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Brad Lamm Takes on Food Addiction on OWN’s Addicted to Food

There are intense cravings for things like chocolate, French fries, or even bread. And then there is a line that crosses and those cravings consume the individual to a point of addiction. That’s the eating disorder that interventionist Brad Lamm is working to reverse on OWN’s Addicted to Food, a program he co-created. 

The program takes place at Shades of Hope, a treatment facility in Texas that Lamm calls “powerful, special, and unlike any other.” Contrary to any other weight loss show on television, this one doesn’t have participants competing, weighing in, or even get too caught up in calories. Instead, they’re working from the inside out. In fact, they may not even see any weight loss until after they go home.

The individuals you see on Addicted to Food spend hours in therapy each week, about 12-15 hours of mental and emotional work each day! “They are busting down the beliefs of this unhealthy loop they have with food,” Lamm told us.

He says that Shades of Hope is “not a fat farm,” but that it is more like an emotional bootcamp. It’s a safe place for those battling a food addiction to understand themselves, the addiction, and learn how to heal every aspect. It’s then that they’re able to go home and put what they’ve learned in to practice. While some may lose a little weight during their stay, most begin the physical changes and transformations at home. The internal baggage they leave with, while it can’t be weighed or measured, is greatly diminished.

Lamm remarks that a food addict isn’t necessarily someone who overeats or has just gotten sloppy with their eating habits, there is truly a deeply-ceded reason for their inability to eat in a controlled manner. He indicates that there are 75 million obese Americans, and that 12 million have a food addiction (most of which don’t recognize the addiction nor are they seeking treatment). Like any other addiction, be it alcohol, drugs, or food, this addiction can be costly in more ways than just their finances. Personal relationships, careers, and so much more can be negatively affected when a food addiction takes hold of a person’s life.

One of the greatest reasons working against those with a food addiction, or even obesity, is that our society has deemed it a taboo topic. Lamm says that when an individual has anorexia or bulimia, we talk about it and we do our best to help them because the alternative is just too dangerous. However, according to Lamm, we’ve made obesity a “private issue,” and it’s not something polite individuals bring up to one another.

Think about it. Most of us would be much quicker on the draw to approach our sister who is clearly too thin because of anorexia than we would our brother who is struggling with an unhealthy weight. Both ends of the spectrum are painfully unhealthy, both can lead to death and a slew of health problems along the way, but with only one do we feel comfortable helping the sufferer make a change.

On Addicted to Food you’ll see eight individuals who “literally cannot live without food,” according to the show’s site, work to overcome their illness. You’ll follow their journey through a 42-day treatment program at Shades of Hope and learn more about this illness, the real way in which it’s being treated, and hopefully find the strength to help those in your life, too – even if that person is yourself.

Lamm’s vision isn’t available solely to the select few who made it on the show, anyone can access his Just 10 Challenge, which is free online for 30 days, or his book Just 10 Pounds, which works along with the iPhone app of the same name. “It’s not another diet or gimmick,” warns Lamm. He’ll help you learn how to lose 10 pounds at a time and change your emotional relationship with food.

June 14th, 2011

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