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October 13, 2015

'Freaky Eaters' is Back -- The Experts Preview New Season, Plus an Exclusive Clip (VIDEO)

by Maggie Furlong, posted Jun 4th 2011 3:00PM
Kelly with her potatoes and cheeseI always thought I was a picky eater ... until I watched 'Freaky Eaters.'

The TLC show is back for Season 2 (premieres Sun., June 5, 10PM and 10:30PM ET), but according to the show's experts, psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow and nutrition specialist J.J. Virgin, the difference between Season 1 and 2 is night and day.

Last season, we met freaky eaters addicted to pizza, french fries and Coke, but that seems normal compared to this season's addicts. In the premiere episode, we meet Nikki, a woman obsessed with eating corn starch. Just plain corn starch. Up to 3,300 calories worth of corn starch a day, as a matter of fact.

The second of the premiere episodes will introduce us to Kelly, who's gained 150 pounds in the last 10 years because of her addiction to cheesy potatoes -- basically any kind of potatoes topped with melted cheese. See our exclusive clip of Kelly after the jump ...

The rest of the season includes a woman who consumes up to 40 gallons of tartar sauce a year, and a man who's addicted to meat, eating about 1,800 pounds of it a year. I caught up with Dr. Mike and J.J. to hear more about this season's freakiest food fetishes.

What's the craziest thing we'll see this season?
MIKE DOW: I think one of the premiere episodes, the woman addicted to corn starch, is pretty crazy. And the behavior around it ... when we found her she was eating corn starch that she'd hidden in the spare tire compartment of her car, she had it hidden in her house, she got laid off because her boss thought she was doing cocaine in the bathroom, because she had white powder on her face. I mean some of this stuff was literally -- non-clinically speaking -- crazy. All of those behaviors are just like a drug addict. She's eating so much corn starch that it's affecting her bone density, her teeth are shifting because of her diet. Then there's the woman who's afraid to swallow anything so she chews all of her food then spits it back up into a cup on the table. That's pretty interesting also ...

Visitng a cornstarch factory

J.J. VIRGIN: They all were crazy in their own way. We had a woman who was addicted to ice cream bars. Now we couldn't say this, but the most hilarious part was she was addicted to Weight Watchers ice cream bars. She had had gastric bypass surgery and her stomach was now the size of a walnut, so she figured out how to kind of mainline ice cream bars -- she would eat one or two an hour, all day and all night. She never left the house; she just went out, got her ice cream bars and came back. When people center their whole life around their habits, it isolates them. Like with the corn starch girl, I finally said, "Look, you're losing your family, your husband, your kids, for corn starch!" But for these people, it is their drug.

What was the response like this season?
MD: We're getting a lot better response this season. Season 1 people were still a little apprehensive. Once people tuned in to the show, they saw that the show had a lot of heart ... before it premiered, people thought it was just a sensational show. It's just a very important topic. I think it affects a lot more people than we think.

JV: I kept waiting for us to have the Coca-Cola girl or the french fry girl, but this season we had 100 percent success. The people were amazing ... the impact this had on their lives and their families' lives was unbelievable. There was one that I thought would be our fail -- it was the maple syrup guy. The funniest part is, when I was a kid, I got food poisoning off pancakes with maple syrup, so I hate the smell of maple syrup, I can't stand to be around it, and maple syrup guy does a gallon of maple syrup a week. He pours it on everything -- spaghetti, cereal, anything he eats, he puts maple syrup on. He brings it with him to restaurants. So for one of his shock therapies, we made him dump out 52 gallons of maple syrup, and I thought I was going to pass out.

Therapy in a pool of tartar sauceWhat's your advice for people watching the show, seeing problems or addictions in their own eating habits?
MD: You know they say in Overeaters Anonymous and other 12-step programs "You're as sick as your secrets." So when people see other people going through similar things, even if it's more extreme than what you're doing, if you can relate to something and the emotion is the same, that helps people take the first step, reach out and get the help they need. The first step is telling someone.

JV: We're helping a subset of the population that has nowhere to go and no one to turn to. There isn't a treatment program that helps people who have a freaky eating behavior. Where do you send someone who's addicted to french fries? The response from the show has been so positive, but that's the biggest takeaway: helping these people is handing them their lives back.

What's your own personal food obsession? In moderation, of course ...
MD: My cheat food is macaroni and cheese. I love Kraft macaroni and cheese -- like the cheap 89-cent kind with the powder. When I was growing up, my parents filed for bankruptcy when I was about seven, and I remember my mom cooking it for me after my parents got divorced. So now, I eat about a half a box, once a month, but even that has the same sort of emotional underpinnings that a lot of people I treat on the show have. It's that emotional, psychological relationship to food that I developed based on my own childhood experiences.

JV: Everybody's got one! If it was the last day on earth, I would have sourdough crust with cheese on it, and I don't actually eat gluten and dairy. But really I'd rather have a really good cup of espresso. The smell of coffee beans at Starbucks, the whole experience. For so many of us, we get the same thing everyday -- it's our little reward, our treat -- and we have a whole sensory experience with it.

Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

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Someone should really proofread this article.

June 05 2011 at 6:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Another season of another waste of time reality show. There are a few reality shows I like, but would gladly see them leave the air if it meant that ALL reality shows were leaving the air with them.

June 05 2011 at 7:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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