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.

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Natalie - August 9, 2011 8:37 AM

The image at the top is me. It is exactly the image the mirror projected at me the other day at the store as I was sitting on a chair speaking on my cell, elbows bended on my knees just like you. I was thinking to myself "Wow... I'm getting that far in my food addictions!... it is destroying me!"

I am on that stage you were Emily. I pray to God to give me the strength to be abstinent of sugar. I want and need to commit myself 100% into the ETL lifestyle. I've got all the info and knowledge to succeed BUT the withdrawal symptoms are hard to bear even though I keep repeating myself Dr Fuhrman's quote : "If you're feeling worst it is because you're getting better, and if you've feeling better it is because you're getting worst (when talking to giving in to the addiction)".

Love what you wrote Emily, so much truth in it all. I will print it out and put it in my purse and on my fridge. Hope it helps me get more conscious.

Thank you Emily you are such an inspiration!

Emily Boller - August 9, 2011 9:48 AM


I encourage you to make sure you have a specific plan to follow those first several weeks / months until your tastebuds change and you develop a strong habit for eating healthy. If you leave decisions to happenstance and being unprepared, you'll go right back to old habits.

Type out the six week eating plan in ETL using a small, but readable font. Print 3 or 4 out, and take them to an office supply store and have each one laminated. Keep one in your purse, one on your refrigerator, one in your car, one on your bathroom mirror, etc. Let that plan make all decisions for you. Follow it no matter; no matter what you are feeling.

AND keep your refrigerator stocked with plenty of cut-up veggies, clean romaine leaves, washed fruit, and set aside one day a week to make a pot of bean soup. (It doesn't take that long.)

If you are short on time, put into a crockpot a one pound bag of hard beans such as black beans, garbanzo beans, or kidney beans. Fill the crockpot with enough water to generously cover the beans, and let them soak overnight. The next morning turn the crockpot on low, and by dinner that night you'll have a pot of unsalted beans. You can have these on hand to add to salads, or season with salsa or your favorite spices, or add to veggie soups, or make homemade bean dips or hummus. The possibilities are endless when you have cooked, unsalted beans on hand.

For lentils, put a one pound bag into an uncovered 2 qt. pot with plenty of water to cover, and then bring them to a boil. After they come to a rolling boil, turn off the heat, and put on a lid. Then let them sit for an hour while you do other things, and then they'll be ready to use. [Do this while eating a meal, or working in the kitchen, or folding laundry, etc.] Lentils are quick to prep, and great to have on hand for adding to all kinds of recipes.

Also, keep several cans of unsalted beans in the pantry for emergencies. Never be caught with the pantry or refrigerator empty. Never.

Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared. Always.

When away from home, always keep a cooler stocked with cut up veggies, fruit, nuts/seeds, etc. in the back of your car.

Have a specific plan to follow.

Have plenty of food prepped and ready to eat.

Have a strong support system that will cheer you on through the rough spots AND victories, and help troubleshoot solutions to issues that may arise along the journey.

You'll get there! If I can get out of a severe food addiction, (along with a myriad of others who have also successfully gotten out of food addiction), you can too!

Cheering for you!

Cheering for anyone caught in the misery of food addiction!


Do the homework. Follow the plan. Be prepared. AND never give up. If you have a slip-up, give it no thought. Get right back up and keep running to freedom!

denisef in c'ville va - August 9, 2011 10:24 AM

thank you for the practical advice re: beans and lentils. VERY doable!

Jody - August 9, 2011 10:31 AM

I am a food addict. Not just a part time addict. Not someone who has been successful for a time on diets only to fall back. I am someone who can't even make it one day without falling off the food wagon. This past April I got really, really sick. I had shingles SO bad that I was sick all over. I 'm only 38! I decided that I had to quit eating sugar. So I did! I quit eating sugar and ate really healthy for 3 months! My major cravings for food ended, but I only lost 10 pounds. I was SO discouraged that I started eating the sugar again, and back are my cravings, mood swings, headaches, and the beginnings of diabetes. I have the book, Eat to Live, here with me now. But, I am scared! I don't even know where to start! It's funny becuase I am allergic to wheat, corn, eggs, and so this should be even easier for me! I've been off wheat for 7 years! But that's like a drug!I just ate my oats for breakfast, but had 1/2 and 1/2 in my tea!! Will I ever, ever be successful!! I just don't know. I am so ashamed of myself.

Dawn - August 9, 2011 10:57 AM

Jody don't be ashamed! Just keep trying. I am a sugar addict too and I know its not easy. I have been off and on too! Emily thanks for this great post! I am trying to make this simple for me. Is there a certain breakfast, lunch and dinner that you eat on a regular basis?? (i.e. oatmeal for breakfast) Or your favorite soup that you eat everyday??

Emily Boller - August 9, 2011 11:00 AM


Please consider joining the member center for support; even if just for three months to get off to a great start. The doctors can help you, members can help you, and the teleconferences & tutorials can help you. A healthy support system is invaluable. Understatement.

The culture is going in a totally opposite direction, and the strength and support gained from the member center will boilster you, and help prevent you from sinking with the Titanic, so-to-speak. The member center can throw out the "life raft" to you and help you hold on through the worst of cravings. You can't do it alone. Addiction is stronger than the best of intentions.

Know that I feel your pain. Many have been in your same shoes. There is always a way out, even if you need to go to True North in California to get in-patient, supervised care to get free; do whatever it may take. You are young and have a wonderful life ahead of you. Thanks for sharing with us. You are a courageous woman to keep seeking.

Sincerest blessings of freedom to you.


I followed the six week plan in Eat to Live for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now, over three years later, I've tweaked it further and eat only when truly hungry and stop eating before full. And no, I don't have a specific soup that I eat every day, and no, I do not eat oatmeal. (The times I do eat oatmeal, I tend to have a small weight gain, so I avoid it.)

Lately my favorite entree has been to spread a thin layer of tomato/lentil sauce on the bottom of a rectangular pan. (For the sauce I water sautee garlic and onions, Mrs. Dash, then add a can of tomato paste, 2-3 cans of water, and 4 cups of pre-cooked lentils.) Then I layer paper thin slices of eggplant, a generous amount of spinach, sliced onions, mushrooms, and another thin layer of tomato/lentil sauce. Then I layer one more layer of eggplant and onions & sprinkle a bit of Mrs. Dash on top. I cover the top tightly with foil, and bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for one hour & afterwards let it stand for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Add to this meal a colorful salad w/ a nut-based dressing and some fresh berries. Yum! [Plus, the entree provides scrumptuous leftovers for a couple days of lunches as the flavors blend together nicely.]

Janey - August 9, 2011 12:27 PM

Thank you, Emily, so much for your words of encouragement, general advice and very specific advice. From childhood, I've struggled with food addiction and with each approaching "milestone" I've planned to be free of it: age 18, age 21, age 25, age 30, age 40, age 50. As I approach age 54, it all seems very pathetic. My biggest mistake -- besides my often unrealistic thinking and my ability to absolutely detach from the misery of my life -- is NEVER being prepared. I know therein lies the answer. I'm not waiting until tomorrow. I'm stopping at the store on the way home and putting on a pot of beans tonight! I believe wholeheartedly in Dr. Furhman's nutritional plan. If I'll just really do it, I know I can succeed!!!

Krishna - August 9, 2011 12:40 PM

Greetings Emily!!

Is that really you at the top of the page? It is absolutely unbelievable that someone soooo beautiful could be hiding underneath. I have seen you on youtube as well. Simply amazing transformation!

I do not have a huge weight problem but I have a family history of heart disease. My cholesterol and triglyceride numbers are borderline high. Since I am 50, doctors are reccommending that I have an angiogram which is an invasive procedure to investigate heart disease. I do not want to do take that risk. I was reccommended Dr Fuhrman's "Eat to Live" by a friend who is also a nutritionist. I have been on this program for about 4-5 weeks now and lost about 7 lbs. I am not following Dr Fuhrman's diet strictly...since I read the book I have eliminated dairy, fried foods and bread. My meals are predominantly salads now. According to what Dr Furhman has reccommended in his book, I am still about 10 lbs overweight. So it is my goal to get to my ideal weight and then get another blood report to see if my diet has made any difference in my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers.

I am going to try out your favorite entree...not sure how to do the paper thin slices of eggplant...but I will figure that out...haha!

Thank you for posting your successes. It is truly inspiring!! I have a couple of questions for you. I would like to know, if you were able to reach your ideal weight? how long did it take you? and do you find it challenging to maintain it?

Wishing you the best!! and thankyou for sharing and inspiring people like me...

Emily Boller - August 9, 2011 1:34 PM

Actually, there's only 12 months difference between the picture at the top of the post and the one at the bottom. That's the cleansing & healing power of high-nutrient foods, combined with getting processed junk out of our bodies.

It took me a bit less than a year to lose 100 lbs of toxic weight. You can read about my journey in detail (including changing images, blood tests, and thoughts) at & click on the "transformation" icon.

As far as keeping the weight off, I keep the weight off if I eat only when truly hungry, stop eating before full, and not eat for social reasons like a bedtime snack with the family, or for emotional reasons to soothe or celebrate. Our culture has repeatedly conditioned us to eat whether we are hungry or not . . . .parties, social events, snacks, more snacks, moods, eating according to the clock and not our body's signal for hunger, etc. All of the above is called overeating. Just like all addictions, (one can be addicted to overeating just as much as being addicted to the standard American diet), and again, commitment to abstaining from overeating is the only way to break that addiction also. Accountability on the member center helped me overcome the overeating addiction.

Lillian Gimmelli - August 9, 2011 2:59 PM

Oh Emily, what an addiction to food, especially sweets and carbs I have. I am trying to keep posting on the forum to be accountable, but yet I am still struggling. As I have written to you before I do great for a couple of days and just give in sometimes to foods I shouldn't have and can effect my weight loss, then when I do not see a good weight loss number I get discouraged. Thank you for all the wonderful and encouraging articles you write, they are always very motivating. I wish I can put you in my pocket and take you around with me always. Thanks Lillian

Emily Boller - August 9, 2011 3:25 PM


I encourage you to "step-it-up" a notch by posting a completely honest, three day food diary (including your emotional / social reasons for giving into unhealthy cravings) on Ask the Doctor so one of the doctors can help you put a nail in this addiction coffin and bury it for good. It will take much courage on your part, but the truth will set you free.

Hang in there dear one and keep contending for your freedom & optimal health! Never, ever give up!

Lillian Gimmelli - August 9, 2011 4:20 PM

Thank you so much are the best. Will do!

Mary - August 9, 2011 4:51 PM

Emily, you are the most inspiring person and spokesperson for Eat To Live I have ever encountered! I used to be a Wt. Watchers Leader and am used to motivating people, but you are by far the most motivating person for this way of eating that I have ever met. (I met you at the Immersion weekend in January). My question is, what if you've committed to starting Eat To Live tomorrow, and you know you have several eating occasions over which you have no control? Like a birthday dinner out at an Italian restaurant, a scheduled cookout (Boy Scout thing)where you know they will be serving chicken, corn on the cob (prebuttered), salad with dressing already on it, etc. The Boy Scouts serve it pre-made, so you don't have a choice to tell them how to make it. What do you advise in this situation? Wait until these occasions are past, and then start the 6-week plan?

Emily Boller - August 9, 2011 7:35 PM


To be honest, after the Boy Scout thing will be another birthday party, and then perhaps a Fall Harvest party, and then Thanksgiving, and then a full month of pre-holiday and holiday festivities, followed by a New Year's celebration; then the Super Bowl, Valentines & St. Patrick's Day sandwiched between more birthday parties, and then Easter . . . . .and then Mother's Day, Father's Day, weddings, graduation parties, 4th of July, and some more birthday parties.

Start now learning how to successfully navigate social eating occasions. For the Italian restaurant, order a double salad sans oily dressing and cheese, and steamed greens sans salt and oil. Put some almonds in a zip-lock bag and throw them in your purse to enjoy with the salad. Restaurants always have lemon wedges that you can squeeze on the salad. Ask for extra lemon wedges. (Plus, have a couple of pieces of fruit in the car to enjoy afterwards on the ride home.) I've never had a problem with a restaurant refusing my requests. Give a good tip, of course. :) One time I asked the server for a double serving of steamed asparagus minus salt. He was so accomodating and ended up bringing me about 3-4 servings! The entire plate was filled with beautifully steamed asparagus, and boy was it yummy as everyone else ate their steaks and dinner rolls w/ butter.

For the Boy Scout thing, pack your own meal in an insulated cooler. WalMart sells all kinds of small & cute insulated coolers now. Who cares if you have already paid for the Boy Scout meal - consider it a donation to the organization and let it go. If curious onlookers inquire about your meal, use it as a wonderful opportunity to tell them about eating high-nutrient foods. Believe me, those who are sincerely interested will ask more; the rest will quickly flee in the opposite direction! :)

In all sincerity, it's nobody's business what you put into your body anymore than it's their business how many times a day you brush your teeth. So just thoroughly enjoy eating for health at every occasion, knowing that you are taking the best, pampered care of your precious body; even though everyone around you may be doing just the opposite. YOU are in control of your health destiny; not them.

Learn to navigate social occasions right from the beginning.

Don't wait for the perfect time as there is no such thing.

mike crosby - August 9, 2011 10:33 PM

Emily, you're really an inspiration.

I take away three things from your post and follow up comments:

That you're very serious about what you put in your body.
Don't eat until full. And
Order double whatever when in a restaurant.

Good idea on the last one. When I order my veggies or salad, I'm disappointed in its size. One sentence from you and you've made it easy--order double. Brilliant.

I'm not on that paid web thingy that Dr Fuhrman offers. So if you don't mind, I do look forward to your posts, and I will be going to your website.

Angelique - August 10, 2011 8:10 AM

I have been doing ETL for a little while now and am still having a bit of an issue where I feel I am wanting to eat too often. Thankfully I am still eating healthy things, but either I am not eating enough during my mealtimes (which makes me want to snack) Or I am not snacking because I am hungry. I know I was still having some non ETL things here and there for a little while.. I finally said ENOUGH! and am not doing that any more. I am getting rid of not as bad, but still bad things my son eats. (no more cheerios or rice crispies). As I sat and was reading Dr. F's "Feeding Kids Right" book last night, and he reminded me that cereal (even the low sugar ones) might as well be like eating the cardboard they come in. I am sure I will kick into track on the just 3 meals a day. Any suggestions to help? I wish I could have afforded to stay part of Dr. F's member forums.

Mary - August 10, 2011 9:10 AM

Dear Emily,

Many thanks for your thorough and sensible post to me about how to handle social situations. I will do what you suggest. You are absolutely right; there is always some occasion to try to derail you, and we may as learn right off the bat how to handle these things rather than put our health and our life on hold until the "perfect circumstances". I hope I get to see you again for the Fall Immersion - I liked the January one so much I'm coming back for reinforcements!! I started my vacation today, and am using the next week to get rid of the junk in my house and to read Dr. Fuhrman's "3 Steps to Incredible Health" which I got from contributing to PBS, and to get started now FOR GOOD!! Thanks again for your invaluable help and advice.

Em - August 10, 2011 9:36 AM

Excellent, Emily. I think food addiction/social pressures are the biggest factors to overcome when Eating to Live. We need more posts like this, things that delve into food addiction and how to keep on track. One of the ways I'm keeping myself on track is by reading this blog and others like it, surrounding myself with this information every day. Otherwise, it's too easy to set it aside when I get busy and fall off (again).

Thanks so much for the work that you do here. This blog is getting better all the time.

Emily Boller - August 10, 2011 10:00 AM


Make sure that you are eating an adequate amount of raw (salads) and steamed greens, colorful vegetables (including onions and mushrooms) beans, nuts/seeds, and a bit of fruit such as berries at your meals to feel satisfied. Beyond that, if you are still hungry, it's toxic hunger from withdrawal and detoxification from processed, low-nutrient foods that you are experiencing and will soon pass. Don't give in.

I suggest re-reading Dr. Fuhrman's extensive teachings on toxic hunger in his books, or watch his PBS special, "Three Steps to Incredible Health" or the "Immersion Excursion" DVD's that can be ordered thru; specifically the DVD's on "Understanding the Core Concepts" and "Understanding Hunger and Food Addictions." Understanding the science behind toxic hunger will help you overcome it.

This too shall pass. Don't give into the "hunger" (withdrawal) cravings, and eventually they will subside, and then go completely away. That's when you'll start experiencing the true freedom of no longer being controlled by food, hunger, and cravings. It's incredible to live in the freedom it brings!

mike rubino - August 10, 2011 10:46 AM

I still have problems around sad food that I like. If Im not crazy about it I dont miss it. last night after a contentious meeting a few of us stopped at a local restaurant for a drink with a light dinner. I could handle not eating the sad food there however the salted snacks at the bar drove me nuts.

Hawar - August 10, 2011 12:14 PM

Hey Angelique, here is a healthy cereal recipe I found on youtube. :) You might be interested.

Emily Boller - August 10, 2011 2:08 PM


Although the cereal recipe is certainly better than processed cereal out of a box, the presenter adds salt to give it a "sweet/salty" flavor; and salt, of course is detrimental to our health, contributing to hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, etc.

The following are better, health promoting ideas for breakfast:

*Pomegranate Muesli:

Cinnamon Fruit Oatmeal or Eat Your Greens Fruit Smoothie:

*Dried fruits are not a part of the six-week eating plan; and if one has weight to lose or wants to eradicate diabetes it's important to stay away from dried fruits. Instead, stick to green smoothies or a wonderful breakfast salad with nuts/seeds . . . .or better yet, if you are not truly hungry, wait until later in the morning for a scrumptious bean soup and salad. Just because the clock says 7 o'clock doesn't mean one has to eat if not hungry.

Angelique - August 11, 2011 7:50 AM

Thanks for the suggestions/advice. I started this morning with my green smoothie and also ate an apple with it. I really think a part of my problem is eating too little at meal time. I have a hard time going by someone else's complete meal plan and when I was looking at some of Fr. F's Food plans in the book. I see that he has you eating a lot more than I have been in one meal. I am going to try doing that. Because I noticed something... yesterday, when I took the day off my workout, I didn't want to snack a lot.. That makes me think that I do need to eat a little more during my meals. I DO need to buy some more mushrooms! I just ran out! My son did great with his blueberry oatmeal with chia seeds in it this morning :) I went blueberry picking this year and want to go out again before the season is over, because we are already burning through the blueberries I froze!

Krishna - August 11, 2011 1:15 PM

Greetings once again Emily,

Thanks for directing me to your website...I am even more inspired now than ever before. WOW!

I saw your video on you tube where you were interviewing Ronnie Valentine...that is quite an awesome story as well. Is there similar information recorded by him as well...I would love to share that as well with my friends and family
as well if it is available.

Thanks again! and if I get braggable results I will be sure to share them with you.

Wishing you the best!

Emily Boller - August 11, 2011 2:50 PM

Ronnie's interview, including medical stats:

Interview with Ronnie's wife ~ what it was like from her perspective:

If ANYONE needs motivation to keep healthy, read Ronnie's nightmare of his heart bypass surgery:

Ryan - August 19, 2011 2:59 AM

ETL was the first book about losing weight that made sense to me. All the other books that I found - which I didn't buy - were so restrictive. Not counting calories is what appealed to me along with the prospect of having positive side effects like lowering my blood sugar and my cholesterol. I lost 40 pounds before my cravings started getting to me.
I was having trouble with cravings for chocolate when I had this notion that my cravings were usually triggered by something else that I had eaten before. Carbs from refined foods like bread or white rice (sushi) triggered my cravings for other refined foods like chocolate. I kept trying to control myself but I couldn't sustain my self-control for more than 3 or 4 days at a time. I was about to give up when I thought I would try something else. I used soy milk instead of regular milk in my coffee in the morning. I thought maybe it might be the dairy that was triggering my cravings for chocolate not the refined foods. It's been 3 days now and I haven't had a smidgen of a craving since I started. Wish me luck! I hope this works!

Lori - September 26, 2011 12:59 PM

I am so glad I stumbled upon Dr. Furhman's lecture on PBS. Knowledge is power. I have just begun a diet rich in micronutrients and am steering away from processed food. I didn't think I had been eating poorly, but now I know I have been.

Robin - February 11, 2013 12:20 PM

I'm curious, someone said above that just because the clock reads 7pm, doesn't mean you need to eat if you're not hungry. However, what if that means I am hungry at 9:00 pm? Isn't that too late to eat? I am in the habit of eating something before I am hungry at times b/c I have a "lunch time" at work and because I think it is better to eat at 7pm than 9pm. I have passed on dinner before and this is what happened. What is better?

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