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How Can 12-Step Programs Support Food Addiction Recovery?

Episode 25: The Struggle with Food: A Lifelong Battle

Susan Branscombe, the host of the podcast, Food Addiction: The Problem and The Solution talks with guest Amy B., a brave soul who has walked the challenging path of food addiction and emerged with invaluable insights.

Growing up in the Midwest as an only child, Amy found comfort in food. It became her solace, her way to numb out the feelings of restlessness, irritability, and discontent that often plagued her. She candidly recounted her after-school routine: coming home to an empty house, indulging in food, losing herself in books, and watching TV—all in an attempt to escape her emotions.

The Weight of the Matter: More Than Just Numbers on a Scale

Amy's relationship with food was complex and fraught with challenges. From a young age, she identified as fat, and this self-perception led her down the path of extreme dieting. She shared a harrowing experience of not eating for two weeks, a desperate attempt to lose weight. But the victory was hollow. The numbers on the scale dropped, yet the happiness she yearned for remained elusive.

The Misconceptions and Challenges of Food Addiction

During the discussion, Amy delved into the often misunderstood world of food addiction exploring the shortcomings of commercial weight loss programs that promise quick fixes without addressing the deeper issues at play. She lamented the lack of understanding and support within the medical community and public health initiatives, which often overlook the complexities of food addiction.

Trigger foods and challenging environments, such as movie theaters and social gatherings, were also discussed. These are the battlegrounds where the temptation of emotional comfort through food is most potent, and where the psychological and emotional aspects of food addiction come to the fore.

Emotional Regulation Through Food and Alcohol

Amy's journey with food addiction was intertwined with her use of alcohol as another means to numb her emotions. She opened up about personal tragedies, like a miscarriage and marital issues, and how these led to an increased reliance on food and alcohol. The lack of coping skills and emotional maturity, she reflected, stemmed from this dependency that began in her youth.

The Road to Recovery: Finding a Sustainable Food Plan

The discussion took a hopeful turn regarding the recovery process. Amy emphasized the importance of a balanced food plan, rich in whole foods, protein, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. But it wasn't just about the food; facing her emotions head-on and taking daily inventory were crucial emotional components of her recovery.

The Spiritual Aspect of Surrendering to Food Addiction

Amy and Susan agreed on the necessity of acknowledging their food addiction and the role of spirituality in their recovery. The support from 12-step programs and other resources was a lifeline, offering guidance and a community of individuals who understood our struggles.

Gratitude, Resources, and Encouragement

As the conversation drew to a close, Amy expressed profound gratitude for her recovery journey and the freedom from guilt and shame that accompanied it. She encouraged others who are struggling with food addiction to seek help, assuring them that resources are readily available.

For those interested in exploring these resources, the various food addiction recovery programs are available at Additionally, for professionals seeking to specialize in treating food addiction, the school is accepting applications for its next training beginning in September 2023.

Final Thoughts

Thank you to Amy for sharing her story so openly. It's conversations like these that shed light on the realities of food addiction and the transformative power of recovery. If you've been touched by this discussion, please rate and review this podcast episode, share it with others, and explore the resources available at

Remember, recovery is possible, and you're not alone in this journey. Feel your feelings, know that it's okay, and understand that you won't die from them. There is a solution, and there is hope.

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