As a development consultant, John taught people how to live authentic and fulfilling lives. In the day, he would deliver seminars to hundreds of people. Then at night, he would return to his hotel room and in despair, he would binge.
“I was living two different lives,” the 55-year-old Calgary man says. “I wandered around at 3 o’clock in the morning with a bag of food. I was lost. I couldn’t think straight. I would sit on the park bench like a drunk.”
John, who asked that his real name not be published, is the CEO of a company and the father of three daughters. He is affable and forthright.
“I fit the profile of a successful person,” he says. But he has struggled with an addiction to food for all of his life.
“To hold the cravings down created a whole amount of tension inside of me. It felt like holding a beach ball under the water.”
There is a growing demand for services that help sufferers of food addiction. Membership to Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous grew by more than 50% in Canada from 2008 to 2009. Sheena’s Place, a Toronto-based non-for-profit, added a second binge-eating disorder group to its programs in 2009 to reduce the number of people on waiting lists. While food addiction is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there is heightened appreciation that, for some people, food can trigger a response in the brain similar to addictive drugs.
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