Houston Women Deal With Food Addictions

By Lauren Freeman - Anchor

HOUSTON - Eating too much, gaining weight and feeling guilty lead many of us to go on a diet. But when eating becomes the focus of your life, it crosses into a dangerous territory. For two Houston area women, it was "food addiction."

One woman identified only as Mary knew she had a problem when she continued to gain weight but wouldn't buy clothes over a size 16.

"There was a summer that I wore a raincoat every day because my clothing wasn't suitable to be exposed," Mary said.

Her friend, Ethyl, knows her pain. She would eat in secret.

"I would fill up the back seat of the car with groceries. But two bags were mine, and they never got home," she said.

Ethyl would drive behind the grocery store and eat those two full bags of food.

Mary and Ethyl asked KPRC Local 2 to hide their identities because they're part of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. They credit the group for helping them keep their weight down.

Their meetings go by the same 12-step rules of Alcoholics Anonymous -- higher power, sponsors, and buddies to help you kick your food habit.

It's a special approach to a special addiction, according an overeating disorder expert.

Dr. Bonnie Blankmeyer, a specialist at UT Health Science Center San Antonio, said, "You can do without alcohol. You can do without drugs. You can do without gambling. You can do without sex. All these other addictions -- but you can't do without food."

She said Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous meetings help to normalize eating patterns, crediting the buddy system and giving it up to a higher power.

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