My passion for chocolate was imparted by both grandmothers, who loved sweet treats and kept them conveniently located at various stations around the house. I was close to all my grandparents and learned early on to associate food—especially dessert—with comfort and love. But it was during adolescence, when that “love” started to show up as extra filling in my already-tight Levis, that I embarked upon what would be a decades-long power struggle with chocolate. My quest for control began at age 15, mostly by NOT eating. I simply didn’t engage the enemy at all, until, at 5’6” and 90 pounds, my doctor insisted that I stop losing weight or enter the hospital to be force fed.
My fearful, anorexic mind didn’t care for that notion, and I gained 50 pounds fairly quickly. My eating went from being completely under my control to completely out of control. From then on, my weight fluctuated in a 20-pound range, depending on how motivated I was to tame the chocolate beast within. I tried many things from individual therapy to group therapy to raw food diets to fasting to abstaining from sugar to Overeaters Anonymous, Food Addicts Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, exploring my inner child, talking to empty chairs, emotional freedom technique, and on and on. I even enrolled in an outpatient substance abuse treatment program because I was being consumed by chocolate! It’s all I could think about, and it was near impossible to resist the continuous desire to eat it. No matter how strong my resolve after a day-long emotional-eating binge, no matter how much I affirmed and visualized and journaled, no matter how many phone calls I made or promises I pledged, I’d inevitably awaken to chocolate thoughts first thing in the morning. Often, I’d just give in immediately, largely in an effort to get the chocolate off my mind so I could focus on something else. But as they say in OA, one brownie is too much and the whole pan isn’t enough. So I’d inevitably be back for more before lunch.
Well, I guess I was bound to come upon something that worked for me eventually, and, in fact, I did. It was two things, actually. First, I began eating a high-nutrient diet—i.e., foods that have a high nutrient per calorie ratio. At first it was touch and go, but the more I stuck with it, the fewer cravings I had, and my emotional eating began to subside. It got a lot easier to stop eating in response to upset when my physiological addiction to sugar subsided. Second, I learned how to use cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques to help control my eating. And those—well, along with mindfulness and a few other tricks—form the basis of Crash Your Diet™, my 10-week phone coaching program.
Today, I still love chocolate. But the difference is this: I consume chocolate (mostly just the 85% stuff); it no longer consumes me.