I can’t tell you how many emails I receive from people who claim to be addicted to food. They literally can’t stop eating sugary, salty and fatty foods and are desperate for someone to help them. They feel utterly powerless over their food choices and end up spouting the old line ‘You’re the only one who can help me!’


I’ve been doing this long enough now to see right through these cries for help. I know that what they’re really doing is making somebody else responsible for their situation (me) so that they can carry on making dumb food choices and excuse themselves for their destructive behaviour while they do it.


These days the word ‘addiction’ is used to cover a whole gamut of vices: gambling, sex and even shopping – but the addicts who I see most often are those addicted to food. These are the people who feel that they are so powerless to control their eating habits that they are even prepared to risk chronic disability and even death. 


But are they truly powerless?


We all know what we should eat, and what we shouldn’t. It’s not like the information is locked away in some secret location; these days, it’s never been more accessible! 


So here is my contention: many of these people aren’t real addicts, they’re moreso willpower wimps.


Yes, it’s harsh, but it’s also true. 


If you have suffered severe hurt or trauma in your life, or as addiction experts sometimes call it ‘a hole in your soul’ then you may have learned to reach for anything to fill the void and ease the pain – be it gambling, sex or yes, even shopping, as a way to alter your mood. And you may have repeated this pattern so often that it has now become a compulsive activity. 


So, when it comes to eating, yes, the need to eat sugar and fat as a way to make yourself feel good – or at least better – can become compulsive. However, there does come a time in everyone’s life when you realise that whatever psychological wounds and thoughts you have, do not define you – and neither does food. Food is not ruining your life – you are.


On The Biggest Loser we see some people who get it, and change their lives forever. We also see some people who, well, just don’t. They simply don’t have enough willpower to make significant long term change for themselves, even though they know it’s destructive not only to them, but also to their loved ones.


Now, I’ll stick my neck out here and say that by the end of a Biggest Loser season, I’ve got a pretty good idea who will stick with it, and who won’t. Who will have a new life for themselves, and who will be sending me desperate emails in a year’s time. This is because willpower is dead easy to pick. People who have it exude a sense of principle and resolve; of quiet self-control. 


The great news is, if you don’t have willpower now, or haven’t typically had it in the past, you can learn how to strengthen it, which in turn, will help you change your life for the better – forever. 


Article by Michelle Bridges