Supporting a loved one through food addiction

Kurt and Emily Boller's wedding dayThirty years ago this Valentines Day my husband and I became officially engaged. We were young, naïve, and deeply in love. Little did we know about the dark prison that lie just ahead for both of us with my budding food addiction and resulting binge eating disorder and obesity. While we were dating, I had confided that I had a “food problem,” but neither of us had any clue whatsoever how powerful it was, or how severely food addiction would take over and practically destroy my life. [Back in 1981 food addiction was not openly discussed or understood like it is today.] Since today is a special day for sweethearts, I want to focus on those who are supporting a spouse or significant other through food addiction by inviting my husband, Kurt, to share his thoughts on the topic. Welcome to Disease Proof, Kurt.  


What was your initial reaction when I first told you that I had a “food problem” when we were dating?

 I thought it was no big deal.  After all, in my mind I thought, “Who doesn’t have an extra piece of cake once in awhile?”  Besides, you were so special to me that I couldn’t believe there was anything that was a problem.


From your perspective, what was it like to discover and see first-hand the seriousness of my food addiction / binge eating disorder after we were married?

It was hard, especially when it seemed like you were out of control.  I could see that you wanted out of the addiction, yet seemed helpless to help yourself.  My first reaction was to try to control things, and being a typical guy, I thought it was something that I needed to fix. Unfortunately as I tried unsuccessfully to “fix” it, usually in an unproductive way, it only made the addiction worse.


Emily Boller when obeseHow did it make you feel?

I felt disappointed and cheated. I realize now that I had very unrealistic expectations and views on life, but unfortunately, my perception was my reality at the time.


What was the turning point for you?

I don’t think there was one point as much as a series of turns.  I was so frustrated and disappointed that I got honest with God about how I felt.  Then I just didn’t care anymore.  For awhile I did my own thing, and found ways to detach myself and emotionally escape.  It was just easier to give up and not care or try to help anymore.  Eventually God pointed out my own “stuff” that I needed to deal with; and even though the food addiction was a terrible situation, He used it to burn up some of my own crud that was an issue as well.   We went to a professional counselor, and I learned the only person that I could change was me.  That was a huge turning point in the process because I finally stopped trying to change you.  I worked on dealing with my own garbage, and then I started to believe you when you’d say, “Someday I’m going to get free.”  


Emily afterWhat has it been like to see me get free from food addiction and get my health back?


It was like a light came on and good things started happening immediately when you committed to Eat to Live ~ beyond anything either one of us had ever dreamed.  It was amazing.  To see someone go from getting beat up mentally, emotionally and physically with food addiction to being healthy, confident, and free; and helping others to do the same is indescribable.  It’s like watching the movie “Rocky” for the first time; witnessing someone that you love and want the best for finally winning in a war they’ve been fighting for years. 



What are your thoughts to share with others who are supporting a loved one through food addiction and resulting eating disorders and diseases? 


  • Be honest with yourself and acknowledge your feelings.  Stuffing your frustrations and anger only makes it worse.

  • Be committed to the relationship.  Everyone needs someone solid and a good influence in their life.

  • Realize you can’t change them.  The only person that you can change is yourself. 

  • There may be times when you’ll need to pull back so your “boat” doesn’t sink.  A person drowning in addiction can pull others down with them so maintain your own mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health; just don’t abandon them.

  • Seek professional counseling for the person as well as yourself.  Not all counselors are equal.  If a counselor doesn’t help, then keep looking. The key is being willing to be totally honest about the underlying root problems and cut out the destructive issues that psychologically fuel addiction.

  • Don’t quit.  Never give up.  Never give in.  Never, Never, Never.  Like the old adage goes, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!”





Related posts:

Are you a food addict?  by Dr. Fuhrman

Freedom is for everyone!  by Emily Boller

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Comments (14) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Dani @ Body By Nature - February 14, 2011 7:36 AM

Amazing story, you are an inspiration.

Karen Harris - February 14, 2011 10:46 AM

Your story is such an inspiration for those of us still fighting out way out of food addiction. It will be my story, too. May I (as a creative person myself) ask why you are holding paint and paintbrushes?

Emily Boller - February 14, 2011 11:08 AM


My journey to get my health back started as an art exhibit called, "Transformation."

I am an expressionist painter, and have had the innate passion to produce significant works of art since my earliest memories. As an unhealthy, obese artist, the incongruent lifestyle of making works of art at the same time as destroying a work of art (my body) caused me to desire change.

As an artist I set out to see what food would do to the human body as a work of art. Just as a painter uses paint, or a potter uses clay, I used food as my artistic medium.

The art exhibit is described in more detail on my web site (link above - click on my name at the top of this comment), and the full presentation of the exhibit will be shown to the public in the near future.

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) - February 14, 2011 11:13 AM

Emily-I could read about your story over and over again. The photographs that you share are such a vivid impression about the agony of food addiction. Thank you to you and your husband again.

Victoria Arnstein - February 14, 2011 11:27 AM

I may be in a class with food addicts, but I think it is mainly because of condiments and not the foods themselves. I am sure if you put msg or salt and oil on anything it would taste good. Even a bland pasta and rice cakes can be spiced up exciting the taste buds and causing the addictions to never seize. Try eating things without the spices and condiments and you will see the addictions clear away faster. I just completed a 21 day water fast to reset my taste buds. I think it is just as easy have an addiction to feeling good as it is to numb yourself into foods that are processed. It is a choice we need to make everyday. The aromas of cooked and processed foods will always seduce us, but we need to make the right choices if we are to be well and live with high vibrations.

audrey - February 14, 2011 12:54 PM

Emily, what an open, selfless act to share the issue from Kurt's perspective. Many, many lessons in this post. XOXO on V-Day!

Horsecrazy - February 14, 2011 2:27 PM

Thanks so much for your story Emily. I never really thought what it might have been like for Kurt. Such a blessing that you both made it through that difficult time. You are an amazing person and I can't wait to meet you face to face this summer!

Ira - February 14, 2011 4:18 PM

Thank you for sharing your story. This is the best advice that I have heard or read on how to deal with and support anyone you love who is living with any addiction. Very encouraging and inspiring. A story that I will save to share with others and keep.

Chris Christensen - February 14, 2011 5:20 PM

Thanks Kurt, for sharing your perspective and Emily, for this interview. As a military wife, its nice to hear the other part of the story that is often untold. The other person's struggles and pain is important to hear also.

The seed of hope, "Someday I'm going to get free" is powerful. I'm holding on to that now myself, as I hold onto the knot at the end of my rope.



Barbara - February 14, 2011 7:10 PM

What a powerful post. Thank you Emily and Kurt for giving us an inside look into food addiction.

Kathie - February 15, 2011 12:32 PM

Emily, I just read your story on your website and watched your videos on YouTube. You are so inspiring and I love the idea of looking at your body as a work of art. I believe that we were created and so, of course, we are God's artistic creation. I wish all the world could view this and see the possibilities when they watch your transformation.

Emily Boller - February 15, 2011 7:00 PM

On behalf of Kurt and I, thank you for the kind comments.

Unfortunately, I'm sure many couples and families could write a book about how food addiction has affected their lives together.

Fortunately, more and more of us are fed up with the lies of the dieting industry that has fueled the addiction and resulting eating disorders. We are no longer burying the confusion of food addiction under a rug, but earnestly seeking the way out instead.

It's a new day ~ the dawn is breaking on the horizon!

Freedom to all!

LaurieInOklahoma - February 17, 2011 1:05 PM

During your most difficult times, I'm sure neither you nor Kurt ever dreamed of what a wonderful, liberating solution you would eventually find. It's like your lives changed from being in black and white to being in color.
(In glorious, full color, complete with surround sound...)

The sad thing is that if we all grew up in a sane food environment, there would not be much issue with food addiction. So many people are the victims of our out-of-control food environment.

Lenore Hiller - September 23, 2011 1:43 PM

I think that it hurts to read that your husband said he felt "cheated" by your food addiction. I see marriage in two ways I guess. Death do us part, support each other no matter what. No matter how you look, you have someone who has your back.

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