Food Addiction Is Real

It was a hot, sunny day in Sydney Australia, and I was in relapse.

A couple of weeks prior, I’d picked up that fateful first bite one more time, and…BAM! I was off to the races.

My eating was the worst it had ever been. Totally out of control. I’d been spending money on my food habit at a rate that made my husband scared for our financial solvency, and he’d taken our credit card and debit card away so I couldn’t eat us into the poor house.

So I was broke.

And I needed to eat.

Not “eat” as in, “consume fuel for sustenance,” but “eat” as in “binge my brains out.”

But I had no access, so for the moment I was stuck working in my office in the Department of Psychology at the University of New South Wales. My office was on a top floor and out the large, wide window I had a gorgeous view of Centennial Park, and way beyond it the skyscrapers of downtown Sydney looking both small and majestic in the distance. It was quite lovely.

Later that afternoon, something happened that changed the trajectory of my day.

Somewhere in my pocket, I stumbled upon a receipt.

A receipt for sixteen dollars and forty-two cents.

A while back I had purchased some supplies for the research project I was conducting with my Post-Doctoral Advisor, and I could get reimbursed for those supplies simply by bringing that receipt down to the Bursar’s Office and cashing it in.

I started to shake.

I was going to be able to get a fix after all.

The fact that it was the middle of the afternoon on a workday meant nothing to me. I deserted my office and raced down to the Bursar’s Office. I was shaking so badly I could hardly unfold the receipt to flatten it out and slide it under the window to the cashier.

With cash in hand, I walked four blocks to the Randwick Centre where mom-and-pop shops lined the street and one big grocery store stood sentry in the middle of the bustle.

As I walked, I planned my attack.

This money was going to have to last. No fancy pastries or multiple rounds of coffee shop cookies-and-lattes for me.

Nope.

Way too expensive.

I had to get down to bare bones. What would give me the biggest bang for my buck?

I went into the big grocery store and got a rolling cart. My supplies would be heavy. I found the baking aisle and carefully compared the price-per-unit on various bags and packages. Bigger is always cheaper. I settled on two huge sacks of sugar and two huge sacks of flour. Then I wheeled over to the dairy case and put some generic butter (by the block) into my cart.

Done.

Sugar, flour, and butter are all I needed to approximate the raw cookie dough that I’d fallen in love with as a kid while baking cookies with my mom.

Cookie dough.

My favorite binge food.

Vanilla is nice but not necessary. Eggs add to the consistency, but again, not necessary.  There’s no baking involved, so baking soda is irrelevant.

Sugar. Flour. Butter. The three headless horsemen of my food addiction.

I purchased my supplies and headed home. I needed to pick up a bowl and a fork on my way back to work.

While briefly at home I hid one sack of sugar, one sack of flour, and a block of butter underneath my dirty laundry pile. The kitchen was off limits. My husband would find them there. He could tell when I was loaded again and might look for my stash.

Once back in my office I dumped a mound of sugar (about a third of the sack), a mound of flour, and a block of butter into the wide metal baking bowl. I mashed it together with a fork until it resembled the consistency of pie crust dough.

Sweet heaven.

When about half of it was gone the shakes finally subsided.

I kept the bowl and the rest of the supplies underneath my desk and limped through the next couple of days.

During that relapse I put on weight at an alarming rate. I grew from a size 4 to a size 24 in three months, all the while trying desperately, nearly daily, to kick my habit. It was, without a doubt, the most desperate time of my life.

I did finally put down the food again and shrank back down to a size 4, but the misery and powerlessness of those three months live with me still.

I ate with tears streaming down my face.

You never forget that.

For reasons that may now be obvious, I’m a firm believer that food addiction is real. I’ve experienced it in my brain, seen the ramifications in my life, and watched countless others struggle with the overpowering drive to eat unwanted and unwholesome quantities of food, to the detriment of self and others.

But food addiction is still controversial, both according to the popular media and the scientific community.

I’m a bit baffled by this, to be honest.

Baffled, but not bothered.

Not bothered at all.

One might think that with my own experience of food addiction so vivid in my memory, it would upset me that intelligent, well-meaning colleagues in the scientific community still claim that there is some “doubt” about the reality of food addiction.

But it doesn’t upset me at all.

To illustrate why, perhaps a little vignette is in order.

Imagine that a young lady has recently immigrated from a small island nation several continents away. She speaks English well and secures a job as a barista in the local coffee shop. She is friendly and chit chats with the customers. They ask where she is from. When she says the name of her country, they just nod. They have never been there. They have never even heard of it.

One day, a well-read and well-traveled man, a professor, comes into the coffee shop and strikes up a conversation with the lovely young barista.

He notices her accent and asks where she is from.

She tells him.

He inquires where it is located.

She tells him.

He raises an eyebrow.

“There is no such country,” he declares.

She smiles.

“I traveled throughout that part of the world just three years ago. I even lived for several months on an island just off the mainland there. If there were such a place, I would have heard of it. I can assure you, there is no such country.”

She smiles again.

Is she bothered by his emphatic proclamation?

Of course not.

In fact, she is amused.

No one can claim that the land she is from, the land where her friends and family live still, does not exist.

She knows its soil, the particular scent of its air. She can close her eyes and see the shape of the terrain.

She knows it is real.

With love,

Susan

Comments

  1. lee silvrstin

    sooo heartbreakingly beautiful..love to you for being who you are, loving, and sharing your realness.you give me much understanding and by doing so change me and I spread the word.lee

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

      Reply ·
    2. N LoSasso

      Well, that was certainly gut-wrenching. Thank you for knowing.

      Reply ·
  2. Shawn

    Love the analogy of the unknown country. Once we stop trying to justify or explain or need someone to validate our experience, and start validating it for ourselves, everything changes. To smile to yourself and know your OWN relationship to food, codependence, spending, and the other DEVASTATING ADDICTIONS that create far more pain in our society than drugs and alcohol…. is very empowering. We are the hero we’ve been waiting for–we KNOW what we’ve been through, we know how hard we’ve tried to use will power to recover, we know the pain we still experience. Letting that be enough–whether anyone else gets it or not–is the beginning of coming to our own rescue. The buck stops here. This was a powerful post, Susan. Thanks!

    Reply ·
    1. renee

      Shawn, that was a great comment. By the postings, quite a few worry about what they’ll tell friends or family. I’m not sure anyone will even notice what I have on my plate, then I plan to say, regarding dessert, ‘No, not today.’ Period.
      Now. When our pants start falling down around our ankles, we may have some ‘splaining to do.

      Reply ·
      1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

        Lol!!!

        Reply ·
        1. Wendy

          I was just talking to someone in my office today about how she is now handling people coming up to her and offering her candy in the office. She has signed up for the boot camp and has been “sober” since Sunday. I talked with her about telling friends, family and co-workers who are shocked about her refusal to eat sugar that “sugar might be causing my terrible migraines, so I’m not eating any right now and seeing what happens” or “doctor’s orders!” People truly are shocked that she is now saying “no” to candy. All of use here need to learn a new language of saying “no” in a way that really works for us and the people in our lives. Because we simply must stop saying “yes” to sugar and flour.

          Reply ·
    2. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Shawn,

      I am rereading and internalizing what you wrote in your comment. Once again I need to learn from your wisdom, not in the realm of food but in the realm of relationships. Sometimes I still find myself so aching for that other person to validate my viewpoint. Your comment reminds me that I can turn that around and make sure that *I* am validating my viewpoint.

      Love you,
      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Joseph Fleischman

        Susan,
        In the realm of food addiction, I know that you are completely solid in your knowledge and need no one else to verify the veracity of what you know. In relationships, however, I think that’s in another sphere. We always look to others for confirmation, and it’s natural. Now, I don’t have to tell you this, after all, you’re a psychology professor. But I do want to say something about what I think it means, and it’s this: When we talk to each other, communication is enhanced when the listener tries to hear the positives in what the speaker is saying, and it is hampered when the listener does the opposite, that is, allows his/her right brain to take over and be critical by seeking the holes in what the person is saying. And if both parties are being critical with each other the conversation ends in places it really shouldn’t have gone.
        Joseph

        Reply ·
  3. Janne

    Thank you. This is so powerful. I appreciate knowing that you’ve “been there”, that you know the psychic and physical trauma of regaining weight and losing ground, and you still recovered. I need your stories and your experience to bolster me. Thank you, Susan.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Hi Janne,

      Yes, I know it well. You are so not alone. Food addiction is a particular kind of hell…so isolating, so filled with shame. I am so grateful to be free today, but I know I am just one bite away from that misery and desperation. Anyone who hasn’t been there simply can’t know.

      I’m with you, girl.
      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  4. Zazz Daniel

    You are one terrific writer, Susan. I was totally captivated. Well done!!!

    Reply ·
    1. Linden Morris Delrio

      Yup its for real! Today is the birthday of my dear departed mother. She passed away at the age of 89 almost 4 years ago, due to heart failure and complications thereof. I have been thinking about her, my whole family actually, all day.

      Addiction runs in circles all around my family, with myself, of course, being the front runner. I had recovered from everything, I thought, until a few months ago, when another rather “weighty penny dropped.” “My food addiction!” So I am involved with BLE and having a ton of success, but wow, what a road to get here. I consider food to be a primary addiction with me.

      When I think about my mother , I think she had the same food addiction. Did she live a long life? Yes! Could she have lived longer? Yes! Did she die from food and diet related causes before she should have? Yes. I miss her a lot, most especially because she was not in any way, ready to die. I feel sad that she left so much undone. I feel sad that she drank and ate herself to heart disease and a death that came to soon for her and for myself.

      The take away for me is , do I think there is such a thing as “food addiction? Yes, I do. I think it comes in a lot of forms and I feel like I am in a pretty good position to weigh-in on what an addiction actually is , since I have lived to tell the tale from a few rather serious ones.

      Thank you Susan for helping me to take care of myself! I love you! At 58 years of age, I feel like I have so much more living to do. Baring any unforeseen accidents or illness, I think I will have the time I need to be living my dream. How cool is that? Living a long and healthy, productive life! I am certainly on fire now!

      Hurray for Bright Line Eating, Susan Peirce Thompson and every single person who has clawed their way back to Sane and Healthy Eating from the bowels of Food Addiction!

      Reply ·
      1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

        Hi Linden,

        It’s still the 26th as I read your post and write this reply, so I want you to know that I’m thinking about you and your mother.

        Sigh.

        Addiction robs so many of so much.

        But the redemption lies in you. Who knows how these things work, but perhaps your mum’s strength is now pouring through you and propping you up on your Bright Line Eating journey.

        I know exactly what you mean about feeling qualified to weigh in on addiction, as one who has faced so many of them. I didn’t find a way to weave it into this blog post, but it’s definitely noteworthy to me that I have been physiologically addicted to drugs that many people consider the paragon exemplars of addictive substances, like crack cocaine, and NEVER did I suffer at the hands of crack the way I suffered at the hands of food. I know what addiction is. I know what it feels like, what its voice sounds like in my head, what its motivating impulse creates in my life. Food addiction is as real as it comes.

        Love you, Linden. I’m sure you won’t mind if I say a prayer for your mum, eh?

        xoxox
        Susan

        Reply ·
    2. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Thanks, Zazz!
      xo
      S

      Reply ·
  5. Sandra Semple

    Thank you Susan for for honesty and sharing. Your story touched a cord within me. Loved your analogy. I will remember it and use it. Thank you for yet another helpful tool.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      You’re welcome, Sandra. Thanks for reading, and for your comment.

      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  6. Mariana van der Merwe (SA)

    Hi Susan, I just need to let you know that my daughter (16) & I (47) decided, from about a week ago, to abstain from sugar & flour completely after watching your 3 x videos. It is quite challenging for the simple reason that these foodstuffs are so overwhelmingly & conveniently available & we have allowed them to become part of our “healthy” daily eating. We are not overweight, although I have a few extra pounds I would be glad to shed. I 100% agree to your statement that sugar & flour foods are addictive. This is the main reason why we have decided to confront this problem, for we almost always crave a chocolate or cookie snack after supper. It causes a restlessness & irritation that only subsides once satisfied, absurd isn’t it ? Over weekends the cravings are even worse & then we will easily drive to the nearest grocer, to purchase enough sweets & snacks to satisfy this yearning. Why then do we only crave these type of foods ? I do not need to be a scientist or psychologist to figure out that there are obvious essential elements to these ingredients that make us susceptible to develop cravings & addiction – I know how I “feel” when I battle one of these cravings – it is beyond logical reasoning & I never have the same type of reasoning when it comes to the healthy food options. You have created a life changing realisation & knowledge for us & I believe our new-found commitment will bring wonderful results – THANK YOU.

    Reply ·
    1. Nathan Denkin

      Looking at Susan’s blog, I noticed that it would take very few changes to replace her food addiction with a “substance” like cocaine. Would we be as sympathetic? Probably not, but, we are sympathetic because in varying degrees we have been exposed to the same processed foods that are designed to keep us coming back for more. Susan provides a vivid example of an addiction in its most basic form. She wasn’t merely having crème brûlée or Reese’s Pieces to satisfy a craving. She was an addict carefully planning to have her next few fixes available. Why is the reality of food addiction denied? I can think of two reasons. The first is no one wants to accept blame. The second is an intuitive reason that blames the victim. There is a quote attributed to Einstein:
      EVERYTHING SHOULD BE MADE AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE, BUT NOT SIMPLER
      Although Einstein didn’t actually say it that way, his principle is well known and understood. We can define weight gain by an equation: A = B – C. What could be simpler? Weight gain “A” is the difference between what goes in “B” and what goes out “C.” Simple, elegant, and with an equation everyone can understand, it must be scientific. When weight gain is large, there are exactly three choices. 1) Too much goes in—let’s call that “gluttony.” 2) Too little goes out—let’s call that “sloth.” 3) And, you can have a little of both gluttony and sloth. The equation tells what, but not why. The “why” has been assumed a voluntary personal choice. That is not always the case. Susan’s thinking was clear and logical, but it is obvious that her actions were not voluntary.
      Negative connotations, gluttony and sloth, automatically apply blame while diverting attention from “why?” Highly processed foods are not going to go away either, so blaming them is not as important as learning how to eat while avoiding addiction.

      Reply ·
      1. Jose

        Nathan,
        I also love the elegance of simplicity. As you become more knowledgeable of BLE and Susan’s coaching, you’ll learn that she is consistent in challenging people to REFLECT, at the moment they wish to eat what they know they should not. She encourages us to be brutally honest about our feelings…to get to the WHY!

        One of my mantra’s fully applies to her coaching:
        “This, above all, to thine own self be true,
        and it shall follow, as the night the day,
        Thou can not then be false to another man (or woman) “.

        Success to you!
        Jose

        Reply ·
      2. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

        Nat,

        Your last line really strikes me as very profound, “Highly processed foods are not going to go away either, so blaming them is not as important as learning how to eat while avoiding addiction.”

        This is the key that I don’t hear discussed much. The reality is that more and more people, and more and more scientists, are accepting food addiction as real. But I don’t hear people talking about the ramifications of that awareness. If food addiction is real, then:

        1. We should expect to find that some are more susceptible than others (and we do)
        2. We should expect that complete abstinence from the addictive foods will be the only pathway to health and freedom for those people
        3. With economic interests and big businesses in the mix, it will be up to those individuals to find a way to kick their habit
        4. Banding together will be helpful
        5. Society will change, gradually, as these awarenesses spread (as we saw with cigarettes).

        Thank you for your elegant analysis.

        Susan

        P.S. — I was addicted to crystal meth, cocaine, and crack cocaine as a teenager. I know what addiction feels like. To this day NOTHING has taken me down like sugar and flour.

        Reply ·
    2. renee

      Well put! No wonder there are so many books on the market, lots of people express themselves very well; maybe because we’re writing from the heart.
      With so many teenage girls driving themselves crazy over their weight and appearance, you’re sharing the best advice with your daughter: if you cut out sugar and flour, and eat what’s left….veggies, fruit, nuts, healthy oils……you won’t go wrong. Just like we warn our kids, “Do NOT try smoking. You’ll get ‘hooked’ just like………….” fill in the blank. HOORAY FOR YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTER…………!!!! Food addiction? No one ever drove to the store at 1 am for a head of broccoli. No one ever ‘hid’ a bunch of carrots.

      Reply ·
      1. Diane Sontag

        renee – I have been known to drive through snow to get a bag of Brussels sprouts – seriously! I hated the taste of Brussels sprouts until I became a nutritarian. Now I eat them almost every day, and I often dash to the store because of the “Brussels sprouts emergency!” Have I replaced my sugar addiction with a vegetable addiction?

        Reply ·
        1. Jose

          Hello Diane,

          Hopefully you have replaced an addiction with a preference. But if you are eating brussel sprouts when you aren’t truly hungry, and you are obsessing about eating them in the same way you obsessed over sugar foods there may be a problem developing. I truly believe that there is not a problem, that your body is celebrating the the withdrawal process with a gitty embrace of a good alternative.
          You’ll soon know if it is “addictive”. The good bet is that your behavior is not an addiction.

          Reply ·
        2. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

          My daughter Alexis is six years old, and a few weeks ago she was asking what was going to be for dinner…she was lobbying for Brussels sprouts and when I said I wasn’t cooking Brussels sprouts for dinner she had a full-on melt down. Real tears and everything.

          Lol.
          S

          Reply ·
    3. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Hi Mariana,

      Wow, thank you for letting me know about the powerful and empowering choice you and your daughter have made! I am your biggest cheerleader!!!

      It’s amazing to watch someone take just the pure knowledge and transform it into action. Wow. Being high on the susceptibility scale, I could never do that. I need tons of support and daily accountability to abstain from sugar and flour. But I’m a 10++ on the susceptibility scale. It’s really exciting to note that folks who are lower on the scale can do SO MUCH with knowledge and awareness.

      Please tell your daughter how proud I am of her. And I’m proud of you too. I’m shaking my head in wonderment.

      High fives!!!!
      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  7. Mary Jeane

    So while I hear and read that food addiction doesn’t exist, where does that leave me? Feeling crazy and all the other feelings of being worthless. Thank you for showing me that it is real and that I now I have something real to deal with and I am not crazy but addicted to food.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Hi Mary Jeane,

      You are not crazy. Not crazy at all.

      And you are not alone.

      Lovelovelove,
      Susan

      Reply ·
  8. Natalie

    Again, Susan you have so clearly shown how food addiction is real and how it takes over our reasoning. There is none when the cravings begin and you must put “something” in your mouth and into your stomach to appease it.
    I am working on the no sugar and no flour eating. But WOW, is it difficult. The stuff is everywhere and in everything. The Bright Line Eating is an excellent concept to keep one in check.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Hi Natalie,

      Yes, it’s hard. But it’s doable!

      One helpful tip is to focus on all you CAN eat, and plan and prepare your food at home and bring it with you for the day.

      Make a list of all the vegetables, all the fruits, all the whole grains, all the legumes, all the nuts, all the seeds, all the soy products, and if you eat meat and dairy then all those foods too. It’s a long list! There’s TONS to eat without touching sugar or flour!

      You can do this!!!
      xoxoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Deborah Schwartz

        Susan I agree— I’m on vacation in Scottsdale AZ and this is my first abstinent vacation….I feel so happy as my vacation comes to an end….I usually have a good five pounds to lose after vacation and it takes a month or two of total concentration to accomplish the task of losing that five pounds. This is better… just stay away from the flour sugar and alcohol — WOW my pants still fit today. My husband and I did food shopping every other day or so and my best meals were my own meals I prepared myself. We ate in restaurants 3 or 4 times and it was more a hassle than a luxury. I’m surprised I’m feeling this way but I do. This means I’m progressing the way I prefer.

        Reply ·
  9. renee

    Right now I have two plus feet of snow on my yard but like all native New Englanders, it’s time to start planning our gardens!!! UP WITH FARMERS MARKETS! A must share: the first time I bought a head of celery at a farmers market, I didn’t think very highly of it’s shape. I was used to pale but straight and uniform pieces. The one I was holding looked all wild and had lots of little sprouts and branches coming off it altho the color was very nice.
    The first time my knife cut the leaves, this cloud of celery fragrance rolled up and I was amazed. I’ve now become a tomato snob. I use the canned ones but I wait until I can get them from a backyard garden before I’ll use them in a salad.
    Let’s become followers of nutritious, QUALITY foods. Are we worth it?? Of course we are, every human is, that’s why God made the foods He did.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Oh Renee,

      You are shoring up my resolve. I’ll go back to the CSA and get fresh produce from Community Supported Agriculture this season.

      The garlic scapes are my favorite. Perhaps my favorite food on Earth. And I don’t find them in the grocery store, only in the CSA weekly farm shares.

      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  10. Duane

    Having seen how people addicted to drugs and alcohol and how they behave if you challenge them and knowing how diabetics behave exactly the same when you comment on their sugar food intake…plus my own sugar addiction and how I can behave if I binge, food addiction is real. Addiction is addiction no matter the vice, drugs, booze, sex, money, food.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Duane,

      You are so right. The landscape of diabetes in America tells the story of food addiction.

      Just this one statistic gives me chills: last year 80,000 Americans had a limb amputated because of their Type 2 diabetes.

      And nearly all of them knew it was coming.

      Who does that? Who trades a limb for a cookie?

      Only someone driven by a craving beyond their control.

      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Marie

        I just sat in on the last two brain behaving badly webinars, and if that was not enough, of all of your blogs, I stumbled on this one, which is exactly what I needed to read. I continued on through the comments and stopped here in my tracks when I read:

        “Who does that? Who trades a limb for a cookie?”

        Me. That’s who.

        Well, maybe not yet, but I am well on my way. This will be me if I don’t do something about this addiction now. Thank you so much for sharing your story and helping the rest of us in the same boat. The rest is up to me.

        With much love and respect for you. You are a blessing.

        Reply ·
  11. Jose

    After many conversations with friends and acquaintances on political, religious, racial and other topics, I have come to the realization that many people believe what they do based on “faith”, not facts; and they embrace information that is consistent with their faith.
    The food industry has so overwhelmed our consciousness and subconsciousness that it is difficult for the “truth to set us free”. With “pure” sugar (must be better than unpure sugar”), “milk – the perfect food” (discounts the fact that many “beer bellies” are “milk bellies” in disguise) and “all natural” (yet toxic additives to our normal diets)…the mega-media lies of the food industry have morphed into truths. It is so insidious that very intelligent people ignore well constructed scientific studies. As an example, studies conclude that processed sugars create similar brain patterns in mice that are created by processed opiates….and that, given the choice between processed sugars and cocaine….sugar wins!
    These very intelligent people believe that processed sugars (in its many disguises) are added to 80% of the processed foods we eat to make it taste better. They can’t accept that their “free will” has been replaced by a conditioned compulsion designed by the “FASTIC” (Food Additives Sugar Toxicity Industrial Complex). I offer this short poem to help counter FASTIC; to encourage us to think before we eat, to be “mindful”, to take control of this aspect of our lives:

    “Don’t eat this plastic,
    Don’t buy in haste;
    It’s made by FASTIC,
    They rule by taste!”

    Thank you Susan!
    With Love,
    Jose

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      What an awesome poem!

      And you are so right. Folks believe what they want to believe.

      What I’m blown away by is how many people are HAPPY to be told the TRUTH.

      When I first started this I felt like I would sabotage everything by coming out and saying “no sugar, no flour.” But it turns out the opposite is happening. People are relived just to get the straight scoop on what is happening in their brains and what they can do about it.

      Not all people, of course.

      But more and more. Slowly, slowly. More and more.

      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  12. Betsy

    Sugar is addictive. The Bright Line is the only escape. There can be no compromise. I am starting on Sunday

    Reply ·
    1. Jose

      Success to you!!

      Reply ·
    2. Betsy

      That is to say that I am going to be in the boot camp and I am committed. Thank you ,Susan ,for your knowledge and support.

      Reply ·
      1. Betsy

        Thank you Jose. That really is a boost.

        Reply ·
    3. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      WoooHooo!!!!! Sunday, March 1st, here we come!!!!

      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  13. Donna

    The scene: Sitting at my desk, shoveling in the last of the (whole) cake I bought yesterday (and hid in my desk) contemplating this BLE Boot Camp that officially starts in 3 days and knowing that I can’t do it…that I’m not ready and may never be ready because I’m up to my eyeballs in my addiction. I feel hopeless. Helpless. I decide to check my email and come upon this email. I read it. I realize Susan DOES, indeed, get it. She DOES get ME. She is me and I am her. I decide to stay. Stand still and not run away. Everything within is telling me I can’t/won’t change. Maybe I can’t/won’t, but I will stand still and wait to see what comes in the next few days. Thank you Susan….

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Wow, Donna. Wow.

      Last night I was thinking, “Is this the blog post that the new Boot Campers need to read? All about desperation and gutter-drunk eating? Shouldn’t I write something about how great it feels to lose weight or how to navigate social situations without turning to food?”

      But this is what came out of me.

      I guess I wrote it for you.

      Yes. I am you. You are me. You are not alone.

      There is hope.

      With love,
      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Lynda Hahn

        Yes yes yes Susan…this is most definitely the blog we needed to read. Bless you for doing it.
        I am so ready with everything for the start on Sunday…counting the hours.
        Thank you sweet lady!
        Lynda xxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Reply ·
    2. Nathan Denkin

      Hi Donna,
      I used to keep boxes of Girl Scout Cookies at my desk. As long as a box was sealed, I was OK. I didn’t have to touch them. But, as soon as a box was opened, I KNEW it would not last the day. I did that so many times I did not have to think about it. Fortunately, they started the option of donating boxes to our GIs abroad so I could avoid the problem. I’m lucky. I have coronary artery disease with lots of plaque in my heart. The lucky part is that I am still alive. I know what I should eat and what I should avoid. That’s not my problem. My problem is similar to yours. I can make food disappear. So I need BLE to get my head on straight. I don’t expect it to be easy. I expect to have to work on it. Food addicts don’t have to choose; we can have heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (not to mention joint replacement) all at the same time, and all we have to do is continue what we have been doing. Maybe you can do it and maybe you can’t. And, each time you can’t, you have an an opportunity to give it another chance. If you think you can’t do it, you can’t. But if you think you can, you will. I for one will be cheering for you!
      I think you can do it!
      Nat

      Reply ·
    3. Jose

      Donna,
      “Yes you can….yes you can….yes you can”! There was a time I could not walk out of a grocery store within a box of Fig Newtons and a carton of Rice Milk. The figs…because I lied to myself that it is a healthy cooking because I enjoy eating raw figs; Rice Milk….because I told myself cow’s milk was poison……while I would eat the cookies and drink the Rice Milk in one to two sessions. I was swimming a mile per day, 4 -5 days a week, so the problem was masked by a well conditioned body but one that craved sugar.

      A stint in FA helped break the “Fig/Rice MIlk” addiction; it revealed,however, a much bigger food addiction issue to deal with. My journey is now much more comprehensive. My unique path it is very much influenced by Susan and BLE. Susan’s “Mother Hen Love” is tough not because she has harsh words or judgements. It is tough because she challenges you to be true to your inner True You…..tough because she makes you answer to yourself!!

      You can do it!!!

      Jose

      Reply ·
      1. Jose

        that should say “without” a box of Fig Newtons. “Within” was a Freudian slip…there’s where my thoughts often would reside….in the box of Fig Newtons!
        Great to be free!!!

        Reply ·
  14. Emily Porzia

    Thank you, Susan, for changing the way I relate to food. No longer an apologist for not eating like others, I now use my “elevator speech” when confronted by food-pushers.

    We’ve all been there: “Have some cookies – I just baked them. No? Then take some for later. Take some for your husband. Are you sure you don’t want to try one? Everyone loves them!”

    My reply, said with a big smile: No thanks, I don’t eat that. I find I feel best eating 3 sit-down meals a day and eating whole foods – veggies, grains, legumes, fruit, of course. Eating sweets just make me want more and I’m happier and healthier without sugar in my life.

    Of course, I could say that by eating their crappy cookies I will only feel like crap myself, but my mother taught me to be polite.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Emily,

      I looovveeee your elevator speech! I may just copy that down and share it with my Boot Campers. In fact, with your permission, I’ll go copy it into the Bright Line Eating online support community right now. Would you be okay with that? I’ll give you credit 🙂

      xoxo
      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Emily Porzia

        Yes, please use my elevator speech, Susan! I’m delighted to help expand the Bright Line Eating movement!

        Reply ·
  15. Ana

    Wow, FairPlay for telling us that story!
    I haven’t had any sugar or flour since Monday… This afternoon though I was craving something sweet, my eyes were on chocolate but I bought a little bag of raw cashews instead and ate them on the way home. I am now having an omelet with spinach and aspargus at home and feeling great that I managed to resist the cravings. You are a real inspiration! 🙂

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Well done, Ana! And huge congratulations on your many days in a row of no sugar!

      It gets easier!!!

      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  16. Colleen

    Wow!!! In reading your story, Susan, I just realized that I have been lying to my family about how much food I eat. I never recognized it as lying, but I buy food all the time knowing that I’m not telling them that I am. When my husband asks me where all the money is going I get really defensive and I never tell him that I went to Panera bread or Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s or wherever the wind blew me that day.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, in doing so you helped to shed light on an addiction that I never realized or admitted was quite as bad as it is.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      That food addiction is a sneaky little beast, isn’t he?

      I think I read some research article somewhere that said that we all lie every day, many times….in ways we don’t even realize.

      That “left hemisphere interpreter” just spins a story and makes it okay.

      Once we are aware, we are responsible.

      Here’s to your awesome awareness!

      With love,
      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Colleen

        I am going to tell my husband tonight that I have been lying to him and I’m going to ask him to help me be accountable. I have found in times past that just being open and honest once awareness comes helps a whole lot of that dark demon disappear.

        Reply ·
  17. Dyna

    A poignant and revealing post. But back to the original question – is food an addiction? A couple of weeks ago I was blown away when research revealed that the low fat approach to eating had failed miserably and rather than aid in weight reduction, it actually promoted it. This revealing work spoke to a number of assumptions that had been made decades ago that had not been challenged and that all the studies since had perpetuated. Making informed decisions depends on research, and that is an approach that Susan supports intrinsically.

    Applying the need for research to the food addiction discussion, can science create a hypothesis that takes the definition of “addiction” with its behavioral and physical symptoms, and applies it to food? The symptoms that Susan describes certainly sound like the result of an addiction. With an outcome that food is an addiction, how would that manifest itself in society? Would there be new forms of food retailing, new menus/restaurants, changes to life insurance policies, self imposed monitoring mechanisms (like a gambler can request at the casino), self help groups, changes to the educational curriculum, changes in medical discourse diagnosing and treating obesity….? This provides a much more constructive approach to obesity than just calling people crazy or lacking willpower.

    My two cents… Dyna

    Reply ·
    1. Joseph Fleischman

      The problem with the new findings on low fat is that it continues the fallacy that dominates food science: the fallacy of reductionism. This was first phrased by Dr. Colin Campbell in his revolutionary book: The China Study. Reductionism is the tendency of scientists who work for the food industry and occupy key positions in government regulatory commissions, to always look for the one demean, the one problem that’s messing things up. Sometimes the problem is much broader than one thing.
      Specifically, as it pertains to this discussion, it’s not about either fat or sugar, it’s really about both. Soon, the federal guidelines will remove cholesterol as the monster and say that it’s really sugar, and the cattle, egg, and dairy industries will have finally had their sway. Will it suddenly now be ok to eat that side of beef or that deep fried pork cutlet?
      Truth is, we need to stay away or at least greatly reduce our consumption of animal protein, as we now focus on sugar and flour. There are a host of things that are giving us cancer and heart disease, not just one.
      Joseph

      Reply ·
  18. Marianne Marsh

    Gutter drunk eating. What fitting terminology! Been there, done that.

    Are flour and sugar as addictive as cocaine? Maybe. But I’m not interested in that discussion–or argument! What’s most important to me is that I have a solution, and that this solution can work for others. I also know that I used to eat in that mind-numbing way, and I was eating when I didn’t want to. Just like when I used to drink when I didn’t want to. (I’m a recovering alcoholic as well as a recovering food addict.) One bite, or drink, and I was off to the races.

    I was addicted to alcohol. And food. But my addiction to food long predated my alcoholism, and once I got sober, it intensified with a vengeance. As addictive as heroin? I don’t know. Never did heroin. But I sure did flour and sugar and alcohol, and they coulda killed me.

    Susan, thank you for the story about your relapse. A cautionary tale for any of us contemplating picking up the cookie dough or the Cheezits (my favorite–I’ll admit it) again.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Marianne,

      I agree that the debate on “how addictive” food is misses the point. The point is that many people are caught in the grips of eating foods that are harming them, in quantities that are harming them, and they don’t have a pathway out of that death trap. And the more important point is that there is a solution.

      Here’s to having a solution to gutter-drunk eating! One day at a time!

      xoxox
      Susan

      Reply ·
  19. jennifer

    susan, i am 56 years old. this is the first time in 46 years – my food addiction started at age ten- that i know i am in the company of someone who truly absolutely positively 100% GETS IT. last week for the first time i was able to say out loud to myself, “i am a food addict.” i have hid food, stolen money from my children to buy food, left work in the middle of the day to procure food, lied to my family and coworkers without a second thought about food, taken food from family and coworkers and lied about it, wrote bad checks for food….. i could go on and on. the weight of my shame is immeasurable at times. i know acknowledging this is also a healthy step in healing.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      You are not alone, Jennifer. There is so much hope! Welcome to the Bright Line Eating Community.

      With love,
      Susan

      Reply ·
  20. Kim

    Loved this honest, tell it like it is, post! And all the comments too. I’m definitely a food addict. Even though I try never to bring sweets into my home, I’ve made all kinds of excuses as to why I needed to go out again to the grocery store. It was only so I could buy some sort of vegan treat – cookies, cupcakes, whatever. And I would pay in cash for that sweet treat separately from the rest of my purchases. Just so there would be no record of it. I’d eat it in my car before I even got halfway home. I’ve purchased candy bars in drug stores before and just sat in my car and eaten them. And thrown away the evidence at the trash can just outside the store. That almost instantaneous “fix” was so powerful. Thank you Susan for giving us the knowledge and support to become happy, thin and FREE!

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Awwww Kim. Your description of the hiding and shame is so poignant. Purchasing a vegan cookie (or cookies, lol) on a separate tab, in cash, so there will be no “record.” As if anyone cares what’s on our grocery receipt! I can so relate. The isolation, desperation, and secretiveness of food addiction know no bounds. I am you. You are me. Thank goodness we have a roadmap out of that hell!

      P.S. — IMHO a “vegan” cookie is like “organic” crack. 😉

      Reply ·
  21. Donna

    These have been interesting posts. I am moved by people’s stories and vulnerability in sharing their fears, concerns and journeys of where they have felt or currently feel in their powerlessness to food. The most interesting part is the analysis and debate about the TRUTH, capital T, about who has the answer or answers to proper weight loss, the reason behind why people are overweight, addicted to food (or not) and why there are epidemic levels of obesity, health issues (heart disease, diabetes, etc). When you ground whatever your truth may be in data and research there will always be different and conflicting opinions that come out with new research to back one theory or another. And frankly it almost doesn’t matter. There is probably some TRUTH in much of it. As long as you are adhering to basic guidelines of healthy foods in moderation – the approach or method you use to tackle the monumental, emotional, and overwhelming task of losing weight and finding health is arbitrary. What Susan is offering is an approach for people that has worked for her personally, worked for countless people, and she knows to be TRUE both from research and her own experience. It is a method – whether it’s the only method or the best method or the or the only scientifically valid method, to me is not as important than if it works. It’s kind of like trying to debate religion and spirituality – whether you have a God, Allah, Buddha, Mother Earth Spirit, or whatever are an atheist/agnostic- if your approach to religion and spirituality is profoundly working for you in your own life and your’e not imposing or harming others on your journey, then all is good in the world. Susan’s Bright Line Eating approach at tackling something insurmountable to many many people is a gift. It may not be the only way to reach the end goal, but it is one way, and it is a way that has proven to work. Debating whether it is correct or scientifically valid to me is less important than recognizing that people are responding to it and making huge radical shifts in their lives profoundly for the better – not just in losing weight and improving health but for their peace and happiness in their lives (or at least one area of their life) in general. Kudos Susan for sharing your research, your journey and your method that will hopefully help so many other people as it did for you.

    Reply ·
  22. Julie

    This post resonated with me in a way I almost can’t even put into words.

    I have never been able to tell anyone that I am a food addict because I’ve never been able to explain what it feels like to be sitting and eating food with tears streaming down your face because you want so much not to be eating it. I have literally said to myself out loud: “God, help me because I don’t want to eat this!” And then I eat it.

    I really never thought until now that anyone would even understand me if I said that out loud to them.

    I’m new to this concept of bright line eating but I want and need to learn more.

    Thank you.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      My dear Julie,

      Welcome to the Bright Line Eating community. You are not alone anymore.

      You’ve signed up for my email list, so I’ll be sending you messages. If you ever want to reach me, just hit “reply” and your email will go right to me. I’m here for you.

      With so much love,
      Susan

      Reply ·
      1. Julie

        Thank you, Susan.

        Your quick and heartfelt reply are appreciated more than you’ll ever know.
        The tears came while reading and re-reading your words.
        I don’t know if it was the relief at someone finally getting me or just knowing the someone cared.
        I will look forward to reading your emails.
        I know I need increased awareness and understanding of my addiction but you’ve already given me something far more valuable than that – hope.

        I sincerely thank you.
        Julie

        Reply ·
  23. Abigail

    Susan,
    This post may have just helped me get through the night. I am so consumed with thoughts of food, what I should and should not be eating. It doesn’t matter what I should not be eating though, because I eat it anyway and then feel intense guilt. None of my friends understand, and they would be horrified if they could see me on one of my binges, particularly one tonight where I ate out of a trash can. I feel less insane in this community. Thank you for providing me with a place online where I feel safe and understood, you will never know how much it has helped me.

    Reply ·
  24. Char

    I reached a new low yesterday; I bought 2 candy bars for my 91 year old mother’s Christmas stocking, brought them home, hid them from her, then promptly ate them in huge bites so as to avoid getting caught. I will buy more for her, but I knew in my heart, I had crossed the line to the dark side! Like I need more guilt! Just reflecting on that bit of insanity gives me crazy anxiety. Thanks for sharing, Susan, and all of you. I feel like if I can stay mindful of you insights, I might be able to ease myself back to moments of happy, thin and free.

    Reply ·
  25. Peggy

    What a wonderful analogy! Thank you, Susan.

    Reply ·
  26. Jeanne

    Such a powerful story… I am grateful for your journey, but would not have wished this on anyone. Thank you for using your powers for the good of those of us who have experienced this addiction first-hand.

    Reply ·
  27. Amie

    Thank you Susan. Much love.
    -Amie

    Reply ·
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