Surviving My Food Addiction

Dr. E's Highway to Health Show Episode 22

Success Stories
Highway to Health: Ep 22 - Emily Boller

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In This Episode:

Emily Boller is the author of the book Starved to Obesity where she tells her story of food addiction. From a chubby child to anorexic as a teenager and then becoming obese until age 47 where she decided to put an end to her addiction and turn her life around.

In this episode we discussed why food addictions are so common and often go unrecognized by most of us and the burden they place not only on the addict but on their friends and family. We also discussed how she overcame it and she gives you a few pieces of advice to do the same yourself.

Original Air Date: July 31, 2019

Show Notes ↓

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Actionable Steps:

  1. Study and learn about the science behind food addiction
  2. Understand the importance of “just one bite”.
  3. Getting professional counsel.

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Show Notes

  • [00:04:21] Emily explains how the more than 100 pounds of weight she lost, she’s been able to keep off for over a decade.
  • [00:04:50] Now she can participate in life, unlike before.
  • [00:05:33] How did Emily get to become obese.
  • [00:07:01] Her childhood chubbiness started since she was a newborn.
  • [00:07:48] Emily shares about her upbringing and how sugar was used as a condiment in her home.
  • [00:09:12] Why she started extreme dieting.
  • [00:10:28] Emily became anorexic in high school.
  • [00:11:10] After normalizing her weight and becoming engaged, a seemingly innocent comment triggered her insecurities and spiraled her out of control.
  • [00:11:37] The price of not knowing what an eating disorder was.
  • [00:12:06] Emily explains how unintentional bullying from her husband put her on the path to weight gain.
  • [00:13:59] She shares her inability to manage cravings throughout her life.
  • [00:16:14] Emily talks about all the diets and interventions she tried and how they never seemed to work.
  • [00:17:42] Her life turned around when she started eating for nourishment instead of satiation.
  • [00:21:51] She was finally free from food addiction.
  • [00:22:15] Eleven years later, she had a small setback after lowering her guard during vacation.
  • [00:23:07] Emily describes food addiction like the rip current underneath the waves in the ocean. You don’t see it but it can take hold of you easily and won’t let you go.
  • [00:24:45] Emily experienced food bullying shortly after losing her 100 pounds.
  • [00:25:10] Emily shares why she thinks people want you to stay overweight.
  • [00:25:53] We discuss why it’s so difficult to overcome food addiction. Even more so than other, better known addictions like drug and alcohol abuse.
  • [00:26:51] Emily discovered she was on her own and had to stop caring about what others thought and said about her and her efforts.
  • [00:27:46] Dr. E shares about how he and his wife are raising their son in terms of food choices.
  • [00:29:01] Emily talks about how our society is normalizing food addictions.
  • [00:31:02] Most people are unhealthy, which makes them “normal” and the people who go out of their way to be healthy are seen as “extreme”.
  • [00:31:42] Emily’s first approach with the man who eventually changed her life.
  • [00:32:47] Emily talks about her realization that she was indeed fighting an addiction.
  • [00:33:08] The moment Emily decided to turn her life around.
  • [00:34:03] How Emily went about changing her diet and lifestyle.
  • [00:34:29] She shares everything else that improved in her life besides her improved appearance.
  • [00:36:16] Emily talks about the prevalence of food addiction and how that affects families everywhere.
  • [00:38:19] Food addicts are constantly living in shame. From themselves and others.
  • [00:38:53] Eating habits start in childhood, and its parents who are responsible and empowered to set the course for a child’s life.
  • [00:40:37] Dr E talks about the book The Body Keeps the Score
  • [00:41:26] Actionable advice from Emily
  • [00:47:23] Emily gives hope and encouragement for other food addicts.
Episode Transcript

Dr E: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of The Highway to Health Show. In today’s episode, I’m joined by Emily Boller. She’s the author of the book ‘Starved to Obesity’, where she tells her story of food addiction from a chubby child to anorexic as a teenager and then becoming obese until age 47 when she decided to put an end to her addiction and turn her life around.

Dr E: [00:00:21] In this episode, with this caused why food addictions are so common and often go on recognized, but most of us, the burden they place not only on the addict, but on their friends and family as well. We also discuss how she overcame it and she gives you a few pieces of advice to the same yourself.

Dr E: [00:00:37] Before we go on, let me remind you that last week’s episode I was joined by De’Nicea Hilton, who’s a doctor of Oriental medicine, focusing on helping educate women on the intricacies of menstrual health. It is a very interesting episode and one nobody –men or women– should miss. That was episode 21.

Dr E: [00:00:54] I also want to share with you something. Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to update a short digital book I wrote when I was back in Cancun to help people choose a stem cell clinic. However, now that I’ve started doing it, there are so many things that have changed in the industry in all these years that I’ve figured what needs to happen is for me to write a proper book about stem cell treatments for patients.

Dr E: [00:01:17] So I’m planning to share what we know so far about the science, the types of stem cell treatments available both commercially and in clinical trial forms. The differences between trials, studies and for profit operations, the legalities of these treatments in different parts of the world, the risks, the limitations, what can be treated, what should not be treated with stem cells and obviously what to look for when choosing a stem cell treatment. If this is something you would like to read, I will make sure you get a copy for free when it’s done and released. In the meantime, I’ll also be sharing updates with you along the way, asking for feedback and getting in your suggestions. All you need to do is sign up for that at

Dr E: [00:01:58] Like I said, I’ll make sure you get a free copy of the book if you sign up now and I’ll also keep you updated on how the book is coming along and you even get to contribute to it with your questions. So that’s D R E . show / book to sign up. You can also find that link on this episode’s description, by the way. But let’s get to what you came here for. Here’s my conversation with Emily Boller. I hope you enjoy it.

Dr E: [00:02:19] And remember, you’re on the Highway to Health and I’m your guide to get you there.

Intro: [00:02:24] Are you ready to live ageless? Want to discover alternative health choices? Cutting edge nutrition and fitness for the entire family? Welcome to Highway to Health Show with your host, Dr. E. ‘The Stem Cell Guy’. Where Dr. E. helps you live ageless. And now here’s your host, Dr. E.

Dr E: [00:02:52] Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of the Highway to Health Show. I’m your host doctor E ‘The Stem Cell Guy.’ And joining me today is Emily Boller.

Dr E: [00:02:59] She is the author of Starved to Obesity. She was chubby in childhood, anorexic in her teens and then obese until age 47. And obviously desperate to find freedom from her struggles with food. In 2008, when she began documenting her 100 pound weight loss journey as an online art exhibit, she never expected to become an inspirational voice for food addiction recovery for millions of people. And I’m very, very happy to welcome her here today, because one of the things that we’ve been seeing a lot of recently is this addiction to food.

Dr E: [00:03:29] And food addiction doesn’t necessarily have to be something that you’re completely obsessed about and that you cannot stop eating. But it can be about one specific food group. And we see this a lot with sugars and with a lot of these different very, very addictive food-like substances that we’re constantly consuming. So I’m very happy to welcome Emily Boller today. Emily, how are you?

Emily Boller: [00:03:49] Real good. Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here today and talking to you. I’m excited about this topic because it’s changed my life so much.

Dr E: [00:03:58] I know it has. I mean, I had the opportunity of reading the book that you sent me.

Dr E: [00:04:03] I saw some of the photos that you included there and seeing you now here in person. And obviously for the people listening to us, unless they’re following you, they really cannot see it as they will obviously see the photo at the thumbnail of the podcast, everything else. But really the change is remarkable. So how do you feel about this whole thing?

Emily Boller: [00:04:21] Well, you know, what I’m most happy about is that the weight has stayed off. It’s not just the weight it’s the brain fog that I had. You know, the weight was always there in my adult years. I was very overweight, but it was the brain fog gone. And I’m just excited to feel good. Now I can go hiking with my kids. I just went to California and the kids grew up in Big Sur hiking. And I can hike with my kids and they’re young adults now.

Emily Boller: [00:04:50] And I’m able to participate where years ago when they were little, I would sit on the sidelines and watch them. I mean, we have a big sand dunes in Michigan. I’m from Indiana and Sleeping Bear Dunes, I would sit and watch the kids climb the dunes, but now I can participate in life. And that is the most freeing thing about giving up a food addiction is the freedom you have to move.

Dr E: [00:05:16] Exactly. That’s what most people describe, because what happens when you’re overweight, it’s not that you’re not enjoying life because you feel left out or because you feel people criticize you, which you do. But it’s mostly about you’re simply not physically able to participate in life.

Emily Boller: [00:05:33] Yeah. And it’s a slow incremental. I didn’t realize how handicapped I was becoming each year with each. You know, maybe five pounds, one year, ten pounds another year. But after you’re 100 pounds overweight, it’s like a boiling frog in the water.

Emily Boller: [00:05:52] It’s just these little incremental parts of your life you start giving up. You no longer camp in a tent. You no longer can sit in the back seat of a car. It’s these little gradual, you know, the nylon chairs you take to soccer games? I fell through one of those one time. You know, those kind of things are just incremental. And I didn’t realize how much it was affecting my health, my arteries, my blood sugars, everything was being affected.

Dr E: [00:06:21] Yes, of course it does. You obviously explain a lot of this in your book. But for those listening to us right now, Why don’t you just give us the Cliff’s Notes version of it, at least your journey.

Dr E: [00:06:31] How did you actually get to become so overweight? Because I think this is something that really happens to a lot of people. We normally look at people, especially people who are very overweight. And a lot of the times a lot of us start to think like, how can somebody let themselves get to that point? Why don’t they do something? But in reality, you know, there’s something a lot deeper than just letting yourself go. So why don’t you just share with us a little bit of what that slow, creeping journey to obesity was?

Emily Boller: [00:07:01] Sure. I was a baby of the 60s, and back then, formula was the big thing. So I was sent home from the hospital with formula, high fructose formula. And so I was the last child of five children. And my mom prided herself that she got me to sleep through the night, that first night home from the hospital by stuffing me with formula. So I never really ever knew what hunger was because I was stuffed with formula all the time. I grew up. I was a little, little chubby by the time I was in first grade, not seriously overweight, but you know chubby, and my mom put me on my first restrictive diet at that point. I remember it was a thermos of lettuce, some Catalina salad dressing and grapefruit, half a grapefruit, hard boiled egg and a little bit of ham.

Emily Boller: [00:07:48] And that was my lunch for school. And that dieting mentality, started at age 6, and then I would come home and try to find everything I could eat at home. I was just starving all the time. And this dieting. You know, my mom, she meant well. She was a wonderful mother. She loved to cook. I’m from a farm. We’d have these beautiful. She made blueberry pies and beef and noodles and mashed potatoes. These big farm meals. And we ate really well. But my brain was constantly being overloaded with sugar. I say sugar was on our table all the time as a seasoning. We put sugar on tomatoes. We had a big garden, but everything had sugar. The cucumbers had sugar. The coleslaw had sugar. The potatoes had sugar, everything had sugar. So my brain got very addicted to sugar even as a small child. Well, when you’re chunky as a elementary school age, you’re called every name in the book. And so all that verbal abuse that just fueled my… I would go home and eat. That’s all I knew what to do. But I knew when I was in eighth grade, if I wanted to survive high school, I’d have to get thin. I just knew at that point I had never worn a pair of jeans in my life.

Emily Boller: [00:09:12] And I did not want to go to high school overweight. So I literally starved myself again. I took an orange to school with me every day, and every meal at school was an orange. And I lost the weight and I started running. And by the time I went to high school, I was popular. I fit into the popular kids. I was a pom pom girl. I ran the track team. I had dates for the prom. I mean, I was, you know, Miss Congeniality for Junior, Miss. All kinds of things like that. And I went on to college. Well, back up. I took it a little too far in my senior year. My goal was to run the mile run to win the state. And she said, if you just lose 10 pounds, you can really run a lot faster. And I was a normal weight at this point. So I did lose some weight. And my vision changed a little bit. And a doctor thought maybe I was diabetic. And so I got home from school one day and my mom wanted me to go to a hospital for tests. So I was put on a geriatric floor. I have no idea why I was put on a geriatric floor of a hospital.

Emily Boller: [00:10:28] And they did ran all kinds of tests. And at night I would run up and down the stairs. There were seven flights of stairs. This is back before there were hospital security and stuff. And I would run these stairs and I came out of that about 18 pounds lighter than when I was admitted. And by this time, I was anorexic. I was just skin and bones. And the doctor gave a diagnosis that had anorexia. But back in the late 70s, you hid it under rugs. My parents were from the generation where you didn’t talk about anything to do with problems. And so we sort of hid it, went on to college.

Emily Boller: [00:11:10] And I met my husband. We dated. And after my sophomore year, we got married. But just before the wedding, he had this crazy pressure to be thin again. OK. If you understand, I was a normal weight. And he said to me, you guys, if you just lose a little bit more weight, you can lose about five or 10 pounds. And it just, all that fled back again. I needed to lose weight. I needed to lose weight.

Emily Boller: [00:11:37] And so, we got married. He had no idea what an eating disorder is. I had no idea whether eating disorder was. And we were two young kids getting married, totally ignorant of what was causing my binge eating all the time. And so he started calling me names. He thought that would be a way to change me. If he could just shame me into you know.

Emily Boller: [00:12:06] So he started calling me really derogatory names; like “fatso” and you know, different things. And he thought that would motivate me to lose weight. And it just backfired. And I just started eating, eating, eating. And it just continued until like I say, by the time I had my youngest child, who is now 20, –I was 38 when I had him–, I was pre-diabetic, 100 pounds overweight. I had chest pains. I had coronary artery disease. By the age of 42, I had a heart cath and then I had high blood pressure that was dangerously high. And my mom had a couple of heart attacks. My grandmother died of a stroke. So I knew I was sitting on a time bomb and I have five children to raise. But yeah, I was so addicted to food. I didn’t know how to get out of it. So in a nut shell, that’s how I got all these points in my life. I went from chubby to anorexia to being obese. And the whole time it was a food addiction I was dealing with more than anything.

Dr E: [00:13:16] Exactly. Because in both cases, it has to do with your relationship to food. At one point, you realize that you cannot really control it. So you stop eating it, at all. Like, completely.

Dr E: [00:13:27] And then the pendulum swings back. And now you’re completely out of control where you will probably be eating anything and everything that just shows up. And as research has been shown over and over, all of these garbage foods, really, because there really aren’t even foods that we’re consuming were laden with sugar and high fructose syrup and all these vegetable oils, all the stuff that really shouldn’t be consumed by human beings. What’s happening is that you’re simply not nourishing your body. So you are eating calories, but they’re not nourishing. So your cells are still starved. Right?

Emily Boller: [00:13:59] Absolutely. And the toxins and the buildup cause cravings that are even more powerful than drug addiction. Done studies on rats. They just cause this craving for more of that. You’re absolutely right about when I was anorexic, I had to quit eating altogether because I didn’t know how to manage all these cravings. So I just quit eating. And that’s the only way I knew how to manage the addiction I had.

Dr E: [00:14:26] Exactly. There are so many things. There are so many layers. And what you just shared from the fact that it is something that we really didn’t recognize as a society, we didn’t really recognize in a medical perspective. From a medical standpoint, it wasn’t something that was acknowledged, wasn’t something that was recognized. Even back then. Being a little bit chubby was seen as a sign of good health. Right? You’re fit and you’re strong and all these things. So we’ve come a long way.

Dr E: [00:14:50] Unfortunately, when you realized that this was becoming a problem, you were already very deep into it. While I was reading your book, obviously there gets to a point where you’ve obviously found something that has been working for you for these past few years. But what else did you try throughout? Because people think that when somebody is overweight, they simply just give up and aren’t trying and they’re just stuffing themselves. But in reality, because I’ve seen this firsthand, my mom struggled with her weight for decades for as long as I can remember growing up, my mom was overweight. And I can see photos of her when I was very, very young. I’m the oldest of three and I know photos, I know that she was very skinny. Then she got married and then she started having kids. And when the third of us was born, my second youngest sibling was born.

Dr E: [00:15:35] Obviously, she was already a little bit overweight, but she never lost that weight. And it just started creeping up on her and she started gaining more. And I saw how much she struggled with it and how many things she tried. How many died she tried, how many products, how many pills, how many things she subjected herself to. She’s probably a little bit older than you, maybe a little bit more than a little. But get to a point where she was diagnosed thyroid, which was very common in the late 90s. Oh, it’s got to be your thyroid. So they start shooting thyroid medication at her and all sorts of different protocols and products and things and diets and nothing really seemed to work. So was this your case as well?

Emily Boller: [00:16:14] Yes. You know, I started off, like I said dieting when I was six. But also after I got married, I went to weight loss groups. I tried every diet. There was one diet. It was like eating a bunch of tomatoes. I forget what the name of that diet was. There was just diet after diet. And with each one, after about two weeks, either I get terribly constipated or I just couldn’t function or I just couldn’t do it anymore. And I would just give up and I would just been bingeing out of anger. I was mad at myself. Why can’t I follow this? You know, so I would just binge eat everything in sight.

Emily Boller: [00:16:54] This is a comparison: Today, I eat just foods with lots of nutrients in it. But when I was always dieting, when it was cottage cheese or whatever it was, I was focused on eating a lot of. I was kicking very low nutrient foods all the time, and that’s why the book is called Starved to Obesity. Now I probably eat between 3000 and 5000 nutrient dense points a day. And that’s not calories. That’s the density of nutrients in different foods, the phytochemicals, the different minerals and things. And prior to eating healthy and eating this way, I was probably, getting in about 200 to 300 nutrient points today. Not that I was counting ever.

Emily Boller: [00:17:42] I’ve never counted in my life, but just the comparison to show just how many more nutrients I put into my body now and that just dialed down the cravings. It was twofold. And there’s something else I had to do, but it was also abstaining, totally abstaining from foods that were very addictive for me. So, for instance, I was very addicted to ranch salad dressing and I was very addicted to peanut butter and I was very addicted to ice cream and bread. I loved bread. I just had to totally abstain from those and replace it with other foods. It took about, I would say, the first six months was the hardest of my journey. Actually, the first week was the hardest of the hardest. And then it got easier. And within one month, my blood pressure started coming down. So I knew my body was responding to this way of eating. And I actually I lost 100 pounds within one year. And it’s just basically focusing on high nutrient foods and getting out the things that were chemical. I lived on sugar free gum too, a lot of people think, oh, that’s okay to eat. But what they don’t know is that it gets those addictive cravings all over again just wrapped up. And you want to kill those cravings. You want to eat foods that kill those addictive cravings.

Dr E: [00:19:11] I was just going to say exactly about that. People don’t realize that all these sugar free and light, zero calorie versions of junk food really are even as bad as their regular sugar full counterparts, because in reality what they’re doing is they’re sending a signal to our gut microbiome and they’re disrupting that and they’re disrupting the communication with our brain and really it’s our brain that controls a lot of these different things.

Dr E: [00:19:35] I remember when I was doing my internship and we were drinking Diet Coke like it was going out of fashion at the time. Right? Because we really didn’t want to be drinking coffee in the middle of night. You couldn’t carry it back then. It wasn’t fashionable. Kind of like carrying your Starbucks like it is right now but at 2:00, 3:00 in the morning. It was just easier to carry like a 16 ounce bottle of coke. Right? So, we were drinking like crazy. It would probably have. I don’t know, maybe three or four of those a night when we were on call. So I remember at one point saying, listen, I’m putting on a lot of weight during my internship and one of the residents, older than me, and he was already doing his residency surgery at the time. He said, oh, no, but it’s OK. It can’t be the Coke because it has no calories.

Dr E: [00:20:15] And now, 15 years later and now we know a lot better. And I hope that he does know a lot better now as well. That that’s not at all exactly how it works, because you can have a thousand calories of one thing or a thousand calories of another thing. And it’s completely different. You can say, you know what, as long as you’re having a calorie deficit. Sure. Let’s see you be eating a thousand calories of Skittles and brownies or a thousand calories of nourishing foods. And you’re going to see the difference because exactly what you were saying right now is so, so, so import about nutrient density. We are overfed and undernourished because what’s happening is that we’re eating so much crap, so many calories, so much stuff that isn’t really feeding our cells. But that has to go somewhere. So our body ends up breaking it up, metabolizing it and ends up being stored as fat. Ends up generating toxins and toxins have to be bound by fat as well. And the same is true for the opposite.

Dr E: [00:21:09] When we start filling up our cells with nourishment, with the nutrients that they need, with the thing that they need to actually do what they need to do. That’s when the hunger subsides. That’s when all the addiction starts going down. And from your face, I can tell that that was pretty much your experience.

Emily Boller: [00:21:22] Oh, absolutely. And also, when you start focusing on all the things you can eat. All the food you can eat instead of that dieting mentality was like, I can’t eat, I can’t eat. You know? Or I get away and measure every little morsel of food. And you can do that for so long. That weighing and measuring and calculating. And you can do that. I have a son with Type 1 diabetes and we have to be very meticulous. But that’s what dieting is like. You’re just very meticulous.

Emily Boller: [00:21:51] But it is like what freed me was that it opened me to all the foods I could eat. For the first time in my life. I was forty eight years old. Eleven years ago when I started this. And it was the first time in my life that I could focus on eating instead of not eating. And that’s what freed me. I just felt like a bird set out of prison. You know, it’s like, wooo!

Emily Boller: [00:22:15] And I’ll tell you what. This is the tricky part. Even 11 years later, around July 4th, my family, we were all at Big Sur. Like I say, hiking and having fun while we were on vacation. So what do you do on vacation? I’ll have just one bite. And we were at Monterey and had the clam chowder samples out at like a little restaurant. Of course, I wanted some clam chowder, nothing wrong with clam chowder. But guess what it did to me? It’s like, oh, you know, we had a birthday cake celebration for one of the kids on their birthday. So I have a little bite of birthday cake. Well, then that led to a chocolate chip cookie. And before I knew it at the airport, I was eating a frozen yogurt. I got home and I had another frozen yogurt and it opened up that addiction all over again.

Emily Boller: [00:23:07] And that is the most important part of this whole thing. Once we understand how powerful these addictive substances are that we’re consuming and we start eating high sugar foods, again, highly chemically, whether it’s cake and cookies and processed chips and all kinds of things. It just opens up that addiction. I call it like a rip current. From the top of the water it looks calm, but there’s this rip current going. And any surfer knows that you got to stay out of the rip current because there’s no way you can fight that rip current. And that’s it is you know, on the surface, it looks like, oh, yeah, I can have that piece of birthday cake. Oh, yeah, I’m on vacation. I can have that one bite. Well, it’s really hard to get out of that rip current. And it took me a solid week to get out of that rip current. And that’s been eleven years I’ve been free of this.

Dr E: [00:24:07] It’s actually quite funny when I was reading that yesterday because I was reading your book yesterday, I read most of it. I shared it with you earlier.

Dr E: [00:24:13] I saw this one part that you had a lot of people, even in your camp, friends, family, that when you started changing… And we’re going to go a little bit into how and why you started changing your way of eating and what made you realize this, but even when you started doing all these changes, people were and I don’t want to say that they were purposefully trying to sabotage you, but they really were trying to sabotage you one way or another. Like have a bit and have a little bit of this. Why don’t you try this? What don’t you try? And I think we all have those people. Why do you think this happens?

Emily Boller: [00:24:45] You know, I don’t know. I probably will never understand why, but I remember one time –I can’t remember if I have the book or not–. The year I lost the hundred pounds, a gentleman that I don’t even know very well, came up to me and tried to stuff a chocolate eclair. He tried to open my mouth and stuff that eclair in. And, you know, for the life of me, I don’t know why people do that, because I would never do that to someone.

Emily Boller: [00:25:10] But, I think there’s a jealousy. I think there’s a vulnerability, maybe, if you will. Like, OK, I see you losing weight. And that’s what we used to do together is go have our binges together. And maybe you’re a threat to me now. You’re ruining my. It’s your interfering with my fun, maybe? So like an alcoholic when they’re getting out of their addiction, they have to sometimes get a new environment to hang out at. And maybe it’s a threat to them. They feel threatened that maybe you’re expecting them to change their food too so they want to trip you up. I don’t know. I wish that’s a million dollar question because there is such a thing as food bullying. There is such a thing.

Dr E: [00:25:53] Of course there is.

Emily Boller: [00:25:53] Believe me. Every holiday, there’s usually aunt Betty at the holiday gatherings. I made your favorite pie… Just have one piece, please. They mean well, but I call them food bullies, food pushers. In our culture, unfortunately, if someone has a drug addiction, if someone has an alcohol addiction or any other kind of addiction, gambling or whatever, we usually as a society try to support that. A nicotine addiction, whatever. But food addiction, not only is it acceptable, it’s promoted. And if you try to get out of it, people don’t want you out of it. And that’s why it’s so hard in the culture that we live in currently to get out of this addiction. There’s many people who have gotten free of it. So I know it’s possible, but you really have to go into that mentality that people are not going to support you.

Emily Boller: [00:26:51] And once you sort of grasp that in your brain that I’m not going to get the support I need, then you can do it because you already have set yourself up. They’re not going to support me. They’re not going to understand. You got to get to that point. I don’t care because I’m dying. Living with this disease, my diabetes is developing, my heart disease is getting worse. I’m sitting on a ticking bomb with a stroke here. I don’t really care what they think anymore. And so we do have to overcome that. I don’t care what they think, because as long as we are trying to please people around this, we will have aunt Betty’s piece of pie. We will have whatever it is.

Dr E: [00:27:33] Exactly. And the problem is that it’s not that one piece of pie. And like I said, most of the time they mean well, they are saying. Just try it. It’s really, really good. I want you to enjoy it just like I did or I prepared it with a lot of love or whatever it is.

Dr E: [00:27:46] We see a lot of that. We have a baby and he’s turning to later this year. And a lot of times people are shocked when we say that he’s never even tasted bread. He’s never even tasted anything with sugar. He’s never tasted anything that wasn’t prepared at home. And they’re like, don’t you think you’re exaggerating a little? I don’t know. We didn’t just want to train him before he’s conscious of it. He doesn’t miss anything. They think that we’re being terrorists or something.

Dr E: [00:28:13] And it’s like he can not miss something that he doesn’t know, and when he’s old enough, –I’ve said this repeatedly, actually, in the podcast– when he’s old enough to understand the effect that certain foods have on him. We’ll let him try it. Listen, you want to try Coke? Go ahead. Try it and see how you feel with it. You want to try eating some birthday cake, try it and see how you feel afterwards. But we’re not going to start exposing him to all these things before he’s even aware of or being able to put two and two together. And you should see a lot of the times we even have trouble deciding whether we want to leave him with family members because we don’t know if they’re going to feed him stuff behind our backs. And we know that they don’t do it because they want to be mean. But we really don’t know if somebody is there just sabotaging them, wanting to be overly nice. And I think this is a big problem in our society.

Emily Boller: [00:29:01] Yes. And, you know, people think you’re extreme, unfortunately, eating chemicals and sugar and foods that, like you say, aren’t even really food. That’s normal now. Eating out of a garden is considered abnormal. You’re abnormal if you eat lots of vegetables and fruits and things with nutrients in it. And so I think that’s the mentality that we’ve got to shift that feeding our bodies to create health within our bodies, that is normal. Eating food that’s made with chemicals and processed and high sugar. That’s not normal. And I commend you so much for doing that with your little boy. Because Dr. Furham, he has a story. His little son, I think, was like four or five. It’s like a PTA meeting. And right in his eye level was a tray of chocolate chip cookies. And he never had a chocolate chip cookie before. And he reached out when his mom was talking to another parent. He reached up and took a cookie and he took a bite out of that cookie and he spit it out of his mouth. He didn’t like it, you know, and it’s like we’ve been trained to be addicted to this stuff, not your son. But most of Americans have been trained. And so that’s so foreign. If you go to a bus stop and all the parents at that bus stop are smoking cigarettes, the child’s going to think, well, that’s normal, everybody smokes cigarettes. And so, you know, because all the adults are eating all this junk food. Well, of course, it’s normal to eat chips and cookies and Big Macs and all that. It’s normal.

Dr E: [00:30:46] Exactly. And that’s a big problem. We’ve discussed this as well more than once here in the podcast. How normal isn’t healthy anymore. Normal, you need to be extreme because it’s only in the extremes that you will actually be able to find the outliers of people who are currently healthy.

Dr E: [00:31:02] Because the majority, the ones that are in the normal or in the common are unhealthy. Are the ones who are eating all these things, are the ones who are advocating for moderation and just have a little bit of soda. You just have a little bit of this. Just have a little bit of that. And it’s like saying just have a little bit of cocaine. It makes absolutely no sense. So people keep advocating for that. And I think it’s a much more serious problem than we currently recognize it for.

Dr E: [00:31:29] But anyway, why don’t you share a little bit with us about how you actually recognized that this was an addiction? And what was it that made you actually start taking steps to treating it as such?

Emily Boller: [00:31:42] Well, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 11. Way back in 2002. And one night I was researching reverse diabetes and this article popped up by Dr. Fuhrman, he’s written a book “Eat to Live”. Eat to Live wasn’t published yet. But this article that you could get all type 2 diabetes reversed and you could reduce the amount of insulin, and reduce complications for type 1 diabetes. So, I scheduled a phone consultation with him, my husband and I, and we have a half hour phone consultation and he told us, you know, how we could start eating healthier as a family and all of this. I just thought, I incorrectly thought at that point, we hung up the phone. My husband and I looked at each other and thought, this guy is nuts. There’s no way our family could eat vegetables and fruits, beans and nuts and seeds. You know what? Everybody at the soccer game was eating the Hostess, Twinkies and cookies and all that. So we decide not to do it.

Emily Boller: [00:32:47] And then it took me about five years. And I always knew in the back of my mind that I had some kind of addiction. I just knew it because every once in a while, you know, a story comes to the news about an alcoholic reversing or getting out of their alcoholism or you hear these success stories. And I thought, you know, that’s no different than my addiction.

Emily Boller: [00:33:08] So long story, I decided this when my blood pressure was skyrocketing, I was like, I’ve got to do something radical. The diets aren’t working. Everything I’ve done up to age forty eight years old has not worked. I thought, I’m going to do Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. And I just knew that I had to put my feet all the way in. I could straddle the fence or it wouldn’t work. And so I was actually, I’m an artist and I was in Italy. And when I saw the Sistine Chapel, the painting of Michelangelo, of the creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel, it just took my breath away. And I thought, oh, my goodness, I would never, never think of smearing mud on the Sistine Chapel. But that’s what I was doing every day of my life by continuing to eat these foods that I knew that were addictive. I knew they were causing my heart disease and stuff.

Emily Boller: [00:34:03] And so on July 10th, 2008, I just made that commitment. I made it into an art exhibit. I posted it online, my changing images every month. My changing blood pressure is every month. And it’s more like a scientific medical experiment than anything else. I just wanted to see as a painter uses paint or a potter uses clay. I wanted to see what food could do to change my body.

Emily Boller: [00:34:29] And not only did it change my outside appearance, it changed my blood vessels. It changed my pancreas. It changed my blood pressure. It changed my eyesight. It changed everything within my body, too. And so that’s why I knew I was flourishing on eating lots of high nutrient foods because my body was responding so well and I knew when my addictions went away. You can’t convince me now that I wasn’t addicted to all that sugar, all those processed foods.

Emily Boller: [00:35:06] Today, I have to tell you a story. We are talking about how extreme this way of eating is. When my son. He eventually died when he was 21, he had suicidal ideation. And he, I didn’t think he would actually take his life, but he did. And soon after, within just a week or two after the funeral or after he died. Some well-meaning ladies at our church, they thought, oh, they asked me first. What can we bring to your house? And I said, no, please, no. No processed food, no sugar, no pies, cakes. And they thought that was extreme. And our youngest son at that point was 13. And they said, well, we’re going to bring some. They brought all these pies and cakes for him and he ended up in the emergency room with some mini strokes. Yeah. And so because they thought it was so extreme to eat this way, they didn’t honor all I said was just some bags of apples and carrots. And, you know, we don’t eat a whole lot of junk food. You know, don’t bring the chips and stuff. They thought it was just too extreme. So they went ahead and provided all that food for my son to just binge on basically.

Emily Boller: [00:36:16] And that’s how I know it’s an addiction. I have interviewed people all over the United States who have confided their stories to me. This one, she even said I can share it. She was suicidal, was going to jump off of her balcony. We don’t hear the stories because they aren’t telling their stories of so much shame to addiction, but it’s causing all of us to even be more addicted. And when you hear the stories of kids who have to drop out of college because they’re addicted to pop or soda, however you want to say it, but, you know, we’re having this widespread addiction and, you know, teenagers between 17 and 34. Dr. Esselstein has done studies. They have the coronary artery disease. Even at that young age. And so that’s how I know it’s an addiction, because I’ve heard the stories, it’s not just my story, I’ve heard so many stories where it’s ruining relationships, it’s breaking up marriages. Parents can’t get off the couch to fix a roof on their house. They can’t drive their teenagers to activities. It’s affecting people just like every other addiction.

Dr E: [00:37:29] Absolutely. It is crazy. The thing is, we need to realize that all the companies that are making these foods and they have all these scientists whose job is to make these foods as addictive as possible. That’s just the way it is. Their job is to make you buy a certain food, consume it, and then want it more and more and more. And it’s exactly just like a drug. It’s exactly like tobacco. It’s exactly like gambling and alcohol and all these different things. They have scientists and they call them food engineers. But in reality, they’re literally mad scientists almost who are making these chemical compounds that once ingested interact with our brains to create these dopamine signals, these different neurotransmitters that cause us to be addicted. And it response, exactly like you said.

Dr E: [00:38:19] Now, should we ban it? I don’t know. We see that there’s alcohol and there’s people who can consume it and don’t have a problem with it. There is gambling and there’s people who can go to Las Vegas every other year and gamble for a little bit. And they’re fine. And same thing with tobacco and same thing with a lot of the other things. But there is a lot of people who can’t. So we need to be aware that most of these things that this is a risk that we’re running and that some people might need help and that we should be there to help them and not shame them because they already are ashamed enough themselves.

Emily Boller: [00:38:53] And I think there’s a lot of signs in childhood that the child may have an addictive heart to them. That’s maybe you can start seeing some signs when they’re little. And I think if parents are educated on what are the signs to look for in a young child, I think a lot of it can be worded and it doesn’t need to turn into addiction. My passion is for the parents, as I just commend you so much for providing that environment for your little boy at the age he’s at because parents have so much in their power to empower a child, not to have a food addiction, not to have an eating disorder, you know, by the time they’re 30 with a full blown eating disorder. Oh, it’s years of therapy and money to get out of it. And one thing I do want to emphasize, I went to a counselor, a therapist, to help me with the emotional parts of my life that needed healing, the inner healing. So it’s very important when you’re getting out of this addiction too is, not just the physical part, but the whole the trauma. Anything that you’ve gone through that’s just causing you to stress eat and emotional eat. You’re turning to substances to cover up that pain. That’s when a good skilled professional counselor’s able to pull those out of you so that you aren’t plagued with all of that inner turmoil.

Dr E: [00:40:12] Absolutely.

Emily Boller: [00:40:13] So that’s a real important part of the puzzle piece too is professional counseling.

Dr E: [00:40:18] Well, I think it’s a huge part of the puzzle because like you very well explained, it is trauma, because even if it is you who is inflicting it upon yourself, if you’re ashamed, if you’re constantly unhappy with your appearance and you’re unsatisfied and you’re simply not enjoying being alive and how you are living your life, then that starts creating trauma.

Dr E: [00:40:37] There’s a great book and I forget the author, but it’s called The Body Keeps the Score. And it talks about all these different traumas that we start accumulating throughout life and that we might think that are minor. But in reality, they start having a heavy psychological burden on us and how they can manifest later as physical and psychological disorders. So I think it’s something that’s very, very important to address.

Dr E: [00:41:01] Let’s just move on a little bit from this. We normally like to keep our episodes actionable. So for those of our listeners, which I’m sure are more than a few who are currently struggling with something like what you’ve just described, they feel like they’re out of control, that they’re not really holding the steering wheel of their life, at least in terms of what they’re eating and how their relationship with food is going.

Dr E: [00:41:26] What would be your top two or three pieces of advice for them to be able to, as soon as they finish listening to this episode that they can start regaining that control?

Emily Boller: [00:41:36] Well, I think number one is to understand to get some knowledge about the science behind this addiction. And let me say my book, I’m not just promoting my book here, but the reason I went through the pain of writing that book, because it was not an easy book to write. You know, I’m exposing my very intensely personal life to hundreds of people, thousands of people. And it’s not fun, you know, but I know that there’s just some of the science in there that helps understand why you can’t have just that one bite. Just reading information that deals with food addiction to understand the seriousness of this addiction is number one. If you’re in denial of it, it’s like, oh, I can just diet and I’ll lose 10 pounds and I’ll be fine, you know, but understanding, getting out of the denial of addiction that it is truly an addiction. Number two is just knowing the importance of that just one bite. And, you know, getting professional counseling and it’s not a sign of weakness. If I could only tell people. Counseling is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. You’re reaching out so that you can be better. You’re reaching out so someone can give you tools to help you cope with the pains that we have within us.

Emily Boller: [00:42:55] We all have pain. We all have something that’s happened to us. Not everybody, but a lot of us have. And sometimes we just need a little tweak to help us get cleaned out of that. And also, I’ve written The Seven Commonalities of Those Who Get Out of Food Addiction. It’s on my Web site. And they can download that. And I have a blog where I post about once every other week, I post some I’m going through personally, like I just wrote about the rip current. You know, my whole vacation in California. But it’s just to have ongoing support. I would say. But number one is to understand the science behind it, why you need to abstain from certain foods and why you need to put the nutrients in your body.

Dr E: [00:43:40] I couldn’t agree more with that. And I think we kind of skipped a little bit over that. And a big part of the reason is we’ve had other people talk about different ways of eating. And I had Dr. Nisha Chellam on one of our first episodes and she advocates as well, just like you do. And Dr Furham does a plant based diet. She does that. I’ve done that before. I agree that it might be great for transitioning out of the standard American diet. Like I’ve said before, it didn’t serve me in the long term. It’s not what I currently do. But I also think that it is a good alternative for some people at least to get out of that food addiction. But I really wanted. After reading your book and reading about your experience, I really wanted to be able to leverage that experience and that expertise to help other people get out of that same food addiction. Because if there’s something that we can share with them that will make them or that it will help them get out of that rut and regain and reclaim their life, because really this is what it is. It’s helping them reclaim their life, then this will have been a very successful episode. Now, you shared a little bit, your website, where else can people find out about you? Are you in social media? How can they find you?

Emily Boller: [00:44:45] Yes. Instagram. @EmilySBoller and Facebook: EmilyBollerStarvedToObesity. I’m on Facebook with that.

Dr E: [00:44:54] We’ll make sure to put links to all those things in our episode notes. We always do that. And obviously for your book as well so that people can get some additional tools.

Emily Boller: [00:45:04] I want to just say something to you. If I would have had my book when I was a teenager. It would have saved my marriage. I mean, I had a very ugly marriage for the first 15 years of our life. We’ve been married 38 years now. But and it’s wonderful now. We’ve worked out all the kinks. But if my husband Kurt would have had that book as we were dating, if he could have understood what the totality of what I was dealing with, it would have just saved our children from having to go through all that strife in our home. You know, it’s just I say that with all sincerity that parents could just get that book and read so they don’t have to raise their kids in that kind of environment. Teenagers, it’s for all ages because it’s so prevalent in our culture, because that food is everywhere, you know?

Dr E: [00:45:55] As with everything that we’ve discussed so far, I totally agree. And I do want to say that I read most of the book yesterday. I’ll probably finish it tonight.

Dr E: [00:46:05] And I really agree with what you just said. It’s a very easy read. However, it is profound. In what it shares and what it helps people understand. I think there’s a lot of things that aren’t being said about food addiction and how we need to be constantly aware that there’s people out calling for help, but they don’t do it overtly.

Dr E: [00:46:27] They need this help. And a lot of times we are not just ignoring them, but we’re even actively sabotaging them by saying things that we think are being good. Like just have a little bit. Just try to do a little bit. Oh, don’t worry. Oh, don’t stress so much about these things. We’re really doing them a disservice. So it’s very important. I do agree that it is a great resource for people who know anyone who is going through food addiction, who think that someone they know might be going through food addiction, who is going through food addiction themselves or who think they might be going through food addiction themselves. Because just like it happened to you, you weren’t entirely sure that this was the case, because while you’re immersed in it, you’re not really entirely sure if it just because you really want it or because you’re really addicted and the same thing happens to addicts in every other area. So alcoholism and addicts to gambling and sex addicts, all these people, they don’t realize that they’re addicts, but it’s taking over their life. So I do want to say that.

Emily Boller: [00:47:23] And the hope is you can get out of it no matter how severe it is. You can get out of it. And that’s what’s so wonderful. You know, you can have the worst addiction there is, but the hope is you can get out of it. Hundreds of people have gotten out of food addiction. That’s what’s the most exciting part about this, is that it’s not a life term sentence. I mean, you have to work at it, but you can be free of it.

Dr E: [00:47:50] Exactly. And I really want to acknowledge you. So thank you so much, Emily, for coming on and for being so vulnerable and for sharing your story, because I’m sure that it will help other people. I do want to acknowledge that not everyone has the strength to go through everything that you’ve gone through. And not only that, but to come victorious at the other end and then share their experience so that other people don’t have to go through that same thing.

Dr E: [00:48:13] Now, for those who are going through that, Emily has just made it a lot easier. You don’t have to do all the trial and error, you can learn from her mistakes. You can learn from her experience, see what went well, see what didn’t work. Share this with people that you know, and just take advantage of this great resource that she’s putting out. The other resource that you mentioned about on your website, that’s a free resource?

Emily Boller: [00:48:35] Yes. Seven Commonalities of Those Who Get Out of Food Addiction, a little resource that they can just download there.

Dr E: [00:48:40] Perfect. So that’s a great way to get started. I’ll make sure to link that in the show notes. So just check in the description for this episode. You can probably just tap directly there and it’ll take you rightly to the landing page and you can get that one for free and you will also see the Amazon link for the book. So really, there’s no excuse. We’re here for you. I’m sure that Emily’s rooting for you and so am I.

Dr E: [00:49:00] Once again, Emily, thank you so much. So, so much for joining us. And I cannot thank you enough for inspiring so many people and for helping them get out of food addiction.

Dr E: [00:49:34] So there you have it. This has been episode 22 with Emily Boller. If you enjoyed the episode and would like to learn more make sure to check out the show notes and the links to everything we mentioned in this episode’s description. Before we go remember to also sign up for a free copy of the book, I’m starting work on about stem cell treatments for patients. Just visit to sign up now and I will make sure you get a free copy once it’s released. Thank you all once again for tuning in. I look forward to seeing you here next week. I’m Dr.E ‘The Stem Cell Guy.’ You are on The Highway to Health and I’m your guide to get you there.

Intro: [00:50:06] Thank you for listening to Dr. E’s Highway to Health Show. Helping you learn the science of living ageless. Did you enjoy the show? Please like, share and subscribe where you listen to podcast. Dr. E wants to hear from you. Go to D R E dot show. Again, that’s . Until next time. This is Dr. E’s Highway to Health. Helping you live ageless.

Our Guest for this Episode:


Emily Boller is the author of “Starved to Obesity” where she recounts her struggles with food addiction.

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