Monday, November 11, 2013

Accepting the Truth

I got a lot of response to a recent post called "Fattict."
Since it created so much feedback, I wanted to delve into the subject a little more. 
The topic of food addiction seems to be gaining a lot of attention, and deservedly so. 

What is a fattict? Fat, addiction,and food- there is a connection: food addiction. And it is as real as the words you see on this paper. I have fallen victim. There are times when I think that I am just using it as an excuse for my years and years of harming myself with food. But then there are more days when I remember how powerless I have become over food. When a craving strikes I lose all control and my willpower goes out the window. It is scary and I know that I am not alone in this struggle. I have put my trust in the Twelve Step program mastermind by Bill Wilson in his renowned "Alcoholics Anonymous" program adapted for people like me: compulsive eaters. Overeaters Anonymous has saved my life, literally. Everyone says the end result is worth the effort, and I have finally given into that mantra. My reward: living through my thirties without diabetes and heart problems. I have spent all of my 20s addicted to food, feeling helpless and alone. I refuse to let another decade of my life be controlled by food. I want to live and I want to be happy!

It's easy to hide food addiction. Trust me, I've been there. I have spent years trying everything the world has to offer in terms of weight loss. Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Paleo, Physician's Fast, P90X... just to name a few. There were even three months of my life when I was a strict vegan, then just a vegetarian. Not a single of them worked for me in the long run. It wasn't because I wasn't motivated to lose weight or because the programs don't work. They didn't work for me because I never once even thought to address the real problem: addiction. Who even things about being addicted to food? You have to have it in your life to survive. It's much easier to just think that you are doing the diet thing the wrong way, and that eventually one of them has to work for you. I even seriously considered having weight loss surgery, but I knew that without fixing my mind, it would fail. Just like all of my other efforts.
 
I am in the process of overcoming food addiction. I will fall and I will get back up again. Eventually, though- I will be able to invest enough of my self-worth into my own health and I know that you can do the same. Everything you read here is real. Nothing is made up. I am putting myself out there 100% in the hopes that at least ONE person can discover what I have: it is possible to win this war. 
So put that bag of chips down, and let's do this! Together!



Accepting The Truth

How in the hell did this Chalupa get in my mouth? Let's back step here. I'm in my car heading home from work. The next thing I know I am in the drive through at Taco Bell. How did I get here? I just ate dinner two hours ago, didn't I? What the hell am I doing? Did I actually have a conversation with myself to get here? Who decided I wanted to stuff myself with Chalupas instead of just taking my ass home to bed where I need to be? Oh well, I paid for it, so I'm going to eat it, aren't I? Ugh, the indigestion. Pop a Tums, move on. Keep binging. The next morning the first thing I see is the gigantic cup of Mountain Dew Baja Blast leaking all over my nightstand. Condensating asshole. So now, my day is ruined because I woke up to bad news: I binged on cheap tacos and now I hate myself and am unable to get over it all day. Less than 24 hours later there is a pizza delivered to my house. Large pizza all the meats? Scarfed down. Woof. Indigestion again. That pizza box by my front door is the last thing I see as I'm rushing out to work. Self-loathing ensues all day and I am a horrible bitch to everyone who crosses me.

Does anything of this sound familiar? Of course it does, that's why you read my blog. Did you think that you were the only person who is certifiably insane by means of repeating the food addiction cycle? You're not. Millions of people are addicted to food. I don't remember the moment it hit me, but damn I'm glad it did. It was at some point early Fall of this year. I spent every fucking year in my 20s giving in to cravings and binges. What a waste!

Accepting the fact that you are addicted to food is the first step to overcoming it. How do you know if you are a compulsive eater? Tally up your normal food intake. How much of it is ingested out of true hunger, and how much is from emotional eating? If the majority of your food intake is out of anything other than physical hunger, then yes- you might have a food addiction. Do you NEED food when you are dealing with strong emotions? Are you obese or overweight? Then yes, you might be a compulsive eater.

Acceptance doesn't happen in a few minutes, it can take months, days, or even years to truly realize how addicted to food you really are. It took almost a year for me to really realize how deep into addiction I am. I went to a health retreat in the spring of this year and attended an awesome "Emotional Eating" seminar by Lisette Cifaldi. Learning that emotional eating is a consistent pattern was the best thing to ever happen to me. We've all heard that people, especially women, "eat their feelings." Even the movies poke fun at this idea- it seems to be out there a lot. But is the bowl of ice cream you ate during that sappy Lifetime movie last night indicative of a lifestyle of food addiction? It very well could be.

Before you can move forward with dealing with "fattiction," you need to take a lot of time accepting the truth. Be patient. It is worth it. There are no quick fixes when it comes to your health. Think of an aged wine, or a barrel of Tennessee whiskey. Time is on your side, and in the end you will be the perfect blend of happiness and health. I'm not saying it is okay to sit around and make excuses for chowing down on nachos because you're in the "accepting stage," but don't get so down on yourself if you slip up. If you aren't falling down and getting back up, you aren't learning from your mistakes. I believe that eventually this acceptance will stop a binge in its tracks. When that happens, you are on the right track. I spent weeks researching food addiction, compulsive behaviors, and emotional eating. I KNEW that my problems had a cause, but it didn't click until I stopped myself from ordering a pizza because I asked myself: "are you doing this out of hunger or emotion?" Once I asked myself that, it was AMAZING how easy it is for me to put the phone down! There are definitely times when I totally make an excuse for myself, and go ahead with the binge. I actually tell myself: you are struggling with addiction, go ahead and eat that- feel bad afterwards. Teach yourself a lesson. But here's the zinger: I don't actually enjoy it! The numbness never comes. It's like pouring salt on a wound the whole time. It hurts while I do it, and it's not rewarding. The self-loathing starts with the first bite instead of like a lingering hangover the next day.

So how do you truly accept the depths of your addiction? I suspect that it won't happen until you are truly ready for it. Taking this journey with me is a damn good place to start, though. No one can make you face the truth. It's all on you. My suggestion is to start with a little bit old school: pencil and paper. Find a quiet place with no distractions. Sit on the toilet with the door closed if that's what you have to do. Leave the iPhone and your headphones alone. Just you, and your writing tools.

Here's what I want you to write down. DON'T look ahead at the next step. Do these one at a time

-Your favorite foods. The good AND the bad. Put them all on there. This is just you, remember? Leave some space after each one.

-Then I want you to describe your relationship with EACH food item. Answer these questions: What is my first memory of eating this food? When do I eat it? What am I typically feeling when I eat this food? Don't be scared of your answers.

-Next I want you to go back and circle every emotion you see written down. For each emotion you circle, give it its own sheet of paper and write it at the top.

-So now you have a fresh sheet of paper with an emotion written at the top. For example: sad. I will use "sad" throughout this exercise, but you need to do this for all the emotions. How many times did you circle the word "sad?" How many different food items was it paired with?

-Write all those food items down on sad's paper. So what have you just done? You have identified emotions with certain foods. Feeling the heat of a light bulb above you?

-Still on sad's paper, make a list of recurring times in your life when you feel sad. Leave space underneath each one. Example: "I feel sad when I am home alone."

Under this example, write a NEW habit that you can start doing with this instance.

Instead of eating Ben and Jerry's and watching The Notebook, I will make a cup of

hot tea and go for a walk. Once you have done this for EVERY emotion, read over

your words and keep it somewhere you will reference it often.

Do you see what you're doing here? You are accepting the fact that you use food as a drug to numb certain emotions. With this action plan, you are re-training your body with new habits! If you ALWAYS eat a pint of ice cream EVERY TIME you are at home alone feeling sad, your body will naturally crave that bad eating habit every time that emotion hits! I believe that we can trick our bodies into craving something healthy in the same way we trained it to crave something that is bad for us.

Accept that you are addicted to food and all the negatives that come with it, and you are ready to move forward with a healthier and happier you!

2 comments:

  1. I actually just realized this over the summer, and it was a huge wake up call for me discovering that I was actually addicted to food because I had never seen anyone put it that way before until I "came up" with it. I absolutely love what you did here with the writing out your thoughts and feelings I will definitely try it out because journaling really does take you so far on this journey! Another thing that gets people is eating out of habit instead of out of hunger! I hope you have a fantastic day!

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  2. hey^^
    when i tried to lose weight i learned a lot that surprised me. actually it´s quite easy when you avoid addictive foods and of course i felt the need to write about it ;) would mean a lot when you could read it, you will not be disappointed! :D thanks! http://thescienceofeverything.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/part-of-the-meal/

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