Phil Werdell: "Abstinence first, absolutely."

Long-time readers will recognize this format: I ask interview subjects questions of 10 words or less, and ask them to respond in kind (please, no counting). I've done about a dozen in this style on people working in sustainability, and now I hope to do a set with people working on some part of the obesity problem.

PHIL WERDELL, 68, Sarasota, Fla.
Cofounder, Acorn Food Dependency Recovery Services
Phil Werdell, Acorn cofounderWhat did you want to be when you grew up? “A leader.”
Someone you admired in childhood, outside your family
“Robert McNamara.”
Someone you admire today, outside your family “Bill Wilson,” cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
What do you do for a living? “I work intensively with late-stage food addicts and write about food addiction.”

How did you get onto this path? “It wasn’t my choice. I nearly died from food addiction, and one day, somebody said, “you eat like I used to drink.” I knew he was an alcoholic and I knew I was a food addict, and I had to put my recovery first.”
What did you do before this? “I was a student/community organizer, an innovative college teacher and administrator, and a writer about higher-education reform.”
A nugget of wisdom you’ve learned “For food addicts, “abstinence first, absolutely,” is the key to living and a good life.”
The biggest impediment to change “Denial about addiction, and lack of support to heal past trauma.”
The one thing you wish everyone would get right “The connection with God.”
A question I should have asked “Is it really true that you enjoy what you eat, when you’re abstinent from sugar and wheat?”
And the answer? “Yes!”

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