Extinguish the pilot light

I grew up on a farm. In addition to an orchard my parents always put in a large garden every spring. It produced a bountiful harvest to can quarts of green beans, tomatoes, tomato sauces & juices, corn, peas, beets, and pickles . . . .enough to last a family throughout the winter, with plenty of surplus leftover to sell along the road.  From mid-July until school started every fall, snapping beans, shelling peas, shredding cabbage, shucking corn, and washing tomatoes, pickles, carrots and beets for preservation were a huge part of summer.

Most farmhouses had a “summer kitchen.” It was a nifty, second kitchen; away from the main part of the house and used for the stifling hot process of canning the vegetables, making jams and applesauce, and baking fruit pies and apple cakes for the freezer. Since residential air conditioning was practically unheard of when I was a kid, the house stayed cooler by not heating up the regular kitchen. 

In the southwest corner of this room was an old gas stove. I was taught from an early age to respect the pilot light that remained continuously lit. As in all gas stoves, the purpose of this pilot light was to serve as the ignition source for more powerful flames; ones that could produce the necessary heat to cook and preserve food.  

My mom would strike a small, wooden match and hold it near the burner. Instantly it would ignite into a full, explosive flame. 



Fast forward about forty years. I’m now a fifty-year-old woman who has lost weight and restored health by nourishing my body with high-nutrient, plant foods. As a result of flooding my body with nutrients, combined with consistently abstaining from the standard American diet, addictive cravings for high fat, high salt, processed & sugary foods have been eradicated from my life. 

Because of this, I’m routinely asked:

  • How closely do I really have to follow Eat to Live?” 
  • How many times a month can I cheat and still have success?
  • I’m not hard core, but I follow the plan about 85% of the time; that’s good enough, isn’t it?”   

Of which my classic answer to all three questions is, “It all depends on how hard you want to make it on yourself.” 


It’s much easier and simpler to give 100% right from the beginning and keep the pilot light of addictive cravings extinguished, than to be continually fighting obsessive compulsions that are brewing beneath the surface. Been there. Done that. And it’s hard, hard work to keep cravings from becoming an all-consuming monster. In fact, it’s exhausting because it’s a next-to-impossible feat to accomplish!


Plus, it only takes the tiniest spark to ignite the pilot light of cravings to full power again, and that’s THE most dangerous place to live! 

One can do all the work of routinely preparing and eating high-nutrient foods, and get the majority of one’s health restored; but it may only take an emergency phone call, or a sudden traumatic event, or a stress-filled day with the kids to instantly ignite the raging flame of addiction.  

It’s just not worth it. 

Give yourself a break today and make life so much easier.

Give 100% and extinguish the pilot light!      




image credits:  tomatoes, flickr by MaplessInSeattle; match, flickr by Samuel M. Livingston  

So what's your Jack Daniels?

fake food

Every year since 2008, I've made it my mission, once a year, to re-read Drunkard, written by Neil Steinberg.

For those of you who know my story, reading that book was one of my ‘turning point’ moments, because it demolished my concrete wall of denial. It forced me to face the ugliness of food addiction head on . . . smack-in-the-face, kind of head on.

Every time that I've read it something new pops out.

This time, it was Steinberg's description of his moment to unwind after work, at the bar, just before drinking his favorite glass of Jack Daniels. He describes it so eloquently in the following excerpt from page nine:

" . . . .I always pause to gaze for a rapt moment at the filled glass, the ice, the Jack, the square napkin, the dark linoleum bar. The twirling universe stops dead, the Jack its motionless epicenter. I pick up the glass and take a long draw." 1


When the kids were little and I was obese my "Jack Daniels" was the leftovers after the evening meal. I couldn't wait to be alone in the kitchen. All alone. Totally by myself, kind of alone (while the children were wrestling with Dad in another room) . . . to unwind and soothe my frazzled nerves by eating the slightly burnt & greasy roast and potatoes that were stuck to the sides of the crock pot; or to eat the crusty & gooey leftover lasagna sitting in the pan; or the kids' leftover soggy salads that were swimming in ranch dressing and bacon bits; or the leftover dinner rolls that mopped-up the ranch dressing; or the pieces of cake with melted ice-cream cascading down the sides. The twirling universe stopped at those moments for me.

Ahhh . . . . . the epicenter of calm had been visited.

Later in the evening, after baths for the children, brushing their teeth, bedtime stories, and tucking them into bed, I returned once again to the epicenter of calm . . . .the large, ceramic bowl of Frosted Mini Wheat cereal soaked in milk with a couple spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter on top.  Ahhh . . . .


Then I *graduated* to more acceptable ways of escape:

  • Alone time with a humongous bowl of mixed greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar, sunflower seeds, sliced strawberries, and chick peas; followed by a plate of California Creamed Kale. I'd eat beyond full, stuffed, and then some, and still lose weight!
  • Scraping the remaining sorbet or banana ice-cream from the sides of the Vita Mix canister and eating it.  Whether I was hungry or not had absolutely nothing to do with the growing habit.
  • Grabbing extra handfuls of walnuts and raisins while working in the kitchen.


If I'm not careful, Jack can still creep into my life ~ ever so slowly now, of course.  He's still there if I'm not cautiously aware of his presence.

He's hiding in the dark crevices, but as long as I continue to shine the flashlight on him, and continue to expose him, he can't and won't harm me!


Exposing Jack makes him powerless; he's a coward in the light.

Don't give him the pleasure of lulling you into believing that he will be your calm.

It's a lie.

 before and after pics of Emily Boller

The images above were taken three years apart.  The picture on the left was taken in the summer of 2008 when I was captive to Jack as my epicenter of calm.  The picture on the right was taken this past summer after three years of consistent abstinence AND freedom from food addiction's suffocating grip.   


So what’s your Jack Daniels?




Related posts: 

Are you a food addict?  by Dr. Fuhrman

Breaking up is hard to do  by Dr. Fuhrman

The powerful freedom of abstinence  by Emily Boller

Junk food - just as addictive as smoking?  by Dr. Ferreri




1. Steinberg, Neil. Drunkard. New York: Dutton, 2008, p.9

Photography credit:  Fake Food by Esther Boller 

Painting:   Absinthe (1876) by Edgar Degas; Muesee d’Orsay, Paris

Food addiction is just as serious as drug addiction

Emily Boller before pic


If we feed addiction, it grows.

If we abstain, it dies.


If we give in an inch, food addiction will capture and drag us for miles; literally strangling the very life out of us.

It's mean.

It's ruthless.

It clothes one in rags.

It destroys families and homes.

It robs romantic intimacy between husband and wife.

It eats up finances and drowns its victims in dire poverty.

It’s no respecter of persons; socioeconomic, educational, or professional.

It doesn't care who it maims and disables in its path of destruction, including those the addict loves and cares about.  It's never solitary; it affects everyone surrounding the captive.

Don't give food addiction the opportunity to suck the life out of you. Contend for your freedom if it costs you everything you’ve got. Some may call you neurotic. Others may avoid your company. Still others may ridicule your commitment and entice you to consider moderation, but don't give into the voice of the enemy.

If you give in, you are undone. If you “wait until tomorrow” . . . . the truth is tomorrow never comes, because food addiction grows stronger with each compromise.   

I'm a bit passionate, I know. But in order to give food addiction black ‘n blue eyes, and ruthlessly disable it from ever coming after me again, I've had to be.

One day I hit a wall. I saw the seriousness of what the addiction was doing to my marriage and family, my health, my sanity, and my talents; and knew that I had no other option but to radically commit to Eat to Live to stop its destruction. I was willing to pay any price to get free. 


Willingness to commit to carefully following the plan in Eat to Live (aka total abstinence) is the key to long-term success. Once one is willing, no obstacle will be in the way as obstacles are just the welcome excuse to continue in addiction.

Emily Boller afterI'll never give up the fight. I'll never quit contending for my own freedom and health, and the freedom and health of my fellow man, no matter what, for life.



The image at the top of this post is a picture of me the day before I committed to abstinence from the standard America diet.