Are you addicted?

Do you constantly seek solace in food; eat to fill an emotional void; and/or get a certain “high” from overeating? If you’ve nodded to any of these, then you’re an emotional eater. It is very common (esp. for women, and overweight folks), and easy to stop doing once you know why you’re doing it. I recently read an interesting WSJ piece on why women overeat, and what it would take for people to start taking the issue seriously. Emotional eating, or overeating, is

the addiction of choice of “carers,” and that’s why it’s come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all the addictions. It’s a way of screwing yourself up while still remaining fully functional, because you have to. Fat people aren’t indulging in the “luxury” of their addiction, making them useless, chaotic or a burden. Instead, they are slowly self-destructing in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone. And that is why it’s so often a woman’s addiction of choice.

It is easy to break this addiction once you understand both the psychological (above) and the physiological reasons. Simple carbs and foods that are high in unhealthy animal fats increase your blood sugar which eventually crashes. And then your body craves more.; and usually a higher amount to get the same “high.” And the vicious cycle continues…and the weight just piles up.

The best and easiest way to break the addiction is to plan your meals and increase physical activity. I recommend making your meals very regularized and consistently healthy. I have regular meals which makes it hard for me to stray or overeat. I am an ardent believer in exercise as the fix for almost all health areas. It is a great stress reliever, so I recommend replacing food with exercise every time you feel down. So instead of piling on the weight, you can relieve stress and burn calories 🙂 Be healthy for yourself and those you care about. And now is the best time to start!

Please share your experience/or tips you may have for dealing with this issue.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.


  1. Dr. Ellis, congratulations on losing and keeping weight off! I am an emotional eater and I struggle with my weight. Do you ever “cheat” (I hate that term) or rather, indulge? Do you eat any other animal protein other than fish? I fear saying goodbye to certain foods forever because food and eating has such a strong emotional hold over me. Thank you in advance for your response!

  2. I eat healthy foods before I get too hungry – that helps reduce “emotional eating.” Eating simple (often = white) carbs fuels a roller-coaster ride of blood sugar and hunger.
    I say: (1) eat breakfast, (2) eat more protein, (3) plan meals in advance, (4) stay out of fast food restaurants, (4) walk 30 min a day for exercise AND stress relief, and (5) listen to relaxing music for stress relief.

  3. I rarely eat meat (red meat is associated with more cancers). Besides fish, I eat beans as a protein source. I have completely given up cheese and grapefruit juice, both of which I used to consume in excess. We need to find other rewards and stress reducers besides food. Exercise (you don’t have to kill yourself!) is a great antidepressant!

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