The Origins of Food Addiction

Can restrained eating and calorie restriction lead to overeating without having the mechanisms of food addiction at work in the brain? Watch this week’s vlog to hear my answer to this fantastic question.


  1. Deborah R Evans

    I haven’t been working your program or a program. I took your quiz and scored 8 out of 10! I was surprised, no, doubt. I never really knew I was an addict, much less a food addict. I was very, very successful at keeping my weight at 112 most of my life. Blah, blah, blah…now I crave food all the time. I did read your book and bought also your cookbook. Love them both, thank you. ( Need more recipes ) I stuck to your ideas and have lost 55 – 58 pounds, so far. My starting weight was 262. I have no, clue what my goal weight is, other than I’d like to be at maybe, 130. ( Or less ). I need your program but am trying to avoid paying twice. More to this but…

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi Deborah!

      Wow! Look at you go! You are doing so well. <3

      You might be interested in jumping into the 14-day Challenge. It is a low-investment program that can help you if you're needing more for your program right now. $14 USD, you can find it here:

      Also, if you are on Facebook, you can join our free public group. It’s called Bright Line Eating OFFICIAL. You can find it here:

      Happy to have you here. Carry on, friend!

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  2. Renée

    Hi Susan, I love you and I love your vlogs. Just a question for you – why do you always roll your eyes when you say “welcome to the weekly vlog”? Just a’wondering. Xoxo

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  3. Cheryl

    I wanted to do the 3 meals but I also needed to have stable blood sugar and not get too hungry. I set the times on my phone to remind me. What has happened is that I need to eat something first thing so I have a smoothie, then I do a 3 meal plan, so basically I do a 4 meal plan and that is working for me. After some time of trying to stick to the bright lines, but not beating myself up if I do not, I am getting into a routine. Also I am eating better so my blood sugar is not all over the place.
    I lived in my head for years so I know the trap… I thought for years that I could figure it out when what I was really doing was thinking instead of feeling. I am learning to stay present and breathe and listen to my body in new ways.
    I am so thankful that we all have this program and other resources (I am listening to Hay House World Summit now… free and has lots of really good info). Thank you Susan that you are a resource to me and others.

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    1. Angela Hryniuk

      Being an addiction specialist, and a sober recovering alcoholic for 19 years I was intrigued to watch your video Susan around the origins of food addiction.

      What I have learned, know and now teach is that any addiction is born between the ages of 0-18 months in a child’s life. And that the primary relationship to the mother — and feeding of the child — and what happens during that interaction sets up all the patterning within us — PRE-VERBALLY. Specifically around food addiction, if the connection/relationship to the mother during feeding time is fraught with disconnection, no emotional nurturing, then the child intuits this and either pushes the food away, becomes a “picky eater” or demands more and more food — but what they are really craving is the energetic, full emotional presence of the mother.

      We substitute the emotional food with the physical food.

      For an infant who really has no control over anything at that age, food is the ONE WAY to control her surroundings, especially the relationship to and time with the mother.

      What you’ve described in your video I believe is the next patterning that is created, the EFFECT patterning AFTER the initial CAUSAL pattering has been put in place in our neuro pathways.

      The origin of addiction is all about broken, unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships we have with others, ourselves, powers greater than ourselves. Relationship begins the moment we are born.

      Just thought I’d share my insights. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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      1. Jacky

        This resonates with me. My susceptibility is 8, maybe more, and I have never been able to diet.
        Grew up vegetarian with eggs and dairy. No restriction, lots of home grown organic veggies, home made stoneground flower bread. But emotionally things were fraught, with a sister just under 12 months younger than me. She was the favoured child, jealousy. My relationship with mother was always difficult, and when I married I really “left” home.
        I think some kind of trauma, when young sets the brain up to respond to the sugar and flour. My healing work suggest there may have been some sexual trauma, but there are no memories.

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  4. Dr. Zaida Rivene

    I am Dr. Zaida Rivene and your May 18th blog was fabulously honest and truthfilled. It is the inner emotional release that must be worked on. The inner place where a being and God reside and make better choices from love rather than fear. Never easy, always glorious. Thank you, Susan

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  5. A. Ette toomey

    Thank you for your weekly blog! The color of your top is so pretty! Great material!

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  6. Pam

    Wow — there’s a lot of interest in this topic (and a lot of pain). I hope Susan will speak to it again.

    I have been struggling with this question too — I was a normal eater until my first diet at age 17, and have never been normal since. 🙂 So do I eat compulsively now because I naturally have a “sugar sensitive” or “susceptible to addiction” brain, which reacts differently to flour and sugar than other people’s — or is it simply an emotional, psychological response to years and years of restriction? If it’s the former, some form of abstinence, like BLE, is clearly required for recovery; but if it’s the latter, it seems like more restriction would only perpetuate it.

    Is it that however a person starts out, years of bingeing on flour and sugar (among other things) will turn his or her brain *into* an addicted one by blocking leptin and depleting dopamine receptors? And that after a period of abstinence to get the brain back on an even keel, *then* that question of sugar sensitivity or addiction susceptibility comes into play in terms of whether complete abstinence is required ongoing, or the person can handle “normal” (i.e., *not* what we get in the Standard American Diet) quantities of flour and sugar going forward? Is that it??

    For me, one thing that *has* become clear is that I have become addicted to “using” food in certain ways — and untangling that is not going to be affected by anything I eat or don’t eat. That’s the “inner work” that has to happen regardless.

    (Thanks for listening to me process. 🙂

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  7. Jodie

    At 18 months old the doctor told my Mom that I was over weight. From then on my food was restricted heavily to the point where I wasn’t eating the amount I should because my Mom didn’t want me to have the same problems as her growing up. Well that backfired. I ended up much fatter than she ever was because I would eat whatever I could when out of the house. Now I still have the eating scars and if I am not mindful when eating, I can eat and eat and eat, especially when I am in a low mood.

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    1. SueG

      Jodie, identical issue for me. I always kind of joked that my weight issue was because of my mother imposing her diets on me as far back as I can remember. Now I’m realizing, by reading stories like yours, that it really was her fault. I would sneak food when ever I could. And I too can eat and eat and rarely feel full. Very interesting , glad you posted.

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  8. Marilyn McCormick

    I joined my local Overeaters Annonymous group. I’m using one of the basic food plans provided. Lots of support at weekly meetings, or on-line or on the phone. We read daily, write daily , have a sponsor whom we call daily, and follow guidelines much like Alcoholics Annonymous. In 40 days, I have lost 10 pounds and am never hungry because we do eat a lot. We do not eat sugar, eat between meals or drink alcohol. Other than that, we all say we have plenty to eat. I highly recommend this group. No fees, no dues. Lots of emotional support.

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  9. Thank You

    Was also brought up, being restricted to what one could eat. Parents just trying to help, but actually make things worse over the long haul. Still learning how to eat properly at 40+ years of age. So any parents reading this, do not restrict food, even if one thinks they are helping. Save your kids from a lifetime of eating issues.

    Thank You, Susan for another awesome video.

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  10. Barbara


    I am a mix of what Rosetta describes, and what you describe. I was born, not able to drink ANY kind of milk. I was dying of dehydration, and constant diarrhea. The doctors, eventually, put me on sugar water, and I survived. I was huge as an infant, after the sugar water. I guess those fat cells stayed with me.

    Then, as I grew, I became more athletic. I was burning more calories, than I could get in. My parents would only allow me to eat a certain portion of food, the same as my 3 siblings. They would not give me more, even though I told them I was always hungry. This lasted through high school. I played basketball. I was always hungry. I was 5’10’ and only 119 pounds. I begged kids, in the lunchroom, for their leftovers.

    Then, as a police officer, in the 1970’s, I had a very bad police cruiser accident, and was out of work for 9 months. I was large. But, after getting a job with a University, where I walked 8 hours a day..or ran…I lost my excess weight, down to 138 pounds.

    When I was later, pregnant, with my first child, I was very large, and ended up with toxemia. The doctors told me that toxemia was a precurser, to diabetes. The second child was 10 you know I was huge then. I never lost all that weight.

    After my divorce, I did lose 80 pounds. I looked better, than I could ever remember. I walked my dog 2 times a day. I drank protein shakes, for breakfast, and for supper. In the middle of the day, I would eat a salad with chicken.

    I did well, until my porphyria…Acute Intermittant Porphyria showed it’s ugly head. I have to eat carbs, and sugars, to remove the porphyrins, and I gained all that weight back. I cannot lose it now. I have hypothyroidism, and the AIP..and it seems impossible to lose the weight. I am now 65, and hormones are gone. The knee is so bad that it is bone to bone. So, I am quite out of shape. Getting weaker every day. I tried a did not work. I need to be held accountable..for one thing.

    I have now bought Dr Josh Axe’s Leaky Gut syndrome diet. I hope it works. I know I have leaky gut, and I hope it will make me feel better, and many of my symptoms will go away. From what I can see, much of it is Paleo…bone broth included.

    So…back to the beginning..I have assumed that because I was not allowed the food, I truly needed, growing up..and now not being able to exercise, to lose weight, and strengthen, and the addiction to food..(I think of food all the time)..I am in a pickle, with pre-diabetes, and so much more. I crave chocolate, sweets, and carbs.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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    1. jarka

      Hi Barbara,
      I recommend – to everyone – Joel Fuhrman’s book ‘Eat to Live’. Everything is basically explained there. He was one of the speakers along Susan at the Food Revolution summit (by John&Ocean Robbins) last week. Absolutely loved it.
      Basic rules to be healthy:
      – avoid – sugar, flour, all dairy, meat
      – eat plenty real foods (as much organic as possible) – vegetables (mainly dark green), fruit, nuts, seeds, beans/legumes/lentils, wholegrains (preferably gluten-free)

      Reply ·
  11. Bea

    Hi Susan
    6 years ago I happily lost 25 Kilos with eating a lot of protein, eating slower, loads of sport. Kept weight for 2 years but gained most of it back starting to eat bread again having a boyfriend. He can just stop eating if he gains weight. Ex chef. Loves to cook and to feed. So we both made the Susceptibility Quiz. I scored 8 and he 2 (because he somtimes eats a second menue and calls that binging. I call clearing up all christmas chocolate i got in an hour etc. binging).
    Happy to have found your principles. Now i created 2 islands with luminescent border, a bright line. In the further away island is all the bread, sugar and stuff that never satisfied me eating anyway, i sense no satiety when I eat sugar or flour. I get hungry very rapidly after I did.
    A special chocolate icecream from a very special place, homemade by an italien i had kept in my part of the island, simply because i wouldn’t have started the journey. Its a journey for life.
    My boyfriend instead of seducing me to drink a beer helps me to chase away the bread the waiter brings since I explained it to him. Hope i dont have to measure my food. The 3 meals and the bright line works up to now.
    Thank you very much and a lot of love to everyone.

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  12. Stefi

    Great vlog Susan!! Hits home big time!
    Restriction started the fast eating to hide I had extra food ( I was 12 so mom in particular was worried & wanted my adulthood at a normal weight) did like all YO-YO dieting but DEFINATELY see the restriction part being catalyst – LOVE YA!
    BTW caught you in “The Truth About Memory Loss Summit “- beautiful news you share there??? EVERYONE – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU WATCH IT!!

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    1. Jan

      Do you have a link to watch “The Truth About Memory Loss Summit” by Susan?

      Reply ·
  13. Tasneem

    My unhealthy relationship started with food when I started to diet, I have a messed up head and I’m your typical yo yo dieter. My food is emaculate for a week and then the next week is a week long sugar binge, I can pinpoint my food addiction to my first diet I followed. Now I’m in this viceous cycle I have been trying to break for over 20 years. I will start again tomorrow, hopefully for the last time 🙂

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  14. ML

    My compulsive eating seems to be very near of the feeling of being lonely or in rage for the problems I have.
    It seems to be a compensation fir the pain I feel.
    What can you think I should do?

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  15. Pam W

    I now seem to be addicted to cauliflower. Before now I haven’t eaten it for many years, but now I crave it between meals…..with hummus. I have gone to only losing one pound a week now and where during Boot Camp I had no desire to eat other than what was on the plan, now it seems my body wants raw veggies…and hummus, as a snack between breakfast and lunch. I still have about 30-40 pounds yet to lose.
    Thank you so much for the weekly vlogs….it feels so good and like I am still in touch.

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  16. Helen Spingola

    This was very interesting. For me, calorie restriction has nothing to do with food addiction nor does certain non-allowable foods in childhood; its my brain, nothing else, and as Susan
    stated, finding peace in whatever works is the way to go, whether it’s BLE, exerting more
    control against temptation, or above all, being more self-caring. Difficult, hell yes! as any
    addiction! But can be accomplished, and we have our Susan as proof!!!!! (And ourselves, pro-
    vided we do the ‘inner work’ people….)

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  17. Steven Vandervoet

    Susan I thank you for your honestly, being a recovery alcoholic and a food binger I have been able to loose 30lbs by just applying bright line eating and cutting out sugar and bread from my diet. Again I thank you.

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  18. Gina Heese

    Susan, I first hear of you and from you while listening to the Robins’ audio series of the Food Revolution Summit just last week! I am so intrigued with what you are sharing and I have really only signed up and began reading your “story” literally a few days ago. I am absorbing all the info like a sponge and am looking forward to understanding your philosophy about eating properly to lose and keep off the excess wt. Waiting to hear more!

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    1. Linda Johnson

      Ditto to what Gina said. From Food Revolution Summit, I was made aware. I believe you & the Bright Line regime are the answer to my VERY longgggg quest. My plan is the “pH Miracle Cleanse” It is greens & good fats.
      What you said about “diets should be once, then you maintain the weight loss” was the key for me. I’m very hopeful & focused, now day 3 of cleanse. Bless you Linda Johnson

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  19. Lynn

    I just joined this blog and this was the perfect topic for me. I started dieting @19 to be a Flight Attendant. I have been dieting ever since and in the 50 years since then, I am now 47.5 lbs over a normal weight. I came to this web site by the recommendation of my a dear friend who has lost 50 lbs and is happy and doing great. I totally understood todays blog and for me it is so truthful. Thank you

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  20. Risë Abramson

    I love your blog. Listening to you is so helpful. Thank you!

    Reply ·
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