I know how it starts.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

You have a bite.

And then another.

Next thing you know, the box is gone and you feel terrible.


You’re disgusted, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, and — even through the fog of a sugar high — you know you’re SO much smarter than this.

So why can’t you stop eating?

The answer is because it’s not about the food. It’s about numbing and distracting yourself so you can avoid something unpleasant.

The boss you don’t like.

The spouse who is distant.

The past you’re trying to forget — or perhaps the future you’re trying to avoid.

My own food addiction in college stemmed from a deeeeeply internalized fear of entering “the real world” with no job, no money, and $40,000 in student loans. (Seriously. My debit card was rejected at Subway.)

Still… rather than face these fears head on, I’d hit up three different drive-thrus, eat my weight in greasy sandwiches, hate myself for a few hours, go to bed, wake up, hit the gym, and let the cycle begin again.

Sure there was some greedy appeal in the deviously, chemically-addictive food itself, but the added appeal was that the more time I spent focusing on how out of control I was in this area of my life, the less time I had to actually deal with the other parts. So the distraction was subconsciously intentional.

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d write about this topic again. I’ve already been there, done that and I recovered a long time ago.

But then I read this introduction to Mika Brzezinski’s new book and so closely identified with her pain and the “daily tyranny” of her hidden addiction that it brought me back to my own struggle, and those of my friends.

Read more from Emily Bennington

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