Battling our Brain: Food Addiction

This is a post that has been on my mind for months. So many people ask what I eat and how much I exercised, hoping to do the same and shed the pounds. This is great, however so many of us know what to do but it is the actual doing it that is so hard. I could write pages and pages on the mental battle of weight loss, so this will have to be part of a series. I want to start by telling you all something that you may not want to hear. I lost 207 pounds and finally achieved a healthy weight but guess what, I still struggle with food and I always will.

I am a food addict. I started using food for emotional reasons after being raped at 14. Of course I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time but when I look back I remember eating until I passed out. My Mom has always tried to feed us pretty healthy growing up and there really wasn’t a lot of junk food in the house. I should have known I had a problem since even if all there was in the house was cans of lentil soup, I would sneak the soup and a can opener into my room and eat it cold. Then I would have to hide the evidence because I wouldn’t want my mom to know I was eating so much and breaking the rule of no eating in your roo

I would feel so ashamed that I was eating so much, which would make me eat more to numb all the bad feelings. It became a vicious cycle that was my life. I felt trapped, I felt hopeless and I kept gaining weight.

After being picked for the show, and I started losing weight I felt like I was so in control. Once the days turned into weeks and then the weeks turned into months I truly thought I was free of my addiction. It wasn’t until I got some bad news a few months in and I was standing in front of the fridge looking for anything and everything to stuff in my mouth that I realized even though I had been good for months, food was still where I ran when things got tough. This realization scared me. I knew I had some more work to do to be free of my food issues.

A few weeks later I remember I was talking to Chris and I asked him a question that changed my mind and my life. I asked “When will stop having issues with food?” His answer: Never, it will always be a struggle for you. You can get to a better place with food but it will always be an area in life you need to be careful with.

At first this thought depressed me. I wanted to believe there would be a time where I finally arrived with food and would be able to check off that I won the war. A few days later I realized what a gift it was to know the truth. It is empowering to know what you are battling and that you will always have to be on your guard. I then realized how the day to day battles are all won or lost in my mind. I have to keep in the forefront of my mind that I can slip at any time.  I have to wake up every single morning and remind myself why I fight each and every battle.

You know what, sometimes I still lose a battle. The difference between then and now is that just because I messed up one day doesn’t mean I give up. I didn’t get to 355 pounds because I had one or two bad days. I learned to get up and brush myself off and move forward. It is never to late to change your direction.

 

Comments

  1. KAREN says

    I am so happy for anyone who can fight their battle with food and win the weight war. Its a depressing thought for me because I am 100% SURE that my addiction with food will kill me, and its going to happen soon. I am too far gone and don’t know what else I can do about it. However, I am so happy you are helping others through your experience. Keep up the great work.

    • Felicia says

      Karen, IT IS NEVER TOOOOOOO LATE. I am the mom of an overweight girl and with lots of prayers she is doing something about it and it is one day at a time. I am not crazy religious but I do believe. I will pray for you and please help yourself as I am sure that you mean so much to so many people who need to have you in their lives.

      • Chris says

        Karen, I agree…it’s NEVER ever too late…never to late to take care of yourself, never too late to learn, to change, any of it…I’m a testament of weight loss from 375 to 245, playing basketball, softball, and working out at the age of 40…My stepdad changed from being an ogre to being a loving, caring individual at 43…my mom ate her weigh out of having diabetes at the age of 62, and my grandmother still plays golf at 86…it’s in you if you want it…you can change your body’s direction towards the grave, by not accepting that as your fate. Care about yourself. Get addicted to good foods and good habits…if I can do it with my brutal sweettooth…anyone can.

  2. Breanda says

    Once an addict, always an addict, and it comes in many forms, but YOU have the choice to let the addiction control you, or let yourself control the addiction. Whatever it is, you cant do it alone, dont get that confused with “doing it for yourself”. I’m addicted to lazy, anytime I’m stressed I just want to veg, or sleep it off. Thats what I need help with.

  3. Ryann Evans says

    Thanks so much for today’s post, it was just what I needed to press on. Earlier today while at the grocery store I was struggling big time, seeing all the stuff I use to enjoy so much, with my mouth watering as I pushed my cart I realized my health and my goals are so much more important than chocolate chip cookies and ice cream. I must tell you it felt empowering to see all my fruits and veggies go across the scanner and not some of the other “stuff” that would typically be in its place. Today I won a battle and it felt good!

  4. q says

    jacqui i commend you for your bravery…but remember that GOD gives us continual grace with an opportunity to renew our minds daily…you have paved the road for me and so many others…since your show aired, i’ve made many lifestyle changes…i’m down 10 lbs in 3 wks…then this past week i incurred some obstacles and the first thing i wanted to do was EAT, of course that would make all my trouble and pain disappear…NOT! i decided to stay the course, but i do understand what you’re saying, not all the time will be strong enough to say no…but i began to look to GOD and pray for strength to help me with my struggle, and HE stepped in…as long as we keep HIM at the forefront our being, we can never fail…my problem is keeping HIM there…we all fall off the wagon, but the key is just like you said, get back up immediately…thank you jacqui for your courage and tenacity…love

  5. Stacey says

    Thank you, Jacqui, for being so honest and encouraging. Have you read the book, “Made To Crave”. It is SO amazing! Blessings as you continue on your healthy lifestyle!

  6. says

    You have been such an inspiration to me, and I look forward to reading your blogs. I have struggled with food and my weight since I was child. I too have wondered if I was ever going to wake up and not have to think about food and my weight. It’s never happened. There are days that I just want to throw a “temper tantrum,” b/c I don’t want to have to deal with the struggle, yet “again.” That’s probably why my habits are so unbalanced. Being 33, I’m definitely better than I was 10-15 years ago, but I’m still not where I want to be. It’s still really hard to not be “all or nothing,” which there are times I do have that mentality. I want to be perfect in my eating and my exercising, but it’s not realistic.

  7. says

    This post has me in tears! I have suffered from food addiction and eating disorders since I was a young girl. I can also remember sneaking food into my room or buying fast food before coming home, but still eating dinner so my mom wouldn’t know. You touched me when you said that we didn’t get this way from one bad day…every single moment is an opportunity to make a healthy choice. Just because we fall, doesn’t mean we fail.

  8. K.L. says

    Never out of the woods. Even after losing eighty pounds, every day I too have to keep clean-eating #1 in my mind. One slip for me usually leads to a binge.
    Jacqui you are dear inspiration. Good luck every day!!

  9. Jen in Mn says

    I loved this post, it really resonated with me. I’ve lost between 60-90 pounds 3 separate times in my life (I’m 33 yrs old now). I am post-partum with my second baby now and we’re done having children, so I’m ready to do this “for good.” But I know I need to be ready & willing to fight the battle on a daily basis if that’s going to happen. I think I need to embrace that reality so I can get moving on the 100 pounds I eventually want to lose! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Trying again says

    Jacqui, congratulations on your incredible success! I am just starting my weight loss journey…again. Several years ago I lost 85 pounds. Somehow I gained all the weight back plus a little more. I’m guessing it has a lot to do with what you’re talking about here with food being a struggle every day. I thought I had conquered food, but I hadn’t. I’m scared to try again, to fail again, but I have to try. Wishing you continued success. I look forward to reading your blog along the way.

  11. Spring says

    I just found your blog, and I have to say I am so proud of you and everything you have overcome! You are such an inspiration. I think you make such a good point with this post. Those of us who have struggled with our weight will ALWAYS have to handle food carefully. I don’t know if you’re a religious person, but I pray you’ll be able to have the family you want, and soon! God bless!

    • Chris says

      Get it! You go for it…Rayonna…nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it…I lost over 145 pounds (and have since added back about 10/15 in muscle since I got to my lowest weight…anyone can do it!! We just have to tell ourselves it’s possible…fight the initial doubts, the firs days when it sucks, you’re sore, food tastes boring…but soon you start to embrace the change….and the results speak for themselves…good luck…

  12. cindy says

    i love that you are helping others i am truly inspired by all that you have accomplished i weigh 178lbs and i am struggling to lose weight i know that i may not but in the 200 or higher range in weight but it is still so much of a struggle. i have always wished for a trainer but just cant afford it. i am so grateful, i cant thank you enough for this blog. there are not any shows that will cast my size people even though i feel its so much of a struggle even being this size. but i know with your advise it will help thank you again. :)

    • Spring says

      I totally hear you on that. I’m at 185, and struggling to lose weight from my last pregnancy … and it’s so frustrating that on the biggest loser, there were girls who started out bigger than me and ended up smaller! I’m busting my butt trying to work out and eat right! My dream is a month at the Biggest Loser Ranch down in So Utah. I’d LOVE that! Right now I’m training for a 5k, to give myself incentive, and after that, I want to be 160 by Christmas, when my whole family will be together. Good Luck to you!

  13. CRYSTAL says

    Jacqui, you are truly an inspiration! I too struggle with food addiction since being raped at 7 years old. Your story really hit home with me. I have lost 40 lbs so far this year. I have some bad days, but I get right back up the next day. I am so excited about you being a trainer in season 3. Have a blessed day.

  14. says

    Thanks for this post, Jacqui. They say the first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem. Like you, I use food to feel better. But it really doesn’t make me feel better. I feel guilty for eating what I know I should not be eating, and that makes me feel bad, and I go get some ice cream to feel better. What a vicious circle it is. I know I have a problem and you and the show are such an inspiration to me. I can conquer this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your journey. :) (P.S. I am Josh’s mom).

  15. erin says

    Jacqui – thank you so much for addressing this issue. Like many people out there I’m well aware of all of the mechanics of weightloss and yet I can’t seem to get past my own thoughts enough to apply all of it consistantly. My question lately has been – where’s the book that helps me get my head straight on this? There are libraries full of things written on diet, nutrition and exercise but that really isn’t the problem, is it? The problem is between my ears and I know once I figure out how to address it I’ll be on my way to meeting my goals. I think reading what you’ve come to know in your journey will be really helpful. Like, what makes you walk away from the refrigerator when some emotional issue has you hunting for food? Thank you again for writing about this and keep it up! This blog and your show have been such an inspiration, I appreciate so deeply what you’ve done by letting us see your journey.

  16. Alicia says

    Hi Jacqui,
    This post actually really interests me. I’ve never had any problems with weight gain but it is really because I am unable to gain weight. While I watched your story on the Extreme Makeover show, I was reminded of the self-doubt and depression that has consumed my life, and reduced the control I feel over my life and fighting for things I want, all based on my ability to cope with physical problems I have. In this way I compare what I feel to what you said- “I feel trapped in my own body”. I do not mean to reduce the struggle, both my mother and my father have struggled with weight loss all their lives and I respect your ability to fight so hard for it. To be able to break through the tears that are the voices in your head saying you can’t do one more rep. And for me that struggle is remaining dedicated to my physical therapy, while battling those self-defeating thoughts. If you have anymore thoughts of how this could be a positive experience, I’d love to read them. Good luck with everything, and great job overcoming so much!

  17. says

    You are right that the battle is in the mind. What a platform your story gives you to minister that to all. God bless you in all your endeavors. I just ran my second mile in two days and cried with gratefulness. Not bad for a recovering incest victim who was in the ICU and walking with a cane in November. Glory to God!

  18. tammy says

    Thanks for starting a blog. I cried through your entire episode of extreme weight loss because I at one point weighed 330 pounds and found out that I had PCOS, so my husband and I couldnt get pregnant. We’ve tried for over 2 years. So about a year ago, I started my journey with weigh loss. It hasnt been easy, and I didnt really get completely serious until March of this year. I’m down to 280 now and continuing. Your life story hits very close to my heart, and I look forward to reading your blogs in the futur.

  19. **Rebecca Lynn** says

    Why did I cry when reading this? I feel so much pain because of what food has done to me, yet all I want to do is shove more of it in my face :( I hope my motivation kicks in soon.

  20. says

    Wow Jacqui, that is a powerful blog. Chris’s words to you that you would never NOT have food issues must have been a real eye opener. Like you I am an addict, but fighting regain with every ounce of my strength. I’ve been at my goal weight for almost 15 months after losing 180 lbs. I used to think there would come a day when it would get easy, that I wouldn’t desire the “bad” food and would happily get out and walk (which is my exercise of choice). Hasn’t happened yet and now I realize it never will. THIS is my new reality. And it doesn’t happen in days or weeks or months, but it’s moment to moment. Every time I make a good choice I’m satisfied with myself, but in the next moment a BAD option may rear its ugly head and I might give in. I guess all we can do it try to make the right choices 80-90% of the time. I read about Paula Deen in my new People Magazine. The headline of the article was “Losing Weight is Hard.” No kidding! keeping it off is just as hard. it’s not like once you lose the weight you can revert to old habits. On maintenance, I have tried to just keep eating like I did while I was losing and it seems to be working. I throw in a treat once a week or so, but you know what…it makes me feel guilty when I do. I realize that maintenance is where I will be for the rest of my life if I want to keep the weight off. There is NO END to this…not if I want to keep living a healthy life…and I DO!

  21. Christiana says

    Just saw your episode on Hulu last night. Wow. The camera loves you. Good for them for noticing it and bringing you back as a coach!

    Also, I think almost everyone has some sort of food issue – maybe in the days before food processing had really begun in earnest people didn’t have to worry so much. But today, it’s darned hard to choose healthy options when we are surrounded by so many temptations. Yes, it will always be a struggle for you. But you are not alone!

  22. Haley says

    Jacqui, I truly admire your strong dedication and your diligence in spreading your words and experience. Well done. :)

  23. Jodie says

    I can’t tell you how inspiration you and the show have been for me. I started with a bmi of 39 and my goal is to get to a healthy bmi of 25. Everytime I get discouraged or lose interest, I turn to the show or your blog for motivation.

    I exercised 20 minutes longer today after reading your blogs!

    Please keep sharing! :-)

  24. says

    Jaqui- Thank you so much for this post. I needed this. Yesterday I lost the battle and slipped back into some old habits but every day is a new day. I lost that battle but I will win this war- one step at a time.

    I also have a blog about my weight loss journey and struggles that your readers may find interesting. Feel free to pass it along. Congratulations again on all of your accomplishments and thank you for sharing your journey with all of us!

  25. cathy says

    Jacqui, thank you for your honesty and willingness to share your story. I too am an emotional eater. I have lost over 100 lbs twice and put the weight back on both times. I find your story inspiring and I am excited for all of the wonderful things that have happened in your life. I was happy to learn you are blogging. Your journey has given me a lot of hope. :)

  26. Sallie says

    Jacqui, Thank you for giving back after your journey of losing your weight. I am gleaning information from your posts here and on facebook. This one hits hard!!! Still trying to find my fight…..

  27. Kevin Nyberg says

    I’ve been on the weight loss battle for that last year 1/2. I initially lost 65 lbs but gained 20 of it back, I started on the right track again three weeks ago and am down 15lbs. I actually caught your story on Hulu and watched it while on the treadmill. Incredibly inspiring. What really is sticking with me is the title of your post. You really have to fight for every pound. My body contnually tries to convince me to stop early, take a break, etc. I saw on the show time and time again how you pushed past it. I realize I am able to do that as well. Thank you for doing it for yourself and then allowing your incredible story to be used to inspire so many others.

  28. says

    I think this post is so true and so helpful. I went to my first OA meeting last year and although the program was not my style the message was spot on, I am an addict. Much like an addict I need to avoid the things I am addicted, i.e. white flour and sugar. I need to be very aware in high stress situations and ALWAYS will. This is a life long addiction that I know I can beat but will have to fight everyday.

  29. Debbie says

    Jacqui thank you so much for your inspiration. Yes it is empowering to know your enemy . I am a compulsive eater and my enemy is sugar and flour. Today my compulsion is arrested. I’ve joined a 12 step program called Compulsive Eaters Anonymous – Honesty Open-mindedness Willingness (Cea-How). I eat 3 meals a day weighed and measured and abstain from sugar & flour. I began weighing 400 lbs. today I weigh 304 lbs. As I continue this journey I am including exercise. I’ve started walking 15 mins a day. Now I’m up to 30 mins. (((yay me!!)))

  30. jessica says

    Thanks Jacqui for blogging about your journey you are not only helping me but lots of other people.

  31. says

    Jacqui,
    Thank you for being so open and honest about your journey!! Your story is so inspiring and I’m glad you started the blog so I can read more about your success and hear about your precious family! I feel like I know you all ;). Thanks again and I’m saying a prayer for you to be successful as you try the ivf!
    -Lauren
    20 lost…20 pounds to go…

  32. esther says

    Hello! I just read your posts and I can’t wait to read more!!
    I just saw your follow-up video. That’s so awesome that you helped your sister release weight. She looks so great. Also, congratulations on becoming a coach for Season 3. I sincerely look forward to it!!

  33. mitch says

    Congratulations on the extreme weight loss! You’ve enspired my whole family to lose weight! I can’t imagine how good it must feel being 200 pounds lighter. You are a wonderful peroson, Jacqui. Keep doing great things!

  34. Leah says

    Jacqui,

    you are amazing! you are such an inspiration. i just watched your episode tonight. I loved to see your honesty and openness even when it felt humiliating and brutal. I’m so proud of what you’ve accomplished and it’s also inspiring to me to know there are supportive men like your husband out there who truly have a decent, kind, compassionate heart. you are lucky to have him in your life. Thank you for keeping up the fight to feel good and be healthy!

  35. eLIZABETH says

    Thank you, Jacqui. I SO needed to hear this right at this very moment!! Thank you for your words and motivation!!

  36. Renee says

    Your awesome! Such an inspiration. I have the same issue with food too. Its a stuggle EVERYDAY for me, im on track lost 25pds, I have 80pds to go, i try to stay focus and keep on track, and stories like THIS help me each day. Thank you for sharing. ;)

  37. Gina says

    I am so glad that I watched “where are they now” on the website tonight to learn about your blog. I have just recently realized how my emotional eating has spiraled out of control. I, too, feel like I will always have a problem with food and am somewhat relieved to have this epiphany. Extreme Makeover Weightloss Edition brings out so much emotion each time I watch that it has led me to some realizations about myself that I think are going to be a lifesaver for me. Thank you for sharing your insights because it is extremely helpful. Congratulations on being chosen to coach on Season 3. They have some very smart folks at ABC. :-)

  38. cYN says

    Jacqui,
    I was touched by your story, you were an absolute inspiration to watch on the show. You’ve proven that anybody can do this with the kind of dedication and strength that you had. You look incredible and I hope you have the family you’ve always dreamed of.

  39. says

    Drink water. Your body is composed of about 60% water. Every job in your body happens in a fluid environment. For example, this fluid is used in digestion and absorption of food, circulation and transportation of nutrients (blood and lymph), production of saliva, and regulation of body temperature. It is also used to keep your muscles, joints and skin lubricated. It protects your organs and tissues. Water helps eliminate toxins (through breath, sweat, urine, and feces). It also helps you have regular bowel movements.

  40. angie says

    I have fought my weight for ever,I just don,t know what to do any more ,and I am in full blown menopause yuk.

    HELP

  41. Vaneza says

    Hello! I wonder how you are today.
    I saw part of the program today, but here in Brazil only spent half of the program and have not seen the end.
    Would put the full video on youtube?
    And your photos today?
    Congratulations determination.
    I need to lose 33 £.

  42. Renata says

    Hello Jacqui, i watched the program here im Brazil! What an inspiration you are! Congratulations for your determination!!!We all got touched by your story!!

  43. Christine says

    Hi jacqui…my name is Christine and I found your site through a YouTube video featuring you. I could not believe it when I read that, like me..you experienced that trauma at 14. I unfortunately went through the same thing but it didn’t happen until I was 15. after the sexual abuse I began comfort eating, leading me to dangerous dieting and also suffered from bulimia. Then binge eating. Lack of exercise led me to gain up to 230 lbs , at 5’3 that is difficult to carry so much weight. I felt as if what happened to me was somehow my fault. Years later I’m 30 years old, I recently joined a gym and started taking classes and I’m down a few pounds. I also started weight lifting and feel more toned and lost inches. Sadly I can’t bring myself to trust again and hope one day that I will meet someone. please don’t hesitate to contact me with weight loss info and advice…I would like very much to talk with you.

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