loving comments! You have a great fan base and that’s a huge blessing.

I also read Hungry (memoir) and it was one of the best out there (yours and Passing for Thin are my other faves), very honest. I watch Intervention sometimes on A&E and when I see how badly the people are caught up in the addictions, I understand how very difficult it is to break them. I’m not sure you can. It’s not as if you lose the weight and it goes away. How do I know this? I once lost 85 pounds and felt great but my emotions and stress took me back up the scale.

Right now you probably feel out of control. I know the feeling. Read Hungry (excellent, excellent book) if you have the time but as far as the answer, I’m not sure any of us have it. Frances who wrote Passing for Thin gained back a lot of her weight and is struggling with the same thing. Look at Carnie Wilson who had her stomach cut down to a tiny pouch. Oprah. So many of us suffer from a very painful craving that doesn’t seem to go away. I think we food addicts (or more likely, carb/sugar addicts) have to live with abstinence and the desire to overeat junk for the rest of our lives just as alcoholics and drug addicts crave their vices even if they are clean. I know I don’t like the idea whatsoever than I’m going to have to live with a daily and moment to moment decision for the rest of my life to abstain from the foods I know will trigger me. Yeah, it sucks.

But I know someone who quit heroin cold turkey after a few years of abuse. Heroin is supposedly the worst drug (one of) to quit. I suppose it takes superhuman strength to do it but the major addicts who are clean now, they are my heros and heroines (no pun intended!), not the stick thin celebs who starve.

I know you probably get sick of advice and just want to vent and I hope you keep doing that without the pressure to feel like you have to be positive and funny in every post. We’re all human and it amazes me how very loving we can be toward each other! You’re at the Y in the road, I was once there after losing a lot of weight (not nearly as much as you, bravo!), I allowed my emotions to win…you can decide to take the opposite road but either way, it really comes down to loving yourself.

Love Kel

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Esmeralda • December 16, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Word to that.

I am certainly/ have been certainly a compulsive overeater. Many people have said that BED (Binge Eating Disorder) and COE (Compulsive Overeating) are two of the most prevailent yet untreated and undiagnosed problems in America, and I can’t disagree with that hypothesis.

I maintain that because it is a behavior, not a true disease as far as we know- but it is a mental condition nevertheless, and a serious one at that.

I hope it feels kind of liberating to say that- I know it was for me

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Kelly • December 16, 2008 at 5:20 pm

BTW, I’ve done some research on the damaging effects of sugar abuse and it’s very similar to drug addiction, I posted about it on my blog if anyone’s interesting in learning more about what sugar does to the brain. Pretty amazing stuff and it helps you realize why it’s important to abstain…

http://www.justsaynotocardiogirl.blogspot.com

I promise I’m not pimping my site, I just didn’t want to copy and paste my long post on the comments section here. Thanks!

Kel

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sb • December 16, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Great post as usual, PQ. Apropos of this topic, I just read a BBC article about the recently discovered genetic basis for this type of thing.

It’s a double edged sword, in that at least you know there is a real physiological basis for the behavior (so, it’s not our “fault”), but then again… how do we fight out very genes??

Anyway, here’s the article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7783088.stm

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dg • December 16, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Just wanted to add my support to the fray! it is hard to put a label on these things… but whatever you want to call it, i hear ya

xx

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Barbara • December 16, 2008 at 5:56 pm

A woman named Kay Sheppard has interesting things to say about all this, both in her books (From the First Bite; Food Addiction: The Body Knows) and on her website (www.kaysheppard.com). Her recovery program is very black-and-white and very 12-Step and you might not want to try it, but even so, taking in what she has to say has been very enlightening for me as I have struggled to understand what might be going on.

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susan • December 16, 2008 at 6:21 pm

I too, have struggled all my life with my weight and understand what you are saying. Even as I sit and read your blog, I’m eating cheese and crackers and I’m not even hungry. It’s not boredom either, I’m just doing it because it’s dinnertime and you’re supposed to eat. Why do we do it? Who knows. Maybe it’s our genetic make-up and maybe not, but we do. Good luck with your current battle and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

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txdona • December 16, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Hello, my name is Donna and I’m a compulsive eater too!

Can totally relate to your post. I think it’s way more common than one might think. And no matter how old I get, it just doesnt get any easier. Thanks for sharing.

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sb • December 16, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Stoopid typo… allow me to correct that last sentence to read:

“but then again… how do we fight our very genes??”

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Losing Waist! • December 16, 2008 at 7:58 pm

It is hard to say “FOOD ADDICT”… I personally relate to this because I am NOT ADDICTED TO VEGETABLES AND WHOLE GRAINS- or anything like that. I am addicted to sugars (not found in fruits) and starchy things (chips, white bread). I find that my addictions run along the refined sugar and white flour lines and I don’t consider that to be food addiction… more like substance addiction. There is no binge in my future with a big bowl of broccoli and bulgur but there might be with tasty pizza and soda… I do think there is a big difference.

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Lori E. • December 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

This post was very insightful. I know my food issues can’t be controlled with willpower alone. It makes me wonder how many other issues we view as a lack of willpower or self-discipline.

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G.G. • December 16, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Hi–My name’s Laura, and I’m a compulsive eater, too.

Sorry to hear you’re a member of the club, too–but thanks for writing this.

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Sarah Fowler • December 16, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Hi my name is Sarah and I’m a compulsive overeater.

OA is definitely something you’ll have to decide for yourself; but you know, other than the 12 steps you’ve kind of made your own – you have a place to vent (your blog) and people with similar issues to listen and sympathize. One of the big components of OA is having a food plan, especially avoiding trigger foods; so you’re set there.

Good luck on your journey to sobriety – I’m working hard to stay there myself. :-)

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Yertle • December 16, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Hi, my name is Nicci and I am a compulsive overeater.

What really puts it into perspective for me is the realization that I am in an abusive relationship with food. Unfortunately, I can’t leave food completely, so I have to keep uncovering where this comes from and trying to find strategies and other things to do when the desire to eat comes on.

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dunja • December 16, 2008 at 10:02 pm

I have these friends who just “forget to eat” during the day (seriously, they’re not pretending or nothin’). Dude, how can you forget to eat?? I can forget a business or a doctor’s appointment, I can forget that I’m out of clean underwear, I can forget mom’s b-day, but I never, EVER forget about food. I too went from obese to slim, and you are right – the battle is never over. Hello, I am Dunja and I am a foodoholic:(

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Heather • December 16, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Amen. This time of the year is so hard, too…damn co-workers with their brownies and fudge and cookies, oh my!

What in the world do we DO when we get the urge to eat when we’re not really physically hungry?

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Deb • December 16, 2008 at 11:06 pm

@Will Coleda – lol…you’ve been to an OA meeting I guess. Or some other “anonymous” meeting.

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Marste • December 17, 2008 at 12:39 am

Oh, yeah. I’m there. I’ve spent the last 10 years moving between Binge Eating, Anorexia and Exercise Bulimia – but mostly Binge Eating. I know *exactly* how you feel. Well, as much as I can know how you feel without actually KNOWING you, LOL.

I wasn’t a fan of OA, for reasons too numerous to go into here, but it’s getting better. *I’M* getting better. So that’s good. Wish I had some better advice, though. ;)

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Laura • December 17, 2008 at 1:18 am

I had an epiphany today: I don’t like to eat, I love to binge. There is something ultra-satisfying in overeating. It’s not just “I’ll have a candy bar” — it’s “I’ll have three candy bars and two donuts, and some ice cream, please and thank you.”

I’m a binger. Unfortunately or fortunately, I’m not a purger. I haven’t binged in a long time, and I noticed the craving today. I told myself that next week at mom’s when we’re making sugar cookies, it’s okay to have a couple, and I realized that idea didn’t satisfy me. I want to eat 10. Or 15. Yes, in one sitting.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. It just feels amazing to indulge like that, to let go and “reward” myself to the hilt. I don’t have an answer for it, other than willpower and reminding myself of the reasons not to– I just thought it was interesting. Like an alcoholic can’t just have one drink, this girl can’t just have one donut…

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Christine • December 17, 2008 at 5:24 am

I would love to hear your thoughts about how you used exercise to take the place of the need that was filled by compulsive eating. I really doubt I’ll ever be able to just will the need away without replacing it with something else. How did it feel when you were exercising daily? What need did it fill when you were training for your marathons? How did it change your relationship with food? I know you’ve talked about this all along, but I’d love to read an essay about it from your current perspective.

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Getz • December 17, 2008 at 7:05 am

@Inny -I have actually gone off the deepend eating those prepackaged bags of salad. I agree, some foods are worse than others, but sometimes I find myself eating food that I don’t really like.

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Getz • December 17, 2008 at 7:18 am

@Rebecca Hoover – The health concious boyfriend is a blessing. I dated a girl who was also(though she did had plenty of other “issues”) and while I think my bad habits rubbed off on her in the beginning, her good habits ended up rubbing off on me in the end. Unfortunately, after being broke up long enough, alot of my old habits have come back…with a vengence. Thats what sucks. I would do so much better with a girlfriend that was very health concious, but generally no lady wants a guy that looks like me, ESPECIALLY the health nuts.

*Just to be clear, I’m not blaming anyone else or making excuses for myself. I know the decision to eat/not eat and exercise/not exercise is almost always mine.

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TonyV • December 17, 2008 at 7:30 am

Thanks for the great post Jennette. I heard a lot of my own story in your writing. I finally admitted that I had a problem with food and needed help. Overeaters Anonymous has helped me a great deal.

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kate • December 17, 2008 at 7:36 am

This is a great post. My husband and I have discussions about my food addiction all the time. He just doesn’t understand it (I don’t expect him to though). He used to smoke and just recently quit, so I try to compare it to that… except that I need to eat *something* to live, and he doesn’t need to smoke to live.

I haven’t quite figured out what my trigger foods are… I think pretzels and maybe peanut butter. More recently, it seems like everything is a trigger.

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Jen • December 17, 2008 at 8:38 am

If anyone is still reading comments, last night I was thinking about this post and all the great thoughts and ideas everyone had. With that in mind, I purchased Dr. Gott’s No Sugar No Flour Diet. The diet is simple. No sugar and no flour are allowed. Maybe as an addict this is one diet that could be a way of life for me in the near future since both flour are and sugar are triggers.

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BrightAngel • December 17, 2008 at 8:49 am

Me too.

Maintenance of my large weight loss would be so much easier if I didn’t crave lots of food all the time.

But, Oh Well.

I am now just 1 month short of 3 years of successfully maintaining my 115 lb goal weight.

In order to do this,

I still have to weigh and measure everything,

AND

I have to enter all of my food into my DietPower computer food journal every day.

As the saying goes: “one day at a time”.

Former High 12/1992 pre-surgery 271 lbs.

Former High 9/2004 pre-DietPower 190 lbs.

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Leigh Anne • December 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

Hello, my name is Leigh Anne and I am a compulsive eater. I have known this for some time and I really believe that at some point I will have to go to counseling to truly deal with the reasons behind it. For now, like you I am working every day to tame it, if not exorcise it.

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April • December 17, 2008 at 10:04 am

I’ve never talked about this before, ever, but this post speaks to me and I feel like this is a safe place to share this, since I seem to be in likeminded company.

I too, am a compulsive overeater. I can control it for a while but all it takes is one bad day, or eating something like a brownie, to totally set it off. About 4 years ago, I hit the breaking point. My daughter was in girl scouts and you know what that means, cookies. Girl Scout cookies. Which are like crack cocaine in a box. I ordered several boxes, with the intention of giving some away and every single box was consumed by me, in under a week. I would open a box and start out with the intention of only eating a couple but I would not be able to think about anything else or distract myself enough to keep myself from going back again and again. Then I’d finish off a box and tell myself I’m done and do it all again the next day. Sometimes a box and a half or 2 in a day.

When I realized that I had eaten every last box of cookies and my daughters were asking where they went and I couldn’t even tell them because I was so ashamed, I cried like I never have before. That was the turning point for me and I cut out sugar all together for almost 6 months. I do eat sugar now and enjoy cookies and things like that but I try to not keep it in the house or if I do, it’s only in small amounts so that at least I know there is a stopping point if I’m having a bad day and end up binging. And I do not allow myself to make a trip to the store more than one time a week, if I eat all the junk in 2 days then that’s too bad, I have to wait 5 days to go back. It seems to help.

Sorry for the blog on your page. This just really struck and emotional chord with me. Our brains are wired differently but it’s being aware of it that allows us to take the steps to overcome it and your journey really gives me so much hope that I can do just that.

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Sara • December 17, 2008 at 12:23 pm

What book did you review? I’d like to read it, if I haven’t already. I do think I’m a food addict, but it took me reading Neil Barnard’s ‘Breaking the Food Seduction’ to get it. (Good stuff, it’s more about how foods are addictive than about about we personally are addicts.) Whether it’s accurate or not, I always associated OA with binge eating, so I told myself that meant I wasn’t an addict. I think now that if I were less addicted, I’d have an easier time turning down all the good tasting but bad for you foods…

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Just_kelly • December 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm

I hear you.

I know I’m a conpulsive eater/binger/ food addict/ (insert new vogue term). After I eat I go numb in a way that makes me momentarily still, which is what I want at times.

I’ve tried OA and it wasn’t for me. Maybe my support group was too thin (there were only 5 people) and the commonalities weren’t there. But I have issue with saying “I have no control over food”. I have control issues I guess. I also hate the whole “god” aspect of it, which amuses my husband as I’m pretty religious/spiritual/(insert new vogue term here).

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Princess Maude • December 17, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Hi, I’ve been struggling with my addiction since I was 12.

I’ve recently read a book that totally changed my life (it’s by Gillian Riley and is called Eating Less: Say Goodbye to Overeating). I am sure other people will say that, but this is true (and no, I’m not Gillian Riley, or a robot paid by Gillian Riley to promote her book ;)) Honestly, the first time I read it, I was a bit freaked out, because it was like she had set up residence in my brain and had seen all my secret thoughts!

I really think it’s worth a go, and would recommend it to anyone who has a problem with Compulsive overeating/food addiction.

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workout mommy • December 17, 2008 at 6:30 pm

thank you for this post—and judging by all the comments, we are not alone. I too am a food addict and it can be overwhelming at times. I have no “full” button and sometimes I am so jealous of those who do.

I’m going to check out some of the books that are mentioned. thanks!

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Mrs Lard • December 17, 2008 at 7:50 pm

I’ve not commented before but I want to thank you for writing such a great, great and very honest post. It was extremely powerful.

This sentence really hit home:

“The fact that you have to make the promise shows that you have a problem.”

Acceptance, I reckon, is part of the solution (but not all of it) and you are right when you nail it:

“All I know is that I have a screwed up relationship with food and I probably always will.”

I don’t know what the answer is; I’ve decided there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. And that’s as far as I’ve got.

Keep doing all your good stuff!

Mrs L

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Mrs Lard • December 17, 2008 at 7:51 pm

I’ve not commented before but I want to thank you for writing such a great, great and very honest post. It was extremely powerful.

This sentence really hit home:

“The fact that you have to make the promise shows that you have a problem.”

Acceptance, I reckon, is part of the solution (but not all of it) and you are right when you nail it:

“All I know is that I have a screwed up relationship with food and I probably always will.”

I don’t know what the answer is; I’ve decided there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. And that’s as far as I’ve got.

Keep doing all your good stuff!

Mrs L

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Dawn • December 17, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Here’s my issue….the addicts you mention in the beginning of the post (alcoholics/smokers) when they are ready to quit…they get to quit and never return to their addiction (when they are actually ready to kick the habit). However, food addicts have to find a way to continue with their drug of choice (food) because well you have to eat to survive….BUT we have to find a way to continue with moderation. If you told an alcoholic that he needed to drink to survive BUT could only have one drink a day…how far would that get him (or her)???? Not very far. So, my question is “how do I/we find a balance with this addiction we have that we can’t just quit cold turkey???”

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Rebecca • December 17, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Hello, my name is Rebecca and I am also a compulsive eater.

Thank you, Jennette, for helping me recognize myself.

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DR • December 18, 2008 at 10:37 am

For me, reducing the impact of my diet on my insulin levels has done wonders for my appetite.

I know that if I load up on carb heavy foods (bread, potatoes, ice cream, etc…my faves, BTW), my hunger will grow and grow and grow. My desire for those very foods becomes almost pathological.

When I skip those foods and get my carbs from vegetables and fruit, my hunger drops and becomes manageable…perhaps even “normal”

By the torrent of comments to this post, there are a lot of us out there. However, I don’t believe that nutritional science is going to be of much help as long as they continue to believe that obesity is directly related to calories in/calories out and refuse to take a hard look at how different types of food affect our appetites.

But maybe if Oprah’s admission of food addiction can create some public pressure….

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Bob • December 18, 2008 at 12:27 pm

@Dawn -

I think when you acknowledge it’s going to be a lifetime struggle, though it may make you angry, depressed, rebellious, at some point the acceptance helps.

Most people when they talk about food addiction or compulsive eating talk about reaching for the salty or sugary stuff. I personally have found that if I make sure I eat every few hours and eat protein with every meal that I am less apt to reach for that stuff whatever emotional stuff is flying (plus keeping it out of the house helps!) I remember someone talking about having hard boiled eggs or cheese around- it’s unlikely that anyone would overeat those things.

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PastaQueen • December 18, 2008 at 1:41 pm

@Sara – I reviewed “Hungry” by Allen Zadoff: http://pastaqueen.com/halfofme/archives/2007/11/book_review_hun.html

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PastaQueen • December 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

@Dawn – I’m not an expert on food addiction, but from what I’ve read food addicts have trigger foods which make them want to eat. Addicts have to avoid these foods. People are usually not addicted to celery or broccoli, so you can eat that. However, if your trigger foods are chips or chocolate, you’re supposed to avoid them. How practical is that? I dunno.

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Heather • December 18, 2008 at 8:57 pm

@DR – I agree with you one hundred that toting around excess weight comes from eating the wrong foods, not an excess of calories. Oprah, I believe, did a good thing by coming out of the not-so-skinny closet.

Pasta Queen,

great entry, I, too, am a food addict. It and all that surrounds it. The preparation, the tasting, the love, the hate,(yes I hate food because I love it so much.)

I have my comfort food triggers(chocolate and cheese) once I start I often need outside influence to stop.

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Haystacks • December 19, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Hi, I am not sure if you still bother reading the comments by #104, but here are my two cents.

I also have always also had a problem with the word “food addict” after all, it is very different from a “heroin” addict. Plus you can’t quit food.

For compulsive eating,

I find a technique called TAXI very helpful. I learned it at a councelor’s office. It is for dealing with triggers.

T- Identifying that you have been triggered.

A- Acknolege the emotion, fear, anxiety, envy, boredom, resentment, ect.

X- eXhale. Give yourself 10 seconds to just breathe.

I- I choose. I choose to respond to this trigger in ___________ way. Rather than have the trigger control me.

It is fairly cheesy, and it is most definitly unsolisited info, so feel free to ignore it. This is just what helps me.

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Rachel Kramer Bussel • December 19, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Very interesting post and comments. I don’t know if I’d say I’m a compulsive eater but I certainly reach for food when I’m feeling anxious/sad/upset/overwhelmed, in ways that have nothing to do with hunger. I think one of the worst parts, aside from the fact that the food per se doesn’t make those feelings go away, is that by eating when you’re not hungry you also hinder your ability to enjoy/appreciate/properly eat food at other times, at least, I’ve found that. I want to enjoy food (healthy and, well, not as healthy – I happen to run a cupcake blog, but perhaps because I deal with them every day, they don’t tempt me too much as a trigger food) in moderation and for the most part, I do.

@Haystacks – I like the TAXI technique but I guess where I do not know where to go next is “I” – choose to do what? I often feel like life would be so much easier if someone told you where to go next/what do do in a given situation.

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carrie • December 19, 2008 at 10:34 pm

@s – Hi S-

Yes, I am much better at my diet when I think of food as “sustainance” not “fun”.

The first time I tried ww I worked really hard to make “fun” meals that fit within my points. Now I focus much more on nutritional quality of food- often making lunch a big bowl of greens with soy sauce and some protein. Not that I do that every meal- but at least one meal a day. To break that cycle of eating for the pleasure of it.

And you know- I really enjoyed my big bowl of bok choy at today’s lunch, but not in the same way I enjoy a food “treat”.

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RG • December 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm

@Rachel Kramer Bussel -

I assume the idea is to stop the binge by choosing something consciously. Whether you choose something more healthy or choose to eat a cookie, you’re unlikely to hook into the cycle of unhealthy > shame > more junk > more shame. If you stop each time to think “what am I really feeling/ wanting” maybe you’ll notice when you’re full or when you’re hiding feelings. The process of choosing better can only happen if you acknowledge the choice.

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mars • December 22, 2008 at 9:18 pm

My name is mars and I am a food addict too.

What has helped me is following the plan in “The Diet Cure”, by Julia Ross. It aims to balance brain chemistry through aminoacids. Apparently, this is especially needed after long period of dieting. I don’t know about the exact science, but I have not followed everything so a T, and for the first time in my life I am eating to live, not living to eat.

Mars

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Carolina • December 31, 2008 at 11:05 am

Hi, I had a time without visiting, so I just went to best entries lol. I lately read Self Coaching from Joseph Luciani, I don’t think he is a popular writer, the audio is not that great, and the writing is not that great, but he certainly “trigger” :-) interesting thoughts and actions about habits, I’ll encourage you to read it, I don’t think it will be a fun read, but you seem very open minded. I LOVE your blog, happy new year!

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Carolina • December 31, 2008 at 11:08 am

Sorry apparently he has a book name self coaching, the one I meant was “the power of self-coaching”, Joseph Luciani.

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Babycakes • January 25, 2009 at 5:54 am

This all makes so much sense.

I liked what someone wrote about having a big bowl of greens with a little protein for lunch.

Makes me think that would be a good basis for at least one meal a day.

I’ve been reading about food and weight loss for years – there’s so much conflicting information which confuses me.

Half the time I’m not really sure what I should be eating.

I guess more veg, fruit (although I’m not even sure about that because of the sugar content), fibre (wholegrains), and protein.

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beep • February 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm

JF — I think i was one of the posters back in the day who was like “really? Are you SURE you’re not a food addict?”

I definitely think that your .. complicated food relationship is clear from your writing.

You often write about food. And not just cause this is a diet-ish blog. But you have a lot more interest in food than the average person — things like ice cream, cadbury creme eggs, chocolate, baking, etc.

In fact, i think your food obsession made you a better, stronger dieter than most — because you COULD be bothered to cook, shop, do all the work that it takes to eat healthy.

It reminds me of the two people I know who’ve had drinking problems. a lot of time they get really into wine and read wine mags — one of them got a bartender’s degree when young. it’s just a stronger interest in alcohol.

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dana • March 19, 2009 at 2:18 am

I really want to share… this has been a huge (pun intended) part of my life for…ever! But, I don’t know what the hell a URL is… I mean, sounds vaguely familiar but I am still kinda new to all the internet hoohall. It it my server’s address? Jeez, even knowing that impresses me…maybe there is hope yet. Most importantly, my name is Dana and I am all of it!

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Sarah • May 26, 2009 at 9:28 pm

A hundred comments and over 2 years later, I still need to add to the chorus.

Let me relate the moment I knew that I had a disordered relationship with food. I was about 7 months pregnant with my second child and through some fluke of hormonal fluctuations I was normal for a few weeks. food was just food. My husband gave me chocolates for valentines day (really good chocolate) and I forgot about them. They sat on top of the fridge till I threw them out. Eating did nothing to calm me or please me or satisfy me or keep me company. It was a distressing time, liberating, but strange because it was like my crutch was gone. That was the hard part admitting that I missed using food that way. I woke up normal and still couldn’t be happy.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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