From Fit2Fat2Fit: Drew Manning on Food Addiction

Ever wish there was a trainer that could feel your pain? Someone that could understand and has dealt with the struggles that come along with obesity? If you don’t know this man already, then you should get to know him. Our good friend, Drew Manning, took the courageous trip from Fit2Fat2Fit, and is here to share some of his words of wisdom. PS – Drew comes with one amazing PIC (partner in crime)! His sweet, adorable, funny, amazing wife Lynn works side-by-side with him. The kind of partnership Chris and I appreciate!

Drew Manning - From Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit - Learn more at
Drew Manning – From Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit. Copyright (c) Drew Manning

Food Addictions
by Drew Manning

The hard truth is that most ?fit? people hear ?food addiction? and roll their eyes. I admit, even I was that closed-minded once. Until I embarked on a journey that showed me just how real food addiction really is.

Fit2Fat2Fit in a nutshell is my journey of going from fit (which I had been my entire life) to fat (gaining 75 lbs.) back to fit (in a year?s time). For 6 months I allowed myself to eat an unrestricted diet and stop exercising in my attempt to see a different perspective. My clients kept telling me I didn?t understand their struggles. They?d mention late night snacking and food addiction, and I felt they were just being lazy and making poor choices. Until I walked (a small ways) in their shoes?

Food became a comfort, a friend and an escape within a few short months. I?d get headaches without my Mountain Dew and I found myself emotionally eating as my relationships, job and self-esteem struggled during my journey. When it was time to go back to a healthy lifestyle, giving up these addictive foods was not just a challenge but required a detox (just like a drug). In fact, most studies show that food is just as addictive as drugs.

This may not be news to you. You may be struggling with food addiction right now. Though I can only scratch the surface in a short blog post, here are 3 tips on how to push through food addiction:

1) Keep ?trigger foods? out of the house.
For me this is Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Zingers and Mountain Dew. It?s different for everyone, but there are certain foods that really trigger your emotional eating. It is those foods that make it hard to quit eating and make you feel you have no self-control. If it?s in the house you will eat it, so don?t bring it into your house! Even when I have a cheat/treat meal I still avoid those items because they trigger an episode that leaves me with an empty box of cereal and a massive stomachache.

2) Be prepared.
Often, our poorest food choices have everything to do with lack of preparation. After a late night at the office the last thing you want to do is cook a meal. Or anytime you?re starving you grab the quickest thing you can find. If you don?t have healthy food prepared in advance you will always go for fast food or packaged (processed) food because it?s convenient. So make healthy eating convenient too by being prepared. My wife and I cook in bulk (often using the crockpot) and we cut and separate snacks for several days so they are just an arms reach away. This helps so you aren?t as tempted with fast food.

3) Find another emotional outlet.
As my wife likes to say ?we eat our emotions?. A common phrase she uses when she has a hard day and made a lot of poor food choices. Anyone that has struggled with food addiction understands that you ?eat your emotions?. It?s hard not to use food for comfort. This will always be a struggle, even years later. Something that helps is finding another emotional outlet. I like to use exercise as my emotional outlet (I know, big surprise-ha). Find something besides food that can help relieve stress such as reading, working in the yard, etc. When you have a stressful moment and want to search through the cupboards, acknowledge you want to emotionally eat, then steer yourself to your new outlet. It?ll take time, but you?ll create a healthier habit.

Food addiction doesn?t just go away. It will be something that creeps back up and will be something most of us battle with our whole live

Drew and his wife, Lynn - Learn more at
Drew and his wife, Lynn

Want to connect with Drew Manning? Find and follow Drew here:
His Book:Fit2Fat2Fit: The Unexpected Lessons from Gaining and Losing 75 lbs on Purpose

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16 Responses

  1. @Angela— thank you so much for your post, as I was reading through it and tears streaming down my face. I understand every word of it. I only hope that someday I can figure out what emotions are keeping me from being successful in my weight loss journey. It have struggle for the last 11 years letting go of over 150 extra lbs. if you have a website or Facebook I can follow please post a link. You’ve hit the nail right on the head for me and I would love to follow your words of encouragement.

    @Drew — Thank you as well so much for your efforts to understand addiction. I watched your appearance on EWL with Alyssa and again tears streaming I struggle to find my triggers and emotions that are holding me back. I only hope that soon I can find the strength within myself to over come my addiction.

    I auditioned for EWL and BL#15 and made the initial call back for both but was not chosen for either one. I have tried so very hard to let it go and not let that define who I as a person. It has been a major struggle determining that I’m just too boring (no major tragedy in my life to merrit “good TV”) to be on the shows. But indeed I’m not boring!! I have so many friends and family that encouraged me and felt I’d be perfect for either one. As I am a pretty happy go lucky goober most of the time. I just have my severe food addiction to over come.

    Thank you so much for your posts and insight into possibilities of an addicts struggles. I hope that I can figure mine out soon so that my journey will pick up the pace!! I’m truly grateful to you and your wife for doing this blog and to Chris Powell (even if he didn’t “choose” me…lol…) for the examples and love you guys truly put out there for all addicts that are struggling.

  2. My biggest struggle is that i often leave the house at 6:30 and dont return home until 9 or 10 p.m. Its like how many meals can I take on the go. I try to eat at places like El Pollo Loco. I will order a skinless chicken breast and sometimes a wing ( i know the wing is the killer). I need to be able to eat out on the go and eat healthy. I just recently started going to Yoshinoya and getting a la cart veggies and meat. Is it possible to eat out on the go and eat healthy?

  3. I am addicated to Pepsi. I hate it. I also love food. I am not really lazy. I think I was the fittest big person my friends knew, but I still loved food. I have RA and I find it harder to lose weight or even get back into being fit again. I give up and I just live now. I drink tons of water, but I also have to include a pepsi once a day to make me complete. Weird as it sounds, I do.

  4. Food addiction is the worst to have…alcohol, drugs you are able to keep out of your reach…but people have to eat to live, therefore you can’t just leave food alone. When a food addict has a trigger food in the house, it’s not there for long…because the addict eats it all, usually will go hide somewhere, and gorge on it, till it’s gone. The time he/she is eating it, they feel loved, comfort, and when they say it’s better than sex…they mean it ;), but then after it’s gone, the addict feels guilt, disgust, self-hatred…till they find something else to gorge on. That’s what being a food addict is in a nutshell! Which is what I’ve been all my life.

  5. What an amazing, caring person who would do this to be able to understand his clients. I have a trainer that goes above and beyond with me- working up eating plans and workouts for when we aren’t working together and commitment like that is so inconvenient for most. I’m sure his clients appreciate and respect him even more now. I can tell he “gets it” too. Most really fit person wouldn’t understand that when you have a food addition you TRULY can’t have certain foods in the house!! Hat’s off Drew!

  6. I agree with you 100%. I’m 24, 5’10, and was weighing in at 287 a few months ago. I was always active when I was growing up playing football and everything else I got a chance to play but I was never a small guy. Now after alot of hard work I’m down to 234 and feel great about myself. My weight loss journey began after watching extreme weight loss and knowing that if the people on that show could do what they were doing I could to. I was eating fast food every day and snacking all the time on alot of sweets. It was the worst when I would just be sitting on the couch and would eat a whole bag of Doritos because I was bored . Now I run 5 miles every day and just eat food that I prepare so I know whats in it. When you were on the episode a few weeks ago that just added to my commitment and will be running my first 5k in the upcoming months. Im still losing weight so my training is only getting easier and its all thanks to people like you and Chris Powell. Thanks for all the motivation and keep kicking ass!

  7. Drew, thanks for taking the time to understand the battle. It is a lifetime battle. Eating our emotions is perfectly stated. How to break the cycle, still don’t know, but hope one day I will discover the magic. Best wishes, Jenny

  8. I love the article and I love the personal journey you took to try to understand what it meant to be obese and unhealthy. I think the one true thing that I wanted to add to this article was that food addiction is more involved than I think most truly realize. When we look at Alcoholics, or drug addicts…these people became addicted for many reasons. However, a huge population of them did so to “escape” reality, to suppress emotions or as you note, eat their emotions. Anyone who is excessively overweight has emotional issues that need to be dealt with first…being overweight (in my opinion) is a symptom of something else. I have a degree in Psychology and work in a Counseling capacity, though not with food addictions. However, I am a self proclaimed food addict.emotional addiction). I once weighed in at 285lbs + since I didn’t know my true weight before I started my weight loss journey. This was as a result of an abusive childhood. Even though I lost near 100lbs after leaving home, you can’t easily erase all the emotional scares that came as a result.

    Over the years I have continuously battled weight gains and losses. In the past year though I had a real awakening, and a sort of enlightenment regarding my health, my weight and what I wanted out of my life and this body. The reality was I had to face the biggest demon in my life. Food. and my Emotional attachment to it. I had already eliminated so many other things what more could I get rid of? That was my biggest hurdle. You see unlike Alcoholics or Drug addicts, who can go into rehab and eventually find ways to stay away from their addictions, there is no way to “give up” food.

    In the past six months I found a program that focused on ONLY whole unprocessed foods, no sugars, no dairy, etc for 30 days that was the challenge. It was something that awakened me to the emotional love affair, comfort and well friendship I had with certain foods. I had to “Break” up with certain foods …and in doing so, I also had to go through a mourning process because I was forced to deal with the real issues as to why I ran to those things for comfort in the first place.

    You see, its not a food issues necessarily that we are fighting but an emotional issue. Just as Bulimics and Anorexics have emotional issues tied to control of food, obese people have an almost self destructing emotional attachment to foods.

    Its very easy to look at overweight people as you noted, roll your eyes, call them lazy and that they don’t care. In truth we wouldn’t do that to a drug addict…instead people would look sadly and say how much help they needed.

    I have seen it many times, and I am part of various forums where I give the same advice but until someone deals with the emotional issues they have and how it relates to their food choices, they will always battle possible weight gain and bad choices. I have seen people who had bariatric surgery lose weight, only to regain it because they never addressed the real wasn’t eating too much it as the emotional and psychological issues that prompted them to eat too much!

    For some of us, some of these foods will never be in our lives again and even the words…”in moderation” is not possible (much like you wouldn’t tell a heroin an have that “in moderation”). I hope that individuals who are reading this will start to realize that you can live without certain foods in your life…they no longer have to have an emotional hold on you and when you can finally release from that…You will see how truly empowering it is!

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