Welcome to another installment of "10 Words or Less," in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and request brief answers in return. Today's participant is a pioneer in the recognition and treatment of food addiction, and I should also acknowledge that she wrote the forward to my 2009 book, "Fat Boy Thin Man." She's the best-selling author of "Food Addiction, The Body Knows," published in 1989, and "From the First Bite," published in 2000, as well as other works. A licensed mental health counselor and certified eating disorders specialist, she conducts workshops for food addicts worldwide and hosts the Food Addiction Conference on AOL's Addiction and Recovery Forum. Please remember, "10 words" is an attitude, not a limit, so no counting! Besides, let's see you do it.
Name: Kay Sheppard
Born when, where Batavia N.Y., Aug. 25, 1938
An early formative event "I had rheumatic fever when I was a youngster. Leg aches, a lot of pain. I was bedridden for almost a year."
First paying job "Babysitting. 50 cents a week."
Your education "I have a masters degree in counseling."
Where do you live now "Palm Bay, Fla., right on the Atlantic coast."
Family status "I have two sons, and I'm divorced. No grandchildren; my sons aren't married."
What's your hobby, or the closest thing to it? "I love to read, and I love to write, and I love to go to the movies, and I love "Downton Abbey."
Some wisdom related to that hobby "Well, about the writing, it reveals a lot about myself to myself."
Here's a dumb question: Does food addiction exist? "Well, I believe it does."
Can you give the 10-word definition of it? "It's characterized by an obsession with food, obsession with weight, and loss of control over the amount eaten."
Do you consider yourself a food addict? "I do."
A food rule you follow "I weigh and measure my food. I abstain from all addictive trigger foods, and I schedule my meals so I don't have bouts of hypoglycemia."
A food change for the better everyone should consider "Eliminate refined and processed foods, especially sugar in all its forms."
A top-level change a food addict has to make "I don't think there's anything more important than abstinence. The first and most important decision and implementation. I think food addicts stay abstinent to grow and change, and then grow and change to stay abstinent."
A change in the food addiction landscape since 1989 "Widespread recognition of the term and its implications. Scientific proof that the illness exists. The term is now being used liberally."
A change in the food addiction landscape still needed "The term is used, and the implication isn't always understood. A real understanding of the devastation produced by refined food products would shock the general population. I think there's a lot of denial, delusion, dishonesty, and deception."
Does food addiction explain all of America's obesity? "No. I think there are normal social eaters, food abusers who definitely can be obese, and there are addicts who are born with a defective gene."
Pick one: Overcome weight, or overcome weight stigma "To overcome weight, one has to implement a healthier lifestyle, and I would applaud that. As far as weight stigma is concerned, it wouldn't be my battle. My battle is to help the individual."
Something you still want to accomplish "I want to write more books. A simple handbook for food addicts that I want it published in Spanish and French, and a book on the science of recovery."
A pet peeve "Pet peeves put one in negative place, and I try really hard to stay really positive. I want positive pathways in my brain. But I have one. People who turn on my garbage disposal with my silverware in there."
How do you define sustainability "I love that term. It means a lasting, a continuity of improvement, of positive aspect. To keep something alive, to keep it going, to keep it operating."
How do you sustain yourself "I sustain myself through good physical recovery: good goals. hydration, exercise, nutritious food. I sustain myself mentally by going to meetings, getting with stronger, helpful people, a good support network. Spiritually, through prayer and meditation. I've been a meditator for 25 years. I firmly believe prayer connects me with a higher power."