The Emotional Eater's Book of Inspiration

90 Truths You Need to Know to Overcome Your Food Addiction


By Debbie Danowski

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 17, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Debbie Danowski weighed in at more than 300 pounds. Years of trying every diet program imaginable left her feeling exhausted, miserable, and hopeless. By realizing the connections between food and emotions, she learned to overcome her food addiction. Now, The Emotional Eater’s Book of Inspiration offers the tips that helped her lose more than 160 pounds –and keep them off for the past seventeen years. One of the biggest hurdles to weight loss and continued success in food-addiction recovery is denial. The Emotional Eater’s Book of Inspiration helps you confront your own “fat lies” by providing 90 essential truths, such as:
You won’t lose one ounce of weight by talking about it.
Dieting is not a competitive sport.
Cleaning your plate will not feed one starving child.

“Free” foods are too expensive. Touching on common challenges faced by everyone who’s wrestled with emotional eating and food addiction, Debbie Danowski empowers you to manage your emotional connections to food, giving you the tools to achieve long-term success.


Praise for
The Emotional Eater's Book of Inspiration
"Debbie Danowski is absolutely compassionate about how mired most of us are in false thoughts and images about ourselves and others. Her new book is brave, daring, funny, wise, and very inspiring. It is a must read for all of us."
-Jayne Atkinson, actress
"Once again, Dr. Danowski states some simple truths which, if followed, can not only change a person's eating habits but one's life. This book could easily be used in conjunction with therapy as a daily reinforcement of mentally healthy approaches to eating."
-Jocelyn Novella, LPC, NCC, Creator of the Eating Disorders Task Force at Sacred Heart University
"This wonderful book is a gift as well as a tool in our arsenal against emotional eating—it is written with compassion and love. Keep this book close and read it when you feel lost and alone. It will inspire you."
-Tina A. compulsive overeater

Debbie Danowski, PhD, is a nationally renowned expert on weight loss. A pioneer in the food addictions field, she is the author of Why Can't I Stop Eating?, Locked Up For Eating Too Much, and The Overeater's Journal. For over twenty years, she has worked as a freelance writer, her articles appearing in First for Women, Woman's Day, and Seventeen, among other publications. She is on the International Advisory Board for the Food Addiction Institute and currently holds an associate professorship at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Visit her online at

Why Can't I Stop Eating?: Recognizing, Understanding, and Overcoming Food Addiction (with Pedro Lazaro, MD)
Locked Up For Eating Too Much: Diary of a Food Addict in Rehab
The Overeater's Journal: Exercises for the Heart, Mind, and Soul

For Charlie, who has taught me more about love than anyone I've ever known. I love you dearly.

BY THE YEAR 2010, it is estimated that 40 percent of all Americans or 68 million people will be classified as obese. Currently, that figure is 3I percent. In addition, approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide should lose weight, according to the International Obesity Task Force. More than $117 billion a year is spent on obesity-related diseases for about 129 million adults in the United States who are overweight or obese, according to a report issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
Emotional eating is the reason for many of these problems. Most of us are unaware of the ways we use food to soothe our feelings. While food addicts need to begin by abstaining from their binge foods, feelings come up especially strong when they do. Without help, it is nearly impossible to permanently change eating patterns and overcome emotional eating.
The Emotional Eater's Book of Inspirations: 90 Truths You Need to Know to Overcome Your Food Addiction is a unique and special approach to help with this problem. Denial is the number one reason many of us fail to recover; the ninety truths in this book will not only help you recognize this critical issue, they have the potential to be life-changing.
As someone who has spent all of his professional life working in the eating disorders field, I have witnessed firsthand the challenges of recovery. This book will help you through the toughest days and will be a companion as you overcome your emotional eating.
Program Director,
ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services
Cofounder, Food Addiction Institute

MY HEART WAS pounding as I reached for the phone. I knew instantly something was wrong. No one ever called me this early and anyone who would knew that I had flown in from Florida the day before. I had made it clear that I planned to sleep in.
"Hello," my voice was groggy.
"Deb, it's Dad. You gotta come down to Florida. Mom is dead." I could hear the sobs in his voice.
"Oh, my God, Daddy. What happened? I'm so sorry." I was sobbing, too.
My parents were two weeks into a month-long vacation in Daytona Beach. I had just returned from visiting them. Other than a stomachache, my mother had had no symptoms when I saw her the morning before.
With shaking hands, I hung up the phone and began to prepare to fly back to Florida. Turning on the light, I saw the watch that my mother had gotten me a few days before. She had smiled at me when she found the wide pink-banded watch. She knew it was my favorite color and that I would love it.
Cradling the watch and rocking back and forth, I began to sob uncontrollably. Up until this point, I had been too young to understand the finality of death.
This time I knew. I knew that I would never again see or talk to my mother. I knew that she would never be there to listen to me talk about my problems or to offer support. And most of all, I knew that she would never be there to hug me and offer comfort in my most painful times. Now, when I needed her most she was gone.
It's been nearly two years since I received that phone call. During the time that followed, I experienced more pain than I could ever have imagined. There were endless nights of lying awake sobbing uncontrollably, the intense feelings of loneliness, and the overwhelming struggle to continue working my food addiction recovery program at all times and without exception.
Eighteen years ago, eating was the only way I knew to comfort myself. I put on a happy face then when I was alone and ate until I was so sick that I could barely make it to the bathroom in time. I was 328 pounds. Though this was painful, it didn't even compare to the deep self-hatred and shame I felt from not being able to control my eating. I felt completely defeated and demoralized each time I tried yet another diet only to end up heavier than when I began. I was suicidal and hopeless.
And though I needed to be locked up in a treatment center to begin my recovery that is not true for everyone. As someone who is physically addicted to processed sugar and flour in the same way that an alcoholic is to alcohol, I needed to find a food plan that worked for me. I did. But this was only the first step.
Having a food plan that allowed me to be free of my addictive substances allowed my true feelings to surface. For the first time in my life I was able to identify what I was feeling. Before this, I had spent so much time and energy eating that I wasn't aware of my emotions. Once I could identify them, I needed to learn what to do with them. Since eating had been my only course of action before, I had to change many things in my life.
Today, I am happy to say that I am able to feel my feelings and not use food to deny them. Even in extreme cases such as the death of my mother, I know that no amount of food can take away the pain I am feeling. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. If I do choose to reach for food when I have strong feelings then I will experience even more pain than if I had let myself experience them.
Now, it's your turn. Picking up this book is an indication that you are probably experiencing some degree of pain due to your connection to food. Maybe you are like I was and suicidal, or perhaps you just have fleeting thoughts of wanting to improve your eating habits. Whatever the degree of your problem, it's important that you begin to take responsibility for finding a solution.
This book will help you to do that. Within these pages you will find 90 truths to help you overcome your emotional eating and food addiction. You will be offered concrete activities to help you both identify your feelings and improve your eating habits. But, most of all you will learn new ways of managing your emotions so that you no longer need to use food to make yourself feel better.
One of the important things I've learned to recognize in my own recovery is how I used "food lies" to allow myself to continue my emotional eating. Throughout this book you will learn to identify and change the food lies you have created to sustain your over- or undereating. You will be presented with workable methods of moving forward and creating a happy and sane life.
Before you begin, there are a few things you need to know. The terms food addiction and emotional eating are used throughout this book. It is important to understand the difference. "Food addiction" is a term used to describe a physical and emotional addiction to certain food substances, usually processed sugar, flour, caffeine, sometimes fats and wheat. "Emotional eating" is used to label the condition of using food to manage feelings. While all food addicts are emotional eaters, not all emotional eaters are food addicts. In other words, it is possible to emotionally eat without being physically addicted to food.
It is also important to note that not all food addicts and emotional eaters are overweight. There are many forms of both. A person can be addicted to food yet abstain from eating. It's not how much or how little a person eats, it's what the food does to the person that matters. Some emotional eaters and food addicts feel powerful by not eating. When they do eat, they feel out of control.
With all of the varieties of both food addiction and emotional eating, it is best that you try not to compare yourself to others. Rather than dismissing things that may not initially seem to fit your circumstances, take some time to make every effort to identify with the things written in this book. Put all thoughts about how you are different out of your mind. Instead, think about those things that do pertain to you. It will make all of the difference in the world in determining the progress you will make.
The next thing you need to understand is that this book does not offer a suggested food plan. You will need to find one. How you go about this is up to you. There are resources at the end of this book to help. You may use one of them or you may decide to consult a doctor or nutritionist. Whatever course you take, do not try to figure it out yourself. As an emotional eater or food addict, it is important that you have some accountability when deciding what to eat. Look at it this way, if you could have changed your eating habits by yourself then you wouldn't be where you are now.
As you read the entries and work on the suggested activities, understand that the single most important trait you bring to beginning this book is honesty. If you're like many emotional eaters and food addicts you have spent a lifetime telling yourself food lies so that you can over- or undereat. Being I00 percent honest about food and your feelings is a challenge but it is necessary.
And, finally, it will be helpful for you to purchase a special notebook or journal where you can keep all your thoughts about your recovery in one place. Though some people are resistant to do this because they are afraid that someone will find their writings, understand that with any type of recovery there are risks and challenges. If this is a particular challenge for you, then take every precaution you can to store your journal in a safe place. At the same time, understand that some people use this as an excuse not to move forward. If this is the case, keep in mind that your own words may save your life someday.
To begin, make a commitment to yourself to read one entry and complete the suggested activity each day for the next 90 days. Set aside a designated time that works for you. For some people it is first thing in the morning, while for others it is after work or before bed. The time doesn't matter nearly as much as consistency.
The program here is designed to build upon what you learn every day. Though you may be tempted to read the whole book all at once then put it down, I recommend that you stick to reading one entry each day for the next 90 days. After you've finished 90 days, you can and should dip into the book when you need a reminder to stick with your new eating habits.
If you are experiencing an extremely difficult time you may choose to read or reread some of the other entries but be sure not to skip over any of the activities when you do get to them. In other words, it's okay to read the entries out of order if you need to but make every effort to read and complete the activities in order.
Keep reading and whatever you do, don't stop. Don't talk yourself out of continuing. Turn the page and move forward into the life that you've always dreamed of. I know this is possible. I am living proof and it is my hope that someday you will be, too.

Your calendar is making you fat.
IT MAY SEEM unbelievable that the first and most important step in beginning a sensible eating journey has nothing to do with food. But if you think about it for a minute, it begins to make sense. How many times have you become discouraged because you weren't losing weight fast enough? And what did you do when you became frustrated? Let me guess: eat.
One of the biggest mistakes most emotional eaters make is to plan their weight loss. How many times have you tried to lose weight in anticipation of that big party in a few months? Or any other big event taking place on a designated date? What happened when you didn't reach your goal? The party came and went just as planned. If you did lose weight, then chances are you returned to your former eating behavior shortly after the event. The calendar served as both a beginning and ending point.
Your journey into healthy eating must not be dependent on calendars and timetables. It must become a daily way of life.
The truth is that no matter how much planning we do, the weight will come off in our body's time, not our calendar's. Weight loss is proportionate to the types and quantities of food we eat and the exercise we do, not to the amount of time we spend planning it.
Planning our weight loss only makes us frustrated and angry when we don't reach our goals, or cocky and celebratory when we do. Either way leads us back to overeating. The time will pass no matter what, but how we spend that time is up to us. Do we really want to be disillusioned by our lofty weight-loss goals, or would we rather be taking steps toward reaching a healthy weight?
When I weighed over 300 pounds, each time I began a new diet I would plan to lose five pounds a week. That meant that in less than half a year I would lose I00 of the I50 pounds I needed to. Inevitably, I fell short of my goal within a matter of weeks.
Since I had failed to reach my goal, I figured I may as well quit altogether. Why bother to stick to a diet if I couldn't even do something as simple as lose five pounds a week? I went back to my unhealthy eating habits and added even more weight to my already enormous body size, which eventually prolonged the amount of time I would actually need once I began to lose weight.
Had I thrown my calendar away, I would not have set myself up to fail before I even began. And that's the main reason for throwing away our calendars—to prevent us from becoming too attached to unrealistic goals that are impossible to meet.
So, go ahead! Forget planning your weight loss. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Your first task in this program is to throw away your calendar. Open up that garbage can immediately! Your body, and your mind, will thank you.

Simple is not the same as easy.
OVERCOMING EMOTIONAL EATING and food addiction is simple. Simple? Yes. It's a matter of eating nutritious foods, exercising, avoiding processed sugar and flour, and eating moderate meals. There's no magic to it. It isn't brain surgery. It's quite simple. Even a five-year-old can understand the concept.
The problem is that as simple as the idea is, the execution of it is not easy. Many of us are trying to change years of both family and societal conditioning. We have been taught that food makes everything better; that eating cupcakes is the way to celebrate a child's birthday; that baking your grandmother cookies will make her feel cared for; that eating ice cream will soothe a broken heart; and that fast food is a way to give yourself a break.
We value thin, lean bodies but we gorge ourselves with high calorie foods to soothe our emotions. We have been trained to strive for an unrealistic physical ideal while at the same time treating ourselves to foods that have no real nutritional value. Fighting these contradictory messages is no easy task. And the battle must be waged on both an emotional and physical level.
Physically, if you haven't already done so, you will need to find a food plan that works for you. To do this, you may want to consult with a nutritionist who is skilled at helping food addicts, refer to a book written to address the physical issues, or attend a workshop. See the Resources Section in the back of the book for suggestions.
Emotionally, it will be necessary to detach from food. You will need to view food as simply a means of nourishing your body rather than soothing your emotions. Though this is a challenging process it is not impossible. But make no mistake. It will take work. You cannot simply read this book and hope to magically overcome your emotional eating. You will need to actually complete the activities in each entry. You will need to put effort and time into your recovery program. And no one else can do that for you.
As you take your first steps to free yourself from emotional eating, make a decision to commit a certain amount of time each day to work on this program. Spend your time today thinking about how you can rearrange your schedule to find fifteen minutes each day to focus on your new lifestyle. Set aside this time in the same way that you would a doctor or dentist appointment. This is your time and nothing should get in the way. It may not be easy but it is necessary.

"Food lies" cause emotional eating.
Just one won't hurt.
I really don't eat that much.
My body size doesn't bother me.
There really aren't that many calories in that.
THESE ARE EXAMPLES of "food lies": things we tell ourselves to keep us from knowing the truth about our eating. The easiest way to continue emotionally eating is to believe these lies. The only way we can allow ourselves to continue doing something we know is so harmful to our bodies is to lie to ourselves and, in some cases, to others.
Almost from the time we are born, food plays an emotional role in our lives. If a baby cries, parents assume she's hungry and offer bottles. As we get older, we are often rewarded for good behavior with lollipops or candy. This cements the association between food and love from an early age.
We are trained to use food to make us feel better yet somewhere along the line, food turns on us. It stops working. We no longer feel good after we eat, and in a misguided attempt to capture those good feelings, we continue to eat more and more. We know deep inside of us that eating isn't doing what we want it to yet we still keep hoping that we can fill the emptiness inside of us with food.
If you want to change things then you will need to recognize the food lies you've come to believe. To do this, you first have to be clear about what these lies are. The four listed above only scratch the surface. You will have your own personal food lies and they may not match any of those mentioned here.


On Sale
Mar 17, 2009
Page Count
220 pages

Debbie Danowski

About the Author

Debbie Danowski, Ph.D., is a nationally renowned expert on weight loss. A pioneer in the food addictions field, she is the author of Why Can’t I Stop Eating?, Locked Up For Eating Too Much, and The Overeater’s Journal. For over twenty years, she has worked as a freelance writer, her articles appearing in First For Women, Woman’s Day, and Seventeen, among other publications. A member of the International Advisory Board of the Food Addiction Institute, she currently holds an associate professorship at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Danowksi lives in Connecticut.

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