Disease Proof

Food addiction is no joke

Emily Boller obeseMany of us have come out of, or are in the process of, coming out of years of severe food addictions that have consumed our every waking thought and action.

My food addiction got so bad that there were times I couldn't even enter the kitchen to prepare a meal for my family . . . without eating from the moment I started the food prep to the moment the meal was cleaned up afterwards. I could’ve been miserably stuffed, but if a quarter of a pan of lasagna remained, I ate it.

Unfortunately, my children never developed the habit of doing dishes after meals, because I wanted to be alone in the kitchen to devour their uneaten food left on plates (I have five kids), and crusty, greasy leftovers in pans, etc.

Denial is the cloak of addiction.  There's got to be a shift of one's mindset to accept the fact that food addiction is serious stuff; just as powerful and destructive as alcohol addiction or drug addiction.  Food addiction and resulting eating disorders and poor health are also destroying relationships, breaking up marriages, draining finances, and ruining homes ~ every bit as much.


Our society recognizes the seriousness of alcohol and drug addiction, but food addiction is a joke. Addictive foods and overeating are downplayed and promoted everywhere: by the government, the school systems, the entertainment industry, the medical industry, and even at places that should be sanctuaries of refuge such as houses of worship; therefore, we don't take it seriously. If everybody is participating in it, it must be okay, right?  Wrong.  Right along with "Say No to Drugs," "No Smoking," "Alcohol Prohibited," and "Mothers Against Meth," should be "Say No to Overeating," and "Citizens Against SAD!"

The truth is, we cannot, we dare not, mess with food addiction.  Period.  Abstinence and sobriety are just as critical to the food addict as they are to the alcoholic and drug addict. We must accept this fact; if we don't, we are undone. There's really no choice in the matter if we want to get completely free and get our health and lives back.

Making baby steps of change may work for some, but for the majority of us who’ve been entangled for years, we need to throw internal wrestling and debate out the window and just follow Dr. Fuhrman’s basic high-nutrient eating plan that’s outlined on p. 179 of Eat to Live. It’s been successfully proven over and over again to be the way out of the food addiction wilderness. 

Food addiction is no joke; it ruins lives. 

Let's all follow the path of freedom and become everything that we were meant to be!

before and after images

Previous posts related to this topic:  Are you a food addict?  It's time for a revolution!  Lubrication, I like that word  and  Why?


All images presented are before and after pictures of Emily Boller; 2008 & 2010.


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Comments (22) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
chris christensen - October 4, 2010 9:39 AM

Oh, Emily. With some recent news of my husband,s next deployment, I felt the food cravings return. Stress. Anxiety. Hopelessness. Sugar. Help! I know I'll get back on track, its just amazing how quickly it can return after eating so well for so long. And yes, the place you would hope to find refuge, in church, is often the worst offender. As I dropped my son off in his new class yesterday, I spoke with the child care worker about him not having any snacks, unless they had fresh fruit. He said no, and a dear friend of mine said it wouldn't keep and it's not practical. I understand my responsibility in providing him his own snacks if I dont llke what they have. I dont, however, agree with the excuses of "wouldn't keep" and "not practical". As I scanned the large, children's room, complete with several tv/computer screens and extra room to spare, I wondered why not add a small fridge? Take too much energy? Too costly? Maybe we should just unplug the mammoth, twin soda machines in the room just down the hallway. The energy saved could run quite a few small fridges with plenty to spare. And as far as "wouldn't keep", the available donuts don't keep either. They get consumed or thrown away each Sunday. It seems more a matter of convenience, habit, and well, complacency. It becomes rather costly and impractical not to teach kids early on the way to avoid food addictions by teaching them to eat to live.

Dolores Staub - October 4, 2010 9:50 AM

Great article! I hadn't thought about it before, even though I'm a recovering food addict. Luckily, I'm 18 years clean and sober. My friends say I have the most discipline of anyone they've ever met, with regards to food. Really, all it takes is just getting all the crap out of your diet and then, after a while, all those cravings go away. I hope your journey down this road continues and keep passing the word! Maybe other people will have a "light bulb" moment from reading your post and quit poisoning themselves into an early grave through food.

Emily Boller - October 4, 2010 11:27 AM


Patience is the key word for all of us in dealing with others who are not on the same page, or unwilling to accept the severity of food addiction.

Don't wait for others to understand you and your child's nutritional needs. Someday they may (or may not) catch on . . . in the meantime, be proactive, and provide your own snacks. In the words of Lisa Fuhrman, referring to parenting children (but it could easily apply to dealing with anyone, including childcare workers), food wars aren't productive for anyone.

All the best to you and everyone who is swimming upstream in this food addicted culture! Keep up the great job Chris, Delores, and everyone ~ there's powerful momentum in numbers!

Emily Boller - October 4, 2010 11:41 AM

The following links to previous posts are about navigating the mine field of the SAD culture.

The first one is written by Lisa Fuhrman, Dr. Fuhrman's wife, and the second one is written by their oldest daughter, Talia. Great writings of encouragement for all of us to review from time to time!

Lisa Fuhrman: http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/healthy-parenting-dont-make-food-a-war-zone.html

Talia Fuhrman: http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/children-oh-poor-me-no-junk-food-in-my-childhood.html

James - October 4, 2010 11:59 AM

Wonderful post Emily! I too have struggled with food addictions for all my life and echo your concerns that they should be treated as seriously as alcohol and drugs. With food addictions it is so much harder as there is no "cold turkey," you have to eat everyday. I have been working to live and eat a high-nutrient lifestyle but overcoming the addictions is still a challenge. How do you do it? I see all these success stories of people that seemingly learn of the high-nutrient diet/lifestyle and just change overnight. A year later and their before/after photos are like night and day. Do any of these people struggle for long periods of time to change completely and live "completely a high-nutrient lifestyle?

Matt Stone - October 4, 2010 12:44 PM

The bottom line in food addiction is the power certain things exert over the reward centers in our brain. In today's dietary landscape, there are many food factors that lead to stimulation beyond what is normal, natural, and within most people's abilities to enjoy without developing addictive patterns around it. In fact, I happen to believe the action that food exerts on the pleasure centers of the brain is probably the key to unlock the vast majority of metabolic disease, including obesity, diabetes, and associated illnesses.


Emily Boller - October 4, 2010 2:28 PM


I first learned about high-nutrient eating from Dr. Fuhrman in 2002, yet, unfortunately for me (and my family!) it took another six years of suffering for me to finally commit to follow his nutritional recommendations. For many, not all, there comes an "I've had enough!" moment where the person wants to get his/her health back more than anything else, and he/she is ready to radically and tenaciously do whatever it takes to get it back.

It really does take a tenacious, full-out, steadfast commitment of "both feet in" (no straddling the fence) to get over the threshold of overcoming the worst of the toxic cravings for SAD food. (for many it usually takes about a month or two to get over the worst of the addictive cravings) There are no shortcuts or magic pills. However, and a HUGE however, it's sooooo worth crossing over the threshold! As the taste buds change, and the body becomes well-nourished, and the toxic junk gets cleansed out, the "feel great" feeling of vibrant health motivates one to keep going for life! There's just no describing how wonderful a well-nourished, healthy body feels. There's no turning back.

You'll get there. Just like overcoming a nicotene addiction, one can't smoke a cigarette or two per day and expect to get free of the addiction. It's going to take total abstinence to get free.

Jana - October 4, 2010 3:51 PM

Congratulations on your great success! Yes--once you get the junk out of your system, real whole food tastes sooo good. Don't forget Dr. Fuhrman's other book Eat For Health which has the most fabulous and yummy recipes! Thanks for your inspiring story.

Ginger - October 4, 2010 3:53 PM

This is a hard issue. I was food addicted, since my grandmother's funeral at age 10. I was obsessed with food and stayed thin by fasting after my binges. Except for my husband everyone is so angry at me for eating well now. Visiting a family member last week, I was asked, isn't my food good enough for you. I said, the problem is all your food is delicious. I just can't eat it and stay well. They all say I'm picky, but I'm trying to save my life. 13 months ago, I was dying, sleeping 20 hours a day and suffering the effects of many degenerative illnesses during my waking hours. I prayed daily that God would end my suffering and let me die. He did end my suffering but saved me on earth for an unknown reason. He led me to ETL. I started last January and haven't looked back. I've lost 35 lbs and am over 99% of my symptoms.

Wendy - October 4, 2010 4:45 PM

Hi Emily,

I used to be in a 12-step program for food addiction and followed a very specific food plan and was greatly successful as far as weight loss. I am wondering if you continue to be absolutely abstinent of certain foods or if you are able to eat small amounts of them from time to time as Dr. Furhman says are okay, per his 90% rule. Are there certain foods/food categories that are off limits for you? You mention total abstinence- from what?

I'm wondering if some people are able to eat things here and there without a problem and some of us just can't.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience as it allows others to see that it can be done.

Emily Boller - October 4, 2010 5:21 PM


I touched on it in a post last year titled, "The powerful freedom of abstinence." http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/emily-boller-the-powerful-freedom-of-abstinence.html

Abstinence doesn't necessarily mean perfectionism. Perfectionism, if one's not careful, can turn into unhealthy binge eating from false guilt and one doesn't want to go there.

For whatever reason, for many, slip-ups happen from time to time; they just do. The key is to get up asap, not dwell on the past, and keep moving forward. The key is not allow the slip-up to become the excuse to continue to blow it, big time.

Stay tuned to a post that will be published next week - believe me - I've had my fair share of "learning from mistakes!"

By the way, someone can put a truck load of avocadoes in front of me, and I won't touch one of them. I can't say the same about a jar of nut butter. We must be honest and recognize those foods that are not wise to have around. For me personally, I do best with raw sunflower seeds and a few varieties of nuts. I skip the nut butters altogether.

Same way with overly ripe bananas. I have found that I can sink quickly into wanting more and more "sweet fruits" instead of veggies when I eat overly ripe bananas.

Keeping out of addiction, including addiction to overeating, is part knowledge and part common sense. There's a learning curve to "knowing oneself."

In the words of a wise sage, a mature person will know his/her limitations and accept them with contentment.

I'm definitely not totally there yet by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd say I've "grown up" in the past couple of years. Smile.

The main thing is that many "worst-case-scenario" cases have gotten totally free from food addiction and have had their health restored! It is possible for everyone to successfully live in complete freedom . . . . for life!

colleen - October 4, 2010 9:51 PM

HI All, I realise that I really shouldn't have certain foods in the house (weak willpower) but my husband will not co-operate and insists that ETL is not good for me(won't read the book either)so there is constant tension around food in the house. I am battling on as best I can. I don't want to regain the 12kg lost and i still need to lose 12kg more- trying to keep my eyes on the prize- no diabetes!!!!
Keep writing Emily- the change in you is incredible.!!

Bev - October 5, 2010 1:17 AM

The pictures of you are fantastic.

I also lost weight, starting in 2008 as well. I was suffering with knee osteoarthritis and walking was becoming more and more difficult. Just turning over in bed was extremely painful.

I still have 20-30 pounds to go, but I feel like a different person. It is great to be able to take a walk, even though uneven ground is still a challenge. Thanks for telling your story and sharing your pictures. You have inspired me to be more faithful to eating on the high nutrient side of the street!

elizabeth Smithson - October 5, 2010 9:13 AM

Ginger, I completely relate with your experience. I too suffered for years, finally begging God for an answer. His answer was ETL handed to me from the most obscure source, but has been a blessing to me every day since. I too am 99% well, have lost 35 lbs and every day thank him for this gift of a healthy life.

I wonder sometimes why it is that others look at our success, our happiness, our glowing health and find it only in their hearts to judge, condemn and mistrust our experience. That has been one of the most difficult aspects of this journey over the past 2 1/2 years, being set aside or ridiculed by friends and family because I choose to be healthy. I choose life! I pray they find their own way to health and happiness. I only try to set a good example without preaching or judging as I have been judged.

Emily, you have been such a wonderful voice of reason, experience, compassion and understanding. Everything you write has spoken truth to my heart, because I knew it already, I just needed to hear it again, and know that I'm not alone in this difficult journey of addiction recovery. I am even more excited to continue on this path I have begun toward becoming a Nutritional Educator/Counselor. Even though there are those who mock or run from the truths taught here, there are many others who are ready to hear the wisdom, ready to make changes and it is so gratifying to watch their joy and new found health blossom.

For all of us struggling with food addiction, it is so incredibly important to recognize we will never be perfect every day in our food choices. The key is to never allow an unhealthy food choice to become our excuse for going back to addictive behaviors or "falling off the wagon" if you will. Don't give food that much power! I tell myself all the time, "Food is not my friend or my enemy, I will not give it that much importance in my life. It is simply one of the tools I use wisely or not."

Melody - October 5, 2010 9:25 AM

Great article, Emily. Two books I've found helpful are: The Pleasure Trap by Douglas Lisle and The End of Overeating, by Kessler. These two books discuss how our environment of SAD food on every street corner has helped cause our current obesity and chronic epidemic.

Thanks for all of your sharing and hard work!

Christy - October 5, 2010 9:25 AM

Emily, Your pictures are worth a thousand words! You look AMAZING! I totally agree with your post regarding knowing your weaknesses (I also have problems with nut butters and "banana ice cream"). You inspire and encourage me. Keep writing!

Emily Boller - October 5, 2010 10:35 AM

Yes, I agree. Food "is what it is." It is our source of nutrients for a healthy, vibrant body . . . (aka "eating to live"). . . nothing more ~ nothing less . . .

but unfortunately we, as an entire society, have made food into our source of entertainment, socialization (can anyone imagine a social gathering sans food?), recreation, vacation, consolation, and celebration.

Hmmmm, sounds like recreational drug use or alcohol dependency to me.

I've interviewed enough people this past year to be convinced 100% that it's time for all of us to band together and speak up against this deadly addiction that's taking our nation under. It's time for all of us, including me, to pull our heads out of the sand and proactively, corporately fight for freedom and life.

First, let's all be the change that we wish to see in this world; and second, let's all fight together for the freedom and health/life of others.

It really is time for the REVOLUTION!


Lisa - October 6, 2010 11:59 AM

Emily, Thank You for sharing your story. I am pleased to see food addiction being called just that "addiction". Many times I find myself in a conversation with those who have family or friends battling drug addiction and I say "Oh, I have such a hard time with my stress eating, I can't imagine how hard it would be to try to kick a drug habit. My heart goes out to them with help and healing." Well, I still will not say it is as difficult, but I am very happy to see these posts that take overeating very very seriously. It's not a lazy person as we are perceived!!

Alley Cat - October 7, 2010 2:03 PM

What about bulimia? I am questioning whether I should continue on this diet. I have read a self help book that says that a person with a eating disorder must not restrict themselves of any kind of food. I want to stay on this diet because of the health benefits, but I find that when I eat non-E2L foods I feel extremely guilty and make myself purge.

Emily Boller - October 7, 2010 7:45 PM

Addictive eating behaviors will only worsen if one continues to eat addicting food. Most all heavily salted, high fat, highly processed foods are addictive.

Be kind and gentle to yourself. Nurture and care for your body with the best foods possible. Focus on the enjoyment and privilege of eating for nourishment and optimal health; there's absolutely nothing guilt producing about that.

Melodee - October 21, 2010 9:54 PM

Hi Emily,
I recently joined Dr. Fuhrman's member center and came across an older blog about you. I am happy to see you are still on track and plan on keeping up with your blogs. I am a struggling food addict and can't seem to get through one day without sugar. I am frustrated because I do eat well but then sabotage myself.
Any feedback on getting started and taking it one day at a time would be welcome. I feel desperate some nights and think I will do better tomorrow. Then the cycle starts all over again.
I just feel like I need some help or support.

Jennifer Nelson - December 16, 2010 10:32 PM

I really enjoyed this article, and I do consider myself a food addict. But I'm not a cook, and I don't enjoy all the fancy meals with all the prep time involved. I feel like the more I'm in the kitchen, the more I want to eat. Isn't there a way to simplify this healthy way of eating? Is it possible to eat healthy but use the crock pot?
Food comforts me, but it's not just the food, it's the weight. I feel like I am in a protective bubble and when I start to lose weight, I panic and put it back on. I consider myself a beautiful woman, but that beauty is quickly fading away and I'm only 40.
Also, how do I control my home and my kitchen when I have a family of a husband who likes Atkins and 3 children (ages 20, 18, and 16) who have their own ideas about food?
Obviously, I need help. I'm literally dying here.

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