Step One

We admitted we were powerless over
our compulsive behavior with food ~
that our lives had become unmanageable.


Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater. All the things I write are my personal ESH and interpretation. I don't invent anything new here, since all the needed material about taking the steps is written in the Big Book, and the stuff on the special nature of food addiction is written in medical articles and different books. I also don't represent anyone except myself. I will write and share about myself, the way I understand the steps and the way I work the steps. At the end of each post there will be action suggestions for taking the step, and sharing subjects and questions on the actions.

So let us begin.

Step 1: "We admitted we were powerless over food - that our lives had become unmanageable."

Let us look at the first part.

After years of struggling with the disease of food addiction and extensive reading, study, and step work, I came to the conclusion that what is written in the books is true. I have a chronic (incurable) and fatal (killing) disease. On the physical level its main manifestation is an abnormal reaction to certain food substances. Eating these substances triggers a reaction called cravings that is a physical and mental hunger which cannot be satisfied and drives me to eat more and more (binge) in a compulsive manner. This is called an addiction to trigger foods.

I think it is probably hereditary and may begin to manifest and develop any time during my life. With me it manifested at a very young age, though the gross weight gain began to manifest at a later age.

In order to avoid cravings and their consequent bingeing, I have to identify my trigger substances and then stop eating them entirely, not even one bite.

Can I stop eating them for good? That's a question I will deal with in my next post. Here I want to share about how I identified my trigger foods. It was a long and tedious process with a lot of slips on the way. Since if I don't identify all my triggers and I eat one of them unknowingly, the cravings develop and I eventually slip and binge. What is even more confusing is the fact that my disease is progressive, and as time passes some foods that were once ok to eat may become trigger foods too.

To help me identify triggers, I can use a list of questions. Here is a list I have read somewhere and found very useful.


1. What foods do you overeat on a regular basis?

2. Of these foods, do most contain one substance, such as sugar, flour, fats, wheat or caffeine, and if so, include that in your list.

3. After eating these foods do you usually eat other foods that contain the same substance? For example, eating chocolate then cookies - both have sugar.

4. Name the foods you lose control over.

5. List the foods you eat only when you are alone.

6. When I am emotionally upset or physically sick, what foods do I eat to make me feel better?

7. What types of food do I have hidden around the house?

8. After dieting or starving myself, what is the food I usually reach for first?

9. Is there any food you lie about eating? If so name it.

10. What foods do you constantly think about eating? Include those you think about but do not actually eat.

11. When you think of dieting, what are the foods you feel sad about not being able to eat any more?

12. Over the years, what foods have you drastically increased your intake of on a consistent basis?

13. Does your personality change when you eat certain foods? If so include these foods on your list.

14. Are there certain foods, even if only for special occasions, that you get excited thinking about eating or preparing?

15. What foods do you make absolutely sure that you never run out of?

16. If you black out or do not remember when you eat a certain food include it on your list.

17. Can you think of a food that you would rather die than go without eating?

18. If you were stranded on a deserted Island and could have any food you wanted with you, what would you choose?

19. When you go out for a meal, is there a certain food you always eat or think about ordering?

20. What foods would you spend your last dollar on?

Answering these questions made it clear to me that my general triggers were sugar, flour and fat. But even using this question list did not reveal all my triggers. Therefore I got some advice from a reliable naturopath. I was also examined by professionals for food allergies and sensitivities of different kinds not necessarily of the craving type. One may be surprised at what can be found, including Candida infection and other illnesses that are far more common than we usually realize.

It seems that a lot of illnesses are caused by food sensitivities that don't necessarily manifest as cravings, but may manifest as hyperactivity, migraines, respiratory problems, etc... so it is wise to know about such foods and exclude them too. Just as an example, I found out that I was also sensitive to soybean products including tofu, and to yeast and oranges. They were not good for me though they didn't cause cravings. I also read a lot of books on the subject of food addiction, and studied information on the subject that appears on the Internet. I experimented a lot and then came up with my personal trigger food list, using the motto "when in doubt don't."

My list is probably different than your lists, since we are different persons. But you will probably find some of your triggers on it too and it may make you think about possible other triggers. So here is my personal, private trigger food list.

MY PERSONAL TRIGGER FOODS (What I abstain from):

All forms of: alcohol, cocoa, chocolate, caffeine, all pre-sweetened products including gum, desserts, yogurt and candy.

All forms of sugar, syrups, honey, artificial sweeteners (except saccharine in tablets), natural flavors, manitol, sorbitol, and caramel color.

All forms and kinds of flour, and products containing flour or made with flour.

All forms of wheat and wheat products.

All high fat foods, including: fried food, butter, cream, dairy products over 5% fat, chips, nuts and seeds.

The following fruits: dried fruit, bananas, grapes, cherries, fruit juice, oranges and tropical fruits.

All puffed and popped products, including: popped corn, puffed grain cereals and rice cakes.

The following proteins: Meat (except lamb), Poultry, soybeans and soybean products like soybean oil, Tofu and Tempeh.

Mushrooms and yeast in all forms, and products made with yeast.

Some of you may ask what is left to eat if you have such an extensive trigger food list. It seems to exclude almost everything. So here is my personal list, of safe food choices, just to show that even with such an extensive list of triggers I still have plenty of food and variety of foods to eat. I have to remember that due to the progressive nature of my disease, some of my safe food choice may change to trigger foods in the future. I have not yet met an opposite case where a trigger food became a safe food.


PROTEIN: Lamb, Fish, Eggs, Beans/Legumes.

VEGETABLES AND FRUIT: Fresh or Frozen. Rinse well if using canned products.

STARCHES: All starchy vegetables including Potatoes, Yams, Sweet Potatoes, and Corn.

GRAINS: All grains except wheat.

DAIRY: All dairy products with less than 5% fat, free of any modified food starch or added sugar.

OILS: Olive and sunflower seed oil

SPICES: Sugar and starch free products.

CONDIMENTS: Sugar-free, starch-free, and wheat free products.

BROTH: Homemade


1. Identify your personal trigger foods.

Try using the list of 20 questions to help you in this process. You may also want to check if any of the triggers appearing on my personal trigger food list are your triggers too.

2. Take a medical checkup to identify all sorts of food allergies and food sensitivities.


1. Share on how you developed your personal trigger food list.

How does eating these triggers affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally?

Did you find any new triggers by using the question list and my personal trigger food list? Do you think it possible that you have no trigger foods?

2. Page 44 BB: "If when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or when eating some foods you have little control over the amount you eat, you are probably a compulsive eater."

Does this describe you?

Are you a compulsive eater? Are you addicted to trigger foods?

Share some incidents that prove these points to you.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo, Step Leader
WTS 2002 Study, 1st Quarter



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