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Wendy became a national icon as the “Snapple Lady” in a charming series of beverage commercials. But off-camera she’s struggled with food and drug addictions alike.
“I had very, very attractive, beautiful, country-club parents,” Wendy says. She herself, however, always had a weight problem.
At 13, she began drinking and smoking, and when she got to college she added crystal meth. Then, she says, “On the last day of school I tried cocaine for the first time – and I LOVED IT. From 21 to 31 I was doing enormous, enormous amounts of cocaine.” Wendy even turned to selling drugs to support her addiction.
At 29, her family did an intervention. “I have to tell you,” she says now, “It was one of the most relieving moments of my life!” After she became sober, she began working for a business owned by a family friend – a little company called Snapple. Within two years, she says, “I was on TV!”
“My life is very interesting and full,” she tells The Doctors, “except I am back to my first addiction, which was the food addiction.” She loves candy and salty treats – “I love food!” But at 59, she realizes her eating habits can catch up with her. She’s prediabetic and, she says, “I don’t want to die of a heart attack young. I have too much to give, too many people I love.”
Wendy joins The Doctors and Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson. “It’s almost hard to fathom that you’ve dealt with the drug addictions and now the food addictions,” ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork tells her, “because you seem on the outside so happy. But inside, this has been killing you!”
“It has been killing me,” she admits. “I’m so blessed that I got the phone call to come here because I’m desperate in my life.” She’s been sober for 27 years and gave up a three-pack-a-day cigarette habit – but her eating is out of control.
“Food is worse,” agrees Dr. Peirce Thompson. “Neuroscientists who study the brain, it’s unambiguous. Sugar and flour impact the dopamine down regulations so that your dopamine receptors are not working to produce enough pleasure anymore without that food. You feel desperate, bereft,” she explains. “The brain will heal, though. That’s the thing.”
“The food scientists have figured this out,” adds Dr. Stork. “I don’t want to say that they’re pushing drugs, but food can be a drug. They’re figuring out ways to play with your dopamine.”
Wendy hasn’t weighed herself in 12 years. She explains, “I was on my first diet at six weeks old. Seriously! They had me on skim milk.” Throughout her life, she’s been on diets and gone to spas, but she’s never been able to stick with it.
Dr. Peirce Thompson tells her, “The first thing is – and you already know this – you have a very addictable brain. So you’re dealing with addiction, and you’ve dealt with addiction before. And with addiction, you’ve got to quit.”
She tells Wendy she’ll need to draw a “bright line” around sugar and flour – those are things she can’t eat in moderation. “Now, it’s not easy to do, because it’s everywhere, so you need a road map to follow and you need a lot of support.” She explains that she has an eating program called “Bright Line Eating,” outlined in her new book of the same title.
Dr. Peirce Thompson promises to work with Wendy personally “as long as it takes to get you happy, thin, and free.” Wendy is determined to succeed, and she hopes to be an inspiration to others in the same boat!