Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm a Recovering Addict

That's difficult to admit.  It's not like it isn't obvious to see, looking in the mirror or just walking by me on the street; but it is a hard fact for me to swallow (unlike most things, for a food addict).  This is a vital revelation to recovery.  As with any addiction, whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography and even the internet, one must admit they have a problem in order to correct it.

Unfortunately, many confuse the symptom for the problem.  My problem isn't that I'm overweight, that is a symptom of something much deeper.  No, my problem is I seek to comfort my emotions using a source not meant for comfort - mine being food.  As a result, the symptom then creates more emotions that must be comforted by, you guessed it, more food!

It is a cycle that began before I could even read, more than likely it began before I could even speak.  At a young age, I found comfort in food.  That comfort was only reinforced by well-meaning, loving parents who often gave cookies for boo-boos, pie for bad days, chocolate cake for straight A's and treats for being good in general.  Certainly, this isn't unique to my family, it is within our culture - it is why we take food to a funeral (everyone does that, right?) and grocery stores are stocked with cakes for celebrations.

But the issue isn't our culture, at least I don't think it is.  The issue is, much like an alcoholic drinks in excess, I eat in excess to escape.  Certainly, we can come up with excuses all day long to hide the fact that we simply put a lot the wrong stuff in, which in turn causes obesity.

"I'm big boned."

"It's genetic."

"My metabolism is slow."

While certainly there are health conditions that can create problems with weight, the vast majority of Americans suffering from obesity are doing so because they live a life of excess and are users of food.

What is the difference between this addiction and others?  What makes it so difficult to combat?  Well, consider someone that has an addiction to alcohol or drugs.  That individual does not need alcohol or drugs to survive, despite what their addiction feels like, and they can, with proper medical attention, stop "cold turkey" so to speak.  Yet, a food addict MUST eat - not eating isn't an option, as it is certain death.  So multiple times a day the food addict must hold the will of God to not overeat, not feed their addiction, but nourish their body at the same time.  We all know that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  Once recovered, they can never take a sip of alcohol again or they chance falling off the wagon.  But what about the food addict?  No wonder losing weight is so difficult!

Another aspect is there is nothing secret about food addition, you can't hide it.  Every stranger you meet, every person you speak to (or don't speak to because people rarely make eye contact with you) knows you have a problem.  This isn't like "Aunt Ida" who keeps vodka in the dresser drawer, hidden away from everyone else.  Close family members may know she has a problem, but for the most part, in public, "Aunt Ida" is normal.  No, every single person has an opportunity to pass judgment upon the food addict; and they often do.  This alone feeds into more comfort eating, causing more weight and an even larger scarlet letter.

I've said this a few times, that this blog is really a source for many things.  It's therapeutic for me, as I often write things here that I cannot express in person, and never have.  I hope it is comforting to others, as I have felt completely alone in this struggle most of my life - please don't feel alone, there are many of us!  I hope it is motivational, as it motivates me to stay the course - perhaps it encourages others to start a change in their lives, also.  Lastly, I hope it's insightful.  Food addiction is often oversimplified in a culture that pushes "quick fixes" like diet pills, shakes and surgery for something that is far more profound than just, "I eat too much."


  1. McDonald's Vanilla shakes - mostly since every McD has become some sort of upscale eatery where they top those delicious treats with whipped cream and a cherry.

    Those new pretzel M&Ms which are only 2 for a dollar at CVS, $0.59 at 7-11, and $0.79 for the bigger pack at Publix.

    A tablespoon, a jar of crunchy honey peanut butter, and a squeeze bottle full of chocolate syrup... who needs that Reese's crap.

    That before bed snack of Lay's potato chips with slices of super sharp cheddar and a glass of whole milk that Grandma would sneak to me behind my father's back.

    Oh yeah, Grandma also introduced me to glazed donuts smothered in butter and used to dip the yolk from a sunny side up set of eyes paired with a bacon smile.

  2. I do have a problem, the size 18P pants I bought at walmart tonight speak for themselves. I love chocolate, I love ice cream, and I love chinese food. I hate cleaning the kitchen, and my husband hates vegetables, and nearly everything else healthy. I'm far too lazy most of the time to put in the effort to make healthy meals for myself alone. I do not drink enough water, and I tell myself my body hurts too much to get up and exercise. I'm not sure exactly what my addiction is to, but I'm sure I have one. and it's a pretty big barrier for me. Thanks for the reality check