Addicted to Food? Put Your Brain in 'Diet Rehab'
ABC's Juju Chang and Erin Brady report:
At 30, Kalyea Moss said she began to fear she was eating herself to death.
Weighing in at 242 pounds, Moss said she routinely ate an entire box of pasta in a day, or heaping scoops of white rice and beans, and was constantly snacking on fatty foods - onion rings were her favorite.
"I would sit there and not even realize, and I'm like, 'I really ate this whole bag?'" she said.
A plus size model, Moss gained 45 pounds after her son Zaire was born a year ago and she said she eventually had to admit she had a secret addiction to food.
"My relationship with food is- I feel like I abuse it," Moss said. "I don't know why, like sometimes I'll eat and I'm full but I'll just keep eating."
In 2011, seven different medical studies showed sugary, high-fat meals can trigger addictive reactions in the brain, similar to narcotic addictions. After a lifetime of failed diet regimens, Moss said she decided to take a different approach and put her brain in "Diet Rehab," developed by addiction expert Dr. Mike Dow.
"Diabetes runs in my family, high blood pressure, all those diseases related to weight run in my family and I'm just eating, eating, eating, eating, and I'm like, 'I can't keep- I can't keep doing this,'" Moss said. "Because I was going to kill myself."
Her motivation, she said, was to be healthy for her young son.
"I want to live a long life," Moss said through tears. "I don't want him to grow up without- without a mother."
Dr. Mike Dow, host of TLC's "Freaky Eaters," wrote his book "Diet Rehab" as a diet program to break someone of food addictions in 28 days.
"Heroin will kill you faster, but food addiction is killing a lot more people in this country and now we have the data," he said.
Dow believes his program can work for Moss, and agreed to counsel her one-on-one. He started with raiding her fridge and pantry, and identifying the "pitfall foods" - foods high in sugar and fat, or that contain processed carbohydrates.
Then Dow swapped out the addictive foods in Moss's kitchen with what he called "booster foods" - foods that boost serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain to produce the same feel-good feeling as junk food, but are healthier. Instead of clips, mayonnaise and white rice, Dow encouraged Moss to eat Greek yogurt, hummus and apples.
The goal: Lose 10 pounds in 28 days. Will Moss make it?
Watch ABC's Juju Chang's report to find out: