compulsive eating

Woeful misunderstanding of food, addiction

Over at, the writer Evan Winchester shows severe gaps in his understanding of the food experience of tens of millions of Americans in his April 22 piece, "Is Food Addiction a Real Eating Disorder?"

I was moved by his piece to offer three points of rebuttal, which I then decided to expand on and share beyond just the readers of his post. I hope the context will be sufficient...

Clifford, a big, red food addict?

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A couple of decades in recovery from food addiction has taught me that it's an illness best self-diagnosed, because — well, to speak for my own experience, until I conceded that I had it, I sure wasn't going to do anything about it.

Having said that, I think that Clifford the Big Red Dog may have issues.

Techniques help anyone eat less, including food addicts

As you know, my specific lens on the globesity pandemic is food addiction, which I specifically say is a significant contributor, but not “the” cause.

I do find that having a viewpoint sometimes causes me to put less weight on other outlooks, strictly as a reaction, before I get to consider their merits.

Different triggers, remedies for overeating

Some people I know — including myself, of course — self-identify as food addicts. Other people I know have many of the same symptoms and problems, but they self-identify as compulsive eaters. There are lots of other names, too: problem eater, emotional eater, night eater, binger, grazer, and so on.

No such thing as a "good reason" to act out

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A friend and fellow food addict called the other day to lament his latest lost eating battle and I asked him to tell me what had happened. But when he started by telling me how he’d been feeling that morning, I interrupted.

I didn’t want to know about his feelings, or the argument he’d had with his wife, or about the crack in the sidewalk he’d stepped on. I just wanted to know, specifically, what he’d eaten that was causing his agita.

ACORN, Shades of Hope to collaborate

If you've read "Fat Boy Thin Man," you know about Acorn Food Dependency Recovery Services. Chapter 6, titled "Itinerant rehab," is based on my spending five days in Acorn's treatment program, based that week at a rented vacation chalet somewhere in southern Indiana. Acorn has also conducted its programs in Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, as well as in Iceland and Canada, and I'm probably missing a few, too.

Vic Avon: "People think [eating disorders are] a choice"

Welcome to the latest round of “10 words or less,” in which I ask brief questions and request brief answers. Today’s subject is a NEDA Navigator, in which NEDA is the National Eating Disorder Association and navigators are laymen who’ve come through an eating disorder, either personally or familially, and now help others. Remember, please: No counting! 10 words is a goal, not a rule, and besides, let’s see you do it.

Vic Avon
Age 29
Residence Brick Township, N.J. 
Author “My Monster Within: My Story,” published in May 2010.
What your disorder was like “Very extreme, very deadly, a classic case of anorexia.”
When you were last active “I stepped into a hospital [University Medical Center, Princeton, N.J.] March 11, 2008.”
Can you recall a low point? “It was so bad that I prayed every night that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.”

More is not always better

Here's another excerpt from Barbara Kingsolver's 2007 book, "Animal Vegetable Miracle."

Grocery money is an odd sticking point for U.S. citizens, who on average spend a lower proportion o our income on food than people in any other country, or any heretofore in history. In our daily fare, even in school lunches, we broadly justify consumption of tallow-fried animal pulp on the grounds that it's cheaper than whole grains, fresh vegetables, hormone-free dairy, and such. Whether on school boards or in families, budget keepers may be aware of the health tradeoff but still feel compelled to economize on food — in a manner that would be utterly unacceptable if the health risk involved an unsafe family vehicle or a plume of benzene running through a school basement. It's interesting that penny-pinching is an accepted defense for toxic food habits, when frugality so rarely rules other consumer domains. [Page 115]

As a compulsive eater and food addict in recovery for a very long time, these issues are mine in degrees greater than the general population, even if you'd think that my experience shoulda learned me better by now. Good nutrition and healthy ingredients are bywords not only of my personal health but of my professional standing, but I still bee-line for the reduced-price cart at my farm stand.


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