Disease Proof

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

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Comments (18) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Angelique - September 19, 2011 8:05 AM

I think mine has become coffee. I have been trying to get the caffeine out of my life, as I know it isn't great for me. I think coffee is the one last thing I've had a hard time with. I don't have a coffee maker at home (that is good) but lately, have been having a cup in the morning at work. I wasn't drinking the coffee but someone brought in some of the gourmet, flavored kind and I tried some, hooking me back on it for a few weeks. This morning I am drinking a cup of decaf tea instead, because after not having coffee all weekend I didn't want to start that cycle again.

Ashley - September 19, 2011 10:17 AM

My toughest thing is coffee too. Around this time last year, up until around May, I was drinking maybe close to a pot of coffee a day. I am a college student, and this was my "crack". When summer came around, I weaned myself completely off of coffee by mid-June. That's also when I kicked my peanut butter habit. I felt amazing. I've slipped a little since school started back up, but I make sure I don't have any every day. One every now in then probably won't hurt, but I'd rather drink none at all.

Jocelyn - September 19, 2011 10:28 AM

I love "epicenter of calm". That's a great way to notice our own Jack D. I'd have to say the breads and pastries, with a salty chaser, are mine. But I've found garbanzo beans, edemame, and figs satisfy my comfort carb craving. I also love how you just except the fact that you want that comfort feeling instead of depriving yourself of it, as if it were something bad. Thanks for the insight. :)

Ginger - September 19, 2011 3:15 PM

Wow! A couple years ago, the picture above would have made me salivate. But as it popped onto my screen, I nearly lost my lunch. Now that's progress. My Jack was Hot Tamales, cookies, pies, cake, and almost anything sweet. Now raisins are almost more than I can take.

Gary Thomas - September 19, 2011 5:43 PM

I would have to say that I relate with the walnuts and raisins thing... or almonds and dates! I really got to watch it here. Thanks for reminding me.

Stephanie - September 20, 2011 7:53 AM

I like the choice of Degas's L'Absinthe! Also, Emily, you look so pretty in your photo!

At this point, I'm happy to say that refined sweets truly no longer look like food to me. It was a hard battle to win, but I won it! Now I just have watch the fruit, nuts, and, on the rare occasions I get them, dates. Like Ashley, I'm a college student, so I start to get stressed around exam time and find it harder to eat well then, but hopefully this semester I can breeze through it without blinking.

Hawar - September 20, 2011 1:37 PM

Mine has to be bread! Although I go for whole wheat bread, there's still too much Fructose corn syrup in it. 25 years of eating so much bread makes it difficult to change.

Emily Boller - September 20, 2011 8:06 PM


I'm glad you noticed the painting! Degas's Abstinthe has always been one of my favorites and it fit perfectly for this post. I love the empty look in the eyes - Degas depicts the epicenter of calm so perfectly!

mike crosby - September 20, 2011 10:12 PM

Emily, I went to Dr Fuhrman's Youtube channel and saw your interview with that guy in Texas. Very impressive. It did seem like a long drive though from where you live to ask a few questions. I was thinking Skype.

I'm not a member of Dr Fuhrman's forum or whatever it is. I was years ago but never used it. What would interest me most is not so much being able to be online when Dr Fuhrman is taking questions, but just to be around a bunch of like minded people who take this way of eating seriously.

And I know that you're serious. But to be honest, it bothers me to pay so much when all I want is to be around people like you. I understand it's Dr Fuhrman's website, I just don't think it's a good thing to have to pay so much.

shels - September 20, 2011 10:22 PM

Mine Jack in Pepsi....oh how I can relate to what was said above. Everyday, I stopped by McDonald's now that the sodas of all sizes are only one dollar!!!! I look forward to this everyday and the nice cold ice chips to go along with a nice cold fuzzy soda, so delicious, that's my "Jack" right now and has been. I don't see it changing.

Emily Boller - September 21, 2011 7:25 AM


Considering the high cost of funding food addiction (I ate a whopping 3700 calories just to maintain around 230 lbs) - that's enough food to feed three people (!!!) . . .

And considering a vial of insulin now costs over $110 a vial, which only lasts a few days . . . .

And condsidering the cost of heart bypass surgery . . .

And the cost of multiple meds . . . .

The member center is a drop in the bucket investment for a lifetime ahead of multiple savings!

I could've never made it through my initial year of transformation without the member center, and that's no stretch of the imagination! The members were there to ask questions. They cheered me on. Dr. Fuhrman was there to guide me through the bumps in the road and answer my questions. The teleconferences and tutorials gave me further insight.

A lifetime of great health ahead = priceless.

Neil Steinberg - September 21, 2011 8:35 PM

Ms. Boller:

I'm so happy to hear my book has been helpful to you. I hope you're reading the paperback -- I was able to cram five extra pages at the end. It's interesting that you applied the lessons in it to dieting, because I did the exact same thing last year and lost 30 pounds -- wait, I wrote a column about it that you might like. Here it is:


Congratulations again, and I'm flattered that you find my book merits rereading.

Neil Steinberg

Laura - September 22, 2011 10:58 AM


It was your words that got me going (from Eat To Live).
"I followed the plan" no matter what. Of course, all the scientific info. helped too.
Many thanks to you.


Lisa Fuhrman - September 22, 2011 12:29 PM

Funny, after all these years of eating healthy, your post hit me as all too familiar. It was only a few months ago that I found myself having to analyze my eating habits to see if I was overeating because I was a few pounds heavier than I felt comfortable. I concluded that it was when I ate dinner, at the very end, wanting that one piece of sweetness, that one bit of thanks I was giving myself. It was past my feeling satisfied, so I was surely not hungry; it was me just wanting some comfort at the day's end.

I gave it up, somewhat grudgingly as nothing I ate was unhealthy or very much at all. Yet, it was all I needed to give up to get to the healthier weight that I wanted to. Truth be told I lost a pound or two more than I anticipated just from eliminating that little bit of comfort food. And let me tell you, I'm happier being lighter; it's very comforting! (LOL)

Stacey Stokes - September 22, 2011 1:27 PM

WOW, this is so me. If you look at what I eat, you'd think I was a pretty strict Nutritarian, but my issues still have a tremendous grip on me. I'm going to print this article out and post it somewhere for a daily reminder because weight loss is nice, but conquering the beast would be the achievement of my lifetime!

Emily Boller - September 22, 2011 2:11 PM


What a neat surprise and honor to have you post a comment! AND what a great accomplishment for you to have applied the same abstinence principles to sweets. Congratulations on the weight loss and improved sleeping ~ cheers!

Lisa, Yeah on the self-evaluation . . . it's always a vigilant process of self-examination to see if one is turning to Jack for comfort or to unwind. AND I love, "I'm happier being lighter; it's very comforting!"

Good-bye Jack to all!

Cheers of great health to all! :)

Bonnie - October 25, 2011 9:28 AM

Awesome article Emily!! You are such a positive inspiration to everyone. And the cherry on top is that you look absolutely stunning!!!!

Dorothy - July 18, 2013 8:04 AM

Great article Emily! I was glad to see folks talking about coffee as I am gearing myself up to try to give that up as well. I starting by wanting to just reduce it as I like coffee so much and found myself creeping back up. It reminded me of 30 yrs ago when I quit smoking ( hardest thing ever done by me - ever ;=) )and how I would try and fail and so forth. Sometimes you just have to remove the offending substances and as ever moderation is a fairy tale.
I also put on a few lbs - although I am fine - and was glad to see Lisa's comments. Knowing we are not alone is so important. I'm going to check out Neil's book as well.

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