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Freedom from a Food Addiction

The use of attention and repetition may have allowed me to finally dissolve the neural pathways that had caused me to never want to stop eating once I started. 

One night I was worried that, once my roommate went to bed and I was alone, I’d lose control of my eating compulsion, again. So I used her attention and began planning aloud my evening snack. When I asked myself what I most wanted, I realized that I wanted to make graham-cracker and confectioner’s-sugar-frosting “sandwiches” and eat them until I could eat no more without throwing up.1 “Oh no,” I thought. “Why would I want to do that?” Then the thought came, “Your mother made them for you and Bruce (my brother).” 

“I guess that’s it,” I said aloud. “My mother used to make them for us.” The moment I said that, the perfect statement came to me: “Well, you really do miss them.” I hadn’t been consciously missing anyone. In fact, I’d never missed anyone. I listed people I’d never missed, then I asked my roommate to say, “Well, you really do miss them.” She’d say it, I’d repeat it, and the discharge would begin.

What happened after that session? Later that night I noticed that I didn’t feel any desire for either a graham-cracker-sandwich binge or three bowls of cereal, my usual choice after a challenging day. The next day, when I passed Dunkin’ Donuts, I didn’t think, “I could buy a couple of donuts right now.” When I entered Stop & Shop, I didn’t feel compelled to buy the most expensive Frappuccino.2 And now, nearly four weeks later, my relationship with food seems to have changed. Food was one of my lifetime companions. It was always on my mind. No longer. And I revel in the freed-up space.

Probably like many food addicts, once I began to eat, I would want to eat more and was planning what to eat next even before I finished eating. If I ate at a restaurant, I invariably planned a potential home munching-menu long before the restaurant meal was over. That pattern seems to have vanished. Now, a stressful day or evening doesn’t trigger obsessive thoughts of food.

I had forgotten that patterns could gain multiple triggers. I had discharged the child-abuse trigger, I had discharged the incubator-stress trigger, but I had no idea there was at least a third powerful trigger for my longing to eat.

Pam Maccabee
Glastonbury, Connecticut, USA

1 “Throwing” up means vomiting.
2 A Frappuccino is a sweet, creamy, frozen coffee drink.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00