Licking my food addiction
January 8th, 2014
07:00 AM ET
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Amy Chillag is a CNN Writer/Producer.

At 5’ 1” my small, 42-year-old frame was taking on a dreadful Body Mass Index. I'd start in on a pint of coffee ice cream at three in the afternoon, every day.  Not just any ice cream, but Bon Appetit top-10-rated best-in-the-nation ice cream that just happens to be a five minute drive from my house.

I didn’t know how to stop. I'd sit on my couch and scoop one creamy spoonful after another. It was never enough. I could not put the spoon down.  I'd feel sick after downing three-quarters of a pint of that coffee temptress.

My psychologist would later explain I'm trying to fill a void. What void? I have a good job, a thoughtful, handsome and loving boyfriend, two Boston Terriers who love me. But these things, as they always do, go back to childhood.

What I didn't realize is I've been depressed for a couple of years, gradually getting worse and relying on sweets to give me a high that buzzed a pleasure center in my brain increasing evidence shows could be as addictive as cocaine.

Studies have shown the same area of the brain that lights up on MRI scans when people use drugs, also shows increased activity when people consume, or even look at, high-fat, high-sugar foods like ice cream or bacon. The concept of food addiction is controversial, though, and a psychiatrist at the American Enterprise Institute suggests humans have far better ability to control food cravings than they do drug cravings.

Either way, I apparently am one of those individuals who succumbs more easily than others. So I did what I had to do to break out of this cycle of death-by-ice cream: I entered a Yoga Detox program.

Before you judge me for making a nouveau-hippie move, hear me out. I needed something to jolt me out of my addiction and what had turned into months of despondency.  Plus I had to go; the darned yoga studio was just three blocks from my house on the same street! I used to drive by and see people clutching rolled-up yoga mats and feel disdain.  Maybe deep inside I thought they were better than me, that they had learned the secret to a happy, balanced life.

I signed up for this 10-day affair: no sugar, no oil or butter or fat, no meat, no nothin' that tasted good to me. It was a rough, bland, beany road. My already-cramped kitchen was full of giant stalks of vegetables I'd never tried before.  I went to yoga every day and drank nasty-tasting teas with turmeric that was supposed to clean my liver but tasted like dirt. I lost seven pounds in 10 days which may sound alarming but by swapping overeating and ice-cream binging for yoga and beans, it was inevitable.

I felt light in my body and in my brain. I didn't feel the negativity.  It felt good not to have sugar crashes. At the risk of sounding like a Jenny Craig commercial, I've kept the weight off for nearly two months and since lost five more pounds. I felt a sense of victory for sticking with something for a change and exercising self-discipline I don't remember ever having.

At work I was so proud of avoiding my friend’s crystal candy bowl despite having to walk by it 10 times a day.   Halloween passed without my even touching one mini Nestles Crunch bar. That’s amazing considering I spent half my childhood scavenging kitchen cabinets for candy that my well-intentioned parents tried to hide from me.

Now I'm struggling with food addiction again, despite all the compliments at work over my clearer skin and my svelter profile.  It started about a week ago with the intoxicating smell of popcorn wafting down the hall at work from a giant, theater-style popcorn maker that I’m told the new cafeteria manager apparently set up to win our affection. It appears to be a permanent fixture. No one has come to dismantle the Satanic butter machine.

I was able to muster the strength to avoided the delightful, ‘50s-style red and white mini-popcorn bags for a few days. Then I broke down after the same co-workers who've been dousing me with compliments kept exclaiming, "What's a cup of popcorn going to hurt?"

I grabbed one of those red and white paper bags and the commercial-grade scooper and joined the crowd. I ate one bag and stopped.

That’s totally unheard of for me. My addicted brain wanted many, many more bags. But I said no. And it was painful. But I just moved the hell on. Exercising the self-control muscle made me feel good and it had a buzz of it’s own.  I decide what I'm going to eat, not my unconscious impulses.

Any articles you read about food addiction say food "cues" are a huge reason for cravings, and you should try to avoid them. Or, some psychologists say to face the craving head on to feel the sensation in your brain. If chocolate cake will give you a sense of warmth and love, realize that it does but wait 30 minutes, busy yourself with something else and that craving will pass. That's what physician Pam Peeke suggests in her 2012 book "The Hunger Fix."

Apparently not everyone has the same level of craving. I scored high when I filled out Yale's Food Addiction Scale (PDF). Signs that you might have addictive tendencies with "highly palatable" foods containing loads of fat, sugar and carbs include: consuming certain foods to prevent feelings of anxiety or agitation; an increase in depression, anxiety, self-loathing or guilt over food consumption; and needing to eat more and more to get the feeling you want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure.

There's a list of 27 things, and based on how many times a day, week or month you feel this way, it determines how strong your addiction may be. Over the past year, I've felt this way a whole hell of a lot.

Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity had 48 healthy young women take this same study. Then they conducted brain imaging to show how they responded to cues that they were about to get a chocolate milkshake versus cues they would get a tasteless solution. Women who had higher food addiction scores showed greater activity in parts of the brain responsible for cravings and the motivation to eat, but less activity in the parts of the brain responsible for inhibiting urges such as the desire to drink a milkshake. These individuals may feel more "out-of-control" when eating highly palatable foods.

Bottom line, there is no magic solution. I think I'm always going to feel a tremendous impulse to eat crap and have a hard time stopping.  Whether it's ice cream, my friend's well-stocked candy jar or free buttery popcorn in a bag.

Life is harder when I seek solace from food. But it's getting a little easier every day. Instead of running to food for comfort, I’m slowly turning my brain to new comforts. My psychologist would say I'm creating new habits that form new neuron pathways in my brain. She says it takes at least two to three months to break a bad habit. I figure out what I’m really wanting when I’m craving fat, salt or carbs, whether that’s a nap, a walk in my lovely, tree-filled neighborhood, a hip-hop dance class or a few “downward dogs."

I try to keep my kitchen stocked with foods I love - not ice cream and potato chips but hummus, guacamole, multi-grain Kavli crackers, fruit salad, tuna salad. There are so many delicious possibilities, but they don't make me want to stuff until I'm sick. And they have the added bonus of being healthy.

Simply knowing I'm triggered by certain foods makes me avoid them. I'm not saying I didn't just eat a slice of delicious chocolate ice cream cake at my friend's holiday party and baby shower. But I did it knowing that I'm going to crave another creamy, delicious piece for a couple of days. Not a good feeling.

But that's awareness, and I think that knowledge is going a long way towards helping me change my love/hate relationship with food.

Previously:
5@5 – How to lose 40 pounds without giving up delicious food
Poll: Never say 'diet' – even after holiday indulgence

Posted by:
Filed under: Diet Tools • Diets • Eating Disorders • Eating Habits • Health News


soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Jillian Ouhrabka

    Having first hand experience with food addiction, I will offer you a unique experience and treatment program customized to fit your individual needs.

    May 7, 2014 at 1:27 am | Reply
  2. food121

    This is a terrific article, and I would like more information if you have any. I am fascinated with this topic and your post has been one of the best I have read.

    March 18, 2014 at 9:12 am | Reply
  3. Food Addicts

    Many people find help in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Some of us have been diagnosed as morbidly obese while others are undereaters. Among us are those who were severely bulimic, who have harmed themselves with compulsive exercise, or whose quality of life was impaired by constant obsession with food or weight. We tend to be people who, in the long-term, have failed at every solution we tried, including therapy, support groups, diets, fasting, exercise, and in-patient treatment programs.



    FA has over 500 meetings throughout the United States in large and small cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Internationally, FA currently has groups in England, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. If you would like more information about FA, please check out our website at www [dot] foodaddicts [dot] org. If there aren’t any meetings in your area, you can contact the office by emailing fa at foodaddicts [dot] org, where someone will help you.

    February 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • sad804

      Food Addiction is HELL on earth. Oh how I hate this endless cycle of eat, remorse, obsess, crave, ETC. My body has no idea of natural stopping points for feeling full or feeling satisfied. I'm almost 61 years old and my life has been consumed with this since age 16. I feel so cheated. I've been in therapy for years and know what I 'should' be doing in terms of working on underlying issues....but the FA takes on a life of its' own. Would anyone experiencing anything close to this please write.

      February 15, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Reply
    • Anonymous

      Ref: Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous – 5 years first hand experience – good at keeping you on track and from isolation HOWEVER more guidance and oversight is needed by FA and their umbrella corp WSI (Boston) with respect the type of "sharing" provided by fellows and including Sponsors (you are required to have one to report to). There is absolutely no reason – NONE – that Sponsors or fellows should be able to comment on dictate/recommend/ with respect to medical advise, either unsolicited or when you are already under doctor's care and/or in treatment for life threatening illness. No one FA member, not even if you are a licensed medical professional should be giving out medical advise. This is dangerous, not to mention criminal.

      We come to FA vulnerable, and are told we are powerless, and in order to recover that first and foremost, we need to practice "common welfare". Be Careful.

      February 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  4. mrsmontanez

    Reblogged this on Bipolar Mom, Authoress.

    January 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  5. Amy Chillag

    Hey everyone, check out this excellent NPR blog article that just came out yesterday about sugar's addictiveness and ideas how to reduce those cravings.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/01/08/260781785/is-sugar-addiction-why-so-many-january-diets-fail

    And I just watched the 2012 Documentary "Hungry for Change" – a lot of wonderful scientists explain just how highly addictive sugar and carbs are and why we end up wanting more and more to feel the high we get from it

    January 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  6. bresilver

    I have been overweight my whole life, I was born a big baby and now nearly 30 year later I'm considered morbidly obese. I hate that. A few years ago I started on weight watchers and did well on it losing just shy of 50 lbs and then I became pregnant and gained most of it back and the 2 years since I've gained even more. I often catch myself thinking what it must be like to be skinny as I've never been there. As I watch my daughter grow I really try and control what she eats and drinks because I don't want her to be fat like me. I want her to be healthy and happy and to be able to do anything she wants and not have to give up because she's too fat to keep up. So as the new year starts I'm trying to get back on the wagon. I've started tracking what I'm eating and was surprised at how many calories I was wasting on soda. I really want to be a success, I want to be able to run around with my child and to be able to take her out horseback riding without fear of being to heavy for the horse, I want to not dread trying on new clothes, I want to be here a very long time to see my daughter grow up and have children of her own. I know I have a very long road ahead but I am going to do it and I'm going to win!

    January 10, 2014 at 9:36 am | Reply
    • skinnypain

      I have had food issues since age 15 (I am 61) and it has made life so difficult. Everything revolves around food–planning my schedule and events I'll attend, where I'll eat, who I'll eat with, and on and on. I've made an uneasy peace with food but still eat sweets in excess far too often. Thank goodness I finally have developed a true love of good healthy food so it's not quite so bad when I (over)eat the sweets. They are truly my drug. I can't tell you how much empathy, sympathy, and caring I have for everyone dealing with weight and food issues.

      January 12, 2014 at 9:50 am | Reply
  7. Scott

    I was reading my Bible Study lessons last week and the LW made a good point. He said that Pre-1960 American's controlled their hunger but POST-1960, American's began serving their hunger.

    I agree with his assessment. We no longer control it but serve it to its every little whim. I see folks at work eating junk food from the moment they get into work until they leave.

    This isn't about addiction because there is not such thing as food addiction. It's about controlling and managing your food intake. Eat three meals with no snacks in between. If you have a job which lacks physical movement, there are plenty of gyms with low monthly payments. If you drink more than once per week, stop. Alcohol increases weight and cholesterol. Find a hobby such as skiing in the winter and swimming in the summer.

    Stop serving yourself and start serving God.

    January 10, 2014 at 9:35 am | Reply
  8. doug

    There is another thing that people are actually craving when they fill the "void" with food that nobody has mentioned. SEX. People who aren't in a healthy sexual relationship with another human eat themselves to obesity and death. And its a perfect storm: the more you eat, the less likely you will be getting into a healthy sexual relationship. So you eat more. Now people will say, yea but I have a sex partner I am "satisfied" with and I still have this crazy food craving. To them I say, you may not be as "satisfied" as you are letting on. Or, your partner isn't satisfied and you can sense it. Get sex therapy, and your food cravings will diminish drastically.

    January 9, 2014 at 11:06 am | Reply
    • skinnypain

      Hey Doug....a person can't fill up on anything outside themselves. It starts from within. Fill up on self love, self acceptance, and contentment with who you are. Plus, there is a real issue with the addiction of certain foods–sugar, fats, sodium–which complicates things greatly.

      January 12, 2014 at 9:55 am | Reply
  9. victor

    As someone who is in shape, but loves most high carb foods when they are available, I would say that the secret is to guard your house from fattening food like you are guarding your house from other toxins and poisons. Simply do not bring chips, ice cream, cookies, bread, etc. into your house. Also, avoid breakfast cereals at all costs. These things are carb time bombs and they are so easy to eat (a bowl and some milk) that most people eat several bowls of them. That's several bowls of nothing. Just avoid it. You will note that this way of life with have you avoiding about 75% of the food items in most supermarkets and CvS drug stores, but, guess what, those are the food items that make people fat. If you simply don't buy these items, you will not crave these items, and you will be able to manage your weight. Problem solved. Good luck everybody.

    January 9, 2014 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • doug

      100% accurate. I always tell my wife that it is not so much about "eating" as it is about "shopping." If you shop wrong, you are dead in the water. You will never lose weight. Learning what to buy and what to leave on the shelf (which is the majority of what is stocked on the shelf) is really what it is about.

      January 9, 2014 at 10:53 am | Reply
  10. janeqcitizen

    My mother was morbidly obese. I've stayed fairly fit. When I was a student nurse in the late 60s we had to rotate thru Psychiatric Nursing. Our instructor who was overweight asked-name some of the things people get addicted to. Others named the usual-alcohol, assorted drugs, nicotine. I said-"my mother is addicted to food." The instructor said "no one is addicted to food." Sadly, food is the drug of choice for many who would NEVER smoke, use alcohol, or use illegal drugs. (Take THAT Miss M.-Psych instructor-I still weigh what I did when I was in your class 40+ yrs ago).

    January 9, 2014 at 1:45 am | Reply
    • Maggie

      Excellent post, and true that some people do not believe this can occur

      January 9, 2014 at 9:36 am | Reply
  11. mickinmd

    While food may "fill a void" it's very easy to love food for food's sake. I lost 54 lbs from Nov. 8, 2012 to Nov. 7, 2013 and despite Thanksgiving, family birthdays at restaurants, and the Holidays, I still managed to lose 3 more in the next two months.

    I went on a Calorie Counting Diet. I used the calculators at the free sparkpeople.com to determine I needed to average under 2000 Calories/day to meet my weight loss goals. My oversized suppers and snacking were the main culprits that made attaining the goal difficult. Frozen breakfasts and lunches from Jimmy Dean, Aunt Jemima, Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Smart Ones, etc. help keep me to about 700 Calories up until suppertime. More soups, fish (typically only 180 Calories for 8 oz), and drinking a lot of water are my substitutes.

    The BIG thing is to limit supper Calories, especially when "supper" is occasionally a double footlong with chili, an overstuffed Italian cheesesteak, a lot of pizza, etc. You do not have to give them up, but you have to limit them to "rewards" after a few well-below target Calories days. As you lose weight, you begin to be satisfied with 1/2 a sub, etc. so once you get the weight loss rolling, it develops its own momentum if you stick with it.

    January 8, 2014 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  12. Sandy Stein Dufty

    Great article Amy! I myself like to 'detox' from sugar (that's what I usually call it myself) every once in a while as I tend to get carried away...especially around the holidays, so I usually do it for the first 2 weeks if the new year.
    CNN, huh? Wow! Big time... You always did like that writing/ journalism stuff...way to go!!

    January 8, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Reply
    • Amy Chillag

      Hey Sandy! Nice to hear from you.. :)

      January 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  13. Sherri

    The words " I decide what I'm going to eat, not my unconscious impulses" really spoke to me. I don't care if the writer is a nutritionist, journalist, blogger, doctor, etc.... I found a connection in those words during a time I needed them most, and that time is now. If any of you did not like what she said....the Internet is a very big place. Just click your mouse and go onto something else. Your negativity and criticism don't make you look better or smarter than the writer.....they just make you look negative and critical. Freedom of speech and all...but wow...got anything better to do than bully a writer with a simple, well-meaning piece?

    January 8, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • Inglorious Bass

      Hear, hear!

      January 9, 2014 at 6:54 am | Reply
  14. maranda47326

    For someone who has struggled with this for years...it is exactly an addiction (I'm a biologist). It cannot be fixed or cured, only managed. Unlike some substance abuse problems you can't go cold turkey. And the worst thing is, you can't avoid food. At some point you have to give in and eat it. The less tasty your general meals are, the easier it is to stop. But if I have something that hits my danger zone it takes extreme amounts of will power to just stop. It is extremely difficult for anyone who has not struggled with an addiction to understand. I sympathize so much from someone who relapses with alcohol or tobacco. Because I understand how you can want something so bad that you are willing to risk everything you have worked for to take it. I eat very healthy meals, I work out, but THIS WILL NEVER GO AWAY. No matter how many half marathons I run. Of course, there is a real difference between this and someone who makes poor food choices out of ignorance. The majority of Americans are overweight because they don't know any better and because of lifestyle not because of a food addiction.

    January 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • GenYer

      I figured out about 4 years ago that I had an addiction to food. I was addicted to nicotine, too. I quit smoking and I started to eat healthy. I decided to start working out, too. After about a year I lost 65 pounds, had not smoked and was on top of the world. Then some personal life changing problems took place and I relapsed. I am now still picking up the pieces and managing the only ways I can. Food addiction is no joke. I think that it should be addressed far more than it is. You are right, there are many people that are ignorant of it because food is something everyone needs to survive... how can one be addicted to something one needs?

      January 8, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Reply
    • doug

      I have the same problem, and I generally agree with everything you said. However, when you say most Americans are obese because of ignorance, you are only half right. Food producers keep Americans ignorant or, worse, they lie. The food being offered to Americans, especially poor Americans, is garbage. It is not designed to make people healthy, just happy, satisfied (for a little while) and fat. It is literally "junk."

      January 9, 2014 at 10:50 am | Reply
  15. lisarpetty

    Amy,
    I'm not sure if you remember me, but we went to MCNICHOL, OLSEN, and SBHS together. I loved this blog. I have been eating like this since I was a kid. There were crazy things going on at home. So, food comforted me. All of this is so true. I have had to make myself aware of why I am eating by asking myself if I want to eat an apple. If I say no, then I'm not really hungry. :)
    Take a look at my blog if you need something mindless to read. : ) http://lisarpetty.com/

    January 8, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • Amy Chillag

      Hey Lisa! so good to hear from you...

      January 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Reply
      • Amy Chillag

        Lisa, i love your technique of asking– am I really hungry? do i want to eat this? Cuz half the time for me the answer is no. I'm usually tired and need a nap or a walk. We need these "in the moment" practical solutions. Cheers :)

        January 8, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  16. Mel Stricker

    OK, I have the answer. About 15 years ago I was 278 pounds and at 6 foot that is a lot of weight. I decided to lose the weight so I went on a diet (my diet) and lost 100 pounds. It took a year but who cares. While I was losing I started to run (ok, at first it was slow walking). At the end of the year I was 180 pounds and I was running 5 days a week.

    Nw understand I love food, so I was never giving that up. I made a pact with myself. I would be good 5 days a week, then on weekends, I eat what I like. I only weigh myself on Fridays because after a weekend of eating I do not want to see the new number on the scale on Monday.

    Now I am about 180 and run 5 day a week, eat vegetables, fish, chicken 5 days week and eat whatever I want 2 days. I have maintained my weight for 15 years. What an easy way to get to the right weight and more importantly, stay there.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • Amy Chillag

      Hey Mel, How wonderful for you! The structure you've provided yourself, with weekend pleasure is admirable!
      While i don't eat ice cream during the week anymore, I allow myself one desert on the weekend.
      The importance of getting moving any way you can – whether it's running, biking, walking or dance class like i like to do cannot be understated. Not just to burn calories, but as an added benefit of regulating our blood sugar and getting one's mental state on an even playing field. Hooray for you, very inspiring.

      January 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Reply
      • Amy Chillag

        sorry that's one DESSERT on the weekend not desert. That would be awful, haha

        January 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  17. klma

    It's not really an addiction, it's more a compulsion. And fat doesn't make you fat. Fat is good for you. Sugar makes you fat.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • Andres

      Compulsion is one of the two symptoms of addiction, compulsion and obsession. Yes, it's an addiction since she was obsessed with food (in this case the ice cream among others) and once started she would not stop. Why do people like you try to deny, label or diagnose other people's problems or diseases instead of being supportive and comprehensive is beyond me.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Reply
    • Alex

      My compulsion to overeat disappeared as soon as I removed nearly all carbohydrates from my diet.. they are everywhere and we really don't need most of them... grains, gone, sugar, gone, fruit, mostly gone (berries on occasion) legumes, gone, starchy foods, gone. Guess what else vanished... my lifelong mild depression and 130 lbs! people don't need a psychologist, they need a low carb, high fat diet! Don't be afraid to eat good fats including saturated fats and don't believe the hype that whole grains are essential and healthy.. we have been lied to.

      January 10, 2014 at 6:30 am | Reply
  18. Diane

    All,

    I really think you are all just a bit too picky here. She simply told us of a struggle she had. It may not measure up to your personal definition of addiction (by the way..how much is too much?), but it clearly went past what she thought to be acceptable. She then told us of her journey to help herself.

    I thought her article was well written, interesting and assisted me just a bit more to gain insight into my relationship with food.

    Why be so threatened by her simple story? She struggled. Who are you/we to question whether her personal issue measures up to our definition of a problem?

    January 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  19. Jeffrey Shore

    Try overeaters anonymous. I started in 2006 at 300 pounds, and by working the 12 steps, I've dropped over 100 pounds and have been maintaining a healthy body weight. No dues, no fees, the only requirement is a desire to stop eating compulsively. I know many people who have changed their life through the program. http://www.oa.org

    January 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  20. Dizzyd

    I don't doubt that food addicts are truly suffering, but I honestly wonder how many were dieters who developed an unhealthy relationship with food. This is a huge problem in this country, encouraged by the diet industry and the relentless pursuit of the 'perfect body'. I wonder if 'intuitive eating' would help. This is learning to trust your body to tell you what it needs. As for the 'addiction' part, that requires professional help.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Reply
    • bmada

      Sure, let’s blame the diet industry for food addiction causing America being 70% overweight. That should fix the problem. Its access to food, all types, that’s causing more addiction, just like drugs. The more we legalize, the more get addicted.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Reply
      • sarah

        You both need ton watch the documentary "A Place at the Table". There is a big difference between "food like products" and actual food. There isn't an abundance of food in this country. There is a shortage. Poverty is the biggest determinate of obesity. This is not because of ignorance, but about availability. Another good documentary to watch is "food Inc". You won't want to eat after watching it and finding out where your food really comes from.

        P.S. I do believe in food addictions.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  21. Hungry

    Mmmmm popcorn!

    January 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  22. Foreign

    Sometimes the PLACE is just as bad in influencing how you eat as well as the actual food that you face everyday.
    I would say to you – just LEAVE the country. Go to some other place for a week, 2 weeks, a month – and see what and how other places eat and when. It will help you put everything into perspective and you will realize that you can overcome it much easier.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  23. cSpark

    A pint? Just one pint? Forgive me, but this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of a true food addiction. yes, it was a bad habit to get into. But eating a single pint of ice cream at 3 p.m. each day is a habit, not an addiction.
    Had you consumed a quart, or a half gallon, without being able to stop would nudge closer to an addiction or eating disorder.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • Esh

      when you eat that one pint of ice-cream, or pack of donuts, or whatever with tears streaming down your face ... that's an addiction. It's not the quantity of what you eat but the compulsion to eat it that's makes it an addiction.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Reply
      • skinnypain

        So true Esh. I've eaten a handful of M & Ms in a mad moment of compulsion and felt awful afterwards. I've also eaten a 1/2 pint of ice cream that I 'planned' for and felt 'ok' after. The bottom line is to savor every bite of food I eat–never eat in that pressured crazy manner.

        January 12, 2014 at 9:58 am | Reply
    • Andres

      As you will hear in any anonymous group, including overeaters anonymous, it is not the quantity but the feelings around the use or consumption. The only a person that can truly recognize and accept if they are food addict, over-eater, alcoholic, etc is the afflicted person itself and no one else. The consumption is but a symptom of the disease which is rooted in feelings and emotions and how we cope with them, among other complex matters.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  24. Birdy Bird

    Obviously you have never faced a real addiction and have no empathy for those who do. Food is the drug you can’t stop taking. You stated, “Occasionally a normal human will overindulge, pay the price and learn from the experience. You know what you need to eat and what to avoid.” That tell me you have no idea what addiction is all about!

    January 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • Birdy Bird

      Sorry...this is a respose to Inglorious Bass at 7:34 am

      January 8, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  25. Roger

    One comment you made speaks to the problems with obesity in this country about the ice cream you liked being a "5 minute drive from your house." You and so many Americans would do just that for such a short trip, drive a car. Glad you kicked that ice cream habit, but if we make it more fashionable and safer for people to walk and ride bike for short trips like that we'd help with the problem. Cheers and best of luck moving forward.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
    • Me

      Actually, she said it was 3 blocks from her house and she used to drive by all the time. It doesn't say that now that she's doing yoga, she drives there.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Reply
      • guest

        wrong... re-read the article. It was the yoga studio that was 3 blocks from her house. Not that it matters!

        January 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Reply
    • Andres

      to put it in perspective, you can run to get the crack or cocaine at the dealer, but that doesn't make the real problem go away. the weight gain is but an effect, a consequence of her addiction, not the problem itself.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Amy Chillag

      Roger, you are so right! We truly would take care of a big portion of the overweight/obesity problem
      if we walked and road our bikes more places. I'm with you! (Now where's my helmet?)

      January 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Reply
    • Thinking things through

      Just noting that perhaps sometimes something that is a five minute drive from one's house is actually un-walkable. If I were to walk to my nearest Mom and Pop grocery, three minutes away, I'd end up in the hospital or morgue as road kill.

      January 11, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  26. joel smith

    Please take a look at Dr Lustic work and the hormone Lipton. This is not free will. It is an addition, just lie caffeine or tobacco.

    January 8, 2014 at 11:59 am | Reply
  27. Well SAH REE

    I like hearing stories about what works for someone else. It gives me ideas for myself. I am thankful you are not one of those people that insists that what works for them works for everyone. I can't tell you how many people I know who "went vegan", "went organic" or "went gluten free" and they feel SO much better and lost so much weight and the only reason why I'm not is because I am not following THEIR exact version of the diet.

    I feel that I have a similar addiction to food. Though I often crave healthy foods, I can never seem to eat enough. Even, say, a snack of sweet peppers and cucmbers – one of my favorites – I'll keep going back and eating more, often just to have that sensation of eating it.

    For me though, this total ban of anything I crave doesn't work. I have tried doing a number of things like that – including an older rice and fruit only diet that is supposed to make you hate food – but really just ended up making me give up food entirely for two days, then binge on all the great stuff I was missing right after.

    The one I have been able to maintain for awhile is a simple calorie count with an allotted treat built in each day. I try to eat healthy in general because then I can eat more, but I set aside a couple hundred calories for whatever I am craving that day. The structure of writing down everything I eat and calculating the rest of my day actually helps me. And being able to reward myself regularly makes me feel really good about sticking to my plan.

    January 8, 2014 at 11:52 am | Reply
  28. JGaston

    What was the void?

    January 8, 2014 at 11:35 am | Reply
    • McCreary

      Not sure her person void is any of our business, actually.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  29. k

    Luckily, I abhor popcorn because it's everywhere. I hate it. Hate the stench of it it's artificial grease. Movie theaters kinda suck that way. The other day, I was craving chocolate. I did actually wonder if this is how addicts live. I tried to do other things, couldn't get it out of my mind. I actually, no lie, started to shake. Nothing could stop the aching desire. Why not just have chocolate? Well, I have IBS. I can't digest chocolate or sugars (including grains) or the fermented oils made from grains. Some days I resign myself to just be violently ill for a few days and gain 5 or more pounds for my weakness and some days I'm strong and I don't cave in to the cravings. It's a sad pitiful way to live.

    January 8, 2014 at 11:32 am | Reply
  30. joel smith

    You are right on the money. Sugar, in all its forms (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/821596-257-names-for-hidden-sugar) is the cheap drug. Dr Lustig has proven that fructose based sugar is actual a poison. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM).

    I have been sugar free for 7 months and am experiencing the same issues mention in your article. I have physical and mental withdrawal symptoms during the first 3 months.

    Not eating foods with sugars cuts you out from many social activities. Tough transition

    January 8, 2014 at 11:26 am | Reply
  31. Gene Handel

    I stopped reading once you wrote about detox (which CNN itself too rarely says is bunk). But here is what I gathered from your story: You can no longer write about diets, addiction, or anything else for which you now have given your opinion. And you must remove yourself from participating in any of those for CNN shows. And when CNN shows for which you work have any of those topics, they must run a disclaimer that you did not participate. All that is because journalists must remain neutral for their reporting to be considered legitimate. Instead of being lazy, CNN.com should have contacted a dietician and asked for the name of a patient who would be willing to write about the same subject. What do you do, shout across your newsroom, “Hey, does anybody here want to write about their private list of table manners they hate? I just saw it trending on BuzzFeed, so let’s monetize it!”

    January 8, 2014 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • Kole schlosser

      I'm proud of you!!:)

      January 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  32. Snowshift

    Inglorious Bass is being over-protective about a term that has come recently into question - alcoholism. There's no question that some people are addicts, but also there are people who are just abusive users. BBC News had an article about this yesterday. The term is from a book "Almost Alcoholic". Reading the symptoms, I'm sure I know people who are not alcoholic, but "almost alcoholic" Unfortunately, the alcoholic and medical community responds with great hostility to people who suggest that their alcohol abuse is anything other than complete and irreversible. It's taken as evidence that the person is still "sick".

    Which brings up the broader point of the article: There are many kinds of dependencies. There's a chapstick abusers organization. People laugh, but when I went to read the forum, it was clear those people had obsessive behavior. And that they were often quite unhappy about it.

    The NIH estimates that about 1-in-5 Americans have a serious mental disorder. (Although this includes severe depression, for example.)

    Our society needs to start recognizing these problems, and not be overhasty about making moral judgments. That's just going to isolate people, and keep the problems from being made public.

    January 8, 2014 at 11:22 am | Reply
  33. Treefrogs

    Overeaters Anonymous has weekly meetings in over 80 countries.

    January 8, 2014 at 11:17 am | Reply
    • guest

      Unfortunately 98% of them are next to pizza parlors!!

      January 8, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Reply
    • Jenn

      Overeaters Anonymous works for me. I'm down 85 pounds from my top weight, and I do not obsess about food anymore. I'm also a recovering alcoholic — keep it simple, work the 12 steps, and be free.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  34. Well SAH REE

    I like hearing stories about what works for someone else. It gives me ideas for myself. I am thankful you are not one of those people that insists that what works for them works for everyone. I can't tell you how many people I know who "went vegan", "went organic" or "went gluten free" and they feel SO much better and lost so much weight and the only reason why I'm not is because I am not following THEIR exact version of the diet.

    I feel that I have a similar addiction to food. Though I often crave healthy foods, I can never seem to eat enough. Even, say, a snack of sweet peppers and cucumbers – one of my favorites – I'll keep going back and eating more, often just to have that sensation of eating it.

    For me though, this total ban of anything I crave doesn't work. I have tried doing a number of things like that – including an older rice and fruit only diet that is supposed to make you hate food – but really just ended up making me give up food entirely for two days, then binge on all the great stuff I was missing right after.

    The one I have been able to maintain for awhile is a simple calorie count with an allotted treat built in each day. I try to eat healthy in general because then I can eat more, but I set aside a couple hundred calories for whatever I am craving that day. The structure of writing down everything I eat and calculating the rest of my day actually helps me. And being able to reward myself regularly makes me feel really good about sticking to my plan.

    January 8, 2014 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Well SAH REE

      Seriously, can you please take this out of moderation already? It's been awhile, and I don't understand what you need to moderate here.

      January 8, 2014 at 11:49 am | Reply
    • Amy Chillag

      Well Sah Ree, I totally agree with you. What I didn't mention is I now allow myself a dessert treat
      once a week (I like it on a Saturday night). Totally banning something forever just isn't practical or realistic. But what i learned by not eating desserts and fat during the yoga detox was how badly i craved sugar and fat, and how great i felt not eating it for 10 days. I'm finding that the less I eat added sugar and saturated fat, the better my brain feels- The ability to cook tasty balanced meals is something it took me 20 years to learn- it's easier to do this now than it was 20 years ago!! Thank you for your thoughts- it helps me too to hear others' stories like yours.

      January 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  35. Grammar Nazi

    "... American Enterprise Inst itute suggests humans have far better ability to control food cravings then they do drug cravings."

    "... THAN they do drug cravings."

    January 8, 2014 at 7:38 am | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      Ooof! Missed that one. Fixed. Thank you for reading!

      January 8, 2014 at 9:17 am | Reply
  36. Inglorious Bass

    You use the word "craving" like an alcoholic uses the word "addiction." Their use is decidedly NOT interchangeable. You sound like a spoiled child. Everyone has cravings. Occasionally a normal human will overindulge, pay the price and learn from the experience. You know what you need to eat and what to avoid. Make mature, adult decisions and get over yourself.

    January 8, 2014 at 7:34 am | Reply
    • JellyBean

      I see your point. Get off your soap box and stfu.

      January 8, 2014 at 7:47 am | Reply
      • Inglorious Bass

        Conflicted much?

        January 8, 2014 at 7:51 am | Reply
        • JellyBean

          No, just a little grumpy this morning due to lack of shuteye. Sorry about that.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:03 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      People like you are why addicts become hermits and fail to get help, and when they do are looked down upon with shame. Shut your pie hole and develop an open mind.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:30 am | Reply
      • Inglorious Bass

        My open mind is present and accounted for. There's nothing wrong with "people like me" who read what's in front of them and respond accordingly. The word "craving" doesn't carry the same weight as "addiction" or "alcoholism."

        January 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Reply
        • Solandra

          Treating fat people like addicts kind of takes away their power and personal responsibility. The knee jerk reactions are funny, considering that the whole "sugar is as addictive as cocaine" thing is NOT true and has been debunked.. the original study was flawed and the media just reported it wrong.

          January 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • TNT

      At our neighborhood grocery store they have a popcorn machine. You walk in & all you smell is that delicious popcorn & yes, I crave popcorn for the rest of the day. (unless I buy a small bag on the way out. Lol!) Very comforting food, I can see how depression & snacks could go hand in hand.

      January 8, 2014 at 11:14 am | Reply
    • DogluvrinVT

      Inglorious – I encourage you to look around you to develop a little bit of compassion for those who struggle with life more than you do. Unfortunately, we cannot all be as wonderfully successful and adult and mature as you. Should you ever find yourself truly struggling with something in life that you just cannot conquer, I hope that you are met with greater empathy from those around you than you offer to Ms. Chillag and those of us who share her battle.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Reply
      • nocompassion

        I've been around obese people and that is exactly what they want...sympathy and compassion.

        I hear all the time..."It's easy for you...you're thin." What they fail to realize is that I question everything that I put into my mouth and run 20 miles a week on top of weight training. Weight management is not easy FOR ANYONE.

        What they really need to do is put down the slice of cake and get on a treadmill, even if it takes a little shaming.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      Agreed. I was reading my Bible Study lessons last week and the LW made a good point. He said that Pre-1960 American's controlled their hunger but POST-1960, American's began serving their hunger.

      We eat at every little "hunger" pain that we feel instead of controlling our intake and waiting. WAITING is the key word. Our impatience is what's harming us.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:37 am | Reply

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