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Guest Post: Even if Oprah Can’t, Maybe You Can?


Today’s guest post is a response to my recent post about Oprah and her weight-loss struggles. The post comes from Dr Vera Tarman, MD, FCFP, ABAM, and author of Food Junkies: The Truth About Food Addiction and Mike MacKinnon a fitness trainer (Fit in 20).

Oprah’s experience of losing and regaining her weight on a regular basis, alongside Sarah, the Duchess of York and Kristie Allie – all spokespersons for weight loss programs ‐ certainly send us a dismal message. Sure, weight loss can occur but keeping it off is the challenge that trips up 90% of people who have tried these and other programs. So, isn’t it more compassionate to dissuade people from the inevitable yo‐ yo lifestyle and accept their current obese weight?

But … what if there are actually many success stores that we are not hearing about?

As an addictions physician I witnessed patients who have lost an average of 60 to 100 pounds and have kept that weight off for years. They are food addicts in recovery from their addiction. They have adopted a radical diversion from the traditional bariatric or eating disorder menu recommendations: Rather than ‘learning’ how to eat all foods in moderation, these people have identified and abstained from the trigger foods that spur their addictive eating. Sobriety, food serenity and long term weight loss result – on a consistent basis.

Look to the recovery circles and addiction treatment programs. Here you will unearth people who have succeeded where Oprah has not. We don’t hear about these victories because many have pledged anonymity in the church basements where they meet, strategize and buffer the messages that we are saturated with by our food‐obsessed culture. Because there is no money to be made with the simple abstinence of sugar, flour or processed foods, and no drugs, herbs or patented food packages to sell – no one is advertising or promoting this approach. Abstinence.

Here is the story of one clinician who has found long ‐ term weight loss. His is a case in point: Weight loss for 13 years and counting. He is not a “rare’” individual who has achieved the impossible. He and his clients have simply applied the solution to the underlying problem of their obesity – an undiagnosed food addiction.

I’m a strength and nutrition coach who specializes in helping people lose weight. My typical clients are female, age 35 and up, who have tried EVERYTHING under the sun, to no avail. Most have had some success, but usually they have lost their weight and gained back even more.

Often, by the time they get to me, they’re frustrated, angry and feel hopelessness.

Over the course of two years, I lost 95 lbs of body fat. I have maintained my weight loss for almost 13 years. I have also helped many others maintain similar weight loss. Last week I interviewed an ex‐client of mine ‐ a doctor ‐ who lost almost 50 lbs six years ago. How did we both do it?

How did we maintain our loss in the face of those who would tell us that it’s not possible, that most can’t?

We addressed the problem, not the symptom. The symptom is excess body fat. The problem however is multi‐factorial:

1) It is mental in that overweight people greatly misunderstand what healthy eating and healthy exercising looks like.

2) It is emotional. Overweight people tend to turn to food instead of healthier coping mechanisms when they experience stress or overwhelming emotions.

3) It is physical: they eat too much of the wrong stuff, and end up eating it compulsively.

I work with people to re‐program their thinking, so they learn to have a better relationship with food. I teach them reality‐based therapies (CBT, DBT, ACT, REBT) that help them deal with harmful thinking and negative emotions more constructively.

Mainly, I teach them what to eat, what foods are healthy versus which lead to addictive eating. Clients learn the tools they need to stay on track so that they don’t relapse back to compulsive eating. The truth is, for some, there are foods they must avoid permanently. This approach is not popular. But, I have found that some people treat certain foods the same way a drug addict treats their drug of choice. Once they start, they cannot stop.

Not everyone fits this category, but some do. When these people agree to give up the foods that are causing them trouble, they succeed.

So, when I hear someone say that most who are overweight are doomed to never lose their weight, my first thought is “nonsense”. What I suggest to my clients is a paradigm shift in thinking. We, who are led by the diet industry, misunderstand the nature of the problem. It is not a simple matter of eating less and excising more. People must accept that an equal portion of mental, emotional and physical work needs to be done AND they may also have to accept that there are certain foods they can never eat again.

Are you a food addict?

If you are, you may have to identify and abstain from your favorite foods in order to achieve long‐term weight loss. Those processed savory or sugary ‘drugs’ that comprise our daily snacks and fast food meals.

Is there good news? There are plenty of people out there who have sustained weight loss, but we have yet to capture them in our studies. They will tell you: You can, you can, you can.


  1. Dr. Sharma, this was a decidedly unhelpful post. Like most of the people I know who work in recovery, these two writers appear to believe that everyone is an addict but most are in denial. It is a hazard of the occupation. It is also a hazard of the recovery occupation that anyone who says they “can’t” achieve the goal is speaking “nonsense.”

    The post also had no data of any kind about the number of people with food addiction, who are in food addiction recovery or recovery rates. It was mere anecdote and you as a scientist will be familiar with the phrase “data is not the plural of anecdote.”

    I agree with the earlier post – if the richest and most powerful women in the world cannot buy or access sufficient therapy, training, diets or programs to keep weight off then perhaps it cannot be done. The data is decidedly on this side of that debate.

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    • This is a very valid comment – we don’t know what the denominator is – just how many people have tried an addiction approach and have had this work for them. As I have previously discussed with the authors of this post, much of the data on this is anecdotal – there are no hard numbers (at least none I could find). Nevertheless, this viewpoint is out there and I believe the authors when they say it worked for them and (some?) of their clients. Also, the authors do acknowledge that this may only relevant to a subset of people with obesity (just how big a subset is anyone’s guess). But I would indeed really like to see some good research on this.

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      • Many of us have found recovery in the rooms of 12 step programs. Not many will complete a survey, or even be told that we are a compulsively overeat. That is for us to decide.

        Have no doubt, there are thousands of us out there, knowing that if we break our anonymity, we risk being put on a pedestal, easily toppled by our own ego.

        My suggestion to the health care practitioner? Plant the seed. Ask your client to do some research, ask themselves some questions, and leave it to them:

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      • I’m not a fan of the “addiction and recovery” model as it is outlined here. It smells of 12-Step to me, which I found to be decidedly unhelpful. All human beings are “food addicts.” It’s just nonsense to locate the power in this situation within the food itself. Abstinence from “addictive foods” (usually) sugar runs counter to all the brain studies I’ve read which suggest that abstinence actually strengthens the addictive, craving experience. I agree that the emotional and psychological aspects of overeating are important–perhaps more important than thinking about “good foods” and “bad foods.” But the power over certain foods comes not from abstaining from them but from understanding why you use food as you do. It took me a long time to make my peace with chocolate, but a combination of bypass surgery and lots of psychological work got me to a place where I can enjoy chocolate occasionally without needing to have it every day. (And no, bariatric surgery is not the Final Solution, but it does allow one the opportunity to confront daily what you want in your life and to make choices about it.)

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        • one should ask self, am i happy, living in peace, enjoying life?
          i lost 40kg, almost 70lb over 18 months and maintaining that.
          one should ask self, am i struggling to keep my extra weight off, if the answer is yes or no, self should rethink life style

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          • 40 Kg converts to 88 lb

      • I have suffer from obesity for 50 years of my life, tried ever diet, program, drug, dr going. I had no idea you could be addicted to certain foods. My first knowledge of this theory was hearing Mike MacKinnon speak on the subject and the effects of sugar, flour and wheat on some people. i alway knew my obsess in sixth food was not normal but could not find a doctor who understood.Mike MacKinnow was able to teach me what foods were a problem for a food addict.
        never have I been told that all overweight people are food addicts. I went through a process to determine if I might be., and yes, I met all the criteria. mIke taught me what I needed to do, introduced me to a support system of people with the same issue.
        I am down 140 pounds and going into my fifth year of abstinence, I am no longer diabetic, no longer have knee nd back issues, no longer have sleep apnea, no longer have high blood pressure .
        I agree, not all overweight people have food addiction, however it is a real problem and the only way for people like me to succeed.
        If diets work for you, great. If you have my issue with food , consider this article and get some help.

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        • I really relate, i hope no one is an addict, but i think there so many out there, if you can not keep the extra weight off, consider being an addict, educate yourself in that regard, see if you can benefit

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    • Dear Melinda Munro,

      I have to decidedly disagree with you.
      If only in the matter of seeing the glass half full or half empty, telling millions of overweight and obese people that they are going to die fat and miserable and that there is no hope for them is decidedly unhelpful.
      This post is trying to tell them – there is hope. Stay strong. Keep faith. Anything is possible. Denying even this to them is plain cruel.

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      • 1. Why would the fat people have to be miserable?

        2. Would you say the same thing about someone pushing some snake-oil treatment for, say, cancer? Would you defend that people with cancer can be lied to since it helps them keep faith?

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        • Valerie,
          1. I have not met or heard of an obese person who given an easy, fast, healthy, free (miraculous) “push a button” option of being slim would still opt to be obese. So yes, based on that I do make an assumption that overweight/obese people would rather not be such. You are right, it does not mean they are otherwise miserable but yes, I do believe they are various degree miserable about their weight (I know I am and I don’t know anybody who isn’t).
          2. Yes. Hope is crucial for everything. Hope and faith heal. It is scientifically proven and is called placebo effect. Charging for it is what’s not ethical.

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        • if you are not fat, it will be hard for you to understand

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          • I a*m* fat. I could do without the judgement of others and the pressure to lose weight at all cost, but being fat itself does not make me miserable.

    • Like all of us, Melinda, you don’t know what you don’t know. I can’t wish that you hadn’t chosen elsewhere to illustrate the maxim.

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  2. I congratulate the writer for having a successful practice. The post however, is 100% anecdotal and comes from some alternative universe in which Food Addiction and 12 step programs are not widely publicized. Also a universe in which Oprah doesn’t understand food addiction or 12-step programs herself.

    Here’s a 12-step program that uses Oprah to advertise:

    Here’s Oprah’s OWN network presenting the case for food addiction:

    Here’s a nice summary article with quotes from Oprah on her admitted food addiction:

    Dr. S, this woman has an agenda and a tired point of view. She has persuaded you to let her hack you.

    Your column has integrity because it is based in your views and experience, and your willingness to remain a life-long learner. Sometimes you get it wrong and you’re usually quick to integrate that experience into your thinking. In my opinion, today is one of those days you got it wrong. I’ll be interested to see how you integrate the new information, moderate it, interpret it.

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    • While I do grant you that folks selling materials are sketchy, you do a disservice by writing off recovery from food addiction as a life-saving option for some. In addition to 12 steps, many forget the 12 traditions, that puts recovery and spreading that recovery over the profit motive. (Which the links provided do not practice).

      Food addiction is not widely publicized, I went 35 years, starting as a 300 lb kid in Grade 8, not hearing of OA or other food addiction programs. I only heard of the weigh and pays, of those trying to make a buck.

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  3. I agree that we are not seeing enough success stories from all sorts of modalities. However, i have BIG problems with jumping into “addiction” and 12-step models. 12-step models may work for some folks, but i believe they are dangerous for people (women in particular) who have trauma or abuse in their background. 12-step is icky and cult-like. CBT is a good strategy, as is the work of Dr. Kelly McGonigal on the nature of willpower.
    Thanks again Dr. Sharma for your good work providing this information.

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    • Wow, “Icky and cult-like?” Now there’s some data for Melinda, the previous commenter!

      The Twelve Steps are the product of the greatest social movement of the 20th century, responsible for having influenced the lives of millions of people, all over the world, over the past 80 years.

      Except perhaps the hubris exemplified by my flat declaration of “the greatest social movement…” everything I said is broadly accepted truth. Why would anyone denigrate that?

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  4. Isn’t it convenient to have a therapy that cannot be proven ineffective?

    We hear the same thing from low-carb gurus. “It works! All my patients succeed! But I can’t run a study. It’s too expensive.”

    We hear it from vegan gurus. It works, but we are unable to prove it for logistic/financial reasons.

    Now we hear it here from addiction gurus. Abstinence works, but we can’t prove it because we have to respect anonymity. By the way, subjects do not have to be individually identified in a study. It can (and I think it usually does) remain anonymous.

    Unfalsifiable. How convenient.

    And how in Earth can the authors decide that Oprah’s problem is food addiction?

    One more thing: when the authors list the three problems behind obesity, they write that *overweight* people are ignorant about food, and that *overweight* people eat emotionally and compulsively. Do they have data on that? Cause the most careless eaters I know personally are the effortlessly skinny folks.

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  5. Thank you both for the excellent comments.

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  6. I am actually pleased to see this post. I have been following Dr. Sharma and others for some time now and have been uneasy with what seems to be a somewhat dismissive attitude towards those of us who are able to lose weight and keep it of for a long time. I think we are often portrayed as people who rigidly fixate on food, take no pleasure in it and spend our days exercising madly. This is not the case. The guest’s comments that there are many people who are not captured in current studies is worth considering.

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  7. Thank you Dr. Sharma. I appreciate Dr. Tarman’s description of successful experiences by people who have acknowledged their respective trigger foods and beverages and have practiced continued abstinence from those substances.

    I struggled with foods and beverages for years. I had constant battles with cravings, until I began 17 years ago to abstain from grains, sugars, and alcohol. When I began to abstain, I lost the brain fog, the achy joints, and painful metatarsals along with 100 pounds. I am 17 years later still free of those and have achieved a mental and emotional clarity distinctly different from what I experienced while “in the food” that triggered me.

    Scientists do say that alcohol and other drugs impact humans. Other scientists have reported reactions to foods that appear in brain studies similar to reactions to alcohol, drugs, and other addictions.

    For some of us who identify as addicts, particular foods (for me grains and sugars) were gateway drugs impacting brain function and establishing in my body the “phenomenon of craving.”

    If one does not experience this form of craving or does not have it relieved by abstinence from the offending substance(s) then that person is probably not an addict. S/he only needs to adjust the relationship of caloric intake and outflow to maintain a healthy body.

    For those who do experience the phenomenon of craving, addiction is addressed by complete abstinence from the individual’s triggers.

    Try one and then try the other. One will work for each who continues to persevere.

    Additional emotional work for those who have experienced trauma is often valuable and may be essential to maintain the continuity of practice.

    Abstinence from the triggers and then work on the emotions supports ongoing freedom from food hell.

    Just one more who fought abstinence and then found it works so well, Cynthia Myers-Morrison, Ed.D.

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    • Thank for sharing your story which is also my story and the stories of so many who discovered that sugar and grains lead us down a dark path. I gave away 130 lbs in food recovery 5 years ago. I can tell if something I eat has hidden sugar and my body/mind react! I have added a Zen meditation practice in my life that supports my recovery. Studying for a joint degree in Public Health Social Work I am learning more and more how corporate food industries want to keep us addicted to sugar, high salt and bad fat. Thank you for posting this guest column and thanks to Dr. Tarman for your new book that outlines the latest science.

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    • Beautifully said, Cynthia. This was true for me too.

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  8. Wow. Lots of emotion, pseudo science and opinionated ranting in the replies. The addiction model applies in some cases. Some substances available to eat can impact brain chemistry in a manner consistent with known addictive substances, and the abstinence approach can be effective in combination with other treatment. Some very prominent researchers world-wide accept substance addiction as a prommissing research avenue in obesity studies, and likely contributor towards obesity for a segment of the obese population. One thing is clear, in a research area seriously underfunded and studied until recently, of course the hard science is thin. We know that obseity is multi-factorial, with several etiologies. It is a complex desease, and the most often observed symptom, excess fat, is likly the outcome of several distinct causal routes, requiring discrete treatment plans. On a policy level, it is very hard to introduce laws that restrict manufacturers from putting highly attractive, high calory, addictive or addiction-like, great tasting, cheap foods before the public, sold in conjunction with some of the world’s best marketing plans. There is a lot of science behind Dr. Tarman’s hypothesis, and it deserves serious attention and further research. Obesity medicine has a long way to go before there is enough science to back public policy decisions, or offer definitive diognostic tools and treatment options. In the mean time, at the individual level, if you try Dr. Tarman’s approach in a medically supervised program, you might find that you respond to it successfully. Not every obese person may have an addiction issue, and even if an individual does, it may not be the only influencing causal contributor. Multiple treatment paths may be needed. One thing I canadd with certainty, obesity kills, destroys lives, and steals futures. Take it seriously. It is not a “lifestyle” outcome, but a highly destructive illness that harms many. Acknowledging that addiction science can contribute to the medical conversation about obedity’s causes and treatments is clearly supported by the literature, and it offers a prommissing route to treatment for those meeting the sddiction profile criteria.

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  9. Hogwash. In the 3 reasons the writer lists for how/why people become obese, she refers to overweight people do this, they do that, and they do this other thing… Blaming and shaming. The PROOF? Substitute the word “people” for “overweight people” in all three reasons because MOST people, and many who are not overweight, do those behaviours on a regular basis. If people find that church basement groups help them – GREAT! Those groups help with all kinds of the things. But they are NOT the answer for many people who end up feeling like failures when the group doesn’t address their issue. I have heard that way back when AA first started a big split occurred between the medical community and people suffering from alcoholism which has become institutionalized. Due to anecdotal success stories, the medical community more or less threw in the towel and was glad to have a referral for these difficult patients. Imagine being sent to a church basement for diabetes! We need medical recognition and medical treatment as well as psychological, social, cultural support… Have a nice day everyone. 🙂

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  10. Thank you for the commentary. I appreciate this is a controversial subject, still in its infancy regarding clinical research. Indeed we are still at the preclinical stages.
    But the clinical research IS happening and the research in my book has a bibliography of where / who to look for new info as it filters in. We are similarly working with the aim in mind for DSM5 inclusion. It is very much a work in progress.
    But in the mean time – perhaps a few food addict lives can be saved.
    Please appreciate that none of us believe that more than 20 to 30% of the general populations (at most) are food addicts. It is likely on par with the distinction between social and alcoholic drinking ie 80/20 ot 90/10 %.
    Just consider the possibility.
    I think Oprah has but supporting Weight Watchers indicates her choice.
    An addict does not give up her drug willingly – especially if other options are continually encouraged. I would like to even out the playing field, that’s all!

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    • If Oprah chooses abstinence, then it proves she’s ab addict. If Oprah chooses moderation, then IT ALSO PROVES SHE’S AN ADDICT!

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  11. Thank you for this post.I believe that we are missing the boat on obesity management by not seeing the whole picture. It’s not about willpower.I believe that obesity is the symptom, the cause, or the result of something else. Unless we find and treat the real problem, we do not get resolution of the obesity issue. I believe that some people are sensitive to refined, processed, and man made foods; they cause reactions in people who are sensitive that are different from those who aren’t.If you have problems with food, eating and body weight, it is essential that we identify the real problem, the source of the difficulty; then a peaceful, effective and permanent solution can be created.

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  12. I am a clinical psychologist, and psychotherapist from Latin America, with a Ph.D. from the UK, and extensive counseling training, but I am not an academic, and unfortunately I can only also offer anecdotal, clinical and personal experience to support my opinion and observations. If that makes my opinion irrelevant so be it!

    But I also have addiction issues around food, and have personally met hundreds of people in recovery, and visited the rooms of the 12 Steps Programs. I saw long term results with the “abstinence” requirement, plus steps work, tools, spirituality, and -this may be most important element- a very strong community of support. These programs break isolation, work more efficiently than most therapies, and can effectively help people that come from families with multiple patterns of addiction, narcissism, and abuse. They do not cost anything at all, and they do not preach but are based on the idea that helping your peers, keeps you “sober”. All what I knew before about eastern spiritual traditions matched perfectly the principles that people in recovery live by. Also the getting rid of old survival behaviors (like eating to feel comforted?), is consistent with therapeutic approaches I am familiar with. So I have a lot of positive things to say about these programs. I am also an atheist, and in spite of that, it works for me. The problem is that it is a VERY tall order to tell someone: you can’t ever again consume this and that substance/drink/food. I think that is mainly why this approach is unpopular. And very hard at the beginning.

    However, I would like just to submit the following suggestion: if nothing else does work, would it be perhaps worth to keep an open mind, and may be give it a try? You may be surprised, and in any case you will experience kindness, love, and acceptance from people that were there, where you are now. And with the help of others, you may realize that today was again another day in which you did not need to eat all those sweet things you crave, or you did not need to go to bed with your stomach so full, because you were very involved in something very fulfilling, and it was nice to be heard and not being interrupted, criticized, or “mothered”, and you may want to go back to that meeting again… In fact, you are starting to look forward to it!

    Just my non-scientific $0.02 in support of Dr. Vera’s view.

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  13. As you may have concluded from two responses I left for other commenters (if mine make it through moderation), I also support Dr. Tarman’s view.

    I topped 300 pounds three times, topping out at 365 in 1991. I’ve lost more than 500 pounds altogether, but am now maintaining a 155-pound loss for almost a quarter century.

    I tried many routes to achieve that, but it was only in therapy, support groups, and rehab that I experienced the essential lasting changes. One certainty I’ve grasped in all this time is that this story isn’t about me; after all, I’d both succeeded and failed, over decades each. What changed was the method: support, surrender, willingness, as well as eating differently.

    Those who mock or merely discount this method like to point out that it isn’t documented statistically. But there is a valid reason, pointed out by a previous commenter, that explains why traditional research isn’t available: Participants in the solution are anonymous. It would be great if they weren’t — you know, for the researchers’ sake, ’cause that’s what they need — but then it would no longer be the solution they’re trying to study. This circumstance does not prove the solution valid, but neither does it prove it is is not.

    Meanwhile, even if it’s only — pick a number — percent successful, it isn’t hard to compare well to the “solutions” often suggested. We know pretty solidly that dieting fails 9 out of 10 who use it. On a planet where 1.9 billion inhabitants are obese or overweight, even a solution that has a “low” rate of success deserves respect.

    If you want to know more, check out “Fat Boy Thin Man” or my blog at

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  14. That certain substances found in some foods produce addiction-like responses in some people is supported by a number of studies, peer reviewed. That addiction science makes theoretical sense as a model in some cases for some people who are obese is supported by the data and reasonable medical logic. We know by now that one size does not fit all in terms of treatment plans, that obesity is a symptom, that it has several etiologies, and that it is multifactorial. So abstinence may work for people identified as having a high liklihood of an addiction-like responce to certain food ingredients, combined with other treatments if other factors are also in play. The addiction responce does make sense and is a worthy hypothesis for further research. As science confirms its place in the obesity causation roster, perhaps other therapeutic approaches might be found to treat instances of food ingredient specific addiction in addition to abstenance. It is a prommissing avenue of enquiry worthy of serious study and sincere effort. Diognostic protocols need to be perfected to identify candidates likely to respnd better to an addiction modelled therapy plan. Certainty sweeping statements like “all is lost” or “if so and so can’t do it then no one can,” are non-scientific and sloppy generalizations. There is reason for hope, the addictions approach may help those with a high probability of being addicted to some component of food, and research must continue. Obesity is a silent killer, harms sufferers, and diminishes horizons in several dimensions.

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  15. The research shows that some processed foods have addictive properties. These include sugars, gluten, excessive salt, processed fats, and caffeine. The research also shows that people with elevated BMI’s show brain dysfunction that is similar to drug addicts. The food addiction model offers a plausible explanation for chronic overeating of processed foods.

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  16. After struggling with my weight for the first 37 years of my life, I finally came to the conclusion that abstinence is easier than perfect moderation for those who have given into excess. As a result I have maintained 130 pound weight loss for 5 Years and eliminated all my medical issues (diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, gout, acid reflux, and aching joints) look and feel great. The Power is Ours!

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  17. I stood in the cereal aisle again last night after having read this article and the comments earlier in the day and once again came up with ONE cereal that isn’t loaded with flour and sugar. I shook my head at the idea that people don’t want to believe these two ingredients are addictive.
    There is quite a bit of debate on the lack of research into abstinence in these comments, but there’s no lack of research into whether sugar and flour are addictive. There is literally heaps of it. Don’t be fooled by the paid experts who will tell you otherwise.
    You also don’t have to like or even practice the 12 steps to achieve abstinence from flour and sugar. I went to Food Addicts Anonymous meeting with my own mind. I got the food menu and went to meetings until I was sure my brain had built enough new pathways to achieve permanent weight loss. At no time did a Man in the Sky alleviate my craving suddenly – and I did not find I had to start following a misogynistic Christian ideology (12 steps) to not eat flour or sugar.
    So don’t miss out on an opportunity to improve your health, well-being, and self esteem by choosing abstinence. After 40 years of dieting I now enjoy food more than ever in my life. I feel completely free when I see what I used to think were delicious foods.
    The point is millions of people miss out on achieving addiction free lifestyles because the 12 step recovery process sounds so out-dated and strange. This is a democratic nation so you can go and take what you like and leave the rest behind. You an even look up their menu plan on the internet and never attend a meeting. But don’t throw away the research on flour and sugar – it is highly addictive and food companies are working to make it more powerful as we speak.

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  18. Thanks for discussing this important issue .
    I am Raja and I am food addict in stable recovery for 5 years maintaining 110 pounds weight loss for 4 years
    I struggled with weight for 30 years , during which I lost and gained an average of 50 pounds in each weight loss attempt.
    I underwent gastric banding surgery and lipo suction . I regularly exercised. I went on countless diets and I always managed to lose weight yet gain it all back .
    So I tried psychotherapy and committed to attending a one on one counseling sessions for 3.5 years during which my counselor addressed what she thought I had – emotional eating.
    I also attended numerous workshops in self development ( e.g. : stress management , time management , emotional intelligence , assertiveness , …etc )
    I read numerous books . I even wrote books about my struggle .
    Yet all these measures did not free me from my obesity and my obsession with food and compulsive overeating .

    Only when I stumbled upon a website for an organization, in USA , that treats food addiction , I found the missing piece in my puzzle .

    I travelled to the US and attended this intensive course which this organization offers for treating food addiction .
    In this course , the professionals addressed the source of my problem ( my sugar/food addiction ) and not the symptom of the problem ( the weight )!!
    The 12 step spiritual program was also introduced to me , and I had to educate myself about it through reading books and websites because this program is not available in my country ( Jordan ) .

    Ever since I attended this course , my disease was arrested and I have been enjoying a miraculous recovery journey that liberated from the bondage of food addiction and obesity .

    Food addiction is real .
    Food addiction is not the same as emotional eating .
    I sincerely advise every person who is battling weight and/ or eating issues to read the life-saving book: “Food Junkies”.

    I verify each and every word mentioned in this extremely enlightening book; I advise everybody to read it because it will help the reader understand his / her disease and achieve not only slimness but also peace of mind, freedom and happiness .
    God bless the authors of ” Food Junkies.”

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  19. Hello there new to this blog, I know that I am late to the party, but I wanted to say a few words. I think that its great that people are overcoming their problems with food addiction and getting the help they need, but I think that food addiction only addresses one cause of obesity. There are plenty of other reasons for people to be obese that have nothing whatsoever to food addiction. Treating every obese person like an they are an addict who can’t control themselves can be problematic, especially for people who do not have these problems. If anything, that kind of attitude comes of as a little condescending to me, as if I am too stupid to figure out what I need to do to stay healthy and take care of myself. I am obese and have been overweight for most of my life. I have never had a sweet tooth, never had problems overeating, and when I do indulge in sugary treats its usually every once in a rare while, usually a little bit of dark chocolate, a small frozen yogurt with some fresh fruit. Growing up in California we always had access to a lot of fruits, either because we had an orange tree in the backyard, or we grew our own vegetables, or we had plenty of produce from the neighbors who also grew their own fruits and vegetables. We were never allowed to have soda or any junk food in the house unless it was a special treat. I also was pretty physically active. I played sports in school, and played with all the children in the neighborhood for hours everyday. By all accounts I should have been thin, and yet here I was, still overweight. And people who were closest to me, people like my grandmother and my aunts who knew my lifestyle and knew how I lived continued to make rude and inappropriate comments to me, telling me that it’s time to stop eating so much junk food that it’s not good for me and telling me how great my life was going to be once I changed my eating habits and lost the weight. Because my life wasn’t already great as it was, I was an excellent student, performing above average in school, I was a very talented artist and singer, but none of these things meant a thing because I was not thin. Of course I knew not to eat junk food, are you kidding me? It was as if they thought I must have been stuffing my face with junk food in private in order to be so heavy, which if you knew me was an absolutely ridiculous statement. If anything, the one who was secretly stuffing their face with junk food, it was my younger thinner sister who was eating a horrible diet of Twinkies, Dorritos, Oreos, ACME microwave popcorn with lots of butter and salt, and little bags of candy she would buy from the local candy store in the mall, she never ate her vegetables, and lo and behold she was thin. My parents were terrified that she would end up like me, and everybody tried to warn her, but she didn’t pay them any mind. To this day she is still thin, and I am still fat. I have dieted and exercised in the past, enough to lose 3o pounds, some of which I have still kept off. I seem to do pretty well when I have a consistent diet, I don’t gain or lose, I just stay in a happy little plateau until I adjust my caloric intake or level of physical activity. Exercise and a healthy diet does seem to help somewhat, but it’s never been enough to make me thin. I am nowhere near the benchmark for bariatric surgery, and I wouldn’t want it anyway, I know two people who had it done, and both had a lot of problems with it afterward. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, let alone myself. Currently I’ve been slacking in the exercise department, I need to get started again, is something that I am loathe to do, but I know that I am getting older and that not exercising is no longer an option. Even so, I have no expectations that I am going to have a dress size in the single digits. Everybody assumes that’s going to be the outcome with me, but that’s never happened, and I doubt that it’s ever going to happen, and I’ve made my peace with it. But you know, everybody just loves to explain what my problem is and how I can fix it, because they already know everything about me, apparently. Because being thin apparently is the only contribution I can make to the world. Not through music or art or my intelligence, but by being thin and attractive looking. I really don’t know what else to say about that. Le sigh. I would really appreciate being treated like a person instead of an incompetent child or a drug addict when it comes to weight loss, is all that I am asking.

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