Food Addiction and the Holidays

Christmas candles 

Amongst the warm fuzzy feeling of Christmas lights, tinsel and a perfectly decorated tree, let’s take a moment to have a gut level, reality check about food addiction.

In our culture we tend to “categorize” addictions by the priority we place upon them. 

We have programs in public schools to teach students to say no to drugs.

We encourage teens not to smoke or drink.  We’ve even established laws to prevent them from purchasing the destructive items. 

As a nation, we’ve put a high priority on educating the culture about the life controlling power and damaging effects of drug, alcohol and cigarette addiction.  We’ve heard the stories.  We’ve seen the graphic images.  We’ve developed special care for crack and fetal alcohol syndrome babies.  We’ve even put Surgeon’s General Warning labels on packs of cigarettes.   

We understand the concept that once an individual makes the decision to stop nicotine addiction, there’s no going back to smoking just one cigarette. 

We understand the dangers of a recovering alcoholic having that innocent sip of wine at a cocktail party.

We wouldn’t think of putting a recovering drug addict back on the streets to sell cocaine.

                                              drug addict

Unfortunately, as a nation, we’ve put a low, almost non-existent, priority on the life damaging effects of food addiction.  We think nothing of grooming the taste buds of children for a lifetime of addiction to salty fries, donuts and Big Macs.  We think nothing of celebrating the holidays with a month-long food binge. 

Just because Christmas cookies, fudge and cheese balls don’t have a Surgeon’s General Warning label on them, doesn’t mean they’re safe to put into the body.

Food addiction is serious stuff.  Because it’s both psychological and physiological, for many, it only takes one bite to unravel weeks and perhaps months of nutritarian progress.  For most, it's unwise to enter the traditional, holiday feasting arena; even an occasional detour.       

If you are caught in a situation this holiday season where food choices are life threatening to your commitment to health, are you prepared to JUST SAY NO?  (You will not die if you have to wait until you get home to eat.  Better yet, keep apples and almonds stocked in your car for those emergencies.)

Are you intentionally planning and preparing your own health-promoting food to take with you when you attend a holiday party?

Be proactive.  Don’t allow the month of celebrations unravel your commitment to optimal health.

Diabetes is serious.  Heart attacks and strokes are real. 

Food addiction kills.  It strangles the very life out of a person; destroying health and ruining precious relationships. 

If food addiction isn’t taken seriously, repeated compromises will lead to addictive necessity.  Guaranteed. 

It’s important for each of us to know our limitations, establish clear boundaries and live within them.

That is where freedom abounds; and freedom is where health abounds.  

Freedom to all this holiday season!


Be honest, do you take food addiction seriously?  Do you have clear boundaries established this holiday season, and if so, what are they? 


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Comments (14) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Tony Valle - December 3, 2009 8:52 AM

This Thanksgiving I actually brought my own food to the celebration. That way I knew I would be eating healthy and taken care of. It worked great!!

Cindy - December 3, 2009 12:18 PM

Food addiction is something I will always grapple with, especially at special occasions when there is pressure to eat to celebrate. So, like Tony, I brought healthful food to share at Thanksgiving: roasted vegetables, fruit salad, and a vegetarian chili for times when the others ate leftover turkey. An amazing thing occurred! Other family members enjoyed the healthful food too . . . it was a good thing I made lots. I'm looking forward to Christmas more now, and I am excited to share the health!

Emily Boller - December 3, 2009 12:21 PM

Good for you! Freedom enhances days of celebration x 100!

If we are not intentional and proactive in getting out of food addiction . . . . .

food addiction will creep in, exponentially multiply, and eventually take over of every part of our lives.

Go eating for health!

Go freedom!

struggling - December 3, 2009 12:25 PM

the world is a battleground. it's scary.

Greg - December 3, 2009 12:36 PM

You give our country too much credit with the way we treat addictions. We tell our children not to smoke, yet our government still allows tobacco companies to market their products as cool fun products.

Putting recovering drug addicts out on the street is exactly what our society does with them... right after we put them in jail. Many addicts have mental illnesses which causes them to be further ostracized by society.

We treat food addiction is the same way we treat alcoholics. We blame the addicts for their failings and give no responsibility to the advertisers who are constantly pushing hurtful products on us.

rubyday - December 3, 2009 12:47 PM

I also brought my own food to Thanksgiving this year. No one seemed to really care or notice as I just cleverly stuck it in between all of the other dishes.
Thanks for this article, Emily. It's a good reminder of how important it is to plan ahead and stay committed.

Ginny - December 3, 2009 12:47 PM

Thanks Emily. Food has the power to heal and the power to kill. Th holidays are very challenging, especially for those who have only recently made a commitment to heath. HoliDAYS are only 1 day. I plan to stick to my schedule.

rubyday - December 3, 2009 12:49 PM

I also brought my own food to Thanksgiving this year. No one seemed to really care or notice as I just cleverly stuck it in between all of the other dishes.
Thanks for this article, Emily. It's a good reminder of how important it is to plan ahead and stay committed.

LaurieInOklahoma - December 3, 2009 1:27 PM

As a former chronic yo-yo dieter, I can swear to the fact that steady, nutritarian eating year in and year out is the way to go!!! I amost can't believe how much better my life is now that I eat the same way all the time. My nutritarian foods are delicious (and do take some effort on my part), and I don't feel deprived in the slightest. I do need to take my own foods, or eat before attending events with no appropriate foods.

I wish I could have known years ago how much I would love my new foods. It feels like I'm getting away with something: I'm at my perfect weight, and feel like I have an abundance of delicious foods to eat. I love the way I feel, and, oh yes, I don't have MS flareups anymore.

Making it through a calendar year of holidays used to feel like navigating a minefield. It really wasn't a happy situation, no matter how scrumptious the holiday foods.


Alexandra - December 3, 2009 3:06 PM

I don't consider myself a food addict but that doesn't mean I'm not one. For Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and my birthday, if I want something not ETL, then I have it. Then I'm back to my ETL way. I'm pretty sure I would not stick with it otherwise. I find I can live with this way and notice that over time, I become more and more strict as my tastes continue to change with the healthy eating.


Emily Boller - December 3, 2009 5:36 PM


Each person is responsible for his/her own health destiny.

If we take the victim mentality and wait for the day advertisers quit pushing harmful products, we'll all be dead prematurely.

Let's all choose the path of freedom and health regardless of the culture's nutritional ignorance surrounding us.

Vicki Wronski - December 4, 2009 6:11 AM

I too brought my own food....the squash supreme made a hit at the table. Nobody could believe it was really good for you with NOTHING sugary in it. HA...made me feel so happy and healthy....I did not feel deprived....just full and completely satisfied.

Emily Boller - December 4, 2009 1:11 PM


The beauty of nutritarian eating is the wonderful bounty of delicious and natural foods that cause the body to thrive and flourish.

When you mention that you would not stick with nutritarian eating without non-ETL foods on occasion, I think you are missing the wonderful selection of delicious foods there are to choose from; not to mention how well one feels as compared to eating non-ETL foods.

CACC - December 7, 2009 8:45 PM

Emily, thanks for this post. Food addiction is probably the most common addiction in our country, yet it is usually not taken seriously (perhaps because it's so common that it seems normal). We need to keep bringing this issue to light so both the problem and the solution become top-of-mind.

Happy -- and healthy -- holidays!

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