Pro-Recovery Diet for Compulsive Overeating


​A 64-year-old woman came to see me with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and out-of-control diabetes and kidney disease. She complained of feeling depressed, anxious, and was unable to sleep. She told me she was a compulsive over-eater. Her drug of choice was potato chips, and a close second was vanilla ice cream. She had been eating lots of both for 30 years.

She had gone to Overeaters Anonymous and had been seen by multiple doctors who put her on a variety of diets but none worked. She suspected she would need to be on years of psychotherapy for her emotional eating. I wasn’t so sure.

We started by looking at her three-day food diary and it was filled with potato chips, vanilla ice cream, and deep fried chicken. She said that was normal. I said “How about we don’t take anything away from you at first. Let’s just add a few things.” I had her eat 15 grams of protein every 4 hours without fail starting with getting up (meaning total protein of 90 to 105 grams a day), and 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables with that protein. I figured that she could get plenty of fat, which is always mixed with high protein foods such as meat, nuts, chicken, and cheese). A week later she came back radiant. She hadn’t had one bowl of ice cream or one potato chip all week and didn’t need it.

The second week she came back downcast. She’d been doing just fine until the night before. Out of the blue at 10 o’clock, an irresistible craving to buy potato chips emerged. What happened that day? She had gotten really busy at work and had skipped her afternoon protein snack. She had come home exhausted and took a nap at 7:30. No dinner. And went immediately back to work at her computer. At 10 o’clock her cravings were so strong she stopped working. As she was telling me this story her eyes were getting wider and wider because it was clicking. “Oh my gosh, I was hungry!” Yes, you were hungry! And that was the last time she let that happen. We brainstormed what to have in the refrigerator that was easy for her to grab ahold of to eat: Hard boiled eggs, carrots, celery sticks, unsweetened peanut butter. Mozzarella cheese sticks. She knew how to cook healthily she just hadn’t done it. Getting her to cook healthy meals when she wasn’t exhausted was easy. “Why didn’t anybody else tell me this in the 30 years I’ve been trying to stop overeating?” she lamented. I personally think what worked for her was eating protein and other real foods every 4 hours.

Christina Veselak, LMFT, CN, former Alliance President

Director, Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition

Private Practice, Denver, Colorado


0 views
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Google+ - Black Circle
  • Black LinkedIn Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon

Disclaimer: The Alliance for Addiction Solutions (AAS) does not provide medical advice. Our programs and website are intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or by any other medical body. The information posted on our website, or given in a presentation, is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any medical problem or condition. We do not intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. Information about food, nutritional supplements, and other modalities that is beneficial for the majority of people may be harmful to some people. It is the individual’s responsibility to make personal health care decisions with the advice of a qualified health care provider. The Alliance for Addiction Solutions is not responsible for any errors or omissions in any information posted on the AAS website or given in presentations concerning health care for any condition. The Alliance for Addiction Solutions gives no assurance or warranty regarding the applicability of this information to any individual, or the consequences of any individual’s choice to use this information.