TLC’s “Freaky Eaters” show has been on for quite some time now.The show focuses on people with so called “food addictions” who base their entire diet on that one food. I happened to catch a repeat episode of “French fry girl” Amber Scott the other night. For over 25 years, Amber has consumed French fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner and was convinced she was sick, with addiction. Nutritionist JJ Virgin, who appears regularly on the show, kept repeating that Amber think it’s not her fault she consumes thousands of French fries and Amber also believes she has no choice in regards to her “addiction”–but she does.

After some coaching, exposing Amber to different foods, she began trying foods such as baked potatoes and cucumbers. After only a week, she could eat something different. Amber was convinced she was sick with addiction, turns out the only thing wrong with Amber was an extremely rare taste disorder, which caused her to experience an intolerance to textures and tastes, but even with this condition she was able to lessen her French fry habit. After the show ended, Amber managed to incorporate 15 foods into her diet other than French fries, and while she didn’t quit eating them altogether, she consumes them in healthy moderations.

With all this said, many people who are told they have a substance “addition” by alcohol and drug rehabs, can gain hope from this show. Usually within five days the participants are off of their “freaky eaters” habit by choice, and are living without that particular food. It also reminds me that many 12 step programs will tell members they are powerless, but Amber after 25 years of eating the same thing changed her diet in a month. If addiction was real, Amber wouldn’t have been able to stop eating French fries for every meal. After all, she psychologically believed her “addiction” was holding her back from eating other foods, even though she often thought of trying them.

The show also brought up another point that if addiction was incurable, why would they even bother to film the show? So everyone could fail? That would make no sense and certainly wouldn’t boost ratings. There was no mention of Amber surrendering to French fries, as in 12 step programs you surrender to a higher power. That sends a strong message that 12 step programs such as AA are not the answer and the theories these programs teach are almost comical. Amber made a choice to stop her French fry habit, mostly because she saw her daughter developing the same habit.

Another contributor to Amber’s success was the information she received during the show. Just like the help the Saint Jude’s program can offer, Amber was told she wouldn’t have to deal her condition forever. She was encouraged to take small steps that would lead to a great change. Amber was surrounded by people that cared and not people that told her she would never get over her “addiction.”  Whether it’s alcohol or French fries, ultimately with the right amount of help and motivation you can change your life, that’s why choosing the right substance use program is a vital part of your success.