A cornstarch diet? 'Freaky Eaters' tackles bizarre food addictions

June 3, 2011 at 10:33 AM ET

Imagine consuming 13 boxes of cornstarch. While the thought of eating so much as a spoonful of the thickening agent might seem disgusting to some, that staggering amount reflects  the weekly intake of one woman on the TLC show “Freaky Eaters.”

In each episode of the series, a unique food addiction takes focus as the individual struggling with it attempts to kick the habit. Psychotherapist Mike Dow and nutrition specialist J.J. Virgin help them along the way.

In the case of Nikki Myles, the aforementioned cornstarch addict, the team first addressed what started the problem. After all, cornstarch wasn’t Myles’ first experience with strange snacks.

“She started eating dirt when she was young,” Virgin explained during a Friday morning appearance on TODAY. “She has pica, which is a zinc and iron deficiency. And then it got triggered by her pregnancy.”

After that, the powdery substance was a regular item on Myles’ menu, but it didn’t get completely out of control until the death of her son. That’s when it became clear she needed help.

Enter Dow and Virgin, who fast-track treatment for all of their “Freaky Eaters.”

“This is going to be shocking but we do this over the course of one week,” Virgin noted, “just one week.”

How is such a quick turnaround possible? According to the specialists, they “tag team” their subjects by alternately tackling their emotional issues and their dietary problems.

(Spoiler alert! Don’t read on if you want to wait for Sunday night’s episode to learn the results of Myles’ treatment.)

“(Now, Nikki) does maybe 2 spoonfuls of cornstarch a day but sometimes none, because she’s filled her life up with other activities,” Virgin said. “That’s not where she’s going for her comfort anymore.”

Do you have a strong enough stomach to tune in to the weekly “Freaky” food stories? Tell us on Facebook.