You Can Beat Stress

Life as a Compulsive Overeater

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By: Ken Hassman

For years now I have been aware that I am a compulsive overeater. My parents were noshers. For those who don't know, noshing is the Yiddish term for what is now called grazing-meaning, eating little bits of food, and eating constantly. I grew up in a New York Jewish home where even though there was not much money for a lot of years, there was always a full refrigerator. From the earliest ages I remember being fed well. As a kid I my favorite foods were mayonnaise and bacon. Obviously I was not raised in a religious Jewish home!

There were eventually five kids in our family. By the time I hit my teens, our family's financial fortunes had changed, we had moved from NYC out to Long Island (a whole 30 miles up the road) and my dad was commuting into Manhattan every day. Every Friday, my mother would do a massive shopping run and our favorite stop of hers was Michelle's Bakery in the Morton Village Shopping Center. She would bring back challah breads, fresh sliced rye bread, and my very favorite-black and white cookies. Big and round, half vanilla and half chocolate. I would pour myself a glass of milk, take a slightly warm cookie out of the bag, break it in halves, and start with the vanilla half, put a piece in my mouth, take a sip of milk and let them both melt. This taste combo would have me swooning, And I would work my way through the cookie like this.

Over the years I added more and more foods to this type of act until I had a large assortment of foods I would use to overeat. My saving grace in my high school years through my first couple of years of college was my athleticism. I worked out with weights, I ran track, I was on the wrestling team, I lifted more weights, I did push-ups and sit-ups every day. I walked everywhere and this helped keep my weight in check. Then, when I got into my twenties and had adopted the life of a spiritual aspirant-a meditator, I lost a ton of weight through vegetarianism and drinking lots of vegetable juices.

At some point I got lazy, I lost my drive for eating healthily and I started sneak eating. I would go out, by myself, to diners, and order "forbidden" foods. Meatballs and spaghetti, pizza, burgers, chicken pieces, cheese omelettes, bacon, lots of butter. I would bring a book or a newspaper, go somewhere where I didn't think I would see anyone I know and really enjoy eating unhealthy fatty foods. And reading, that was very important. I always felt like I was doing something wrong, yet I could not stop myself.

Little by little, my weight crept up. When I hit 190 I was horrified. Then I hit 200. Then finally I hit 230 pounds and couldn't handle the ridicule of friends. I put myself on a workout routine, using a band exerciser and jump rope. I went at it every day, every single day. Eventually I was down to 165 pounds and proud as can be.

However, here I sit, 25 years later, up to 258 pounds and still fighting the same battle. I have lots of food addictions, lots of bad habits, I sit at a desk all day, can hardly get myself to even take walks every day, I'm seeing a nutritionist, and almost out of hope, and looking to muster the will to make it work this time! For those who also struggle with weight, stick with it, don't give up hope. Remember to eat lots of fruits and veggies each day, no matter what else creeps into your diet. From everything I have read, even walking every day, for an hour, done daily for several months, will have a profound impact on reducing the chances of a coronary event. If not for yourself do it for your kids. Keep the faith!

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About the Contributor

Ken Hassman is the owner of the back-of-book indexing service, Hassman Indexing Services (, dedicated to providing high quality academic/scholarly indexes, medical indexes, trade book indexes, textbook indexes, encyclopedia indexes, journal indexes, and embedded indexes.

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